Despairing for her relationship a woman wrote to Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax.
I quote her letter in full:
I am guilty of occasionally resenting my boyfriend because he doesn’t take it well when I say no. He pouts when I tell him I want to do something other than what he wants — like going to the grocery store instead of out to dinner.
Generally I give in, but if I insist that groceries must be bought, he stops speaking to me and leaves abruptly. Over the years I have tried to ignore the pouting, but I am basically a peacekeeper and want to know if there is a more amiable way to defuse the tension.
As expected, Hax responds that the boyfriend has some serious issues, that he is mistreating her and that she should enlist a therapist to sort it all out.
The column elicited a veritable orgy of male-bashing in the comments section. Of the hundreds that I read all but one agreed that the boyfriend was acting like a petulant child and had to be dumped, sooner, not later.
There you have it, an anecdote that illustrates much of what is wrong with relationships today.
Imagine the scene.
He says: How would you like to go out to dinner tonight?
She says: No.
What’s wrong with this picture?
It’s easy. Saying No in this situation is rude, insulting and obnoxious. No one who is old enough to read this blog would turn down a dinner invitation with a flat No.
Good manners do not oblige her to say Yes. They encourage her to be polite and courteous, demurring on the grounds that she does not feel well, or some such thing.
When a woman receives an unwanted invitation from a troll she will usually not insult him by saying No. She will say that she is otherwise engaged or far too busy.
If the letter writer really sees herself as a peacemaker then she lacks the most elementary self-awareness. She is being confrontational, and she is picking a fight.
In walking away her boyfriend is refusing to take the bait. He is not giving her the silent treatment.
Unfortunately, Hax does not offer an amiable way to defuse the situation. She encourages the women's worst tendencies.
In her words:
The way to say no is with the conviction that you have every right to say no. Period.
Folks, he invited her to dinner. That’s all. Maybe he thinks that she has had a rough day. Maybe he wants to be nice to her. It is not an insult. He is not forcing her to perform a vile sexual act against her will. He is being generous.
Saying No to a generous invitation is bad manners. Period.
To add insult to injury, the letter writer, who apparently feels that her boyfriend is trying to impose his will on her, then decides that since she has said No to his invitation, he should be punished by being forced to accompany her to the grocery story.
Insisting that he go shopping with her compounds the rudeness. Having turned down his dinner invitation she has no business telling him what he must do. For all we know he invited her to dinner because he does not want to get into a fight about who should be preparing dinner.
If this embittered young woman cannot decline a dinner invitation graciously, and if she insists that he go grocery shopping with her, then she will most likely lay down the law in the kitchen, regardless of his wishes.
Clearly, the letter writer is a zealot, someone who is following the ideological principles that have been undermining relationships for decades now.
Her dilemma explains one and only one thing: why she is a girlfriend and not a wife.
She should have written to Miss Manners.