Emily Watkins is a professional Millennial (read: precariously employed twenty-something). Each week, she will answer a generation-specific query from the depths of her on-brand existential crisis. This week, our Aunt consoles someone whose partner is terrific… except for an awful taste in music.
Please send any quandaries, issues, troubles or thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org for a good dose of aunt-ing.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 years, and I’ve never been happier — we communicate really well, the sex is great, and I feel really supported. The only problem is his taste in music; he’s never really gotten past his early teen taste for pop-punk and there’s nothing that makes my skin crawl like overhearing him singing along. He’s always been like this but I thought he’d change, or my annoyance would fade, or something — but no such luck. Do I broach it? If so, how?
Ew! What is he, 12? Is the year 2008? Do I hear – no! Yes, I think so… the opening chords to Blink-182’s All the Small Things?
I feel sick just thinking about that briefly ubiquitous nasal singing voice; that affected accent, neither English nor American; that hyper-adolescent, performative nihilism; those stupid backwards hats – but wait. Deep breath.
The worst thing we can do here is fixate on how completely insufferable and stupid your boyfriend – sorry, his music – is. The more you worry about this bugging you, the more of a problem it will be.
Reading your every prickle of annoyance as proof that the partnership is doomed will make for a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s counterintuitive, but by accepting that you hate his singing rather than fighting it, you’ll ultimately limit the fall out.
Four years in, gross music aside, your reviews of him are pretty impeccable – if you were writing in after a first date I might feel different, but you’ve gone too far to turn back now. You love this man, remember? We all have flaws, and hey, his could be worse.
Some people can’t keep it in their pants. Others love a drink just a bit too much. Others still chew with their mouths open – for them, there exists a special circle of hell, and your boyfriend’s arrested musical development is a small sin compared with the heinous sound of wet toast sloshing across someone’s soft palate.
There will always be some aspect of a person you wish were different; in this case, you can count yourself lucky that the pop punk stuff comes hand in hand with the great sex and solid emotional support (normally they’d be mutually exclusive, haw haw).
Humans are messy and contradictory, as brilliant as they are infuriating, and there’s no separating the two. Keep right on hating the singing – much healthier than repressing, and your prerogative to boot. In that spirit, I think – ideally with a gentle laugh – you have to tell him; in fact, I think that’s going to be the key to making you feel a whole lot better.
As long as he’s not too offended (it has been four years, but better late than never…!) then this can become a mutual joke rather than a festering secret before you can say turn the lights off, carry me home.