Carolyn Hax: Boyfriend’s bigotry has to be a dealbreaker

Carolyn Hax
Columnist July 11, 2012

Dear Carolyn:

I recently discovered that my boyfriend has some religious and political beliefs that differ wildly from my own. This normally wouldn’t be an issue except that when he met members of my family, he proceeded to make highly inappropriate and bigoted comments about them.

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

We discussed some of his views and he agreed to keep the comments to himself, but now I’m nervous about introducing him to friends and family for fear of what he might say. Is there any way to recover from this or is it a deal-breaker?

Anonymous

So, if I think all [people of targeted demographic] are [stupid/lazy/bad drivers/cheap/dishonest/greedy/violent/dirty/suspiciously good at math], you’re okay with that, as long as I don’t say it out loud?


Slightly different question: Is there any way to recover from soft-pedaling bigotry as “some religious and political beliefs that differ wildly from my own”?

People with bigoted views are bigots, even when their mouths aren’t moving. Unless your boyfriend said in response to your discussion, “Wow, I never thought of it that way, I’m wrong to believe all [whoevers] are [whatever],” then he’s still as much of a bigot as he revealed himself to be when he met your family. And if that isn’t a deal-breaker for you, then what is?

Dear Carolyn:

So what do you do with an acquaintance who can be friendly and nice to one person and refuse to even respond to a “Hello, how are you?” from another? Her excuse is “I don’t like them,” but does that allow her to be rude?

Oh, did I mention we are in our 50s, not our teens?

Anonymous

Excellent — so there’s no risk you’ll be shunned on the school bus for taking a proper stand. And assuming it’s not possible to avoid her like a contagion, a proper stand is in order.

Such as: “I imagine she doesn’t like you, either, and is just being civil.” With a smile. Oh, please?

Of course, by doing that, you’ll cannonball your way onto her enemies list, but that sounds like an honor to me.

Dear Carolyn:

What to do when someone flakes and then pretends nothing’s wrong?

This guy and I have been dating for five months. We used to spend about every other day together, but now it’s as if he barely wants to spend time with me.

Last week, after another discussion about it, he said he just needed time to think. After a few days, he acted as if nothing was wrong, said that “nothing happened” and that he just needed time to himself.

I love him, and thought he loved me because he used to talk about the future with me. When we’re together, everything’s good. It’s just that he doesn’t make the effort anymore to spend time with me. It’s usually me making the effort now to contact him. Any advice would be helpful.

Anonymous

He’s not pretending that nothing is wrong. He’s saying “nothing happened,” yes — but his not getting in touch with you anymore is an (in)action that demonstrates there’s something wrong, and he knows it.

So, stop seeking honesty in his words and accept the truth of his actions. It’s over unless he makes the effort that says otherwise: the effort to spend time with you. I’m sorry.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

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