Dear Wise One,
My girlfriend has the shittiest taste in entertainment ever. She is always pushing us to watch Food Network and Bravo reality, and listen to top 40 garbage.
I feel like I love her and want to be with her, but God damn it. I haven’t watched anything good in like a year or something. This shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, should it?
Watching Tiny House Shows
Short answer: Fuck no, what the fuck are you talking about?
Long answer: There’s a popular notion that there’s a direct correlation between taste in entertainment and compatibility in relationships.
Honestly, I don’t know where you people come up with this shit.
This comes from the idea that your tastes--in movies, music, yoga preferences--imply who you are, which they can, but they can also be essentially meaningless. People like different things for entirely different reasons, and it’s the reasons that imply who we are.
Some people watch Game of Thrones for intricate, immersive storytelling, and some people just want to see some dragons and titties.
But even your reasons don’t have to be the same as your partners. People are meant to complement each other in a relationship, not reply to every opinion or desire with a robotic, “Yes. I do share the same disposition that you stated in that sentence. Compatibility – 9 out of 10. Approved for mating.”
Sharing the same taste in entertainment with your partner is…nice. It’s fine. It can be helpful because in our world fully of lazy, mouth-breathing shittyness, we spend a lot of time watching stuff. So if you can’t enjoy any of the time you spend watching what she wants, and she can’t enjoy any of her time watching your stuff, you’ll both just get pissed off and bored, or worse—you’ll spend all of your time apart doing what you actually like to do.
And that’s not good.
But assuming you can compromise and balance it out, this isn’t that much of an issue. She isn’t less compatible with you because she likes to watch different stuff—not any more so than because she likes to cook, and you like to make voodoo dolls, or whatever you like to do.
If either of you is unwilling to compromise, then that’s the real problem, and I’m sure it shows up in other parts of your relationship. We’ve all seen this before and we all know that a relationship without compromise isn’t a relationship. It’s a weird dictatorship with one-way oral, her sitting there on her phone while he watches sports, and the loss of the human spirit.
And don’t allow that shit to continue. If she really won’t budge on this at all, and you guys are watching nothing but Chopped and wacky 90’s sitcoms, then you may want to take things into consideration.
But I’m guessing that instead of really talking to her about it, you just groan while she smiles for getting her way, and your resentment slowly builds until finally you get so desperate that you reach out to some asshole who tells dick jokes on a blog somewhere.
So start by having a real conversation with her. If she doesn’t suck, she’ll totally understand and you’ll be watching whatever HBO snobbery you were hoping for in no time, and you’ll feel like an idiot for not just having a real talk earlier.
My son is always on his phone whenever he comes to visit, and it drives me crazy. I want to rip it out of his hand, and give it back to him when he leaves, but I know I can’t do that. I don’t want to push him away, but I want him to be here. Maybe someone younger like you could help. So...help!
First of all, Mom, if this is you, you could have just texted me.
Ah yes, the old empty nester conundrum of, “My kid sucks ass, but I don’t want my kid to stop visiting, so I guess I’ll bend over backwards every way I can to accommodate them.”
Here’s your current concern: You’re afraid if you tell him to put the phone away, he’ll lash out and leave, and never return, and you’ll die alone in twenty years saying, “Where’s Peter?” (Sorry, too real?)
Here’s why some version of that is a possibility: Because you’re framing this request as a mother. You’re going to approach him like he should put his phone away because you said so—because you have the authority.
The problem is you don’t have the authority any more. That’s not a 13-year-old avoiding his homework any more, he doesn’t live there, and you can’t unplug his PS3 and send him to bed without dessert. He'll just drive to Wendy's.
But all hope isn’t lost. Because what you do still have, hopefully, is a son that isn’t a sociopath (fingers crossed!).
Assuming you have that, approach him about this problem—but not with an authoritative “Give me the phone, Peter” (or whatever his name is), but rather with the approach of, “Hey, I’d like to be able to continue having a relationship with you that involves face to face conversation. It hurts me when you ignore this to look at your phone constantly, and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop being a total nutsack.”
It sounds so corny, but speaking from the heart makes a difference. Nobody wants anyone they love to feel hurt or ignored. Approach it from this angle and…
…okay, well he still won’t put the phone away. But he will put it down every now and then, to the point where you can still have a relationship with him.
Basically, talk to him like a person who’s making your life unpleasant and not your son who you want to control. This isn’t about your motherly advice. Get out of the perspective of being a mother all together. Another person in your presence is being a dick, and it’s bumming you out. You have a right to tell them that.
This will only work by the way if this is consistently the way you interact with him. If you mother him all the time, and then try to flip the switch here, it won’t work.
And regardless of the main issue we’re talking about here, that’s probably a good idea. You can always switch back to being his mother when he really needs it, but if that continues consistently too late into his adulthood, shit gets a little Norman Batesy.
And if this doesn’t work, and your son doesn’t give a shit about this bothering you, and doesn’t put the phone down for a second…well, sorry. Your son might just be an irredeemable asshole.
Maybe push him into some rocks or something?
My boyfriend leaves our place a mess all the time. I thought when he moved in that he would adjust to my way of living (like a human being), and instead our apartment has shit all over the place like his old place always did. He also never seems to want to help with cleaning it up. What can I do?
His New Maid
Okay, let’s start by repeatedly hitting you in the head with your first mistake. You know what it is, right? Surely you must. Let’s all say it together as a class. Everybody!
DON’T EXPECT PEOPLE TO CHANGE WITHOUT AT LEAST FUCKING TALKING TO THEM ABOUT IT FIRST…YOU DIPSHIT.
Nobody changes easily unless that change is easy. And for messy people, suddenly becoming clean isn’t easy. It seems really difficult. Do you know why? Because being messy is fucking easy as shit. Anyone can be messy. Look:
How easy is that shit? I didn’t have to do anything. Being clean involves doing like 20 more things than this.
Okay, now back to you. First things first.
Accept the blame. This is your fault for expecting life to fall into place instead of putting it in place. This is your fault for not really talking to the dude.
And it will continue to be your fault until you do. Let him know that having things tidy is a priority for you—that part of your daily happiness relies on it. Make him feel that this is true. Don’t yell at him, and don’t blame him. Just make him realize how important this is to you.
That’s it. That’s all you’re doing here.
If you do that, and he’s still consistently leaving his burger wrappers and condom balloon animals all over the house, then fuck him. This has nothing to do with being messy. It has to do with not making what is important to you important to him. This isn’t a guy thing. This is a relationship thing. He has a responsibility to make your concerns his concerns and vise versa.
So unless you actually don’t care this much and you’re just mildly irritated that life didn’t change for you, make this a little ultimatum. Make it clear you care about this, and make it a test to see whether or not that causes him to give a shit.
If he doesn’t, throw his shit out the window. Then your place will look tidy as fuck.
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