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My Relationship Is Strained

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From the U.S.: I have been in a relationship for over 5 years and it has been getting worse and worse. My boyfriend says it’s because I just don’t care. I do care, I just don’t know what to do or say in most situations, especially since he’s always in physical pain and blames the stress that I’m causing him for that pain.

I’ve been working with The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook on my own for about 5 months, as well as meditation. With it I seem to have hit a road block when it comes to being assertive. I have trouble answering questions when he’s the one asking, I readily use a submissive/manipulative response and become passive aggressive after. I lie a lot and am unaware of this and my own anger most of the time, although he says that he can see anger and a lack of caring and can tell when I’m lying in my body language and tone of voice.

I find I have started avoiding social situations that include him because I’m afraid of making a fool of myself. I’m ashamed of this because I already have a phobia of driving that I have been working on.

My Relationship Is Strained

Answered by on -


I am very, very glad you wrote. You and your boyfriend are both in a serious negative relationship dance that is hurting you both. It’s only a matter of time before you explode apart. My question to you is this: Do you two want to take charge of what is happening or do you want to wait for the inevitable explosion?

I applaud your efforts with the workbook and meditation. I’m sure both are helpful to you personally. But the problems you are describing are with your relationship; your interactions with each other.

It takes two for someone (like you) to be lying, passive aggressive, and unable to respond. It takes two (for your boyfriend) to be blaming someone else for his stress and pain. Those are behaviors people do with/against someone else.

If you and your boyfriend want to save this relationship, please make an appointment with a couple counselor. You have already done what you can do on your own. The two of you need to be involved to fix this.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Relationship Is Strained

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Relationship Is Strained. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 9 Mar 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.