My question is about eye rolling and sarcasm.
My boyfriend has the annoying habit of looking upward and giving me the eye roll when he disagrees or doesn’t like something I’ve said. When we’re at dinner, after he’s executed the eye rolling, he’ll take up finger drumming and make a sarcastic comment. To signal me that he’s impatient, he’ll tap his fingers on the table when he’s lost interest in what I’m saying or that he thinks I’m rattling on too long or that he totally disagrees with my opinion.
I love him but when he behaves like this it feels like a relationship deal-breaker. How do I get my feelings about his bad behavior across to my boyfriend?
–HB, Atlanta, GA
Nothing is more corrosive to a relationship than the ongoing eye rolling behavior you’ve described. Your boyfriend may not know he’s annoying but if he does, he may not know how to control his despicable nonverbal behavior.
They are bad social cues. The ability to control body language is one of the keys to social success.
- Eye rolling is the equivalent of the door slam, the shrug, the smirk and the sarcastic tone of voice that are all acts that show disrespect and arrogance.
Using a sarcastic tone of voice and eye whites to convey blatant social cues, like rolling your eyes behind someone’s back or refusing to make eye contact, are unconscionable behaviors. They are simply ways to shame someone.
- Much like name calling, sarcasm expresses disgust. He shows signs of being a covert narcissist. Tell him that his body language and tone of voice is sometimes (or often) unacceptable because it makes you feel belittled.
- When he doesn’t agree with you he should have the decency to say why outright instead of using the passive-aggressive eye roll. Stop him at the eye roll and call attention to how he’s handling his negative — or perhaps ambivalent — feelings.
One of the traits of a well-mannered person is having the ability to refrain from using inconsiderate body language and sarcasm to show that you disagree.
Tell him that. Not that it sounds as though it will do much good.
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