Auntie SparkNotes: My Boyfriend Is a Smug Jerk
My boyfriend and I have different tastes in a lot of things. The biggest issue, that shouldn’t be an issue at all, is our taste in music. He likes punk and ska bands and I love rock and metal bands. One of my all-time favorite metal bands is Iron Maiden. Whenever I wear their shirts he makes a comment saying how much they suck.
I’m not really a defensive person and in the heat of the moment my brain fails to come up with a decent come back. I HATE that he puts down something that I really like. It’s not just with my taste in music though (which he says is awful). Any topic that is a simple matter of opinion that we both disagree on I am stupid and he is right. It makes me so angry! He likes olives and I don’t. He likes video games and I don’t care for them. He really puts his opinion as better than mine and it’s so upsetting. Our relationship is fine for the most part other than this sad bump in the road. Why is he like this about his opinion? What can I say that will shut him up?
"I hope your next girlfriend likes olives."
...Okay, yeah, I know: you were hoping for a solution that didn't involve a proverbial kick to the proverbial curb.
But really, Sparkler, I cannot for the life of me figure out why. You say that your relationship is fine for the most part, but you haven't mentioned a single redeeming quality that your boyfriend possesses that makes him not a giant douche canoe. Does he have any? Because unless he is uniformly stellar in every other way, then having a guy who puts you down and calls you stupid over simple matters of taste isn't a sad little bump in the road; it's the end of the road. Because the road sucks, and is an insufferable ass, and does not deserve the pleasure of such a lovely person traveling on it.
HOWEVER. I'm willing to acknowledge that yes, there is a certain contingent of otherwise-decent people out there whose one terrible flaw is that their confidence in their own opinions comes in the form of putting down those of everyone else. And yes, for whatever reason, an awful lot of these people are guys (and to a lesser extent, girls) between the ages of 14 and 22. Why? Who knows! But fortunately, adolescent blowhards mostly grow out of their Sanctimony Pants by the time they reach adulthood... and those who don't can be found at cocktail parties, picking fights and being avoided by everyone.
And in the meantime, if your boyfriend is one of these unfortunate people, then the only thing to do when he starts dissing your tastes is to:
a) smile blankly,
b) say, "Okay then!," and then
c) continue talking as though he never said anything at all.
And if he tries to push the issue, you can always ask: if he truly believes that you're stupid, wrong, and possessed of terrible taste in every way, then why on earth is he dating you?
But otherwise, your best and most effective bet is to just let it go—and to not fall into the same trap, of validation-by-degradation, that has so thoroughly ensnared your boyfriend. People who do this do it because they need to, because their sense of self relies on superiority. They can't feel good about what they like unless you feel crappy about what you like. They can't enjoy things for their own sake, or on their own merits; they have to believe that their tastes make them morally, ethically, and intellectually better. And it's infuriating, yes, but it's also kind of sad, because in their endless jostle for position, and their endless quest to diss one thing in order to promote another, they miss out on the incredible peace and joy of just... loving something.
And we should all feel sorry for them.
That is, if they weren't such giant douche canoes.
Are your friends smug and obnoxious about their tastes? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.