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Woman 'ruins' BF's memories of being 'popular' high school, 'I realized he wasn't joking.' AITA?

Woman 'ruins' BF's memories of being 'popular' high school, 'I realized he wasn't joking.' AITA?


"AITA for proving to my boyfriend the 'nerds' never cared about the 'popular' kids in high school?"

My boyfriend and I (both 25) went to the same high school. My boyfriend was talking about our high school days. He thought high school me would have been thrilled to date the “popular” guy because I was a “nerd.” Mind you, we’re 25 and it’s 2024.

I played along for a bit until I realized he wasn’t joking. He literally thought that. I told him that I didn’t know he existed. He was surprised and said that he was a popular kid. He played football and was in the popular crowd. He said that I must have been lying. I told him that the “nerds” never cared about the “popular” kids in high school because we were fiercely competing amongst ourselves for college admissions.

For a backstory on our town, my boyfriend was born and raised there but I only moved when I was 13 along with a bunch of other high achieving kids. That’s because an engineering company opened up a branch near that town and brought in a ton of engineers and their families. So it was a sleepy town with a big high school that suddenly got a ton of competitive kids. And I mean insanely competitive.

Nobody had time to think about popular kids or really anything but college admissions. I was only getting four or five hours of sleep a night regularly. Sports like football or cheerleading which required 5 days a week of training at school were out of the question.

And I saw the same people regularly because we were all in the same classes. So all of the drama was contained within that group of 50-100 or so students. It paid off for me. I got into a top college and had no student loans. It was literally cheaper than the state school. (And despite my autogenerated username, I do have a good job that I enjoy.)

My bf said I’m lying. I don’t like being called a liar. So I literally reached out to all of my high school “nerd” friends and yep they didn’t know the popular group and the ins and outs of the dynamics like my bf thought. A few people recognized some names, but like I said, we were really focused on competing with each other.

He got quiet when I proved my case. He said I humiliated him and I proved my point and we should never mention high school again. I talked with his sister and she said that high school was a special experience for him and I ruined his memories. AITA?

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

nick2kool4skool said:

NTA. I won't echo the "peaked in highschool" thing cuz while it may have an echo of truth, I also think it's reductive. I think it's more important for your boyfriend to realize that the reason "nerds" bond together in places like highschool, and why weirdos/nerds/freaks/geeks self identify as such despite implied social stigma, is that it's a conscious act of defiance against the notion that their self worth is solely defined by the dominant social hierarchy.

Delicious_Essay_7564 said:

NTA - and completely agree with you. The nerds are focused on after school classes and getting top marks and having a musical instrument and a volunteering opportunity to demonstrate ourselves as rounded individuals. My HS even had classes by rank in exams. The “popular” kids wouldn’t even be in our social sphere.

Varietygamer_928 said:

NTA… it begs the question why your bf feels the need to feel superior in your relationship.

Constant_Gold9152 said:

Ugh. Not one of those “peaked in HS” kids who always want to talk about it. What does high achieving you see in him? His scenario is the basis for many cheesy movies based on high school.

mfruitfly said:

NTA. First, he could have stopped talking about it when you raised that you didn't know him/care about him in high school. He could have just taken your explanation about your high school experience and moved on. He pushed it and so you aren't an AH for wanting to prove him wrong.

Second, it is sad that at 25- or any age- people hold on to who they were in school AND use it to create a view of their current self and how much people must admire them. It would be really unattractive to me if my partner said this kind of stuff to me- that I'm lucky to be with him because he was kind of cool in high school? Yuck.

Third, high schools are not like the movies. Sure, some people have high school experiences that are very stereotypical with popular cliques of cheerleader/football, smart kids get bullied, etc. But the reality for most people across the US at least, is that high school is a bunch of groups of people who could give a shit about the others.

The football guys at my high school were fine, but none of them cracked the top 20 hottest guys at my school and I can't remember a single name. I was part of theater and some of those people were way more popular (aka had lots of friends) than anyone who played sports. The stoner kids had some of the hottest dudes and they dated cheerleaders, and our advanced college classes had some of the most well known kids in the school. And while there were some outcasts, they had their own friend groups and no one bothered them on the daily (although I am sure they were bothered).

So that leads to finally, the fact that your boyfriend, at 25, holds on to the notion that everyone was jealous of him in high school is very sad. What is a little worrisome- for your relationship- is that he seems to think that view is important to your dynamic as a couple. He relies on you being grateful that the popular dude chose you, and now that you have deflated that, I wonder what happens next.

wittyidiot said:

NTA. But the bigger problem here, which you dance around, is that your boyfriend is working through an inferiority complex. When he talks about being popular, he's not just reminiscing, he's demanding "Value my presence because I am important and I don't feel that way". Being popular at 17 means nothing at 25, and that sucks. Likely you're more successful career-wise than him too, no? Just be sensitive and don't make this a fight. Toxically masculine dudes with an inferiority complex are on a steep water slide to being redpilled.

Everyone was on OP's side for this one. What's your advice for this couple?

Sources: Reddit
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