Woman With Facial Tic Smiles At Innapppriate Times, And Her Boyfriend Just Doesn't Get It
One of my closest friends growing up had a tic that made him involuntarily shake his head as if a fly was buzzing around him. Those of us who knew him understood to just ignore it, but hanging out with him in public meant a never-ending stream of explaining, or people looking around for bugs that didn't exist. One woman thought he was feverishly disagreeing with her and took offense to it. For people with tics - especially facial tics - your days can sometimes be full of sending nonverbal signals that you don't mean to send, and then having to explain it over and over. One Reddit user has a tic that makes her smile when she's feeling emotional tension - and it's been seriously affecting her relationship.
Unfortunately, the girls boyfriend keeps responding to her tick as if it's something she is doing on purpose and it's causing some serious issues. Here is her original post:
I (23F) have a tic that causes me to smile during inappropriate times. This has been triggering fights with my boyfriend (24M)
I involuntarily smile during inappropriate times since I've been a teenager. It happens during very tense moments. For example, when I've been in therapy and have talked about having suicidal thoughts, I grin uncontrollably.
It's especially bad when people are angry with me, and it has caused fights to escalate in the past between me and people I am close to. I will smile when apologizing to my boyfriend of 8 months or when he is yelling at me, and I cannot stop unless I put my hands over my mouth. It makes him question my sincerity and confuses him. He will do things to antagonize me like laugh in my face when I am telling him how I feel because he thinks I am lying about not being able to help it.
I know that people misread my emotional expressions, which is why I prefer to have intense conversations over the phone, but my boyfriend wants to talk in person when he is upset. I have been in therapy for a while, but it hasn't helped with the smiling and I am at a loss for what to do.
tl;dr I smile uncontrollably when my boyfriend is angry at me, but I can't convince him that it's not intentional. How do I come off as sincere when we are having arguments?
Edit: Sorry, I don't have the time to respond to everyone's comments, but I appreciate the outpouring of support! I'm reading every one and will try and post an update in the next week or so.
Reddit didn't hold back with their responses. Here are some of the most honest reactions we found - edited for language and clarity when needed.
Like A HyenaGiphy
Laughter and smiling as a response to stress or trauma are pretty common.
I laugh like a hyena when I'm in pain. Its a thing, it is known.
Your boyfriend sounds like a jerk though, antagonizing you and making fun of you to your face, that's not a nice thing.
Change Your Boyfriend
If you can't change your behavior, you can always change your boyfriend. Your problem is pretty unusual, but it's a failure of empathy on his part that he can't get past that is a known issue you have, and even mocks and antagonizes you for it. Imagine if you had a limp, and everytime you couldn't keep up with him in public he yelled at you to go faster, caricatured how you walked, and punished you for not being capable of walking without one. Would you tolerate that? If you saw someone else doing that to someone, would you think the guy was a gigantic douchebag?
If you're doing everything in your power to correct or prevent your smiling from happening, he doesn't really get to react the way he does. As he does it anyway, I think what we have here is an implacable incompatibility between you two.
Give A Heads Up
I have this problem it's really hard to control. My mom has hit me because if it as a child, cause to her i was laughing at her while she was angry at me.
So now i cry uncontrollably or laugh when very nervous, no inbetween lol. I remember smiling like an idiot when my husband was going through a rough time but i was upset with him not laughing! He didn't notice i hid it well. Hands on face and looking away usually helps.
What i do is i preemptively say that I'm gonna smile if i feel it coming but reassure the person i am not laughing. I feel so bad when it happens that it makes it worse!!
Just A QuirkGiphy
I have a smile tic also. Funerals are the worst for me because I can't stop smiling, or if something bad is happening I will laugh. I believe it is to do with anxiety and not being sure how to react, so you smile to alleviate the stress (I read this somewhere - can't find source).
However, onto the question: I think a partner should always be on your side. My partner knows about my nervous smiling and he understands it - it's just a quirk of mine. The fact your boyfriend is shouting at you and mocking you by smiling in your face when discussing serious matters is awful and you do not have to put up with this - I would never be with someone who mocks and gets angry at things I cannot control. You deserve better.
UPDATE: Some Examples
I have said that, but he has done things like laugh at me or make a hand motion to signal that he's not listening to me.
And when I say "can you not interrupt me when I'm talking to mock me? It hurts my feelings and makes me feel disrespected."
He said "I can't help it"
And then I said "really? You can't help interrupting me to laugh?"
And he said, "Your viewpoint is so ridiculous that it's impossible not to laugh. You're being hypocritical for mocking me for something I can't control."
Ok, your boyfriend straight up doesn't trust you. If someone tells you they have an uncontrollable tic, and then demonstrates that tic repeatedly you have 2 options: Believe them or decide that they are super manipulative and lying so they have an excuse to be a sarcastic asshole to your face and not suffer consequences. Your bf chose #2. That, him laughing at you when you're vulnerable, and the fact you've had enough screaming matches in 8 months for this to be an issue all tells me this is a toxic relationship.
Have More Respect For YourselfGiphy
Dude, and it's only been 8 months? This guy is a douche to the tenth degree. I have been with my husband for 11 years and he has never treated me this way. You guys are supposed to be in your early young love phase and he already treats you with such disdain and resentment? Please have more respect for yourself. There are guys out there who aren't complete self centered douches to their girlfriends. A partner who loves you would see you as a partner, not as somebody to compete with or tear down. The fact that he seems to relish in mocking you is so concerning. He lacks empathy. Omg. You are breaking my heart over here. You could do so much better. :(
He Thinks You're A Liar
I do the same thing. It's actually not uncommon. It often makes people angrier and they'll sometimes ask, "Do you think it's funny? Do you?" and it makes them escalate.
I don't think it's funny at all. In fact, sometimes I'm fucking terrified. But I can't control that stupid, smirking grin. Neither can my brother. We both have it, and when we'd get in trouble simultaneously as kids, mom would be furious because we're grinning at her when she's trying to discipline us. It's a really shitty deal.
A major issue here is that people feel disrespected by our facial expressions when it's something we can't really control. I have to focus on controlling my face when I should be listening to the other person. Your boyfriend feels disrespected when you do this, so he thinks the appropriate response is to disrespect you. He also thinks you're a liar.
That's something you should look at here. Even when my mom felt disrespected by my brother and I, because we're smiling, she didn't respond by disrespecting us. And even though she still finds it upsetting or unnerving when it happens, we've had enough talks that she believes me when I say that it's not a reflection of my feelings or opinion on the situation.
You still have a problem because of that tic, but your boyfriend is also an actual problem here: because he thinks you're a liar, and because he thinks an appropriate response to feeling disrespected is to antagonize and mock you. That's not how a loving partner behaves. So... I really think you should dump him.
Something I do sometimes is, when I'm dating someone, if I'm nervous or scared in a situation but I'm smiling, I'll admit out loud to how I feel-- and sometimes, that opens the conversation to the fact that my smiling doesn't mean I'm happy or flippant. But that's something to consider for future dating experience. I really think your current boyfriend is just a legitimate as$hole.
I have Tourette's, which comes with lots of involuntary tics, some of which are inappropriate facial expressions. I used to have the grinning tic you have.
Your boyfriend is ignorant, and he has to learn the hard way that you're not joking about your condition. I've dealt with assholes like him before - people who think it's all in your head and you can control it if you just have more willpower. I got a cashier fired years ago for cornering me and lecturing me about how I just had a "lazy mind" for not "controlling" my tics. I'm telling you now, he will never just come around and start believing you.
Also, talk therapy won't ever make a tic go away. I'd recommend talking to either a psychiatrist or a neurologist to get some more solid answers, you may have a tic disorder. Even if you don't, you shouldn't apologize for it, it's nothing you can control.
Not What Love Looks LikeGiphy
My wife has a really hard time talking during arguments and while it really upsets me I always tel her it makes me angry she isn't saying anything but that I love her and need for her to try to talk to me. And even though it's hard she tries and talks and I wait and stop talking until she's ready. That's what love looks like, not what you're doing with this fella.
There is so much to learn in the world, it's impossible for one person to know absolutely everything there is to know.
But there are certain things, like common phrases and idioms, that everyone seems to use that might be a little embarrassing to not understand until later in life.
Redditor Curious-2577 asked:
"What's something you learned 'embarrassingly late' in life?"
"My sister was in her fifties when she found out the meaning of, 'You have an addictive personality.'"
"She thought after all these years of therapy that it meant that people were addicted to her personality."
"We laughed hysterically when we talked about this (in a very sad way)."
"I thought that horses had toes until I was 22. I thought the hoof was a 'horseshoe' and the toes were tucked inside."
"How did I learn how wrong I was, you ask?"
"I was walking past a cavalry museum and saw a horse statue and loudly remarked, 'It must hurt so bad when they fold a horse’s toes to put them into the shoe!'"
"Dozens of horse enthusiasts turned and looked at me with wild bewilderment in their eyes."
"The saying is, in fact, 'Nip it in the bud' and not 'Nip it in the butt.'"
"A few months ago, two of my colleagues both handed in their notice at around the same time."
"I kept reading/hearing the sentence, 'They’re both moving on to pastures new’ being thrown about the office in the weeks leading up to them leaving, and I hadn’t heard this phrase before and thought that was the name of the rival company that they were going to, like, 'Pastures New.'"
"I thought it was weird that nobody was talking about how they were both leaving for the same company."
"I was in the car with one of the two people who were leaving and said, 'So where is it that you and X are going to be working? Is it...’"
"And just before I could embarrass myself and say ‘Pastures New,' they interrupted me and said they’re not going to the same place and asked me where I had heard that."
"I think at that moment, I realized I was stupid and didn’t mention it again."
"I think I was in college when I realized that Mario and Luigi are plumbers. I thought they just went and up down these tubes just because that was the theme of the game."
"That Bonsai are not a species of tree, but a way to grow them. Any tree can be a bonsai."
Houston, We Have a Problem
"Houston is not the name of the guy astronauts talk to."
"I learned that pork and beans are not called 'cowboy beans.' I was 18 and asked a grocery store clerk to help me find the 'cowboy beans.'"
"We were looking everywhere and I was getting frustrated because I know that every store carries these beans. After a while, I picked up a pork and beans can with a picture and said, 'See, they look just like this!'"
"He said, 'You mean pork and beans?'"
"Then I realized that my mom called them that so that I would eat them."
"The look of disappointment from that grocery store clerk haunts me to this day."
"Let me tell you about how I thought you were awarded a 'Pullet Surprise.'"
Rum and Coke
"Not too late in life, but I thought my parents were making 'Roman Cokes' until I went to college."
"Which, I think is a much better name for the drink (Rum and Coke) anyway."
Oh No, Not Acoma!
"That a coma was 'A' coma. Until I was probably 19 or so, I thought it was 'acoma.'"
"I thought you fell into acoma."
It Must Have Been a One-Way Trip
"My parents were divorced the whole time and my mom was not, in fact, taking a vacation, lmao (laughing my a** off)."
"I live near the Hospital for Joint Diseases… when I was a kid, I thought was a special hospital for people who had two or more different diseases at the same time."
"Moving cross-country, driving east to west, and crossing from Idaho to Oregon, I noticed huge fields with signs for the Ore-Ida Potato company."
"So I was in my early 20s when I figured out Ore-Ida wasn’t just a brand name but was because their potatoes came from Oregon and Idaho."
"When I was really young, my sister told me she threw her guts up. So I was really afraid of vomiting my entire insides up for years."
Some of these really had us laughing as we realized the revelations some of these Redditors were having.
But when we're really honest with ourselves, we probably didn't figure out some of these until later, too.
While starting a family and having children is a goal that many people have, some do not realize that it's not easy, fun, and loving one-hundred percent of the time. Rather, it's expensive, exhausting, and hard, though it might be worth it in the end.
With this in mind, people shared what they felt were the hardest hurdles of their parenting.
Redditor ApprehensiveShock655 asked:
"What's the worst part of having a child?"
Fear of Not Doing Enough
"The constant anxiety that you’re doing enough to shape them to make good choices, a good life, be a good person and for them to have the life they deserve."
Like the Energizer Bunny
"It's incessant. It never stops. You never get a day off."
"Going from having two days per week to relax and do whatever to literally never having a moment free from responsibility."
No Break In Sight
"I’ve always wanted kids and still do, but this is the only thing that has come close to giving me pause."
"Both my siblings have young kids and I cannot get over how CONSTANT it is."
"From the second the kids wake up to when they finally shut their eyes, it’s non-stop. Then they get maybe an hour or two to themselves, which is mostly spent tidying up, etc., before the nighttime stuff starts with the baby crying, the toddler coming into bed, nightmares, etc."
"It requires years of not getting a full night's rest. You can never just go out whenever you want. No sleeping in, even on weekends because someone has to be up with them at 6 AM."
"Raising human children is an insane task."
Mom's Body After Baby and Dad Bods
"The weight gain is the worst! During the pregnancy, I gained 35 pounds. My belly has stretch marks. My boobs are all saggy."
"And it’s not even fair because my wife only gained like 15."
The Meal Planning
"Coming up with three meals to eat per day EVERY DAY stresses me out so bad."
"This sounds like such a small thing, but it really wears on you over time. You can’t just make something for yourself or something you and your spouse feel like eating: You have to constantly be thinking about if the kid is hungry and what they might be willing to eat."
Keeping Them Safe
"When people ask me this I say, 'do you know those video games where you have to escort a character to a destination without them being attacked?' That's parenting. Those missions are a pain in the a**."
Seriously, Keep Them Safe
"Having to deal with their total lack of self-preservation. They are creative and come up with all kinds of ways to try and kill themselves. Keeping ahead of the game is exhausting."
"They’re just always there. On you, behind you, in front of you, just a little speed bump impeding every task."
Letting Them Live Their Life Their Way
"Having a kid is like having a little piece of your heart running around in the world. When they're sick or get disappointed or just feel sad, it's worse than having it happen to you."
"Yet at the same time, you need to let your kids work through those things to learn to handle them. If you give into the worry and try to shield them from everything, you risk creating harmful co-dependence."
"So it's a constant struggle. But worth it!"
What Is "Sleep" Again?
"I'm only nine years in, but so far, it's been the sleep deprivation. Hands down."
And What Are These "Sick Days" You Speak Of?
"Having to take care of a sick child when you are also sick. For me that has been the most challenging part so far."
Another Full-Time Job
"It's like taking a second job that lasts 18+ years with a 24/7 schedule with no holidays or sick days."
"…And no second paycheck. It's actually like YOU are paying your second salary instead of getting one."
"The loss of freedom. I can't just... go somewhere. Even with older kids, there's so much planning and thinking and getting ready."
"I miss being able to just decide to go somewhere, and go there."
The Time Flies
"The best advice I got was from an ancient hospital security guard in an elevator. 'The days are long, the years are short, cherish them while you can.'"
"The phrase I hate is, 'You don't know it, but one day you pick your kid up for the last time.'"
There are all kinds of troubles that come from being a parent, many of which people don't necessarily think about until they already have a baby in the house.
But reassuringly, many people in the subReddit pointed out that no matter how hard some of these hurdles are to get over, it's still worth it in the end, and it goes by far too fast.
Positive emotions are high among people in the blossoming phase of relationships.
Everything seems more romanticized for people in love due to the amorous joy in their hearts–which also influences their desire to frequently get it on under the sheets–or any other daring location in the heat of the moment.
But for those who've declared "'til death do us part," devoted couples may find that they are not always on the same wavelength sexually compared to when they first met.
Curious to hear how people keep their passion alive, Redditor Rude_Phone6841 asked:
"Married people, how do you initiate sex with your partner?"
When verbally articulating isn't enough...
Let The Book Dictate When
"There is a book called 'How to Subtly Tell Your Partner You Want More Sex.' If you sleep on the right side of the bed, you can casually open it up and your spouse will see the giant printed title on the front. Sometimes, I’ll just get the book out and leave it on his side of the bed. Once he was messing with me and acting like he was oblivious to my not-so-subtle hints, so I threw the book at him. The book is effective and hilarious."
"ETA: Sadly, we haven’t found the book since we moved. Fortunately, we’ve started communicating with our words instead. Words are just as effective."
Save The Date
"I send her an outlook calendar event and if she accepts, IT'S ON."
"You know when I’m down to my socks it’s time for business."
These couples find that verbal cues are best.
Now's The Time
"Honestly when we have the time one of us usually bluntly says 'let's go have sex right f'king now before we can't' and we go do it. Lol"
Option A Or B
"I have a 2 month old and a 2 year old. Some of the best sex we had was because I said 'after 2 year old goes down and if 2month decides to sleep do you want to meet in the basement' well she decided to sleep and damn that was good."
End Of Day Reward
"We just ask each other tbh. We’ll bring it up earlier in the day so we build up the anticipation with each other throughout the day, flirt with each other, gas each other up. All that. Then when it’s finally time at the end of the day, we usually fall asleep cause we’re so tired."
"But the cycle continues the next day!"
People continued offering their wisdom.
Afternoon Hanky Panky
"The trick is to initiate sex during the day. We are both too tired at the end. Plus hanging out all day after is somehow more rewarding."
"Same goes for dates. Have sex at the beginning the date, then go enjoy your time together without any pressure."
Kids In The Equation
"This literally happened today with my wife and me. We have two toddlers so we’re extra exhausted. Earlier today we had the sexy initiation of 'hey, we both showered today, want to have sex after the babies are asleep?' 'Sure.'"
"Then when the kids were asleep, and my wife and I were getting settled into bed, she asked if I still wanted to. I said if she wants to I’m down, but I’m pretty tired and would be fine without it. She said she was also tired and could do without it. So we kissed each other good night and she went to sleep. I’m just winding down on Reddit for a few minutes before I also fall asleep."
"I know this is boring. I didn’t write this to tell an exciting story. Just to share what married life is like for me and probably the large majority of married couples, especially parents of young kids."
Shadow Puppet Technique
"Use my phones torch to shine a shadow of my member up against the bedroom wall."
"Kinda like a bat signal of sorts."
"Turn off the lights and switch on the red lamp beside the bed."
"Walk by him while taking my top off. He follows me wherever I go and it's been 30 years and counting."
Every couple is different, and usually establishing a strong communication bond makes everything else in the relationship–including sexy time–falls in line effortlessly.
I knew a couple who made a game out of foreplay and agreed that whoever got home first from getting off work at the same time got to choose the sexual position that night.
They may no longer be together, but I remember them recalling how that technique was fun for them at the beginning stage and it took the pressure off of establishing when they were going to have sex.
Don't take get too anxious about it. It's just sex, and it's fun.
There are a number of things people partake in spite of the known possible ramifications they have on their health and safety.
Up to and including smoking, bungee-jumping, recreational drug use, or simply bike riding without a helmet.
Indeed, even though they know that doing any or all of these things could possibly lead to their death, they do it anyway.
Sadly, even though many people go out of their way to avoid doing these things for that very reason, that still doesn't mean they keep themselves completely out of danger.
Sadly, there are a surprisingly large number of things that lead to an even more surprising number of deaths each year.
Frighteningly, these are things that the majority of the world's population does on an almost daily basis.
"What causes death more than people realize?"
When In Doubt, Call Your Doctor!
"Your body will become septic, in which it essentially kills itself trying to kill off whatever infection one has."- cacarrizales
"Infections that are left untreated."- raptor-99
Tread Carefully. Seriously.
"On average around 17k people a year in the US die from injuries incurred after tripping and falling."- EdithWhartonsFarts
When In Doubt, Don't Drive.
"Driving while sleepy."- latchkey_adult
The Handrail Is There For A Reason.
"20 million severe injuries each year and at least 200,000 death from consequences of the fall."
"Both my grandparents died because of a fall."- OnTheGoodSideofLife
They Happen To The Best Of Us
"Especially among the elderly, a fall can create a cascade of events that results in death, even if it seems minor at first."-AdmiralBofa
Never Rush Chewing
"Statistically the most choked on food."- SpecSanders
Never Skip A Check-Up
"High Blood Pressure."
"It sneaks up on you and you don't know about it or don't care but it's the underlying cause of so many deaths."- Fear51
Never Underestimate The Importance Of Self Care
"Your body can only handle so much of it and it’s labeled the 'silent killer' for that reason."
"With your high blood pressure and the 5 hours of sleep a night because of the stress, It will creep up on you sooner than you think."- DroppedDonut
Don't Forget To Floss!
"Untreated dental problems."
"A cavity left untreated can lead to heart attacks and strokes."- Lastalmark
"Just regular old flu."
"Many people ignore it thinking it'll go away on its own."
"Globally the number per year is usually between 300k and 500k."
"In the US it can be anywhere from 12k to 50k per year."- PhreedomPhighter
Don't Feel Ashamed If You Need A Break
"I have two family friends pass from heart attacks associated to shoveling the snow."- JD054
There Are People Who Will Help You
"Alcoholism causing liver failure and it's on the rise in the USA."- Interesting_Drop8236
"Peruse your County ME’s records."
"The amount of people who die from alcohol is astounding."- hockenduke
Sometimes, It's Just Best To Mind Your Own Business
"You watch some Hollywood blockbusters and some MMA fights and you think you can do it too."
"I've seen stories of a guy minding his own business and gets rocked on the side of his head. It disconnected his spine and he was dead before he hit the ground."
"There was another story maybe a year ago of a scuffle where a guy was stabbed in the neck and bled out to the point of being unable to stand within 10 seconds."
"Stop f*cking around, it's not worth your life."- Choiceofart
We never know when our number is up or how we'll end our days.
However, with a little bit of care and good judgment, we can at least likely avoid falling victim to all of the above.