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To expect my word choices to be respected?

(73 Posts)
BigbreastsBiggerbeard Thu 26-Oct-17 16:53:13

I have an illness that prevents me from doing a lot of things. I may WANT to do things, but I CAN'T.

Now, it seems fairly clear to me that the two are entirely different. It's down to ability, not desire.

AIBU to expect people to also understand the distinction and not continually say "but you don't want to do that". Or "but you won't do that", when the activities they are referring to are not possible due to my ill health?

I have just broken up with my partner, am very upset. But our communication was dreadful and this was one thing he did that used to upset me very much.

Whenever I tried to explain how there was quite a difference between 'can't' and 'won't', he refused to see it. He would become defensive about his choice of words. Essentially saying "it's the same thing". It really isn't.

I would be keen to know other people's opinion on this.

EdithWeston Thu 26-Oct-17 16:56:23

I think it's a dialect thing.

DH's family use 'you want' when they mean 'you might be interested in' or 'you could'

peachgreen Thu 26-Oct-17 16:59:19

YANBU OP. There’s a big difference between making an active choice not to do something and being limited by your ability to do it, and it’s hurtful of people not to recognise that, especially after you’ve corrected them.

TheQueenOfWands Thu 26-Oct-17 16:59:43

My dad says, "You don't want to do that..!" when he thinks something is not a good idea.

Did my head in as a teen. Now I say, "I do want to, that's why I'm doing it."

I agree it's a dialect/speech thing. Doesn't stop it being fucking annoying though.

MoistCantaloupe Thu 26-Oct-17 17:00:14

Can't and won't aren't the same at all. Is it that people have a lack of understanding around the illness itself, or they simply don't seem to understand the difference of the meanings of these words?

I can see how it would be frustrating to be told you 'won't' do something, when it's because you can't.

LoniceraJaponica Thu 26-Oct-17 17:01:15

How about "I am unable to do that" instead - for those hard of understanding?

BigbreastsBiggerbeard Thu 26-Oct-17 17:01:27

Edith - in this case, it's definitely not a dialect thing (sadly!) It's something I've explained many times to him ("lectured" it seems) and it hasn't been accepted that this is something that's important to me.

I feel if the situation was reversed, I wouldn't need to be told many times that it's not that I don't want to, it's that I can't.

Hey ho. Clearly I am difficult and pedantic.

Groovee Thu 26-Oct-17 17:01:50

I use unable as my word when I am unable due to my chronic condition.

BigbreastsBiggerbeard Thu 26-Oct-17 17:05:10

Queen - ah yes, I see what you mean. No, it's not used in that context.

I meant, for example, if he is talking about something I am unable to do (I.e. stay over at his house, go out somewhere, something that my illness at that time prevents) he will after the event (or non-event!) in what sounds like an accusing way "but you didn't want to do that, did you?".

Then I feel I have to justify again why I was unable to do whatever it was. Whereas I feel that if he truly understood, as he claims to, he wouldn't couch things in such accusatory ways.

Itsonkyme Thu 26-Oct-17 17:09:53

Would your ex have understood this from me? :- I can do lots and lots of things but I don't WANT to coz I'm a lazy cow.
Or You:- I want to do lots of things but I CAN'T which bit of can't , Can't you understand you stupid man.

DonkeyOaty Thu 26-Oct-17 17:11:36

That is why he is now your ex. Deliberately misunderstanding you. Get lost loser.

makes WANKER sign

I am sorry you're hurt and upset, understandable.

BigbreastsBiggerbeard Thu 26-Oct-17 17:12:00

Its - I often felt like saying that [grin[

FlowerPot1234 Thu 26-Oct-17 17:23:20

It's not a language issue here OP, it's a belief issue.

Your ex didn't believe you were unable to do these things, he believed you chose not to. So when he heard you say you "couldn't", his beliefs about your condition and his perceptions about your ability translated your motivations from your "can't" to his "won''t".

Somewhere along the line you didn't convince him of your inability through your illness, or he didn't wish it to be true so fabricated some false narrative onto you.

AcrossthePond55 Thu 26-Oct-17 17:24:13

He's your ex. You don't have to justify shit to him. Don't get drawn into his petty comments.

messyjessy17 Thu 26-Oct-17 17:26:20

While I would also get annoyed about it, I would have to say that you can't police other peoples speech. you can't tell other people what words they are allowed to say.
People can say stupid things, if they choose to.

Jux Thu 26-Oct-17 17:26:49

I have a chronic condition too. Some people just pretend that it’s news to them that I can’t do something when they know perfectly well a) that I can’t and b) why I can’t. Luckily for me, I have —lost— dropped nearly all of them over the years.

I’m sorry you’re upset now, but believe me, he sounds like one big waste of space.

If anyone tries to play that game with you again, always say “yes, I want/ed to very much.” whether you did or not. Confound them.

dataandspot Thu 26-Oct-17 17:26:58

Is this to do with Autism?

My children are autistic and I find it very difficult distinguishing what can't or perhaps won't be done.

whiskyowl Thu 26-Oct-17 17:31:16

FFS, it's really simple.

Bigbreasts can't do activity X. She is not physically able to do it. It has nothing to do with her will - she simply cannot do this thing.

Bigbreast's partner says she "won't" do activity X. This implies that she is being willful, that she COULD do it but she CHOOSES not to.

The distinction matters. Bigbreasts might well love to do X, and feel sad that she can't - for someone to say that she's just refusing out of choice adds insult to injury.

She can't police her ex's speech, but she doesn't have to put up with persistent misrepresentation either, which is both insensitive and hurtful. Well done for dumping him, OP!

messyjessy17 Thu 26-Oct-17 17:34:40

She can't police her ex's speech, but she doesn't have to put up with persistent misrepresentation either, which is both insensitive and hurtful

If she doesn't want to put up with it the simple answer is not to talk to him. The question was AIBU to expect someone to use my choice of words instead of theirs, and unfortunately the answer has to be yabu, because people can choose their own words, and interpretation, whether we like it or not.
Our only choice is whether or not to engage with them further.

SomethingNewToday Thu 26-Oct-17 17:35:04

Well you can use any word choices you like, but then so can he.

If he insists on saying you 'didn't want to' rather than 'couldn't' then he obviously feels it was more of a choice on your behalf rather than a genuine inability. Whether that's the case or not only you know.

Winebottle Thu 26-Oct-17 17:35:51

I don't see the distinction tbh. Can't is very much a relative concept used by people to soften the blow of rejection but generally there is some kind of choice. Very few things are physically impossible.

"I can't make it make it" could mean because I have to stay in and watch X factor, I have my mother's funeral to attend, it is going to cost me £10,000 to get there, I'm going to have to get a team of carers to accompany me there. In all of those cases there is choice, it is just you would rather not. Where there's a will, there's a way.

YABU. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to do things because your health makes them too difficult. That's not to say you wouldn't want to do them if your health was better.

FlowerPot1234 Thu 26-Oct-17 17:38:34

Winebottle Well right now I want to go to the gym, but I can't because I have a migraine coming on. The desire is definitely there - I want, I'm really frustrated I can't because my body is telling me something else, I can't.

BigbreastsBiggerbeard Thu 26-Oct-17 17:39:40

whiskyowl - Yes, that's exactly it. Thank you for putting it so clearly. I struggle these days to express things clearly (due to my illness!) and because communication is very important to me, it frustrates me.

As you say, it's the misrepresentation that frustrates me so much. Despite my having told him on numerous occasions that the distinction is important to me, he repeatedly uses the more loaded, accusatory phrasing.

So, not only does it upset me because it is inaccurate, it upsets me because he either hasn't listened to me previously or doesn't care enough to take on board what I've said.

And yes, his behaviour IS insensitive. Gosh - it does help to get it out.

BigbreastsBiggerbeard Thu 26-Oct-17 17:43:48

At base, I think, despite him saying he understood my condition (and to do him justice, he was VERY patient in many respects) at base he was disappointed and probably sad and probably believed there was more of an element of choice for me than there really was.

Ah well.

messyjessy17 Thu 26-Oct-17 17:47:01

As you say, it's the misrepresentation that frustrates me so much. Despite my having told him on numerous occasions that the distinction is important to me, he repeatedly uses the more loaded, accusatory phrasing

But if that is the way he sees it, he is entitled to that viewpoint. It is frustrating, upsetting and feels unfair. But he would probably say the same about your point of view.

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