Who is the unreasonable one: a man in his 30s whose adoration for the actor Danny DeVito cost him his job or his girlfriend of six years who is considering breaking up with him over his obsession?
It’s a question that has plagued social media this week after a woman went viral on Twitter when she said she wanted to call it quits with her boyfriend because of his cardboard cutout of DeVito.
On Monday, the 31-year-old woman explained in a now-deleted Reddit page how the cutout enraged her boyfriend’s boss who asked him to remove it from the background during work-from-home meetings. Her 33-year-old boyfriend initially complied, but later refused, going as far as to "buy an oil painting" and a "couple more" cutouts of DeVito, according to the thread.
After the boss told him his career was effectively "dead" at the company, her boyfriend chose to leave his position of 12 years and find a new job — a decision that was made without consulting her and led her to question their entire relationship, the woman wrote.
The post was initially written on the “Am I The A--hole” Subreddit — a forum where users can air their grievances, and others can comment, engage (or “upvote”) and determine whether they are right or wrong — and later shared on the popular Subreddit’s Twitter account.
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Many people debated who among the boyfriend, the girlfriend and the boss was being the most unreasonable person in the situation. And while the jury is still out on the subject, ending a six-year relationship because of a DeVito cutout indicates that there is a much deeper, underlying problem, according to Nate Sawyer, a marriage and family therapist in Durham, North Carolina.
“There could have been many other issues that happened before this, and DeVito may have just highlighted it,” he told NBC News on Thursday. “If they were together for six years, they must have had some idea of their future together.”
“It sounds like she has some commitment issues, was maybe looking for a way out and was trying to get validation for that on the internet,” Sawyer continued. “On the flip side, for him to make such a quick decision and not consider her feelings, it makes me wonder if he has done that before and if he has ever left her out of future-planning decisions.”
For the couple, he advised that “it would be important for them to take a step back to see if they were driven by their emotions, unpack what they were feeling and remember that their decision can affect their partners.”
Many on Twitter and Subreddit supported the boyfriend — and criticized his girlfriend and his boss.
“Imagine not siding with your life partner against their crappy, unreasonable, humorless boss,” one person tweeted.
Another Twitter user wrote: “Her bf is absolutely right to stand his ground. He works from home and shouldn’t have to redecorate as long as his background isn’t offensive. And now he’s looking for a new job, as he should.”
Some noted, however, that it wasn’t too much of an ask to remove something as simple as a cardboard cutout during a meeting.
“Of course he can decorate his home however he likes but how is it unreasonable to say no cardboard cutouts in the background of your meetings?” one Twitter user wrote. “I don’t find that unreasonable at all.”
In her post, the woman admits that the cardboard cutout of the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” actor never actually bothered her until her boyfriend was forced to work from home — which, Sawyer noted, has been a recurring issue with his own clients during the pandemic.
“Couples have been spending more time together, and the pandemic has put a strain on relationships because there is an unhealthy balance of togetherness and separateness,” he said. “It can make people start to feel more on edge.”
Sawyer said he wonders if the boyfriend “was trying to change something up in his life and do something different — and in this case, basically just wanting to put the finger on his boss and stick it to the man.”
When asked who he thought was at fault, Sawyer said: “It’s not my job to levy my opinion in these kinds of conversations, but I think most couples like this one are looking for that validation.”
DeVito, who has previously supported Nabisco workers protesting proposed changes to their working conditions, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.