Reason Woman Ditched Fiancé at Event, Went Home Applauded: 'Subordinate' 

A man who insists on referring to his fiancée—a "successful" 45-year-old female business owner and accountant—as a "bookkeeper" has received a storm of criticism on Reddit.

In a post shared on Reddit's Am I the A****** subforum, user Entreprenuer512 said she and her fiancé, who is a 55-year-old retired military officer, began dating before she started her company.

She said: "Everything seemed to be perfect, except he keeps introducing me as a bookkeeper. No disrespect intended to them or the profession. My issue is that I have worked hard to get where I am. I am an accountant, graduate with a double major and a successful business owner" who runs a staff of 25 people.

The poster said she has been an accountant for some large corporations and has worked in programming and IT. She started her company "doing similar support to large and small companies alike."

Man introducing woman to another at event.
A stock image shows a man with his hands on the shoulders of a woman he's introducing to another person. A female business owner and accountant says her fiancé said she's "come a long way for a bookkeeper" while introducing her to clients at a work event, according to a Reddit post. iStock / Getty Images Plus

According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey of 4,914 employed adults 18 and older, including 2,344 women, 42 percent (roughly 4 in 10) of working women said they've experienced gender discrimination at work.

Just under a quarter of women (23 percent) said they "were treated as if they were not competent," while 16 percent said they "experienced repeated, small slights at work" because of their gender.

A study published in May 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal Communication Monographs identified key ways in which women who work in male-dominated organizations or offices are marginalized.

Among them was "facing consequences for breaking gender norms," explained Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, one of the study's co-authors who is an assistant professor of communication at Michigan State University.

"When women did things that were seen as outside of their traditional gender roles such as taking initiative, seeking promotions, or acting assertively, they faced backlash and discouragement in more and less explicit ways," she said in a June 2020 article in Psychology Today.

The woman in the Reddit post said: "I have asked him many, many, many times in private to stop calling me a bookkeeper as it implies to my clients and business associates that he doesn't respect me or what I have accomplished."

However, her fiancé "doesn't see the big deal or the difference and continues to do so." During a recent event, while the couple were talking to a prospective client for her company, he allegedly said: "She has come a long way for a bookkeeper."

She left the event without him and told him she would talk to him later.

The poster said: "He thinks I am overreacting. My family thinks he is a controlling a** that doesn't respect me or women. I'm not sure what to think now. He seemed so supportive when we are together, but not when we are around other people.

"He tends to treat me like a subordinate, nice kid, playing with the adults. He does talk down to me in front of my family, but I always assumed he was 'joking' badly," she said.

'Telegraphing a Lot of Insecurity'

Frank Thewes, a licensed clinical social worker who runs Path Forward Therapy, a private therapy practice based in Princeton, New Jersey, told Newsweek that the poster's fiancé is "telegraphing a lot of insecurity" about what she has achieved and is "completely disrespectful of her accomplishments and her feelings."

Thewes said the man's words and actions are "designed to minimize" the poster and "shrink her down to a size that he feels bigger than."

Thewes said the poster "made the right decision" to leave the event. She repeatedly asked her fiancé to respect her career and feelings, yet he ignored her. "Sometimes people have to make those difficult choices for themselves," he said.

Military Background May Play a Role

Dr. Carole Lieberman, a board-certified forensic psychiatrist, told Newsweek that the key to understanding this relationship and the situation is in the way she describes her fiancé as a "retired military officer."

Before starting her company, the fiancé was not "intimidated by her accomplishments," but now that she has a staff of 25 "who she directs, similar to when her fiancé had troops under him," he's embarrassed to introduce her with her appropriate titles because he's afraid others will "think that she's the more active or important one now, wearing the pants in the relationship," Lieberman said.

"He demeans her, by calling her a bookkeeper instead of an accountant or consultant, because he doesn't want others to compare them and find him inferior," she said. If the poster's "bold and desperate move" of leaving the event doesn't make him change," she needs to consider cutting the cord and finding someone who does respect her."

Time to 'Move On'

Several users on Reddit slammed the fiancé for his behavior, with some suggesting the poster should also refer to him with a different title in public.

In a comment that got 20,600 upvotes, user llamadolly85 said the poster is "NTA [not the a******]!!! This man is f****** military. He understands what titles are and why they matter and he is doing this on purpose..."

In a comment that got 5,100 upvotes, user Puzzle__head agreed: "Good point re military. He should know better than anyone."

User Soon_trvl4evr: "Introduce him as retired enlisted after ex amount of years. That's essentially what he is doing by calling her a bookkeeper."

User naranghim said: "Even better say he's retired from the wrong branch of service. If he's army say he's a retired Marine, navy, coast guard, or air force..."

Micubano said: "NTA and try saying 'OK, private. Dismissed' next time he talks down to you. Either he learns or you leave. Simple as that. It is his choice."

CommonCut4 suggested the poster should say, "You've come a long way for a private, but it's time for me to move on."

Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment.

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