That is how I would answer a question that came into the New York Times’ “The Ethicist” advice column this week. Maybe this is why nobody asks me to apply when the long-time feature is looking for new ethicist. But boy, I don’t think I’ve ever read a letter to Kwame Anthony Appiah that demanded such an obvious response.
Name Withheld, who sends an awful lot of questions to “The Ethicist,” explained that her former live-in boyfriend adopted a dog while they were together. When they parted amicably, they agreed that she would take the pet (she is a veterinarian, after all) and he would have visiting rights. Now she is in a new relationship and thinks this guy may be “the One.” But he objects to her old beau coming by occasionally to see the dog.
“I am at a loss about what to do,” she says. ” I don’t want to upset him by letting my ex have time with the dog. I also feel so guilty about not letting my ex have time with her….My partner says that people he has known have gone through similar things and says they all agree it is unusual to keep my ex involved in my dog’s life.”
Ugh. Her partner is an unethical creep and she’s weenie. Maybe they are meant for each other. He’s an ethics dunce: so what if people he has known think sharing dog visitation rights is unusual? That’s a pure “everybody does it” argument, suggesting broken ethics alarms. “Name Withheld,” meanwhile made a promise. It might not be legally binding (no apparent consideration) but it is ethically binding. She should feel guilty. More importantly, the attitude of her current lover should set bells a-ringing and lights a-flashing, and not in a good way.
“The Ethicist” gently tries to send the same message I would send without restraint, concluding, “I would be careful about just giving into your current partner. You’re worried about upsetting him. Equally, shouldn’t he worry about upsetting you?”
Oh, even ethicists should be plainer than that. The correct response to this inquirer is, as the Amityville house so sagely advised the priest (Rod Steiger ):
6 thoughts on ““Dear Inquirer: Your Boyfriend Just Informed You That He’s An Unethical, Insecure Jerkwad. Thank Him, And Run For Your Life!””
“My partner says that people he has known have gone through similar things and says they all agree it is unusual to keep my ex involved in my dog’s life.”
Yeah, right. Happens all the time. Sure.
The new boyfriend is clearly a psychopath or even a sociopath. He’s clearly an expert, very quick-thinking and talented liar. Who would even make up a line like that with so little effort? He’s gaslighting her. That’s her problem: she’s a nitwit and can’t recognize a guy who’s lying right to her face. She’d better scoot or that guy is going to make her life miserable.
She should have stuck with the first guy. At least he is a dog lover, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Dear Name Withheld,
I suggest you purchase a magic eight ball to consult on all your life’s decisions. I would also recommend that you, your current, and your ex-boyfriend look into getting sterilized. It might be best for society.
Playing Devil’s Advocate a bit here:
When my wife and I began seeing each other seriously and exclusively, I cut ties entirely with any females with whom I had previously had romantic affiliations. I did not ask the same of her regarding her exes. The reason for that was because she had a history of guys who played and manipulated her, while I had no fear that she would resume anything with the yahoos who had previously dated her.
It’s not that uncommon for people to find exes aren’t as “ex” as the new partner was told, so preferring to be sure the guy isn’t a threat to an uncertain new relationship may not be unreasonable.
When I do premarital counseling I often reference a program entitled, ” How to Not Marry a Jerk or a Jerkette.” Going over its content occasionally has the positive effect of stopping nuptials.