I dated “Pete” for four years. There were certainly good things about our relationship (he was an invaluable source of support when I had surgery), but you know how it goes: eventually, the bad starts to outweigh the good, until you just can’t justify it anymore.
My big issue with Pete was that he was very immature. He was in his 30s, yet acted like he was 11. I felt like his embarrassed, disciplining mother a lot of the time. There were plenty of etiquette violations, but here are the most egregious:
1) The first Thanksgiving after we started dating, we were having dinner at his parents’ house, then going to my family friends’ house (where my mother was) for dessert. When we got to my friends’ place, he started off by wandering down the hall to look at the house without so much as a by-your-leave, which my mom later complained about. After that, I was catching up with two friends whom I hadn’t spoken to in a while, when he started indicating that he wanted to leave. How? By continually tugging on my sleeve and making “let’s go” motions with his head, like a child! I was humiliated. He was so insistent that I had to offer a lame excuse so we could leave 15minutes after we had arrived, not even sitting down for dessert.
2) We went with some of my friends to a local comedy club. He was apparently so bored by the show (which everyone else was enjoying tremendously) that he started amusing himself by using the candle at our table to light our tickets on fire. Then he got annoyed and sulky when I was upset at him. He really didn’t see why setting things on fire in the middle of a large, crowded room was a big deal. I was just thankful we weren’t kicked out. Miraculously, if anybody noticed, they didn’t say anything. (The club later replaced their candles with fake ones. I choose to believe this is coincidence.)
3) The one that stands out the most: For my birthday, we were going to go to dinner and see a movie. I was paying for both, as he was unemployed, but I knew this in advance and had accepted it. He refused to go to any of the restaurants I had suggested, so we ended up going to his favorite place (which I don’t really care for).
On the way to the restaurant, he decided that after the movie we should watch a DVD he had become obsessed with. (I love this particular DVD, but was getting burned out on it. He wanted to watch it a LOT.) I have the DVD and he doesn’t, so he wanted me to go back to my place after the movie, pick up the DVD, then drive back to his place. (Need I mention that we live in opposite directions from the theater we’d be going to?)
We had arrived at the restaurant at this point. It was an order-at-the-counter place, and there was no line. The elderly lady who takes orders was waiting patiently behind the register for us to decide what we wanted. Pete was bugging me for an answer about the DVD. I told him we could discuss it after we’d ordered and sat down. He refused to order until I gave him an answer! “There’s no line; we’re not holding anyone up!” I pointed to the cashier and said she was waiting for us to place our order and we were wasting her time. He waved it off: “Oh, she has to be there anyway!” I was mortified by his rudeness. The cashier, much to her credit, left the counter and walked into the kitchen at that point.
If I’d been thinking clearly, I’d have waited for her to come back, placed my order, then left him to order and pay for his own food. I was very flustered, though, and simply acquiesced to getting the DVD after the movie so we could get on with things. The cashier later told him that he owed both her and me an apology. (I love this woman.) I was very upset that he had made my birthday all about what HE wanted to do.
There are more stories, but I’m happy to say that I finally found a spine. A few Thanksgivings after the first incident, we were going up to my father’s (a 2-hour drive). He wanted to bring a video game console – not a handheld, but a full console. I absolutely put my foot down this time. I knew that if he brought it, he’d spend the whole time we were there tucked away in a bedroom playing video games and not enjoying my father’s and stepmother’s hospitality. We got into an argument about it that ended with my telling him that he could stay home if he was so worried about being bored. This time, he was the one who backed down. By the end of the weekend, we had broken up.
(I found out later he had told his friends I had “dumped him over Thanksgiving”, as if I had said, “We’re through. Pass the gravy.” Really, it was after Thanksgiving, and it was me sobbing my eyes out and telling him that I didn’t want to hurt him, but …)
That was a bit over three years ago. I’m happy to say that my spine has remained intact, and I am now in a relationship with a wonderful man to whom I feel like a partner, not a parent.
Pete and I remain on cordial terms (even if only on Facebook these days). I also sent him one last Christmas gift: his own copy of that DVD. 0707-10
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