Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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Am I being a little over-sensitive? My boyfriend likes to debate topics and although we disagree on several political things, I can appreciate hearing other POV's. However, we recently had a disagreement that left me feeling a little put off.

I saw an ad about a campaign to have restaurants pay their employee a fair wage so that they don't rely on tips, the idea was that when women rely on tips from their customers they are more likely to tolerate sexual harassment rather than speak up because they depend on the tip money to pay the bills. It makes a lot of sense to me and I showed it to my boyfriend. He said that he agreed that the tipping system should be done away with, but that there were bigger reasons than sexual harassment (like rude behavior in general towards servers and that he didn't like that he felt he had to tip in order to prevent having his food spit in) and he said that the ad shouldn't have focused on sexual harassment because they wouldn't appeal to as broad of an audience. I said that sure, there were other reasons to do away with the tipping/extremely low hourly wage system, but that this was focusing on the sexual harassment aspect and I thought they had a valid point. He then started questioning their statements, like "what evidence do they have" and although it's fair to want to see facts & data, the way he was doing it definitely felt like he was trying to discredit it.

Then today he took it upon himself to do some research, and told me that ACTUALLY, sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is much more prevalent from managers/other employees vs customers, and THAT'S what should be focused on. I told him that that was completely beside the point - you can file a complaint if your boss or coworkers sexually harass you, but in a tipping situation customers control the majority of a server's paycheck and aren't subject to the same sexual harassment laws that employees are. He proceeded to continue to bring up side issues and deflect from the point of the ad, all while saying he IS in favor of eliminating tipping.

It just seems like he was trying to find fault or argue for no reason, even though he actually agreed with the underlying idea of eliminating tipping! I have found myself more and more not even bringing up certain topics just because I don't want to have to engage in an active debate every single time I have an opinion. Even worse is that in the past, he's said "jokingly" that "don't worry, I'll convince you to agree with me eventually, because I've looked into this and I know that I'm right". I've talked to him about that and told him that it was offensive to me to not have my opinions respected, and since then he hasn't done it as much. But I just feel like there is still this underlying idea in his mind that my opinions aren't valid and he's just waiting to poke holes in them. Am I overreacting or is this a red flag?

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    It's an irritant. Some folks like to debate and insist they are right because they looked a few things up. The fact that he is unwilling to entertain the possibility that he may be wrong is also rather troubling.

    In this particular instance, it perhaps may be exacerbated by male defensiveness. Things were a lot easier for them when women just accepted being treated as objects and second-class citizens and didn't make such a fuss about it. Having male privilege challenged so much and so publicly recently has thrown quite a few guys off-kilter. He may be one of them.

    But only you can determine if his behaviour is a rule-breaker. Some folks enjoy conflict and debate. Others, not so much. If this difference between you is causing you distress, then perhaps you and he are not well matched. Frankly, he sounds rather tiresome and tiring to me, but I'm not the one dating him.

    reply to Jill
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    here is a recently published times article addressing the exact issue that should/can provide some validation for you. thanks for being a voice of reason/concern regarding

    reply to Professor
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    Yes, it sounds a little off. And it certainly sounds like the argument was about something much bigger than tipping, at least in *his* mind.

    There are a few issues to watch for going forward...

    If you have disagreements, that's fine. Real adults can work through them. But if he insists that your opinion on an issue is invalid? If conversations with him frequently seem to provoke harsh responses? (And later, lavish-but-hollow apologies for the harshness?) If he endlessly hammers at a picayune slip you made, in an effort to somehow assert his 'superiority'? And if he will not acknowledge that his behaviour is upsetting you -- or worse, he belittles or makes fun of you for being "too emotional"?

    These are signs of a classic emotional abuser. If he is doing any of this already, or if he slowly evolves into someone who does this -- run, don't walk away. Emotional abusers are never worth your time, energy, or involvement.

    (Seriously. Anyone who has gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship will tell you: their only regret is that they didn't get out sooner.)

    Now, only you can assess the extent of his behaviour ... perhaps he's not quite all the way to emotional abuser yet. (Perhaps.) But from where I'm standing, is there a red flag visibly flapping in the distant breeze? I'd say yes....

    reply to Kal
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    Thank you all for your advice! I agree, at this point it's annoying and some aspects are concerning because they point to a lack of respect for my opinion. I've written down some guidelines for myself for when future discussions come up, based on your input. Mainly:
    - I need to respect his opinion, even if I disagree with it, and I expect the same in return.
    - I don't need to "prove" my views to him, I'm not trying to convince him to change his views, and I'm entitled to respect for my own opinion without having to justify myself.
    - I shouldn't expect to change his views, and I expect to have my opinion respected and accepted as valid, even if he doesn't agree. Comments about how he will "convince me eventually" or "you have a right to be wrong" are rude, disrespectful, and arrogant and will be a dealbreaker if they continue.

    Of course I will take the time to explain this to him, and that I need a relationship with mutual respect where I feel that my partner values my opinion and respects my beliefs, even if he doesn't agree, and can accept that we have different opinions without trying to force me to come up with a multi-point debate backed by peer-reviewed research. Based on his response, I'll go from there.

    I have definitely been in an emotionally abusive relationship, and one of the key aspects of it was a lack of respect for me, my opinions, and my preferences which led to me having to continually defend, justify, and explain myself for literally EVERYTHING that I did in every aspect of my life. So I'm kind of hyper-sensitive when I feel like I'm not being respected as an equal. In my opinion, respect is the #1 thing I must have in a relationship.

    reply to anonymous
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