Christine Robinson was looking forward to a date night with her husband, Robert. She grilled flatbread veggie pizza, opened a bottle of Cabernet and lighted some candles.
Her husband took a sip of wine, swished it around in his mouth, then bit off the triangle tip of a pizza slice with a crunch. “The mix between the crispiness of the crust, the chewiness of the toppings and the slurping of the wine is what did it,” Ms. Robinson says.
She got up and turned on some classical music. But she could still hear his chewing. She turned the music up. That didn’t help. Then she asked her husband, “Please, slow down and enjoy the food.”
He snapped. “I am sorry I disgust you so much that we can’t even be in the same room together,” he told her, and stormed off.
If you can’t stand the sound of someone’s chewing, does that person need to close his or her mouth? Or do you?
Experts say you do. Yes, some people have bad manners. But you can’t make everyone else change the way they eat just because it bothers you.
People who have an extreme aversion to specific noises—most often “mouth sounds” such as chewing or lip-smacking, but also noises such as foot-tapping, pen-clicking or sniffing—suffer from a condition called misophonia. While many people find some everyday sounds annoying, misophonia—in which the sensitivity disrupts a person’s life—may affect up to 20% of the population, researchers say.
There is a current debate among physicians whether it should be a psychiatric disorder. A documentary film that features people with the condition, “Quiet Please...,” arrives next summer.