Q: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a few months over 3 years. He is a year older than I am. Lately, he’s been kind of grouchy, and whereas when we started out we could sit down and talk to each other, lately he’s just been shutting down. When I try to draw him out to find out what exactly it is he’s pissed at me about, he gets really angry and starts twisting my words around. There are a lot of accusations and I can’t say anything right. I’ll say something slightly wrong and he’ll either take it out of context or blow it up into something huge – for example, today I told him “acting like this is like acting like a 2 year old” and he got really angry. I said I’m sorry – I could change it to immaturely? And that didn’t help. Finally, I just stood there.. a few minutes later.. he says “Is there a reason you’re standing there?” .. I went upstairs. I didn’t know what else to do. It ended up he was mad because his friend had echoed something I said – said I did a good job at something, after my boyfriend had stated I hadn’t. My BF said he was mad because we’d “ganged up on him” and that I was “running over” him, and “putting him down”.. This is just today. Sometimes its worse. Always, I end up feeling like a crappy person because I tried to work something out. He always says he’s not upset when his body language says it is hunching, frowning, refusing to meet my eyes) .. I know that he’s upset about something but he LIES..
Am I dealing with a potential relationship issue here beyond his obvious immaturity? I just don’t know how to deal with it anymore, and I’m getting really frustrated. If I DONT talk to him, and draw him out, he’ll start the fight anyhow – it’s like he WANTS us to fight. Does this make any sense at all? Or.. should I just give up on the guy and go find someone else..
A: I wouldn’t assume yet that the relationship can’t be saved if you haven’t tried couples therapy or even just some strategies to improve communication. You say that you two were able to communicate well in the beginning. It sounds like he could be depressed, or at a minimum stressed about something that is getting in the way of him communicating well with you. It could be that he is immature but telling him that isn’t going to make him want to talk any more. You need to let him know that you feel shut out, that you miss him, that something just doesn’t feel right and you love him enough to try to make it right. Most men have trouble talking about their feelings and many times it comes out as anger. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he is angry with you, it may be that something else is weighing on his mind and you are the easiest target. If you really love him and you’re not ready to give up, try to approach him in a problem solving way rather than pointing out the negatives. However, you also don’t want to let him victimize you. If he is angry all the time and not willing to work on the relationship, then let him know clearly that if things don’t improve you will move on. Most importantly, let him know how you feel and what is going on for you.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 May 2007
Counts, H. (2007). My boyfriend is manipulative and I don’t know how far to let it go before its “abuse.”. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/05/05/my-boyfriend-is-manipulative-and-i-don%e2%80%99t-know-how-far-to-let-it-go-before-its-abuse/