DEAR AMY: My boyfriend is extremely discerning, and I am not. When he cooks something, it's after he's watched 50 YouTube videos and read up on the history of the dish so that he knows the backstory of every aspect of it. I enjoy cooking, but I keep it simple. Everything "Boyfriend" does has to be the best, the fanciest, the most gourmet, and while he's never said anything insulting (it is purely in his demeanor), I can feel him look down on the simpler way I do things. This happens with everything. When we watch a movie, I don't analyze it as much as he does. When we drink coffee, I can't taste the difference in acidity as well as he does. I'm basically OK with things that are ... mediocre. I love this man very much, but I constantly feel out of my league. Sometimes I can let go and just learn from him because he does know so much, but most times it makes me feel inadequate. It seems he's never admiring or learning from me. It has gotten to the point where I don't want to share things with him because he overpowers everything. I'll cook on my own when he's not here. I'll listen to my subpar, repetitive (yes I know!) pop music when I'm driving alone. His family members are not mean or intentionally condescending, but often I get "enlightened" to better techniques, and I always feel slighted and unnecessary. What can I do to make the relationship seem more balanced? Am I just out of my league?
DEAR MIDDLIN': If your guy were only an obsessive cook I'd suggest that you sit back and enjoy his expertise. But, according to you, his demand for "excellence" applies to ALL things.
In some respects, I feel sorry for the guy. He will never know the exquisite joy of a ballpark hotdog, topped with sauerkraut and bright yellow mustard. He will never "get" the steering wheel thumping ecstasy of a great Katy Perry hook.
He's missing a lot of miracles that even you deride as "mediocre." Stop stooping to his level. There is beauty in the quotidian. It is exhausting to have to be educated about everything.
The key sentence in your question is: "It has gotten to the point where I don't want to share things with him because he overpowers everything."
That's not a middlin' problem. That's a big one. Many very successful couples have very different tastes. But until you both stop seeing your taste as "wrong," I don't see much long-term hope for this relationship.
Ask him to reflect on his own behavior. Can he laugh about his own obsessiveness? Can your Mr. Darcy learn to truly love you exactly as you are?
You should find out.
DEAR AMY: My wife had an affair with a man that began two years after we married and continued (on and off) for the next 20 years (which is when I found out about it). She said she would not see him again, and she hasn't. I have just found out that they have regular phone conversations. Sometimes they talk just once a year on her birthday, other times more frequently. She says there is nothing wrong since they are now just friends. I say that a continued relationship with this man is just wrong. What do you think?
DEAR TROUBLED: I agree. I suppose that — compared with 20 years of infidelity — you're "supposed" to feel that an annual phone call isn't so egregious, and yet, you find this hurtful — and on this point, your feelings should carry greater weight than hers.
The classic and best "take" on this is the book, "Not 'Just Friends': Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity," by researcher and therapist Shirley P. Glass, with Jean Coppock Staeheli (2004, Atria Books).
This would provide valuable insight into your feelings. Share this with your wife.
DEAR AMY: In your written response to "Wondering Grand," you said: "If you sent the check with a note addressed to both HE and his wife ..." To HE? I see and hear the misuse of objective pronouns ("from Bob and I") every day, but I honestly expected better from someone as articulate as you.
DEAR UPSET!: I am somewhat flattered by your shock at my mistake. I only wish my error had been caught before publishing.
Many, many readers noticed this and wrote in to gently (or not so gently) correct me. Thank you all!