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Questioning my boundaries - deciding deal breakers.

(13 Posts)
YellowBricks Fri 06-May-16 12:04:48

I have a history of relationships with abusive men and since divorcing my abusive XH, I think I've moved my bar up a good few hundred notches. This relates to my BF of 2 years. I'd really appreciate it if anyone could tell me if this relationship is good or if you'd find the less desirable stuff to be deal breakers. It's quite long so if you can't be bothered to read it all the gist is, he's almost perfect but I don't know if his frequent bragging/showing off is a deal breaker.

Good points:
There are so many. He's respectful, intelligent, we can talk for hours and hours about anything from really trivial stuff to the big things like the meaning of life and controversial politics, always respectful of each other's differing view points, but share a lot of the same values. He makes me laugh until I cry, every day we laugh together, we share a similar sense of humour. He's supportive of my goals, encourages me, compliments me all the time both about my appearance and my personality - he makes me feel really good about myself and makes me believe I deserve good people in my life. He's certainly a big factor in my recovering self esteem. He makes a huge effort with my friends and family. He's a really involved and caring dad, also makes a big effort with my DC. He looks after me when I'm ill, will help me out in practical ways which has been so nice since spending a long time as a lone and then single parent. He's highly domesticated, never grumbles about doing housework even though he works full time and I'm very untidy/messy. He finds my less desirable qualities endearing. He's motivated and driven at work. Is straightforward and never plays games. He absolutely adores me (as I do him) and makes me feel valued, loved and appreciated every day. He's also handsome and the best I've ever experienced in bed. He's hugely affectionate. He's generous and kind and emotionally intelligent - he knows instantly when I'm feeling off. I can't praise him highly enough.

He seems perfect for me.

But...and this is his only real down point and the only thing that ever makes me question my relationship with him...he's a real braggart. He talks a lot about work in a way which is designed to show off how good he is at his job. He shows off about how good he is at certain things. He shows off an awful lot about his DC. An example of this was he was teaching his DC how to do something new but really pushing him to learn it quicker and I could see he was getting frustrated that he wasn't picking it up as quickly as he would like. But, then he did master this new skill. BF sat down and had actually timed how long it had taken him to learn it. And then wouldn't shut up about how quickly he'd picked it up. He's done this with other things too. I don't like this competitive side to him. I sometimes feel like he uses his DC and me to reflect on how great a person he is. I know he shows my photo off to his friends and colleagues an awful lot, I don't think I'm anything special but he clearly does. He's told me before that he thinks he irritates his friends and colleagues because all he talks about is his DC, me and his sport and I can well believe that because I find it irritating to have to listen to how amazing his DC is at everything and how fantastic he is at his sport and job.

I have questioned why I find is so annoying and googled the issue and found that it's a common annoyance for lots of people. I'm trying to understand if it's a legitimate irritation or whether I'm being bitter. Perhaps I should just be happy for him? He doesn't show off about material possessions (which I know is a particular bug bear for many people) but more about his skills and himself as a person. But maybe he is right to do that? He is pretty fantastic and driven. I'm also trying to decide if this one thing outweighs all his positive attributes. Sometimes I find myself thinking I can't stand it and think about breaking up but I love him so much and know he is a great catch and worry that I will regret it. I read posts here and on the dating thread and think I'd be mad to give him up. It's certainly the most fulfilling relationship I've ever been in, so then why does this feel like such a big issue? I know that bragging can make people feel jealous, inferior or competitive (to a degree I do feel like that about the parenting side of things) but, and I'm not so sure why so think it must be a cultural thing, I don't like it and feel uncomfortable about him bragging about me to other people. I was raised to be modest and value this in other people. But is it such a bad thing to be a braggart?

I've read up on ways to deal with this behaviour and psychologist sites seem to suggest it stems from low self esteem or difficult childhoods both of which I think apply to BF. These sites advocate giving more attention and compliments but I find myself reluctant in case it encourages him. I have asked him if he feels if I give him enough affection and compliments and he says yes. Maybe he's just a bottomless pit for these things though?

Is this something others could live with or would it be a deal breaker for you? If you could live with it, how would you handle/respond to this behaviour?

hellsbellsmelons Fri 06-May-16 12:13:46

Can you jokingly dig him in the ribs and say 'stop bragging'???
He appears to have so many good qualities and you say you really love him.
Can you talk to him about it and how it annoys you?
If not, why not?

YellowBricks Fri 06-May-16 12:24:13

Thanks for replying hellsbells.

I've tried being subtle by talking about how I dislike this quality in others. There is mum at my DC's school who is unbearably competitive when it comes to the DC. He acknowledges this is annoying in others but doesn't seem to make the link with his own behaviour.

I've not yet been direct about it because I suppose I don't know if I'm right to be so annoyed. It's harmless in a way but irritating all the same. I don't like to hurt him and I think he would be defensive if I pulled him up on it. He's also talked about how he loves that we can talk about anything, I guess the upshot of that is that I don't want him to have to censor himself around me. I also know I'm not perfect but he takes my less desirable qualities with quiet acceptance.

But it's a good question. Why do I find it so hard to tell him how I really feel about this?

HuskyLover1 Fri 06-May-16 12:25:51

Nobody is perfect! He sounds like a lovely guy, in many ways. You can tackle this by telling him that it's not attractive to show off. If you are direct, I'm sure he will take on board what you are saying.

Startingover2016 Fri 06-May-16 14:37:09

I would be really direct eg did you know you are always telling people how wonderful you are and they don't like it? or something like that.

I know that doesn't sound very nice but I had to do similar with ex because it became embarrassing in social situations and it is not fair on others.

I pussy footed around him for years but when I actually told him, he could recognise it in himself and it helped.

Somerville Fri 06-May-16 14:50:07

Is he a really positive, glass-half-full person? I've notice that some men like that brag a lot; one in particular goes on about his wife, who is a good friend of mine, being the most gorgeous and clever woman in the universe. She's pretty and nice, actually. But I really believe that to him she seems like the best woman ever. And he's very self-confident and not afraid to express that.

I've talked to her about it - she's aware he does it and finds it a bit embarrassing, but she says it's outweighed by how overwhelmingly positive he is all the time. Very rarely has a moody moment, never sulks, helps out loads, doesn't mind that their kids are messy, just comes hope and tidies up while telling them all how wonderful they are!

Somerville Fri 06-May-16 14:54:55

And about his competitiveness - if this takes the form of direct comparisons between his DC and yours, I'd advise you to run a mile. But it doesn't really sound that it is like that?

Like most things, an honest and rather blunt chat is probably needed. He doesn't sound like the type of bloke that subtle would work well with. grin

TheNaze73 Fri 06-May-16 17:24:42

husky is spot on. Just be direct, men don't do subtle

AnotherEmma Fri 06-May-16 17:30:46

I wonder if you could tease him about it? No one likes criticism and a bit of affectionate teasing usually softens the blow.

I also suggest that you make an effort to compliment him and praise him about things he's done well. This might seem counter productive but he might be bragging because deep down he is insecure - in which case compliments and praise might help with that.

But if the subtle approach (teasing and compliments) doesn't work, and he doesn't tone it down, I suggest being direct. Be gentle but honest.

I would be focusing on the way it affects his interactions with the children in particular, because pushy and competitive parenting is not good.

RiceCrispieTreats Fri 06-May-16 17:40:47

Yes, it's linked to self esteem, and he will be a bottomless pit for praise until HE does some work on himself - do you can compliment him all you want; it won't change a thing.

However, you do need ti:

- Be more direct ("It's not attractive to brag, DP.")
- Run a mile IF his need to self-aggrandise means he EVER puts you or yours down.

Because low self esteem is a common neurosis and deserves our empathy, but it is NEVER acceptable to put others down, just to big oneself up.

pocketsaviour Fri 06-May-16 18:09:29

It just sounds like he's been brought up to be positive about his (and his DCs') achievements. I know it's terribly un-English and we're traditionally supposed to say "Oh how gauche" and be all sniffy, but I think there's a lot of charm about someone who is not full of false modesty and humblebrag but actually just says "Guess what, my kids are fantastic."

However as a PP said if he's comparing his achievements to yours or other people's DC as a put-down, then that would be a red flag.

I'd also ask how he reacts if you tease him about this? Like if you said "I've got a carpenter coming round next week by the way, I'm worried you'll start catching your head in the doorframe if it gets any bigger" would he laugh and say "Whoops, sorry! I'll stop going on!" or would he get shitty? If the latter, I'd probably bin him off. I'm happy to help people celebrate their successes, but I can't be doing with anyone who can't laugh at themselves.

autumnleaves123 Fri 06-May-16 19:07:23

He sounds a bit narcissistic but other than that, it wouldn't be a deal breaker for me. As posters said before, tell him you don't find it attractive or tease him to see if he gets the hint. But I would be direct first and tell him straight how it makes you feel.

I had a friend who was constantly boasting about her job, her life etc etc. She was a big narcissistic. I decided to stay away from her. It was not just because of the constant showing off and boasting that I didn't want to friends any more. She was a liar and a manipulator. And those are definitely deal breakers to me.

The problem with narcissism is that it comes with other traits underneath, which could be a problem with time. Narcissists can be manipulators and liars. If it's just being a bit of a show off and it's harmless, I wouldn't have an issue with it. But if he's boasting about his children at the expense of making your children feel bad, then I would be more cautious.

autumnleaves123 Fri 06-May-16 19:08:29

Sorry meant to say "she was a big narcissist"

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