Nice but combative talker won’t tone down approach
DEAR ABBY » My significant other is a supernice guy, who everyone likes and gets along with — until the topics of religion, spirituality and afterlife come up. Any discussion of these subjects (whether or not it involves him) is injected with his sarcasm, hostility and sharp criticism.
He refuses to be silent during the discussions and ends up intimidating people, which leaves everyone feeling judged and negative.
I have tried telling him his attacks are unnecessary, unwelcome and as closed-minded and naive as the arguments put forth by those who unquestioningly follow any set of teachings.
His diatribes are long, monotonous, offensive and always ending with, “show me proof,” which is nearly impossible. He considers it a “win,” which reinforces his behavior. We’ve had this discussion several times, and I’m not getting through. I have a strong belief system, but I believe everyone has their own process for achieving spirituality. This is why I can accept him as he is, and I’m happy to spar with him in private.
How do I convey how inappropriate and disrespectful his behavior is when he hijacks a discussion with his uncalled-for arguments and negativity?
— Sparring Partner in Michigan
DEAR PARTNER » How unfortunate, not to mention rude and obnoxious, that your significant other can’t control his impulse to hijack other people’s conversations on these subjects. His craving to be the center of attention appears to be bottomless.
I doubt there’s anything you can say to him that will transform him into someone capable of civil conversation. If it hasn’t already happened, your boyfriend the boor will eventually find himself as welcome as a polecat at a picnic. This ultimately may affect your own social life — so be prepared.
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