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Boyfriend upset over small issue, red flags or valid concerns? How do I feel close to him after this?


Truthwillsetufree
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Been dating my boyfriend for the past 3–4 months. We’re both in our 30’s. Me and him rarely fight, actually we haven’t really fought.

So the other day, we decided to go mini golfing - which is supposed to be a fun date night which became the complete opposite.

Not our first time going mini golfing together. I thought we were having fun in mini golf but after we finished he brought up the concern to me and told me he likes to play by the rules and it really bothers him when someone cheats in the game. He referred to me wanting a “re-do” shot because there were a few times I didn’t put enough power into the shot to get it up the hill and that I didn’t count those shots on our score card and that this bothers him.

I mentioned to him that I personally didn’t see a big deal about this, I was just having fun and I thought he was too. I told him I didn’t even care if he wanted a re-do shot it wouldn’t bother me. I told him that I didn’t share the same feelings on the subject so it was hard for me to understand where he's coming from. But because this is how he feels, I need to respect that he has these feelings.

And he mentioned that he would never do that, and would just take the shot from where it was because that's how he plays. So I mentioned that if this bothered him the way it does he should’ve told me it did. And he mentioned that he did tell me, but it was indirect and not straight forward and because of the trivial nature and my thought of having fun it didn’t register with me.

For me, I felt like it was trivial in nature and something not even worth a disagreement or fight about. But this event led to almost 2 hours of talking about it.

He mentioned that he felt like I have a competitive side - which I actually don’t and could care less about the score, but he mentioned that my actions showed otherwise (me keeping our score was me being competitive) but to me that had nothing to do with how I felt about the game. But I also mentioned to him that how he interprets a behaviour, not everyone will have that same interpretation.

I know myself and who I am, and I almost felt like I had to defend my character, and that my character was being questioned. But he seems adamant on thinking he knows that I'm competitive even though I keep telling him I'm not.

He also mentioned that me keeping score and not counting all the strokes was a form of gas lighting? I can admit there were certain holes where I didn't accurately put the score because I lost count of the actual swings so I just wrote a number and I straight up admitted that too I wasn't hiding anything.

I don’t know where this is all coming from, but I haven’t felt more distant from someone in my life. I almost feel like I can’t repair this, how can I feel close to him again after feeling like my character was in question. How does this relationship recover from this?

Also this isn’t the first time he has brought of a trivial matter, there was one time early on in the relationship where I kissed him while he was driving and he got mad because his eyes were off the road, and we talked about it after. And I literally was like oh I’m sorry I didn't know that bothered you or I would've never done it in the first place.

But this, is almost like another level, and now he basically says, if I can cheat in mini golf what else can I be dishonest about?? And wow I have no intentions of being dishonest to this guy and I was literally just having fun…what do I do?

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It depends how he addressed the issue -if calmly that's different and escalating it to cheating on mini golf =dishonesty in other matters is kind of off the rails.  My husband is pretty particular about games like mini golf, bowling, and the game nights we used to have as were certain of his friends.  I can relate - if you're going to play, play.  And yes there is compromise.  For example in mini golf we let our son do reshots when he was young of course.  Or in rare instances. 

But if I'm playing mini golf with someone and keeping score I personally don't see the point of messing around with the reshots, etc among adults.  Same with a game like monopoly - what's the point of playing if you don't play by the rules -and the rules you all agree on.  Others feel differently and don't care about rules. It's no fun for me if people don't play by the rules and there's a range of course.  

As far as kissing him -yes he was right to react -perhaps he gets easily distracted -it's dangerous especially these days with the uptick in crazy drivers/road rage.  He sounds like he didn't overreact.  My husband decided to break out into song when I was a brand new driver and he was a passenger and I was on a really busy city street and I was really frustrated. Driving requires full attention.  It sounds like he communicated reasonably. I don't like how he escalated your behavior at mini golf as far as extending to other areas.  That's just silly.  

 

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You’ve been distant and not as close as you think from the start, OP, with your differences. 3-4 months is smack in the honeymoon period and your incompatibilities are beginning to show as a couple.

Cheating on a game isn’t trivial for him and you didn’t think he was serious while he was trying to telling you not to do that during the game? I’m not sure why you’d not listen or see that he wasn’t ok with it. It’s not so much after the fact and being hit with the knowledge. It’s that it doesn’t sound like you were listening or in tune with him to start. It’s a good learning experience and it’s up to both of you if you’re able to respect that and be more honest about the scores or swings. Otherwise why record it at all?  It means more to him if you’re playing accurately so it’s up to you if you want to change.

Reading into this about what else you may be dishonest about sounds like him checking out and unsure about you. He doesn’t feel good around you and may be processing his feelings. 

Do you drive? Taking your eyes off the road for a split second can be dangerous. It’s not only your own vehicle you’re driving but using your peripheral vision to scan for other drivers and pedestrians, stop signs etc. He may be a nervous driver also or not feeling as confident. Either way, I agree with him on that one.

He doesn’t feel comfortable around you so take the cue. You can choose to change or keep doing things the same way. By talking about it he is asking you to change because he doesn’t feel comfortable or safe around you so you can take the info as you will, don’t take it too personally and improve or not. 

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1 hour ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

Also this isn’t the first time he has brought of a trivial matter, there was one time early on in the relationship where I kissed him while he was driving and he got mad because his eyes were off the road, and we talked about it after.

It seems like he's being petty and faultfinding. However you seem to think any of his concerns/discussions are "trivial", so this personality difference is something to take note of.

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Games can be a good judge of someones character. Not to extent he put it, for example, I would never think that you would cheat in a relationship(that is what he implied) just because you wanted to be competative and didnt count the score properly. But it does show that you have a competative side. Otherwise you wouldnt "cut corners", not count strokes and all, or yes, even keep the score. Only to be closer to him? To win? You never said who won so maybe that is why he is bothered. That you "won" by doing it. 

I dont even know why him or even you are being bothered by it. No matter what some new school of thoughts think, its OK to be competative. We live in a very cruel world sometimes. Where being competative gets you a better position in almost all areas of life. Its not a bad thing to have a competative side. Even your boyfriend clearly has it otherwise he wouldnt be bothered by you doing it. 

Anyway, its kinda silly. And doesnt really throws a good light on you. Nore on him and his reaction to it. Nore about both of you deescalating stuff. For example literally the same "Sorry, didnt know it bothered you" you said during driving incident(btw he was right about that, dont do something sudden while someone is driving, that should at least be common sense), would be enough to deescalate it. But hey, you were dead set that you cutting corners and writting less strokes is not being competative. And he wouldnt let it go. So it escalated. Its not really a good sign especially that soon into relationship.

 

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It's definitely a difference in your viewpoints.

He's say it reflects your character and using it to judge you. 

You thought it was just a funny, relaxed game.

In the long run, this could become a bigger issue because it's like a metaphor of life. 

It doesn't have to be the end of the relationship, everyone you meet will be different in some way...  But what matters is, if you both can accept the difference and the way you handle it going forward.

If the difference was used against me, as in this case, my character is being challenged. Why? because I announced I wanted a do-over in a game of mini golf? That's probably not going to work long term for me. 

I need to be with someone I can be myself, be vulnerable and feel good with.  Not someone I'm second guessing myself because I've been smacked on the nose with the newspaper (twice) for following my own nature. 

In some ways it's petty. In some ways, it shows what your dealing with.  

Stay true to yourself.  These early months, when the real person comes out are the true test. Many times I stuck it out hoping to get back to a honeymoon phase. That person never came back. It just get worse.  lol. which is just an indication that they aren't the right person.  That's ok!

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2 hours ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

I haven’t felt more distant from someone in my life. I almost feel like I can’t repair this, how can I feel close to him again after feeling like my character was in question. How does this relationship recover from this?

Ps.... I don't think you can repair it. Trust your gut

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I agree.  I don't think being called competitive a bad thing.  My bf is super competitive.  I wouldn't immediately go the negative and feel as if I needed to defend myself.  Especially if I felt otherwise.  "Really?. . I've never been told that.  Something I'll give some thought to"  and let it go.  Just note that he likes to play by the rules.  Also, not a negative, just a preference.

The comment about you cheating in other ways went way too far, however.  Yet he accused you of gaslighting?  Interesting.

I'd let this one blow over.  You two are still learning things about each other and this was a great lesson. The details aren't important here.  It's the way you two handled it.  I would definitely have my eyes wide open going fwd. 3-4 month mark, we start to show our real selves.

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I am pretty competitive. I freely admit it. I think wanting “ do overs “ IS competitive whether you think so or not. Do overs essentially are to do better . Correct ? So he isn’t wrong. It is also cheating. I see his point. Some people are intense even if it is just a friendly game. I think he took it too far to suggest you are generally a cheater .  Maybe this type of personality is not for you. It is best to discover this now. 

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3 minutes ago, smackie9 said:

Don't play mini golf or any game with him ever. Just find some other activity that doesn't require keeping score. There it's fixed.

Yah, I still may golf with my bf, but not as much as I used to.  And we go into it with some boundaries.  He's over the top competitive and plays in men's clubs. I am a novel golfer, who doesn't keep score and picks up my ball.  I don't take it seriously and it's like a religion for him.   We are both better off when I play with my girlfriends.  It's easier on our relationship too. . .lol

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Okay so I've read a few comments now and I appreciate them all! So I just want to thank you.

I agree we both have different view points on what is important to us. And me seeing it as a trivial matter isn't trivial to him and I've acknowledged that and told him that even though I don't see it as such, that doesn't mean your viewpoint isn't valid. I've seen this happen a few times where something will bother him, but it doesn't bother me, and that's because we are two different people who are going to react differently to things.

As far as mini golf - I get some people are in to playing by the rules. But I was looking at it as just having fun, and I guess in his mind he wasn't. So two very different pages on what our expectations are for playing. I have no problem sticking to the rules if it was made clear to me that he wanted that. However, it was not made clear that he wanted us to play by the rules. I mentioned that if something is bothering him he needs to straight up tell me because I'm that type of person. I am not good with indirect especially if we don't place the same value on what it is that is bothersome. 

Regardless, having a 2 hour conversation about this after what was supposed to be a fun game of mini golf is a bit much and definitely something for me that felt blown out of proportion. I told him next time we play, ill play by the rules I have no problem doing so. And then he tells me, "you know what? I don't care, I'm going to let you do what you wanna do and I'll have a big smile on my face" And I told him no, because it bothers you, and I have no problem accommodating that instead of you not feeling happy.

And for the record I could've cared less who won, maybe I didn't even realize those actions showed something else aka being competitive and it wasn't even my intention to be so. So that can be a lack of my awareness as to how I'm portraying myself, regardless...I've mini golfed with my friends and nothing of this sort has ever come up even if we do re shots. 

I personally don't know if I can recover from this, I still feel distant and don't know if these feelings for me will come back. Or do I just feel distant because I feel unresolved? Personally I feel like my character was in hard question and for me to actually defend myself, is just a bit much at this early stage. Part of me isn't sure what I want, I thought I enjoyed him, but would it just be best to end it at this? I don't know if I can feel close to him again.

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It's alarming to know that he's excessively dramatic over a trivial issue.  It's unnecessary to have a long drawn out argument over mini golfing.  Really?  If it's a brief annoyance or brief mention which doesn't escalate into a lengthy argument, a compromise is fair.  A lot of people play mini golf for fun without keeping score.  If mini golfing is a source of contention, then do some other activity instead.  However, he's a red flag because he argues over petty "concerns."  He's overly fussy to the point of irritating.

As for kissing him while he's driving, it's dangerous.  Whether my husband or I drive, neither of us kiss for obvious safety reasons.  Do you want your boyfriend to suddenly swerve off the road and collide with other motorists or pedestrians because you decided to be affectionate and risky?  Accidents are deadly.  Was it worth it? 

Your boyfriend's comment about not keeping score and counting scores is NOT gaslighting.  He does not know the definition of gaslighting.  During a conversation both verbal or written form, gaslighting is when the perpetrator deliberately deflects and forces you to perceive that you don't have the correct facts.  Gaslighting is changing the subject and forcing you to believe that there's something wrong with YOUR character and personality while the perpetrator continues to deflect constantly.  You are constantly defending your character in a relentless, vicious, endless circle until you learn to walk away and no longer engage with a habitually evil, nasty, ugly gaslighter.  Gaslighting strategy causes you to question your mentality and sanity.  A gaslighter lacks emotional intelligence and empathy to the core.   There is no cure for this serious mental disorder.  Either accept the gaslighter as is or dissolve and exit the relationship.  The other alternative is to enforce very strong, healthy boundaries for yourself as I've done for several years.  Gaslighting is very manipulative behavior.  Beware!  

If your boyfriend continues to attack your integrity repetitively, he will not change for you.  Accept him the way he is as he continues to give you trouble or it's your decision to either have him in your life or not.  It's your choice.  If it were me, he's a real deal breaker and definitely NOT a gem.  You can do better and you deserve better. 

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3 hours ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

Been dating my boyfriend for the past 3–4 months. We’re both in our 30’s.

Is he recently out of a relationship? He seems to have some unfinished business, baggage and some sort of ax to grind (like the out-of-left-field "gaslighting" remark).

Now that the rosy glasses are clearing, he's sort of showing what a grouch he is or has  hair-trigger reactiveness. View this as a red flag and proceed with caution. This is not about golf and you know that..

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3 minutes ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

I personally don't know if I can recover from this, I still feel distant and don't know if these feelings for me will come back. Or do I just feel distant because I feel unresolved? Personally I feel like my character was in hard question and for me to actually defend myself, is just a bit much at this early stage. Part of me isn't sure what I want, I thought I enjoyed him, but would it just be best to end it at this? I don't know if I can feel close to him again.

Trust your gut instincts.  If you're intuitively uncomfortable with your boyfriend or anyone for that matter, obviously, your common sense is telling you and teaching you to heed those alarm bells in your brain.  Red flags in your brain are there for a reason.  Those red flags are telling you that your boyfriend has a complicated, difficult, complex personality and do you want to deal with him at this level?  It's beneath you and insults your integrity.  You don't feel close to him if he second guesses your "ulterior motives" when there aren't any.  He's basically accusing you of having a sneaky personality which is very offensive and insulting to your character, dignity and integrity. 

You shouldn't have to defend your honor.  He thinks you're a dishonest person and not a decent human being.  Do you envision him as your long term boyfriend at this rate?  You determine whom you deserve and let that be your guide.   

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22 minutes ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

Okay so I've read a few comments now and I appreciate them all! So I just want to thank you.

I agree we both have different view points on what is important to us. And me seeing it as a trivial matter isn't trivial to him and I've acknowledged that and told him that even though I don't see it as such, that doesn't mean your viewpoint isn't valid. I've seen this happen a few times where something will bother him, but it doesn't bother me, and that's because we are two different people who are going to react differently to things.

As far as mini golf - I get some people are in to playing by the rules. But I was looking at it as just having fun, and I guess in his mind he wasn't. So two very different pages on what our expectations are for playing. I have no problem sticking to the rules if it was made clear to me that he wanted that. However, it was not made clear that he wanted us to play by the rules. I mentioned that if something is bothering him he needs to straight up tell me because I'm that type of person. I am not good with indirect especially if we don't place the same value on what it is that is bothersome. 

Regardless, having a 2 hour conversation about this after what was supposed to be a fun game of mini golf is a bit much and definitely something for me that felt blown out of proportion. I told him next time we play, ill play by the rules I have no problem doing so. And then he tells me, "you know what? I don't care, I'm going to let you do what you wanna do and I'll have a big smile on my face" And I told him no, because it bothers you, and I have no problem accommodating that instead of you not feeling happy.

And for the record I could've cared less who won, maybe I didn't even realize those actions showed something else aka being competitive and it wasn't even my intention to be so. So that can be a lack of my awareness as to how I'm portraying myself, regardless...I've mini golfed with my friends and nothing of this sort has ever come up even if we do re shots. 

I personally don't know if I can recover from this, I still feel distant and don't know if these feelings for me will come back. Or do I just feel distant because I feel unresolved? Personally I feel like my character was in hard question and for me to actually defend myself, is just a bit much at this early stage. Part of me isn't sure what I want, I thought I enjoyed him, but would it just be best to end it at this? I don't know if I can feel close to him again.

Then it might be best to break up ? 

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36 minutes ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

Regardless, having a 2 hour conversation about this after what was supposed to be a fun game of mini golf is a bit much and definitely something for me that felt blown out of proportion. I told him next time we play, ill play by the rules I have no problem doing so. And then he tells me, "you know what? I don't care, I'm going to let you do what you wanna do and I'll have a big smile on my face" And I told him no, because it bothers you, and I have no problem accommodating that instead of you not feeling happy.

OP, this is a huge red flag slapping you in the face. He is telling you point blank who he is - that he will boil with resentment and lie to your face until he blows up eventually. He is telling you to your face that he will fake you out and has been already. What you are learning about this guy is that he is passive aggressive, that he projects things to you like competitiveness, that he is petty, that he will blow things completely out of proportion and will attack your character.

Yes, a 2 hour argument about this where he accused you of being a cheater in other ways is insane and not something you should sweep under the rug. This is big enough that you walk away, especially when you've been barely dating 3-4 months. This is your getting to know him time and what you are learning is majorly problematic. Don't stick around until you sink in deeper emotionally and get more attached where breaking up becomes harder.

Please listen to your gut and distance yourself all the way out of his life. You are a direct person and he is not and never will be. No matter how many times you ask him to speak up or be direct with you about something that bothers him, passive aggressive people just do not operate that way. He will always be passive aggressive because that's who he is. Even if he manages to be direct on a rare occasion, understand that for his kind of personality, it's sweat an anxiety inducing event and he won't venture there often. The reason you haven't had any arguments or even disagreements until this blow is because he hides his genuine feelings and thoughts and when he does explode over something, you are seeing the ugly reality of how that goes. This will get worse in the future if you stick around.

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I was in a relationship where I found myself having to defend myself over what seemed to be little things such as this. If it wasn't minigolf, it was something else.  It wasn't about the event, it felt more about someone who was trying to wear me down.  I understood we were having different experiences, but my gut told me his aggressive reaction didn't seem fitting of the particular moment. 

I started to pay attention to how often I found myself in this position where I was defending myself.  Defending myself in what seemed nonsensical things.  I began to not allow him to bait me and when it got to be too much, it was time to leave.

We aren't there, it's hard to say.  But some of what you shared sounds as if it didn't have much to do about the game, but more of an opportunity to push you off balance and wear you down.  

My guess is this event will pass with some breathing space, but I'd be on the watch to see if happens again or continues.

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Pass

5 hours ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

he did tell me, but it was indirect and not straight forward

Passive aggressive behavior is the pathway to gaslighting.

You not keeping score correctly is you just having fun, and not taking it seriously.  Him not telling you to keep a real score, but expected you to just know to do it, and blame you for not meeting his unknown to you expectations is completely unrealistic.

And the fact he wouldn't let it go for hours, eekk, I'd be careful.  He sounds like a sore loser in life.

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9 minutes ago, tattoobunnie said:

 

And the fact he wouldn't let it go for hours, eekk, I'd be careful.  He sounds like a sore loser in life.

Too be fair it could not have gone for 2 hours unless both parties participated. 

 Not to minimize his reaction but you can only fight with someone who fights back. 

Learn to shut it down quickly.  I learned to say something like "Good to know. Thanks for that sharing that with me" rather than engage it.  If he's just looking to push your buttons he won't stop there and will likely continue.   No need to play the game where you need to fight to be right.

 

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Just now, reinventmyself said:

Too be fair it could not have gone for 2 hours unless both parties participated. 

 Not to minimize his reaction but you can only fight with someone who fights back. 

Learn to shut it down quickly.  I learned to say something like "Good to know. Thanks for that sharing that with me" rather than engage it.  If he's just looking to push your buttons he won't stop there and will likely continue.   No need to play the game where you need to fight to be right.

 

Fights can last a long arse time, cool, happens...but after only dating for 3ish months...pass.  Just major incompatibility...if they already feel they need to placate one another when they barely know eachother, can't see it working out.

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OK I found his remark passive aggressive not a good sign. IMO if it doesn't feel right, then it's not. I agree this is trivial and didn't need a two hour conversation about it. He could have just said "ok lets have a serious game this time around"...you know a simple compromise. But he sounded condescending, aggressive OCD. Like wow just let it go bud. For me this would be a dealbreaker...it just doesn't sit right with me at all. 

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6 hours ago, Truthwillsetufree said:

I know myself and who I am, and I almost felt like I had to defend my character, and that my character was being questioned. But he seems adamant on thinking he knows that I'm competitive even though I keep telling him I'm not.

He also mentioned that me keeping score and not counting all the strokes was a form of gas lighting? I can admit there were certain holes where I didn't accurately put the score because I lost count of the actual swings so I just wrote a number and I straight up admitted that too I wasn't hiding anything.

Sounds like he is 'reflecting' his issue's onto you.

Where HE is the gaslighter.  Which is why he is so familair with the term.. Ya think? 🙂 

Has been only a few months- I say ditch him!

He's very challenging and full of assumptions.

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I can understand why you'd feel lousy, he took it too far.

I guess I'd also need to look at why I didn't just treat this the same as the incident in the car.

If a subject doesn't mean anything to me, why make it a hill to die on, when I could just apologize for upsetting him by fudging my score? I mean, sure...I could cop to that! 🙂 

I'd maybe be generous in hearing him out while he beoched about it, then I could tell him, 'Duly noted, I hear, and it won't happen again...' while hiding my tongue in my cheek.

If I can let stuff pass that I don't really care about, when I DO object to something, people know that I mean it. This can buy enough observation time to learn whether a guy takes himself too seriously about EVERYthing, or just some things that you can live with.

In this case, the guy sounds as though he might be a bit unstable by heading into a character attack. That's pretty low. Whatever you decide to do is the right choice for you.

 

 

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It's easy to say just walk away from the argument. In practical reality, most people do not have the experience and strength needed to walk away when their character is being attacked. Defending your character is an instinctive reaction that is very very hard to overcome.

This guy is a forest of flaming red flags and I really hope that the OP listens to her gut and runs for the hills as far away from him as possible. This is not about the game but rather his behavior in its entirety. Especially his snarky remark that going forward he'll just smile and pretend. Talk about passive aggressive.

If it was just about the game, he had any number of opportunities to address the issue. Starting with being honest with the OP that he is competing. Letting her know on the spot that a redo is against the rules. Asking her how she is keeping score and why and clarifying with her where he stands. He literally had any number of sane rational ways to approach her. He did NONE of that and chose to use the game to attack her and to carry on for 2 hours. He is vindictive and he went on as he did very specifically to punish her for whatever perceived injury he felt. Problem with people like that is they are dangerous because you have NO IDEA when is the next time you do something that will upset them and when they will again react in some over the top way.

I can't emphasize enough that this is just the tip of the iceberg and if she sticks around, she will learn the hard way that this is going to get increasingly worse. Next time he blows up on her it will be 4 hours.

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