DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I literally have one of the most trivial problems of all time, but it’s something that has been very difficult for me to forget/get over, which is obviously why I’m writing.
So, of course, I’m a big nerd, and one of my nerdy passions is TV and film. I admit that my tastes can edge toward the snobby side, but I’m not opposed to some ridiculous, crude, absurd stuff either. (Think Tim and Eric and the like.)
I’ve been dating this guy for about 2 months, and it’s become clear that we really don’t have the same tastes in this regard, which was fine- we can watch our stuff separately, no need to involve the other.
So here’s my super trivial problem: The other night we got together to watch a movie. He showed me a trailer, and it was awful. He seemed to think it was funny, so I was kind and gentle when he asked me about it, though I did voice that I didn’t think it looked very good and I didn’t want to watch it. He immediately proceeds to buy the movie and start playing it for us to watch together.
It was more terrible than the preview even made it out to be! And I’m not talking bad, like MST3K or campy/cult bad (which is good!), I’m talking bad like all you could really do was stare at the TV and feel complete pity for every single actor involved. Not even one single chuckle – just staring straight ahead, wondering how on earth this steaming pile of s
t ever came to be in the first place, and how on earth anyone who signed on thought it would be a good idea.
So, a scene comes up that happens to feature one of my favorite British comedians. I ask if we can please stop it, because by this point I know I will never be able to un-see this and I will lose major respect for this person I really admire. He stops it, then asks me “Will this make you hate him forever?” and I answer truthfully, “Yes, probably…”. So he plays the rest of the movie anyway.
Here’s the worst of it- he starts kissing me after the movie, obviously thinking we’re going to have sex, but this movie was so bad that it was an absolute lady-boner killer, and I am dry as a desert and clenched up like a vice. I make some small excuse so as to not hurt his feelings, and we cuddle and go to sleep for the night.
Now the problem – he is insistent it is an amazing movie and won’t stop talking about it. He even went to the theatre to see it when it was originally released, so he’d seen it before! He said he bought it and played it because he thought I would like it. Now I feel like he just doesn’t understand my tastes in the slightest, that he doesn’t listen to me, and I am also questioning his judgment and our compatibility, because it turns out most of the movies and TV he enjoys are right along this level.
I know this sounds trivial and ridiculous, but one of my favorite things in life is having a partner who I can have real discussions with about the things we watch. This may be the lamest reason in the world to break up with someone, but I am starting to feel like it’s what I need to do. I have confided in some friends, and they all think it’s ridiculous, but I reminded them that they haven’t seen this movie or been forced to watch it, and honestly I think they’d make some hard life decisions too if they had. (Being somewhat facetious, but also not, here…)
So, what? Am I the biggest snob in the world, or can this awful taste in cinema be enough for me to call it quits?
Move on 43
DEAR MOVE ON 43: You can break up with someone for literally any reason. If you decide that something is a dealbreaker, then hey, that’s a dealbreaker. There is no High Council of Relationships that will decide that your reason for breaking up with someone is insufficient and thus you are forced to stay with him. Can’t stand his politics? Go for it. Don’t like his parents? Yeah, I can see how that’d be a problem. Dude’s nose whistles when he breathes and it drives you crazy? You do you.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be people out there who may think you reason is bad or stupid or what-not. Hell, half of the appeal of Reddit’s “Am I The Asshole” forum is for strangers to sit in voyeuristic judgement of other people’s relationships. But the judgement of strangers — or even your friends — isn’t a meaningful metric to decide what you should and shouldn’t do with your relationship. Relationships aren’t a democracy, nor are they a forum for public participation. People can have their opinions and they can also keep their opinions to themselves.
Now to be fair: it’s certainly possible to be picky or finicky to the point that you’ve filtered your potential dating pool down to single digits. If you’re regularly breaking up with people for seemingly shallow reasons, or leaving relationships you otherwise enjoy because of some minor problem, then it can be a good idea to interrogate just why you’re being so picky and whether you’re letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. But by the same token: if that seemingly small or shallow thing has makes dating them intolerable, then you aren’t doing yourself or your partner any favors by trying to stick around to prove that you’re a “better” person.
Now that having been said: while his taste in movies may be abominable (seriously, if it’s the movie I think it is, finding it HILARIOUS is probably a sign to run for the hills), but the bigger red flag is that he ignored literally every sign, signal and verbal confirmation that you hated this. That’s an indicator that he doesn’t seem to take your comfort or preferences seriously which ain’t a good look. It’s not a dump-him-and-run-for-the-hills level offense, but it’s certainly something to add to the equation of whether you’re considering if this is a relationship worth keeping.
But hey, look at it this way: by breaking up with this dude, you’re setting him free so that he can find himself a girlfriend who loves the same cringe humor and lowbrow comedy he does. Really, when you think about it, you’re doing him a favor. He’s now free to enjoy the movies he loves without feeling the hate radiating off you like gamma rays and you’re able to find somebody who’s tastes and sense of humor are more compatible with yours.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org