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Why Does My Boyfriend Silence Me?

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From an adult man in the U.S. :  In a recent phone conversation with someone I’ve been seeing he apparently misinterpreted a question I asked. He became quite upset and began to talk constantly. When I would try to speak he would speak over me. Each time I tried to talk he would speak louder so that I couldn’t talk.

My only options were to try and scream over him, hang up on him or end the call as quickly and politely as possible.

Also he did the same thing back on January though I had forgotten it.

This seems like a form of mental/emotional abuse to me. Is it?

I feel speechless but not by choice.

Why Does My Boyfriend Silence Me?

Answered by on -

A.

The time to talk about this is when it is not happening. When people are so upset they can’t even hear each other, there is no point in trying to talk about a problem. As you have already discovered, screaming over him doesn’t help. Being silent doesn’t help either. Being silent makes you feel diminished.

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship that is worth our time. People are individuals, even when they are much alike in temperament and interests. When people first become romantically interested in each other, all they can see, usually, is how alike they are.  As the relationship develops, differences emerge. When those differences don’t threaten each other’s beliefs or value system, they are often seen as interesting and enriching.

But when there is something about the difference that challenges someone’s dearly held beliefs or that call into question someone’s values or something that they have some shame about, the hard work begins. In order to continue building the relationship, those differences must be addressed and worked through. Either the couple comes to some new agreement about the issue or they find a way to respectfully agree to disagree. Appreciating each other’s positions and feelings, even when we don’t agree, is part of what deepens and supports a long term relationship.

I can’t answer your question about whether your friend is being abusive. Emotional abuse is characterized by verbal aggression that includes name calling, humiliating or intimidating the other and manipulation. It occurs over time and erodes the victims sense of self-worth.

Two incidents in 6 months, suggests that he was more frightened than abusive. People who are frightened or hurt often behave in ways that are difficult to take. It may be that the only way he knows to handle conflict is to shut it down by silencing you. If that is the case, talking disagreements through during a calm time so that both of you feel safe may be an important step in deepening your relationship.

On the other hand, if the only reason it hasn’t happened more often is that you are walking on eggshells all the time, your relationship is in trouble. No one in a love relationship should have to be constantly on guard so they don’t activate the “monster”.  No one should feel silenced. Accommodating to it will only drive you to be more and more silent.

I don’t have enough information to make a judgment about what is going on in your relationship. I hope this information helps you figure it out.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Why Does My Boyfriend Silence Me?

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. (2019). Why Does My Boyfriend Silence Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/10/13/why-does-my-boyfriend-silence-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2019 (Originally: 13 Oct 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.