A woman has won the backing of the internet after walking out of a birthday dinner with her boyfriend after he kept “ignoring” everything she was saying.
But while the vast majority applauded her actions, some suggested there could be more to his obliviousness than initially thought.
When it comes to relationships, communication matters and feeling like you are not being listened to and appreciated can be the death knell for many couples.
In a 2021 study published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, researchers from the University of Utah quizzed people in the midst of a breakup to discuss the positives and negatives of ending things.
The responses given were converted into “stay” and “go” categories that were given to another group in long-term relationships who were considering splitting up.
The findings showed that the reasons for either staying together or splitting up were consistent among the two groups regardless of whether they were dating or married. Chief among the reasons for ending things was a sense that their partner was withdrawing from the relationship as a whole.
One of the most common ways this withdrawal can be evidenced is through a breakdown in communication. That kind of breakdown appears to be playing out for one woman posting to Reddit under the handle u/throwaway2255w2.
“My husband has been ignoring me whenever I try to have a convo with him or tell him something important,” she wrote. “He’d just sit and stare.”
Whenever the woman tries to bring this up with him, he denies the accusation and insists “he does pay attention” but after two months she had had enough.
She wrote: “On my birthday, he took me out to the diner. I was perusing the menu, After a few uncomfortable minutes, I said, ‘I think I’m getting a headache.’ He finally responded, ‘Go ahead, sweetheart; get whatever you want.'”
The woman was left “fuming” at his response and once again confronted him about his lack of attention. Fed up at the situation, she decided to “walk out” of the restaurant.
Though he pleaded with her to return, she left soon after. When he returned home later, her partner accused her of behaving in a “juvenile way” and said she “embarrassed him” with her actions. But while he is now expecting her to apologize, the woman is so far refusing to concede she did anything wrong.
Terri DiMatteo, a relationship counselor, felt the woman’s frustration was “understandable.” She told Newsweek, “It is infuriating to express something to your spouse or partner and have them respond dismissively.”
“Such a response can leave one wondering: Do they care about me? Do I matter? Did they even hear me? Listening and responding to one’s spouse or partner demonstrates that they matter to you and can reassure them that your welfare matters.”
Stock images of a couple at dinner and a birthday cake – a woman has been applauded for walking out on a birthday dinner with her husband after he kept “ignoring” her. Rebbeck_Images/Lacheev/Getty
Many on social media were inclined to agree. Coppertressedhotmess said: “You both need to have an honest conversation about whether you even like each other anymore,” with TracyOlivia14 adding: “It sounds like he is spacing out because he has problems or he is over the relationship because of all the fighting and arguing in the past so now he just doesn’t care anymore.”
However, others thought his lack of response could be down to an undiagnosed medical issue. ElizabethJanet commented: “I have to ask if he’s experiencing some neurological issues. This is so bizarre” while manakin4687 said: “the staring episodes could be absence seizures—more likely he’s just zoning out but wouldn’t hurt to ask a dr about it.”
Matteo acknowledged that the husband’s disconnected and out-of-sync responses could be an indicator he “may have a hearing condition or some other medical, psychological, or neurological condition.”
“If tests reveal his limitations, she can offer more compassion to his odd responses and understand that they don’t indicate a lack of care,” she added.
Newsweek reached out to u/throwaway2255w2 for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.
Have you noticed any red flags that made you end a relationship? Let us know via [email protected] We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.