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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

My boyfriend of two years has this habit of being too honest. I have been told that I laugh like Butthead and that my laughter is too "distinctive." He feels that this character trait makes me sound like a dumb blond and that for my own benefit in life, I should refrain from laughing that way. He says that it embarrasses him because he does not want other people to think that his girlfriend is stupid. My question is when is it constructive criticism and when is it just him being superficial and inconsiderate? I think that young girls should know when someone is unfairly trying to change them.

Answer

This does not appear to be an issue of honesty. When someone volunteers criticism of another person "for their own good," it more often means that they are hiding behind the veil of honesty. Your boyfriend is embarrassed by your laugh. That's honest. And it says more about him than it says about you. He is more concerned about how you reflect upon him. Many men relate to women in this way. They tend to view women as extensions of themselves and want the woman in their to life to reflect their status. They want to be the center of attraction with their trophy woman on their arm.

The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to be with someone who is embarrassed by being with you. You might also want to ask yourself whether this is the first in a line of "character traits" that your boyfriend wants you to fix. The laughter may be only the beginning of a character make-over. It sounds as though he likes the way you look, but not necessarily who you are. Perhaps he should be asked to butt out of giving unsolicited criticism. Your laughter is part of your package.

3/5/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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