My boyfriend’s anger really brings me down

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Sometimes my boyfriend gets mad over little things, and when he gets mad he is mad for a few hours. The other day he came to visit my family for the first time, I work nights so I was falling asleep on the sofa. I think this was upsetting him. I decided that i was being rude to everyone, mostly him so I decided we should leave. On the way home we stopped for gas, he had put gas on the way there so I felt bad that I needed him to pay again. I still offered to pay with my last 20$ but yes I had a bit of a tone of voice. I was overtired and a little worked up myself about leaving family and no money.

Well I guess the stress was building up on him too with his own things and he got mad I got snappy. I guess my problem is that when he gets mad he shuts down, gets quiet for a few hours sometimes. I try and get him to talk about it and he just gets more mad. He even said that no one gets him mad like I do, which I don’t really believe because I cant be the only person to have a tone in my voice from time to time? He tells me I often have a attitude in my tone when I talk to him. I don’t see this at all! When we talk I am never mad or angry and even when we do fight I talk in a very calm and even tone as to keep the situation from escalating.

When he gets this way it makes me very depressed, I feel bad he feels hurt by me and I feel hurt by him. I don’t know if this is him or me overreacting and how to try and fix this issue.

I have a bit of insecurities myself and I often feel down, I lack object constancy I think as I always want to cuddle and be close. He is not like this, and I know it is unhealthy for me to be so clingy, after and during a argument I want to hold hands or be close to him. This is hard for him as he says he is not a touchy feel type.

Please help me, I don’t know what to do. I love this man very much we have only been together 8 months but I really want to make this work. Im just not sure if there is hope for us. Im not sure if this is all me over reacting or if there really is an issue.

Thank you for reading my long post, I really appreciate any help you can give me.

A: It’s hard to know who has the problem from what you’ve written. Apparently it’s a cycle. A cycle has no beginning and no end.

We could say: You get snippy. He gets mad and shuts down. You push for intimacy. He wants space. You get snippy. He gets madder. . . We could just as easily say: He gets mad and shuts down. You get snippy. He shuts down more. You push to get close and resolve things. He wants space. . . Around and around it goes. You both have a part in this.

Establishing who starts this kind of thing is fruitless. Neither of you is to blame. Both of you need to talk about how your own patterns get hooked into the cycle and what you can do together to call a halt and do things differently. Some couples can figure this out on their own. Others find it helpful to see a counselor to help them learn new ways to react and to support each other when things are tense.

This is a new relationship. Part of becoming a couple is figuring out how to manage conflict as a team instead of blaming yourselves or each other. Part of loving someone and developing intimacy is learning how to go through the tough moments with mutual respect. It’s a difficult project but when a couple is successful they deepen their trust and love for each other.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 May 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). My boyfriend’s anger really brings me down. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/09/my-boyfriends-anger-really-brings-me-down/