Saturday, February 9, 2019

He Won't Grow Up

So, her boyfriend is Peter Pan. He won’t grow up. He won’t dress like a grown up. He is almost 28. She is 30. Strictly speaking, they are both adults. 

And, they both have problems. His is obvious. He refuses to adhere to dress codes. Hers is equally obvious. Why has she tolerated this behavior for two years?

At her wit’s end, the woman writes to Carolyn Hax:

My boyfriend and I have been together for two years; he's a few months shy of 28 (I'm 30). It seems that the only clothes he wears are T-shirts, gym shorts and Chucks, stuff I would consider vastly more appropriate for someone in their late teens or early 20s. If it were just around the house or for quick errands, I wouldn't really care, but this extends to going out to dinner or for public events. (I put my foot down for an occasion at the Kennedy Center.)

Is it unfair to expect him to start putting a little more care into his dress at our age? I try not to nag, but it's a little embarrassing to stand out so much from the other patrons of the reasonably nice restaurants we frequent in image-focused D.C.

— Embarrassed

So, why has she allowed her boyfriend to embarrass her in public? Has his misbehavior produced any other unwelcome consequences? For example, what does he do for a living? Does he have a job where such attire is appropriate? Does he stay at home playing video games? Strangely, she does not mention whether or not he is gainfully employed. And she does not mention whether or not other couples are happy to go out with them? I suspect that they are not, but we have no information about it. We do not know whether or not he has a trust fund and is supporting her.

Hax correctly replies that this is a dealbreaker. She advises Embarrassed to dump the pathetic sod:

To make choices that reject norms is bigger than just a T-shirt. He is certainly entitled to reject all the norms he wants, but you are also entitled to decide that someone who rejects norms that thoroughly isn’t the person you want at your side through life. You can decide that respect for the norms of your surroundings is a form of respect for the institutions and the people maintaining them — for the people working at the restaurants, for the people running and performing at the theater, etc. Different values are the single most valid reason to decide someone isn’t for you.

Plus, values aside, you’re free just to be sick of being out with the guy in gym shorts, and break up with him just for that.

One of Hax’s interlocutors suggests that Embarrassed take her boyfriend shopping. Perhaps he does not know how to buy clothes. Perhaps he does not like to go into clothing stores. Perhaps he does not know how to dress himself. It's last ditch... but you never know.

It’s a sad state of affairs. Embarrassed should ask herself why she put up with him for as long as she has. Truth be told, an individual's appearance, his ability to adhere to dress codes, is one of the first things you notice about him.


UbuMaccabee said...

When they go out on dates, does he pick her up on his skateboard?

Sam L. said...

There's way too much we don't know about this kid, other than it seems he won't grow up or learn to be an adult, but that's enough to dump him. It's past time to tell him "Don't darken my door again!"