‘Never Asked’: Woman Not Telling Boyfriend She Speaks His Language Backed
A woman has been backed after her boyfriend got mad at her because she didn't tell him she spoke his language.
In a post on Reddit 's popular /AmITheA****** forum, user u/This-Net-3802 asked the internet if she was wrong to have kept her language skills from her partner.
The 27-year-old explained that she and her boyfriend, Jake, had been seeing each other for a few months.
The couple met working in Berlin, where the poster is from, but he is Mexican-American.
"I've heard him speak Spanish on the phone many times and inquired about this—but he's never asked me if I speak it and it just felt weird to mention it," she wrote. "He didn't seem to care enough to ask if I spoke any other languages apart from German and English."
Because of this, he has never found out that his new partner speaks Spanish—despite the fact she has watched Spanish-language television with him in the past.
Esteban Touma is a teacher with Babbel Live. He told Newsweek : "In general, the idea of speaking different languages means an attempt to communicate better, so people should try to be open about it. In a relationship, speaking different languages can be beneficial to find the right expression or the right word to capture your feelings more precisely—as my own relationship with my bilingual wife can attest!"
When Jake's friend from the U.S. came to visit, things got uncomfortable.
Out for dinner, the pair were speaking in Spanish when the OP arrived to meet them: "His friend asked—in Spanish—if I speak it or should they switch to English only. My boyfriend said—again, in Spanish—'Nah, she's a gringa,' [meaning] she doesn't speak it. Which kind of annoyed me because he never even asked. So I replied to his friend, in Spanish, try [as] I do in fact speak it."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 21.6 percent of people in the US speak a language other than English at home, one in every five adults.
But in Europe, being bilingual or even multilingual is more common. According to self-reported data collected by the European Union ( EU ) in 2016, more than 80 percent of adults aged 25-64 with a tertiary level of education knew at least one foreign language, while 24.8 percent of working-age adults in the EU reported knowing a foreign language at a proficient level.
"Being in the middle of a conversation of a language you don't understand can be very alienating. There should always be an attempt to translate the conversation or provide context," said Touma. "A good practice is to ask if they mind, or do some code-switching—that is, alternating between languages. The main thing is to be mindful of all people involved in the conversation, and try to address any communication barriers directly. If that had happened in this scenario, it would've been a great opportunity to clear the air, and for them all to speak in Spanish."
Even people who can't communicate in the same language have been known to find a way around it where love is concerned—like one woman featured by Newsweek who fell in love with her husband despite her speaking Vietnamese and him English. But for the Redditor, the language-based argument had caused her to ask if she was wrong not to tell her other half about her Spanish skills.
In thousands of comments Reddit users shared their thoughts on the situation, overwhelmingly siding with the poster.
"NTA [not the a******]," said one reply. "He assumed you didn't [speak Spanish], referred to you dismissively to his friend, and is p***** off he got called on it. Find a better boyfriend."
"You literally watch television shows in Spanish in front of him, and it didn't occur to him you understand and can speak Spanish?" asked another commenter.
But others did feel that she should have told her boyfriend that she spoke Spanish.
"It's a weird game to be playing to wait until someone asks you a particular question before you offer information," said one commenter. "It was like an odd test you were doing with the telenovelas to see if he was paying attention."
Newsweek reached out to u/This-Net-3802 for comment. We were not able to verify the details of this case.
Have you noticed any red flags that made you end a relationship? Let us know via email@example.com . We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.
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This story was originally published April 17, 2023, 3:32 AM.