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Doctor Stirs Drama By Refusing To Call Boyfriend’s Dad ‘General’ Unless He Calls Him ‘Doctor’

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Meeting the prospective in-laws is always a stressful experience.

Particularly for LGBTQ+ couples.

Sad as it may seem, not all people are accepting of their children as one would hope, and as a result put their respective partners at an unfair, and uncalled for, disadvantage.

Such was the case with Redditor PHDthrowaway42t, who could tell that winning over his boyfriend’s father was going to be an uphill challenge from the minute they met.

This eventually led the original poster (OP), to poke fun at one of his demands, by throwing that demand right back in his face.

But seeing how much his decision upset his boyfriend, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for insisting my boyfriend’s father call me doctor?”

The OP shared how he was nervous about meeting his boyfriend’s family, knowing that they both grew up with very different family dynamics.

I (27 M[ale]) recently met my boyfriend’s (25M) parents over dinner.”

“I was warned in advance that his father in particular was very strict and that we might not get along.”

“My family environment was and still is very free and open minded.”

“I grew up in a family where everyone, including me and my siblings, had a say in how we wanted to function.”

“My boyfriend on the other hand grew up in a very conservative family, 2 kids and a yard, the father being the primary decision maker and ‘head’ of the household so to speak.”

“Still I said I would do my best to get along with his parents for his sake.”

And indeed, the OP’s boyfriend’s father lived up to expectations, even demanding to be addressed in a certain way.

“We met up at a local restaurant and before I could even say hello or hand over my gift his dad greeted me with ‘Hello, my name is General Smith and you will address me as such’.”

“I was so taken aback by this that I honestly thought it was a joke so I replied with ‘Hello, my name is Doctor Johnson and you will address me as such’.”

“His father didn’t respond to this at all, basically not acknowledging I was even there.”

“I realized that he wasn’t kidding when my boyfriend greeted his father by calling him ‘General Smith’.”

I tried my best to bite my own tongue for the duration of the dinner, but there were so many things about his behavior that bugged me.”

“He was so insistent on being respected, but he didn’t respect his family or me at all it seemed.”

“He basically ignored me for most of the dinner, he ordered on behalf of his wife, who did not appear happy with his choice for her, he belittled my boyfriend for not being a real man, which struck me as homophobic.”

“The list goes on and on.”

Eventually, the OP couldn’t take much more of his boyfriend’s father’s demeaning behavior, bravely choosing to give him a taste of his own medicine.

“At some point he turns to me and says ‘So sonny, what is it that you do?’'”

“The tone of his question just pissed me off so much, I couldn’t ignore it.”

“I responded ‘Well I’m a biochemist and would prefer if you referred to me as Doctor Johnson’.”

“This kicked off a big argument and I’ll spare all the details, but he told me that he didn’t need to refer to me as anything, that I was his son’s boyfriend and as such a guest, wasn’t at his house, wasn’t gonna let him pay for me, and that if this was a dig at his military career that I should know that he fought for my freedom in this country.”

“I told him that I wasn’t in the army with him and as such I didn’t care what his rank was.”

“I also said that I really didn’t care about what he thought he was doing for my freedom.”

“Dinner ended early and I went home.”

“Later I got a text saying that I should’ve just shut my mouth and that he was pissed that I couldn’t just let it go.”

“He said that it’s true that his dad was uptight, but that he just wanted to be respected and that I should understand as much.”

“I fully disagree, the way he commanded respect was by degrading those around him.”

“If my boyfriend and his mom are cool with that, that’s their business, but I wasn’t gonna let a complete stranger do that to me.”

“Still, I do feel bad because now my boyfriend is the one stuck doing damage control so I wonder if I am the a**hole.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

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

The Reddit community was firmly in agreement that the OP was not the a**hole for joking around with his boyfriend’s father.

Everyone agreed that if the OP’s boyfriend’s father didn’t want to be disrespected, he shouldn’t have disrespected others, and the OP dealt with him in just the right fashion.

“Your bf’s dad is the missing stair that everyone tiptoes around, a toxic person that everyone enables, indulges and normalizes.”

“No-one challenges their behaviour and just minimises their outrageous behaviour by calling them ‘uptight’ and ‘conservative’.”

“NTA.”- FloppyEaredDog


Actually i think what you have done was absolutely right, humorous and sharp.”

“Love it.”

Maybe, and this is me not giving my best advice but I cannot see how anyone voluntarily sits at a table with that man for a second time.”

“Just ask your boyfriend what he thinks about your relationship and if he would agree that you should treat each other with love and respect.”

“If he agrees that he wants to do so he should address you Doctor Johnson.

“And if he thinks that’s weird maybe but just maybe he’ll see that what his father is doing has nothing to do with respect.”- browsing1112


“He doesn’t want to be respected he wants to be feared.”- Keziah_70


“You mentioned here you’re a Ph.D, so if he’s allowed to demand that people refer to him as General I don’t see why it’s such a wild idea that you, a doctor, be referred to as such as well.”- Radiant-Legend


“You handled that narcissist PERFECTLY.”

“You showed that man you have a spine and that you will not be degraded or disrespected.”

“You have dignity and self respect.”

“Your boyfriend is too oppressed to see the horrible nature of his father.”

“They enable his sh*tty behavior and I am very glad you didn’t.”- Waterpatat

“That’s the consequence of a family that accepts toxic behavior and expects the world to indulge their enabling.”

“You ‘just want to be respected too’ and you don’t need to tolerate someone trying to play power games with you because he’s Napoleon.”

“You also dont need to tolerate someone who tells you to ‘shut your mouth’ for daring to want to be treated with respect.”

The General has strong Gunner’s Mate First Class Phillip Asshole energy here.”

“NTA.”- pandaritosupreme

Some felt that the behavior of his boyfriend’s father was enough for the OP to question whether or not he should stay in this relationship.


It’s funny he wants to be respected, but during your first meeting he threw all that respect right out the window.”

“If everyone else wants to be a door mat, fine.”

“But they shouldn’t expect you to be one, too.”

I will say this, take a good hard look at how your boyfriend is handling the situation.”

“This is how you can expect him to handle other conflicts with his family later on and gives you a good idea of whose side you can expect him to be on.”- TheMudbloodSlytherin


“His father is an insecure bully who is pissed off that respect is earned and not simply granted because of a title.”

“Furthermore, his subordinates don’t respect him, they fear him.”

“Because he’s  a bully and so insecure that he takes out his anger at anything and everything on them.”


“Maybe you can help your bf, but maybe not.”

“Do you want the spectre of The General hanging over your life?“- MannyMoSTL

“NTA, it’s obvious his wife and your boyfriend are terrified of him.”

“He’s abusive.”

“He’s angry that you refuse to play along and be a victim and your boyfriend and his mom are upset that you rocked the boat.”

“There are so many red flags here.”

“So long as your boyfriend doesn’t lay down some serious boundaries with his AH father there are going to be problems in your relationship.”- 666POD


Respect is earned.”

“If he wants you to respect him, then he should start by respecting you.”

Your relationship is probably gonna suffer because of this, but unless your boyfriend addresses his fathers problem, do you really want to remain in that relationship?”- SoftnesdChair

Being a general in the army requires a stern demeanor to ensure order and discipline.

A demeanor which should never be used when raising a family.

Here’s hoping the OP and his boyfriend can get past this, as the boyfriend deserves some love and compassion.

Two things which were sadly missing from his childhood.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.