How Can I Stop Fighting With My Partner?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

How do I stop myself from losing control, all of sudden I will be freaking out screaming at the top of my lungs at my bo? I have been dating my boyfriend for 2 years now and we are certain we are going to spend the rest of our lives together, but will wait a few more years for marriage. I love him so much, but we have these huge horrible fights. For example today, he came over for lunch today and everything was great, I found out he had Saturday off of work, so I said we should plan something. And he thought I was yelling and I did not think I was, he said that we don’t have to have this perfect day like in the movies, but I was just excited to have a day off together and wanted to plan something so he did not make plans with others. This then turned into a huge yelling match, I was balling and screaming at the top of lungs, telling that he shouldn’t tell me I am yelling when I am not. I told him to leave, I did not want to talk to him anymore, but then I ran down the driveway yelling at him for leaving. He was embarassed since I have neighbours. I was acting like we were breaking up, yet that would never happen. This happens on a weekly basis, me losing it for no reason, threatening to leave, when I never actually do and just screaming so loud and crying like crazy. Neither of us need this at all. Why does it happen, how do I stop myself from acting like a manic? It gets us no where and just makes us both upset. It gets so bad that sometimes I even hit him. Normally I am such a kind hearted person and really sweet, but then I go crazy and then get so upset after for acting like that. My boyfriend does not deserve to be yelled at, he is such a sweet guy and love him with all my heart. Please help me, I need to fix myself. I have tried to figure out why I do this, my dad was strict when I was a kid and I was always trying to please him, I think that is why I have trouble making decisions to make me happy sometimes. I also always try to please my boyfriend and make sure I am always available to hang out when he can, but deep down I know he loves hanging out with me too. I know this is a crazy thought, but when he hangs out with his friends I feel like he choosing them over me. He says that why cant I have fun with other people too. I take it as he choosing them over me, deciding to spend money on something to do with them and would rather spend time with someone else. I take it very personally. Every thought I have, I think of him, would I like to go get a coffee, no I rather save that $5 to grab ice cream with him sometime, for example. He is afarid I am not being me, anymore, just us too much. What can I do, I dont want to scream at him for no reason anymore?

A. Before the relationship issues worsen something needs to change with your behavior. Your boyfriend may also be contributing to this problem but it’s unclear what role he may play. You don’t become slightly perturbed when your boyfriend does something you don’t like, you seem to lose total control. Not only do you holler but you physically harm him. It’s important that you recognize that your behavior needs to change. It’s not always easy to admit mistakes. This realization is a very good first step. The next step involves changing your behavior or getting help if you can’t do it on your own.

Part of your anger may stem from the fact that you essentially believe that all of your boyfriend’s thoughts, feelings and actions should be devoted to you. That’s how you treat him and expect him to reciprocate. When he doesn’t reciprocate this upsets you. When he hangs out with friends you feel as though he’s choosing his friends over you. You take his actions personally, as though he is rejecting you. Following your logic, of course you’d be angry in this situation because you’ve been rejected.

This line of thinking may be a part of the problem. It’s “all or nothing” type of thinking. If he does not devote all of his time to you and the relationship then he doesn’t want you and this makes you angry. In truth, you’re not angry per se you’re probably feeling hurt because you’re experiencing what feels to you like a rejection by your boyfriend. It is this type of thinking that most likely is damaging the relationship. It’s unrealistic to impose such strict standards for his behavior (or anyone for that matter).

If you cannot change on your own then therapy might be helpful. Therapy could teach you new ways to behave when you’re angry or upset by your boyfriend. You could learn a new set of communication skills. A therapist can also help you examine why his hanging out with friends equates to a rejection of you. He or she can also assist you in examining other logical fallacies as well as help you find new ways to express yourself and your feelings. It is not acceptable to scream and holler when something doesn’t go your way or to physically harm him when you’re upset. There are more appropriate ways to get your point across that do not include screaming, shouting matches, or physical abuse. It might also be helpful if your boyfriend also considered therapy either on his own or as part of couples counseling. Arguing may be common in some relationships but it is never healthy for the relationship. Every fight further erodes the relationship. It’s advisable to get help sooner than later.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 May 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). How Can I Stop Fighting With My Partner?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/05/11/how-can-i-stop-fighting-with-my-partner/

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