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Guy Called Out For Refusing To Explain His Job To Boyfriend Since He ‘Isn’t Particularly Educated’

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Dating someone with a different career and education level than you can occasionally be challenging, but for one guy on Reddit it became out-and-out dramatic.

After his boyfriend was offended that he wouldn’t even try to explain his highly technical job due to his lack of education, his boyfriend became offended and hurt.

This left the Original Poster (OP), who goes by the name AITA_academic on the site, to feel unsure of how he’d handled things.

So he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for input.

The OP asked:

“AITA for suggesting my boyfriend wouldn’t understand my work?”

He explained:

“I [40s m(ale)] work in academia. My job requires a great deal of technical knowledge and it isn’t particularly accessible to people without a certain level of education, that’s just a fact.”

“I’m currently dating someone [20s M] who does not come from an academic background.”

“He is very different from people I’ve dated in the past and from the majority of my friends.”

“He is a wonderful person and a lot of fun to spend time with but he is not particularly educated so I tend not to discuss my work with him.”

“I was having friends from work over for drinks and he asked if he could join us. I tried to politely suggest he might not enjoy it but he still wanted to come.”

“My friends were very friendly and accommodating but ultimately he just couldn’t understand a lot of the things we wanted to talk about.”

“Several of my friends suggested we steer clear of work-talk to be more inclusive but to be perfectly honest I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to talk about the topics I found interesting.”

“My boyfriend tried to ask questions and contribute to the conversation when he could but overall he seemed lost and it made the evening uncomfortable.”

“I admit I ended up getting slightly snappy when he asked questions and I told him there was no point in trying to explain because he wouldn’t get it.”

“I accept that I was too blunt and I did apologize afterwards but he’s still being quiet and stand-off-ish.”

“He said I told him he was ‘too stupid to understand [my] work’ which is deliberately misrepresenting what I said.”

“My friends who were there are divided. Several agree with me but several think I was unnecessarily rude.”

“One made a joke that I must struggle to apply for research funding if I can’t even explain what I do to my own partner – I understand the point she was trying to make but writing a lay summary is very different to explaining my work to someone who didn’t even go to college.”

“Was I the a**hole?”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And as you might expect, they were almost unanimously on the side of OP’s boyfriend.

“YTA. Aw, did your boy toy get uppity and expect to actually be treated like a human being? And in front of your special grown up friends? How awful.”

“You might be better off just getting a blow up doll if you don’t want to have to bother to treat your partner with respect.”

“I know many, many academics and the smartest ones are easily able to communicate about what they do to a broad range of people, regardless of their formal education level.”

“Either you’re not one of the smartest ones, or the idea that your boyfriend could understand your work is too threatening to your tiny ego so you’d rather avoid admitting it.”

“And it’s pretty notable that multiple friends who understand your work thoroughly don’t think it’s impossible to explain to someone.” –Temporary_Badger

“His inability to explain what he does reflects his lack of intelligence not his partner’s. From experience, the smartest people are able to simplify concepts instead of complicating them.” –InternationalAd6614

“‘Boy toy’ is right: 40s dating 20s? Unless the boyfriend is at least 27, OP needs to find someone closer to his own age.”

“Though they probably won’t put up with his superiority complex.”

“OP, if you cannot explain something simply, you clearly don’t understand it. YTA” –Substantial-Suit4686

“YTA- This guy sounds like my pretentious, sanctimonious ex.”

“I don’t have a PhD like him but routinely came up with solutions long before he found them with the help of his people. I only had a diploma in my field at that point.”

“You don’t have to be educated to be smart and understand and grasp concepts and ideas. You need an attitude adjustment. I’ll bet your insufferable to be around.” –Happy7ORN

“This. 100%. I hope this guy dumps OP because he clearly thinks he’s better than his BF.”

“Also, there is no way OP is as smart as he thinks he is if he can’t easily explain things to his BF.”

“I mean, Sheldon could explain his field to Penny, and anyone else watching The Big Bang Theory, and his character was supposed to seriously struggle with social skills.”

“How is OP worse than SHELDON?” –crystallz2000

“I’d argue OP is not nearly as smart as they think they are.”

“I’m a specialist in my niche field and I’ve never been in a situation where my coworkers and I behaved the way OP did.”

“I hope OPs head deflates a little bit (or a lot). Their issue isn’t just the boy they’re praying on nor is it their coworkers.”

“Their issue is that they’re a pompous a**hole that thinks they’re smarter than everyone else.” –puddlespuddled

“100%. I’m in academia and my partner doesn’t even have a high school diploma. I talk to him about my work all the time. He hangs out with my colleagues often.”

“He never has any problems. Why? Because I take the time to talk to him about everything I do and explain anything he doesn’t get right away.”

“OP your friend who said you must not get much funding hit the nail on the head.”

“Part of our job is being able to explain our work in very simple terms – to grant committees, to our undergrad students, to people in other disciplines reading our work.”

“If you can’t even explain your work to your boyfriend then you clearly don’t actually know that much about your subject.”

“Stop being a snob, apologize, and take some time to have real conversations with your boyfriend about what you do. YTA.” –esmeraldrina

“I watched my mother’s career in mathematics growing up.”

“Socializing with other mathematicians and having parties where everyone spent half their time getting very technical and most of the rest of the time gossiping was an important part of things.”

“There were definitely times when she had other mathematicians over and it would have been disruptive for me or others to butt in and get them to lower the level of conversation so that we could understand it.”

“Making those connections and getting a feel for each other’s toolkit, ideas, and research problems was an important way to generate connections and research collaborations.”

“This was absolutely not the way to handle things. OP was such an ass to his partner. On top of that, every academic social gathering can’t ice your partner out.”

“That’s just a recipe for disaster. OP may need some social time just with work people, but he’ll have to be able to navigate including his partner as well if he wants to have one.” –MyDramaticPersona

After reading his fellow Redditors’ responses, OP came back to add some clarifications.

“Editing to clarify some points a lot of commenter are making:”

“For those who are accusing me of being ‘intentionally vague’ about our exact ages: I’m 46, he’s 22.”

“Yes, there is an age gap. However, he isn’t a child and implying that he is does him a disservice.”

“I do not want to give an exact description of my job for presumably obvious reasons. I work in research (rather than teaching) in a specific field of engineering.”

“I am not incapable of explaining what I do to my boyfriend, I just didn’t have the patience to do so at that time and it would have interrupted the discussion I was trying to have.”

“People are suggesting I ‘don’t seem to like’ my boyfriend. That is completely untrue. It didn’t seem relevant to list his many positive qualities in this post.”

“The majority of my past relationships have been with people who are closer in age with more similar educational backgrounds, dating my current boyfriend is a very different experience but (with the exception of the current issue) it’s been an overwhelmingly positive one.”

And when that still didn’t turn people to his side, he issued another update.

“Further edit:”

“I understand that I owe him more of an apology than I’ve given him.”

“Enough people have made the judgement that I feel superior to him or don’t value him, that’s not how I feel but there’s clearly something wrong with how I’m coming across.”

“I knew I hurt him so I should have been less focused on whether or not I was technically in the right.”

“He’s willing to meet up and talk so hopefully he’ll be willing to give me a chance to improve.”

And he ended up creating a whole new post to address the criticisms.

“Final update:”

“I can’t imagine anyone will see this but I was unable to post a separate update.”

“If anyone cares and is inclined to offer any advice or feedback I have made an update here

Hopefully OP can learn from this and be more respectful of his boyfriend in the future.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.