Disagreements over seemingly simple things—like food—can tell you a lot about your partner: what they value, how they treat your boundaries, and how much they respect you. Redditor u/Hangry_manstarved’s post went viral on the AITA subreddit after he shared the drama that happened with his then-girlfriend. What started out as a somewhat lighthearted tale about boundaries with one’s food developed into something far deeper, and the redditor was left questioning the very foundations of the romantic relationship. Because at its core, the disagreement wasn’t just about food.
The man shared how his girlfriend repeatedly ignored the food-related boundaries that he had clearly communicated to her, and how this eventually led to him asking her to move out. Things got that bad. However, the OP still had some doubts about whether or not his reaction was the right one, so he asked for a verdict from the Reddit crowd, hoping for some neutral advice to help him mull things over. Scroll down for the full story, dear Pandas, and let us know what you think of the situation.
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The redditor told us that he hopes the post can help others “wake up and realize that they need to get out of an abusive relationship.” He added that when in a relationship with attention-seeking liars, it’s important to leave early “and not to think that the person will change.”
Meanwhile, we also reached out to dating expert Dan Bacon, from The Modern Man, to talk about boundaries, living together, and friction in relationships. He explained to Bored Panda that relationships are supposed to be two-way streets and that “if a relationship is to survive and become stronger over time, both people need to hear the other person’s wants and needs and adapt, improve and change where necessary to create more harmony and love.” Read on for our full interview with Dan.
Learning to respect each other’s boundaries helps keeps relationships healthy. It’s all about mutual respect
Image credits: Tim Samuel (not the actual photo)
One guy shared how his girlfriend kept eating his food despite repeatedly asking her not to do so. An incident with a cake he’d baked led to a major argument
Image credits: Los Muertos Crew (not the actual photo)
Generally speaking, I personally don’t have a problem with sharing food as long as I do the proper song-and-dance with the famished guest. I either have to offer them something to eat (which I do, frequently) or they have to ask if they can have a bite. If someone would repeatedly help themselves to what’s in my fridge, without even the slightest reference to how politeness works, it would get old pretty darn quickly.
In romantic relationships, obviously, our boundaries have to be a bit more flexible. Some things are left unsaid, and we might get used to our partners ‘borrowing’ a few chips or nibbling our food when we’re out for a night on the town. Here’s the issue though: we’re hungry, too. We tend to enjoy food, too. And we might have been looking forward to a particular meal all week long. When you know that and you still take a large portion of what we ordered for yourself instead of ordering for yourself, you trample on our feelings (and our stomachs) a little bit.
If we also end up baking something for someone else, like a friend or a relative, and we make all of that clear, we don’t want to find that our efforts have gone to waste. That’s when behavior that kinda seemed ‘cute’ a few months ago can suddenly feel like it’s actually a tad sinister. You end asking yourself some important questions. Why did you feel like it was okay to take a bite out of each slice of the cake? Why not eat a slice, why take chunks out of all of them? Why not ask for a taste in the first place? The redditor clearly showed that his girlfriend wasn’t receptive to his boundaries and she ignored his attempts to communicate what mattered to him a lot. The cracks in the relationship began to show bit by bit.
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The vast majority of the AITA community supported the OP. They found the girlfriend’s behavior very weird. Some thought that she was gaslighting the relationship. Others believe that the relationship didn’t have much of a future to begin with.
Dating expert Dan, the founder of The Modern Man, noted that in relationships nobody ‘has to’ do anything. “Instead, it’s a choice to either be attractive or unattractive, effective or ineffective, or appealing or annoying. So, if one person comes up with a boundary or rule in a relationship, it is then up to the other person to decide whether they want to adapt to that, or defy it,” he explained to Bored Panda.
“Sometimes a boundary or a rule that someone comes up with is unnecessary or unfair, so boundaries or rules aren’t something that automatically need to be followed by people in a relationship,” he said. A couple of examples of unfair boundaries include someone telling their partner to never come into the kitchen when they’re cooking or never coming into the room when they’re watching TV.
He pointed out that it’s never the case where only one person in the relationship is right or one person’s completely at fault.
“So, if you have a personal boundary that you don’t want to be crossed, then you should bring it up, but if the other person doesn’t accept it or adapt to it, then you need to consider whether or not your boundary is necessary, or if the other person doesn’t respect and love you enough to adapt and change,” Dan said.
“If your boundary is necessary and fair, but the other person is never willing to adapt to it, they either don’t love and respect you enough, or aren’t yet ready to be in a relationship that will last for life.”
Bored Panda was interested to get the dating expert’s opinion as to when we should move in with someone and if we can tell that we’re ready to do so. “You should only move in with someone that you love being around and are happy to have in your daily life,” he told us.
“It’s not a life sentence to move in with someone though, so it’s not something to worry too much about. Moving in with someone isn’t as serious as getting married or having children. If you find that living with a person doesn’t feel good anymore, you can always move out,” the founder of The Modern Man shared his thoughts.
“Yet, if you’ve had a child with them, you can’t undo that. The child will be there now and become part of a broken family. So, don’t worry so much about moving in with someone. If it feels good to move in with them, then try it. If it turns out to feel bad, move out or get them to move out and find someone else.”
The OP provided some more context in the comments of his story
Something that we’re constantly reminded of in our day-to-day lives are a few iconic scenes from the legendary TV show ‘Friends’ where we learn that the goofy-but-loveable Joey Tribbiani “doesn’t share food!” It’s a very relatable and realistic dilemma: while many of us are happy to share with some of our loved ones (sometimes, maybe), each and every one of us has different boundaries when it comes to food.
While Person A might be fine ‘donating’ a few fries to friends who decided not to order anything or have a free-for-all approach to what’s in the fridge, others need more structure. More boundaries. More mutual respect. Person B might not be used to others ‘generously’ helping themselves to their food all the friggin’ time. But once again, it’s usually not about food: it’s about deeper issues.
Here at Bored Panda, we thoroughly believe that boundaries are incredibly important in romantic, familial, and professional relationships. They make things clear, they ensure that everyone’s on the same page in terms of expectations, and they help us navigate the sometimes-messy thing that is Dealing With Other People.
Not everyone is a grandmaster at reading tone and body language, though, so they actually need someone to tell them what they did wrong. It can all be done diplomatically, in a friendly manner. But repeated violations of these boundaries shouldn’t be met with endless tolerance. If you don’t enforce your boundaries, as the redditor did in his story, then they don’t actually exist. Actions have to have consequences. Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but intentional disrespect shouldn’t be allowed to spread.
Relationship coach Alex Scot previously told Bored Panda that one way to criticize someone and ease them into what you’re saying is to use a so-called soft-start-up.
“This is basically leading with an ‘I’ statement to state your feelings, and then requesting to discuss the subject now. For example, “I’m still feeling overwhelmed from what occurred the other night. Is now a good time for you to discuss it?” And here’s the catch: your partner is allowed to say ‘no,’ and to propose a time that does work for them,” the coach shared one way to navigate tough conversations with our partners.
“The goal here is to stop initiating heated discussions with character accusations like, ‘You’re so lazy! You never pick up after yourself,’ and instead to use the soft start-up to get the ball rolling and to prevent your partner from getting defensive,” she gave an example.
Here’s how some people reacted to the entire dating drama