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You’re in your 70s and your boyfriend forgets chivalry. When does it become a deal-breaker?

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: September 29, 2018
  • Published September 29, 2018

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

The guy I have been seeing for over seven years invited me out for a glass of wine. We are both in our 70s. Before we left, he invited his 21-year-old son, who still lives at home, to go also. We all left in my car, and when we got there, he and his son jumped out and went in the restaurant without a backward look, leaving me there to deal with the parking meter. My credit card got stuck in it. A couple going past stopped to help but still no luck. I went inside, didn't see my friend, so I asked for pliers. The waiter could not find any but said maybe he could get it out and went out with me and, fortunately, he succeeded.

I went into the restaurant about 10 minutes after my friend and his son, and found them sitting at a table talking and laughing, not giving a thought to what had happened to me. I was not happy. Then he got mad because I was mad and wouldn't talk. They finished their drinks, got up and left. When we talked about what had happened, and why I was upset, my boyfriend said it was late in the day when we parked, about 5:30 p.m, so nobody would be checking the meters and there hadn't been a need to put money in.

We haven't talked since that night. I still think they should have waited and walked into the restaurant with me, or at least come back out to see why I wasn't there. What do you think about it all?

Wanda says:

I think your significant other exhibited a significant lack of courtesy and care for you on several levels. First, he invited a third party along on what was framed as a date. Second, he abandoned you at the car, assuming you wouldn't see the need to pay a half hour's worth of meter time. Third, he remained in the restaurant without you for a long enough time that I think most reasonable people would notice, wonder what was taking you so long, and come outside to check on you. And it sounds like the evening ended when, once again, he simply got up and left you.

But what's most troubling is the way his narrative blame-shifts all of his choices and decisions back on you: it's your fault because you should have known it's pointless to feed the meter at 5:30 p.m. Right? So wrong. As someone who spends a lot of time downtown, I've witnessed the meter dude write plenty of just-before-6 p.m. tickets. So you were absolutely right to exercise caution there. But the bigger issue here isn't whether you would have gotten a ticket or not, it's the way your BF is throwing this all back on you.

He's essentially saying the fact that you were left alone outside to deal with an inconvenience is your fault, because you chose to stay. Uh, what? Where's the personal accountability, Mister? And more so, where's the chivalry? When you take someone on a date, you stay with them. You don't go trotting off to the bar. Frankly this is the kind of blundering misstep I'd expect from a teenager, not a man in his seventh decade.

Wayne says:

Of course he should have waited as you paid for parking, or at least talked you out of paying if it truly was free parking time. (Unless it's Taco Tuesday, the joint looks packed, and you're stressed about seating–– then it's totally OK to leave you at the car and run into the restaurant to grab two seats.) He also should not have invited his son on your date … and even if he really wanted his son to join you, he should have at least asked you first. And he shouldn't have left you stranded at the restaurant after he hurt your feelings, finished his drink and had his fun with his son.

Sounds like your boyfriend is way too secure and comfortable in your relationship or just doesn't give a damn anymore.

Anyone in a long-term relationship, who is honest with themselves, will admit that they sometimes take their partners for granted, engage in disagreements they could have avoided every once in a while, and even occasionally act like a total rear-end to their partner.

But your boyfriend clearly isn't giving you the attention you deserve, or the courtesy anyone deserves. He also isn't even trying to have basic communication, which is Relationship 101. It's one thing if he was just having an off night; but if this is a pattern of behavior, it could be a deal-breaker. Either way, he's certainly provided further proof that no matter how old you are, you can still be immature.

Time to try to talk again and tell him how you feel about the night. If he still isn't hearing it, you might start considering if this is how you want to spend your golden years.