A Woman Asks For Advice About Her Boyfriend That Censors Her In Public, And The Internet Delivers

Love is rough. There are many little quirks you have to put up with in a partner. Those quirks are part of the "compromise" that makes love worth it. Or... are they more than quirks? Are they flat out rude actions. Some people may not be able to handle all you are and your authentic self. That's a problem y'all. For instance...

Redditor Pohllypockets went to Reddit for some "Dear Abby" advice by asking.... My boyfriend [24m] always tells me [22f] not to talk about inappropriate topics in public. I feel like I can't have a conversation at all without him telling me to change the topic. Her story goes as follows...

My boyfriend Dan always tells me "Don't talk about that when people can hear you" and I feel like most of the stuff he says that about is stuff that's just normal conversation. I'll give a couple examples so you get the idea.

We were at the supermarket and he asked me if I was going to my friend Jim's party. I said I wasn't sure yet. He asked why. I said "I told Jim that me and the girls wouldn't go if Mark was gonna be there, cause Mark's been a huge creep to us all." Dan shushed me, and whispered "Don't talk about that here"

Another time, we were on the bus, and I was talking about my old roommate, and how she was still dating a teacher she had in high school, who came onto her basically immediately after she graduated. And how sketchy that was. Dan basically told me off for saying that on the bus. Which felt kinda ridiculous because there's worse stuff you hear on buses; there was some strung out druggie woman talking to herself just a few seats back.

Another time, we were in the pharmacy, and I said "What brand of lube did you like better? I forget" And held up two bottles. He got really irritated when we got back in the car.

And one more time, he got snippy with me for saying "Did I tell you what my therapist said this morning?" Because apparently seeing a therapist is another inappropriate topic.

In general, I feel like I have to put on some kinda picture perfect act every time we're outside one of our apartments. Like I can't tell the truth about conflicts in my friend group, weird stuff I've seen in life, or ask even basic questions about lube and condoms, in the lube and condoms aisle of the pharmacy...

It's not like he minds those topics in general. I think it's more like an anxiety thing, that he's worried about strangers overhearing and judging us. But it's really stressing me out, because I never know what he's going to tell me is a no-no topic for him. I feel like I've got to put on an act every time we're outside, or else we're going to argue.

But I don't know if I'm in the wrong, and I really could do to tone it down a little. So I'm looking for a few second opinions. Is the kinda stuff I say stuff I should be embarrassed to say in a public place? If not, how can I talk to my boyfriend about how much this is stressing me out?


Sounds like he needs a therapist...


He sounds like he's really self-conscious about what other people/strangers think of him. The examples you gave don't sound like something you should be quieted for in my opinion. It's not like you were loudly swearing in front of children at church. Maybe it's an issue of compatibility. If you're a more outgoing, carefree person, you shouldn't have to feel embarrassed about that because your boyfriend is uncomfortable. It's really frustrating to feel like you can't be yourself around your significant other or feel like they're embarrassed of you. Have you talked to him about it or how often it seems to happen? Did he have anything to say?


The City limits...

Is your boyfriend from a small town?

Cause 100% of that absolutely would get to my mom by the time I got home where I grew up. Took a long time for the small town paranoia to fall away. Being chatty in public is definitely a perk I have come to enjoy living in a bigger city.


Did you just... Shush me?


My husband used to be like your boyfriend. He'd give me a look to shoosh me, and I would stare back at him as if to say "silence me I dare you" and continue talking. We would later have discussions about it and found some compromises. He once told me he preferred long hair when I was itching to cut it and told him. I acknowledged his opinion and cut it off anyways. Then he realized he liked me still with short hair. As you can tell, I don't take to feeling like someone is trying to control me well.

These little quirks make me who I am, and he fell in love with quirky me so he can put up with a wife who thinks tennis shoes are appropriate for church when my feet hurt.

He did back off after discussions where I said I felt like these were attempts to control me or change me. Why fall in love with a person and then attempt to change them? He also naturally chilled a lot over the years, but I asserted myself on these things while dating.

It may become a mountain if you don't level the molehill.


Cleanup In Aisle 4

Ok the lube one is just hilarious...

But he sounds really uptight and... repressed? Like I'm from a super WASP-y family, and we just don't talk about a lot of things, but thats usually money/income/mental health issues. We're all over gossip about creeps and lecherous teachers...

Is he very image conscious? Like overly concerned what other people think of him?


The past never leaves you.

I was thinking this was probably the result of a WASPy upbringing. And I mean sure, maybe not everyone wants to have a grand conversation about income or mental health issues or lube in the middle of the store. But shushing his girlfriend talking about someone else's mental health in front of other randos? That's super ridiculous and potentially problematic because that would encourage people being harassed/abused/mentally tortured to not speak up. And that speaks to upper echelon royalty/megarich WASPyness. I hope he can come around and be more comfortable with this sort of stuff, otherwise their relationship might stall out for inability to communicate.


Don't be creepy!


Being shushed over the creeper or the therapist thing would really bother me.

Saying you want to avoid someone who is treating you badly says nothing bad. I'd be angry if he acted like I should be ashamed or hide it. Creeper dude is why I'm not sure I'm going to the party. He asked; I replied.


Pull it together dude!

Literally the only thing I could see his point with was the lube, because some people are just shy about that sort of thing.

For everything else, he's being ridiculous and controlling. If he's so insecure that he's constantly on alert about what other people might hear and think of him then he needs to get his crap together or see someone about it instead of expecting you to accommodate his foolishness all the time.

Next time he does it, wait until you're out of immediate earshot of strangers and tell him bluntly "I'm getting tired of being shushed. I'm sorry if you're that worried about what strangers think, but I'd like to talk to my partner and I'm pretty much done with being scolded when I try. If you want to talk about why it bothers you when we get home we can, but I'm not going to walk on eggshells anymore."


Get over yourself!


Exactly. He really over-estimates how interested everyone is in him if he thinks completely strangers have nothing better to do or nothing more important to think about then what he and his girlfriend are talking about. Most people probably don't even notice they're there, never mind trying to hang on their every word, especially when the girlfriend is talking in a normal tone to a person right next to her and not exactly bellowing across the room. He needs to get over himself. He's not that important.


He's treating you like a child. That's how a parent talks to you not your bf.

Those are not inappropriate topics. Maybe he means he is not comfortable talking about them, but that would require more clear communication from him. Could be how he was raised to not talk about certain things.


Small City Advice


Honestly I usually refrain from saying "gossip" type things when I'm out. We live in a small city but it's very much everyone knows everyone kind of place. I get worried about someone overhearing and spreading it or telling the person we were talking about. And it's not like my husband and I never do a bit of gossip in public, we do.

However, my husband is a loud talker and I have to remind him to turn the volume down during certain topics. At least twice now I've had to stop my husband from complaining about a child when their parents are near by because he is oblivious and talks a little loud. (And yes it is a problem because these kids aren't friends with my kids but they go to the same school and I don't need that kind of drama.)


Let him deal...

That's a him issue that he's projecting onto you, and if you stay this way it might warp your way of thinking about them. You're right that absolutely nothing you mentioned was inappropriate both in terms of context or content. I'd personally just chalk this up to incompatibility and move on, but maybe you've been dating for longer and feel comfortable with helping him unpack these issues with a therapist.


Family can be rough to...

My sister is like this. She frequently shushes me, gets embarrassed, thinks a topic is inappropriate, or thinks other people can hear. It's a social anxiety thing and I love my sister but it's really frustrating because her anxiety-by-proxy ends up feeling like she's controlling what I do/say out of her own embarrassment of me. I'm not sure if I would be able to handle that in a romantic partner because I'm extroverted and personable and it's just incompatible with how I live my life and makes me feel like she's ashamed of me or thinks I'm embarrassing.

Not sure if you feel a similar way, but it might be worth talking to him about how it makes you feel when he does this!


Peace out Yo!


You're just incompatible. I might think you're the more normal one out of the pair of you, but I don't think it's right to tell him he has to change out of this prude/modest mindset. IDK if those are even the right words to use, but it is what it is.


I'm a lady AND... a woman!

I don't want to blow things out of perspective, but I dated a guy like this for 2.5 years and it was actually him controlling me and making me feel ashamed about random things because of his insecurity. Examples like you talked about - something a tiny bit sexual he would freak out, if I said something 'unladylike' or vulgar... Honestly I'd take it as a red flag, but maybe that's because of my personal experience.



Does he have social anxiety? Or was he raised in a strict household growing up?


Sense & Sensibility...

I feel like you need to try to have a conversation with him about WHY these topics are problematic. When I say that i mean don't just casually ask why, but try to have a genuine discussion. I get the impression that he's a very private person, and you are the opposite. I think if you two try to understand each other more you might find a middle ground. For example, while I agree most of this is very uptight-ish the first couple of examples are of you being gossipy and a couple are about privacy, and maybe he genuinely finds gossip distasteful and is a very private person. Who knows. That's why you should try to have a meaningful discussion about it. When it happens, don't get defensive, but say something like "I notice that you feel that way a lot when i try to talk about xyz, and I want to understand why that bothers you." Make it clear that you aren't trying to change his mind, get upset or defend yourself, but that you want to understand. While you're doing that, you should absolutely have the opportunity to express why it's important to you to be able to openly/publicly discuss certain things, how it makes you feel when he belittles you/ shuts you down, and just maybe you'll come away with a better understand in that can actually help you find a balance approached to how you converse in public. In some circumstances, like h the lube type incidents, uptight people learn the be less uptight when we insist on keeping it light. Maybe he'll always be the bashful type and you just gotta be ok with that, but he has to accept that you're outgoing and don't give a damn. It starts by talking about boundaries and understanding why a person has them. From there you either learn how to overcome them or respect them.

Remember, there are TWO sensibilities that matter in this relationship so it can't just be about supporting whatever YOU are most comfortable with. Lastly, if you simply cannot find a comfortable balance without feeling like you're light is being quelled, then perhaps consider that you two aren't an ideal match and its a sign that he's not the best intimate partner for you.



Soooooo.....I'm Asian, and while I don't really have a problem with some of these topics, I absolutely can see people from my cultural background not feeling comfortable about talking about these kind of things. Especially the lube bit....The therapist part I absolutely can understand. There's still stigma around that depending where you're from. People don't necessarily want anyone to know that you're seeing a therapist.

So ..... my question is, is there a cultural thing here? Or simply how he was brought up? You may need to have a heart to heart with him and come to a middle ground.



Not everything is a gender issue but I'd really like to know if he shushes male friends this way?


I can't hear you!


I'm with him on the lube. LOL I'd be so embarrassed! Do you perhaps have a louder voice? Also, it seems the examples are always around very private topics or gossip. I think this is pure incompatibility. You have the right to want to talk about these topics, he has the right not to discuss them.


Well, I do see your BF's point. The examples you gave can be considered gossip and private, and those are not typically discussed in situations within an earshot of others in public.

However, the issue I am seeing here is that (1) you and your BF disagree on what inappropriate topics are, and (2) you have yet to stop talking after his request (this may be related to issue #1).

I think it would be wise for you to sit down with you BF, understand where he is coming from (old fashioned, maybe?), and agree on what to say/ not say in public.

PS. Others behaving poorly does not give you the right to behave as such. You repeat to others about those weird stuff you heard/ seen in pubic, and I am certain you wouldn't want to be the subject of someone else's sharing.



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