I gave some advice over at Shebrew to a couple fighting on IM. He says she’s too sensitive, she says he’s too sarcastic. My Hebrew teacher Diane read it and today told me what the Rabbis had to say in Talmudic times.
This has always come up–shaming someone with words. In one portion, a husband has shamed his wife with words and then chastised her for being to sensitive. The rabbi’s response? Not that the woman needs to buck up and get stronger, but that the man has the responsibility NOT to hurt his wife. The onus is on the speaker not to shame the other with words.
So the rabbi’s would have told the boyfriend in Atlanta, be careful with your words. You are responsible for not hurting her.