You’ve hit the skids on a communication. Big time. Crap, it even started out on the guy’s birthday, too.
You’re driving out of the City with a friend you’ve known for a couple of decades. Having just celebrated over dinner at a chic farm-to-table café with a group of friends.
He’s newly single and appears eager to share three recent encounters with different women who were “hitting on him”.
The first story sketches out a coffeehouse exchange with an ‘old woman’ who’d hit on him. Another follows, in similar vein. Third one, same. Each anecdote depicted an experience with what sounds to you like a friendly gal expressing innocuous interest in a guy.
Let’s forget for a moment that “hitting on” is a mildly cringeworthy expression — even though, truth be told, you’ve said it yourself countless times.
You listen to his tales — and you let it go.
Until you don’t.
No woman likes being referred to as “old”, you point out. Hardly a startling observation.
You wonder aloud if the two of you might come up with a gentler alternative to “hitting on” — which, in your opinion, has a bit of a predatory vibe and violent undertone.
We might even consider this as a kind of social experiment, right?
He takes immediate offense. And the conversation spring boards a deep dive into nowhere-you-wanna-go.
He accuses you of criticizing him and presumes that you’re asking him to stop using that term. Neither of which are true.
He ramps up the heat and volume on his voice.
“Everybody says it that way,” he insists. Adding, that he has no plans to change his tune.
Is this a discussion or a drag race?
Sounds like a nasty little piggie has just bitten a chunk out of his bruised-boy booty!
It’s obvious that he’s personalized comments that had nothing to do with HIM.
You steady yourself amidst the turbulence, but the vibes are horrible. Where the heck did your friend go?
A day or so after the incident and several unrequited requests on your part for a ‘conversation about the conversation’, he writes you an email.
In it, he reports the results of a survey he’s conducted among several friends and a family member confirming the “cultural acceptability” of his language.
Phew! Good to know that his own demographic endorses his middle-age angle on reality.
But, he doubles down. Pulling the straps on an opportunity offered by one-way messaging to stipulate terms for your future engagement with him.
His interpretation of your car convo: “I initiated my role as speaker by telling you a story… You broke in and took away my speaker’s role by interrupting and telling me that you had a distaste for the phrase I used which came across to me as criticism. Our conversation was now about you and not about me, as I could no longer continue telling my story in the speaker’s role … my request is that you wait until I am finished speaking and then tell me of your concerns.”
Wow … what year is this, 1955?
In the end, he promises to call you.
And doesn’t. The entire incident enduring through time, unresolved, like a dangling participle …
Returning to our original question. Do we bring it up — Or, let it go?
If you’re testing relationship mettle for intimacy and mutual respect, bringing it up may be essential for ‘keeping it real’ between you. Your forthrightness maintains authenticity while also highlighting potential limits and capacity.
On the other hand, letting it go may promote an ease and peace for future relating with a person you care about — but with whom the relationship may not embody sufficient resilience to accommodate a deeper connection.
As it stands, your pilot light remains lit – ready to reignite on another day when co-communication turns chilly.
You’ve realized, with greater clarity, that others can meet you only as deeply as they’ve met themselves …