‘Elite’ boyfriend can still communicate with parents

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October 23, 2019 - 9:50 AM

Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend is the smartest, most cultured man I’ve ever known. One of his great abilities is his appreciation for nuance. I love how, when we are out at museums, he can infer things that I can’t and capture his observations in a subtle and clear way.

He comes from great education: top private school, multiple Ivy League degrees, and success along the way. But my family came from nearly nothing and, to put it diplomatically, is wary of those who come from elite backgrounds and who speak like it.

When my boyfriend meets my parents, is it OK to ask him to tone down his vocabulary when speaking with them? It would be better if he used “secret” instead of “surreptitious” or “talkative” instead of “loquacious.” He’ll use idioms, from “in point of fact” to “a hale fellow well met.” He does it both because it’s the way he was raised but also because he believes that a literary phrase better describes what he’s thinking. It’s not pompous, it’s subtle and nuanced.

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