This is our friend Tom. He’s a married guy with tons of relationship experience, and a skilled advice giver who’s here to answer all your pressing sex, dating and relationship questions. Have a query for Tom? Email him at Friskymarriedguy@gmail.com! All questions will be posted anonymously, unless otherwise requested. First up…
I’ve been dating this guy for three months. It’s going great – he’s caring, generous, funny, and the sex is wonderful. There is just one problem: I hate the way he eats. He doesn’t close his mouth all the time, he chews VERY audibly, and just seems to like making mouth sounds as a part of eating. His other manners are fine, but his mouth is driving me insane. I avoid food-related situations with him, because I get overcome with embarrassment. What should I do? Am I a terrible person?
This is a sharp dill pickle of a problem. And this pickle is being gnawed, very LOUDLY and SLOBBERINGLY, with a WIDE OPEN MOUTH, in a deep part of your subconscious.
First – let yourself off the hook. We can’t pick and choose what we find annoying. It’s baked into your wiring for his chewing to bother you, and there’s no changing that. We all have pet peeves. One of mine is people who use the phrase “pet peeves.”
Second: Tread very carefully. Criticisms of personal habits are easy to take … if you’re completely free of ego. But 99 percent of men aren’t free of ego. In fact, 99 percent of us are fully owned, operated, and franchised by ego. That’s a good thing a lot of the time. Ego is what makes us go the gym, learn to cook, try and make you laugh, and all that good stuff. But it also makes us insanely sensitive, and not above dumping the perfect woman because OUR EGO told us you were a controlling, tactless nag.
But you can thread the needle here. This is how.
Schedule a time to talk to him, so he doesn’t feel blindsided. Say something like “we need to talk: I’m not breaking up with you, and I’m not pregnant… it’s a silly little thing but I care so much about you that I’d like to address it before it drives me crazy.”
At the appointed time, tell him the truth, as sweetly and as sensitively as you can possibly do. Remember, your tone is communicating far more than your words. Every inflection and piece of body language should be screaming “I love you, I care about you, please don’t be mad.” You tell him you don’t like the way he eats but (here’s the kicker) tell him that you can make peace with it. You’ve accepted that it annoys you, but he’s such a great guy, it’s one of those things you just have to deal with. However, tell him that you cannot be the only one that’s bothered by it. People he wants to impress in life will find it gross. So you’re doing the brave thing, for his sake, by bringing a issue to his attention that others might be too pussy to raise. Like informing someone they have bad breath.
Now get ready to play defense. The ego beast could be rearing up inside him. Are you criticizing the way he was raised (i.e. his Sainted Mother Who Could Do No Wrong)? Stay compassionate. Keep your body language open and don’t respond with anger. You are NOT criticizing his mother. This would be a good time to flip it around: Ask if there’s anything that you do that bugs the crap out of him. He’ll be cornered at this point, so he may not be able to answer. But there’s a cute, cheesy way out of this awkward moment. You know those ridiculous gifts people give each other on Valentine’s Day — little cards that say “good for one backrub” or “good for one romantic dinner”? Make five. One should say “good for one really irritating personal habit correction.” Four should say “good for one blowjob.”
If he doesn’t respond well to that, write me back.
Do you agree or disagree with Tom’s advice? Give YOUR advice for the letter writer in the comments!