Boyfriend’s Temper Issue

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My boyfriend has a serious temper issue which I need your help in this regard. He is 31 and he realizes that he has a problem; he has seen a therapist before Who did not give an analysis but asked him to attend therapy sessions which he was not able to attend due to his constant business trips. His problem is as follows: He has terrible temper issues, any simple thing which is not as per his expectation causes him to get seriously mad and as per him he says that he turns into a totally different person, he says things that he doesn’t mean which kind of an emotional abuse to the other person, he does his best to hurt the person in front of him emotionally, and sometimes he hits anything in front of him -not people but things- he even hit his hand in the wall many times. I have witnessed some of his episodes and he says that this is nothing cause he tries to control as much as he can with me, but he seriously turns into another person. It takes him time to recover from his episodes based on the severity of the case and when he is better he doesn’t even recall what he said or did, he just remembers that he has been the bad him and he definitely hurt the other, one thing he does is that he kind of blames others for this, like you know I’m crazy so be careful and don’t make me angry. One thing I know is that he hates it and feels guilty and doesn’t expect me to tolerate him in a time I want to help him because I know the good person he is -when he is not mad of course-. Another thing to add is that he has told me that his bad temper has been like this ever since he was born but as he is getting older seems he is getting worse and worse. your help is seriously appreciated. How can I help him and support him?? Thanks,

A. In society, his behavior is not acceptable. If he were to become angry and hit someone he could be charged with assault. Not only is his behavior potentially illegal it is also immoral. His behavior is hurting you (emotional abuse) and that is not acceptable. He should not consider his behavior to be acceptable and neither should you.

The fact that he is not currently seeking help is very telling. He began therapy but it conflicted with his work schedule. It was an inconvenience and thus he stopped. Getting help is obviously not a high priority. If he woke up in another part of town and had no recollection of how he got there, he would most likely be very alarmed. If he passed out while driving and almost wrecked his car, he would probably visit a doctor immediately to determine the cause of his strange episode. With regard to his anger, he says it’s a major problem yet he has not made it a priority to seek help. That may be because at some level he is accepting of his behavior and doesn’t truly see it as a serious problem. If he considered his behavior to be truly unacceptable, then he would be actively seeking help. Actions speak louder than words.

Your specific question is related to how you can help and support your boyfriend. The answer is that you should essentially give him an ultimatum: get help immediately or the relationship will end. There is nothing that you can specifically do to help treat his anger. He needs professional help. His anger issues are serious, long running and out-of-control.

Why is it so important that he seek help? There are several concerning aspects of his anger. It is out of control. He is physically aggressive. He has not physically harmed you or another person according to your letter but it could simply be a matter of time. He also has blackouts during the anger episodes. During the blackouts, he admittedly is not aware of his behavior. The concern is that he may physically harm you or another person. Another concerning aspect of his anger problems is that he blames others. This means that he does not take full responsibility for his actions. He seems to believe that others are at fault for his behavior. You also mentioned that he is emotionally abusive toward you. He takes out his anger on you or others around him. He deliberately “does his best” to verbally abuse you or others when he is angry. This means that he goes out of his way to hurt you or others.

Your main task is to send a loud and clear message to him that seeking help is imperative and that you will accept nothing less, if he wants to continue the relationship. By not insisting that he receive help, you will be enabling his aggressive and angry behavior. If you choose to stay in a relationship then strict rules should be put into place regarding the parameters of the relationship. The first is that in order for you to stay in a relationship he has to seek counseling immediately. Anything short of immediate help is unsatisfactory. The second rule should be that when he is showing early signs of anger then he has to leave and not attempt to contact you until he is sure his anger is gone and that should be confirmed with a phone call. Other specific rules concerning the relationship could be determined with the help of a therapist (or by a couples therapist, if you decide to pursue couples counseling).

If you’re having difficulty determining how to proceed in the relationship or you need support and guidance, it may be helpful if you meet with an individual therapist. You can search for a therapist by clicking on the find help tab at the top of this page. Please take care. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Boyfriend’s Temper Issue. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/18/boyfriends-temper-issue/