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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5450
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Tonight is the second time my boyfriend has stormed out in

Customer Question

Tonight is the second time my boyfriend has stormed out in anger in the last 2 months. We have been together 2.5 yrs and are both in our early 40s; he was with the mother of his 2 children 13 years, and I am unmarried and childless (much to my dismay). We do not live in the same town so seeing each other always involves a few hours of travel, at least, but that has not been the problem so far. The first time he stormed it, it was from a restaurant where I'd been waiting for him for lunch, and he stayed all of five minutes. It was a Friday, and I had called him from the train to ask if he wanted to have lunch as I was transiting through his town; when he arrived at the restaurant, I admit I was agitated because it was Friday and we hadn't even discussed a weekend plan as he had been too busy to talk all week, and we can only see each other on weekends. I felt hurt that he hadn't brought up spending time together over the weekend, but when I told him that, he got raging angry and stormed out (leaving me with the bill for two, of course). Tonight he was at my place and stormed out after what also seems like a similar scenario: we had just eaten a nice homecooked meal, and as we were sitting on the couch, I brought up something that was upsetting me (his lack of physical affection -- he hadn't touched me since arriving a day and a half before, even in bed). Again he got furious, started yelling about how it was all my fault, packed his bags shaking in rage, still woudln't let me touch him. All the while he was saying he'd had a grueling two weeks at work, that he didn't need these problems, that all we have are problems, etc etc. I was in tears and trying to explain that I was trying to express my feelings about something that was making me unhappy not to accuse him but rather to find a solution and make things better for us. In my relationship experience, leaving is the one thing you never do. He knows that it made me very upset the first time (and he finally picked up the phone 5 days later, never apologized, said I brought it on by asking him about the weekend). Tonight it made me downright anxious. I feel like I have lived in fear since that first time of him storming out, and as much as I have tried to calm myself down and say to myself that he won't do it again, tonight proved that he will. It seems like he is trying to punish me when he doesn't like what I bring up, and needless to say it makes me feel like difficult or painful or personal topics are off-limit with us. And honestly, it terrifies me. I was so upset when he left, and between the time he said he was leaving and packed up, and the time he actually left, I just cried, washed dishes, swept the floor. I think he just watched me the whole time, I don't know, because I couldn't look at him, I was too upset. And then he left. What is going on? Is it okay to walk out, am I the one misunderstanding? Everything is always my fault with him, he doesn't like my tone or what I say or how I do things. He has never said that he loves me, by the way, even though I have asked him whether he does, and told him that I love him. The walking out feels like further proof that he is not serious about us, and yet when I have tried to suggest that with him (since he won't marry me and changed his mind about having a child with me last year), he says that's ridiculous because he introduced me to his children, so that's as serious as it gets. I don't understand his way of seeing things, and I feel so disrespected by his walking out, and moreso by his insistence that I deserve it because of what I was trying to talk about. What is going on here? I am so confused, I was so looking forward to a good weekend after we had (finally) a very affectionate weekend last weekend and I thought maybe he had changed, but this weekend he was back to being cold and distance as he has long been. This is why I brought it up, because last weekend it made me so happy that he was so affectionate and happy (although still not verbal affectionate, at least he was physically). If you could help me understand what is going on I would be so grateful. I feel too old for what feels like abuse.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is very difficult to cope when you are caught in an abusive relationship. You want to hang on because you want it to be better between you. And you hold out hope because you still love him and believe he can be a better person. All of those feelings are understandable. And it is very easy to get caught in an abusive relationship and feel you cannot leave. Your self esteem is low and you feel there is nothing else out there for you because you have lost hope. But with the right support, it can get better.

The only way people do change is if they want to. And at this point, your boyfriend is not seeing what he is doing is wrong. And if he doesn't see how he is treating is wrong, he is not going to change. Not with where he is now. And it sounds like you have made as much effort as you can to make the relationship work. Yet he keeps hurting you and won't stop. And until he sees what he is doing is wrong, he won't stop.

The first step is to realize that if he is hurting you like he is, then you are in an abusive relationship. You do not deserve to be treated like he is treating you. You deserve better. Anytime you are feeling fearful and anxious about a relationship, it is a sign that you are in an abusive relationship. You should instead feel taken care of, loved and safe. But that is not what you feel with this man. And with the lack of respect and quickly changing moods, you have no idea where you stand most of the time. Not good. You may want to consider taking time off the relationship. Taking time to get away from the situation and think through what you want can help you decide how to proceed.

The second step in dealing with how you feel is to see a therapist. You can try to ask if he will go (even though that would really help him) but most abusers do not see that they are the problem, so most refuse help. Talking to someone about what you feel can not only provide much needed support, but it can help you sort out your emotions so you are more clear on what you want and what you need. To find a therapist, talk with your doctor for a referral. Or you can search on line at http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_search.php.

Also, consider learning more about abusive relationships and how they affect you. Here are some resources to help:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/09/28/5-ways-to-escape-an-abusive-relationship/

Should I Stay or Should I Go- Lundy Bancroft

I hope this has helped you,
Kate

.

May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5450
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Can I add something? I hesitated putting "abusive" at the end because I don't want to frame this as a clearly abusive situation. He says that he is cold and distant when he feels that I am being aggressive, and it seems as though it takes very little for him to feel like I am being aggressive towards him. Examples: when he arrived I said he seemed to be in a bad mood (which he was), asking him about the weekend and why he hadn't called all week, that kind of thing. I'm no angel but it doesn't seem to me that these questions merit coldness and distance in response. Do you think he feels guilty when I say or ask these things, and feels bad about himself, and so he pulls away or instead is aggressive by storming out? He says it is always me who makes him pull away, and that if he has been cold for 2.5 years (minus the first honeymoon kind of months of lots of affection) it's because of me. It seems like a chicken and egg situation: he pulls away and it makes me feel anxious, but then if I try to talk to him about my needs and desires (which seem reasonable: some -- I'm not asking for a ton -- physical and verbal affection, phone calls, making plans, looking to the future together, bringing the other into each other's lives in all kinds of ways) and he finds everything aggressive. Is he just a control freak? Or am I never supposed to say anything and am just supposed to go along with whatever he initiates? I should note that he admits to being a terrible organizer, so I have always organized every single trip we've taken or concert or resto or anything other than dinners with his parents. I don't mind that, but still it seems we should be able to talk about weekends without him feeling like I am being aggressive. I wonder if this changes what you think, as I'd like to remove that mention of abusive earlier because I wonder if I planted that seed in your mind. Maybe he's just passive aggressive, but he insists he has the right to just leave if he feels I am being aggressive. Maybe I am a completely incompetent communicator, but I feel like at last I am trying. I should also note that everything took a nose dive after he announced last Valentine's Day while I was taking Clomid to get pregnant that he had changed his mind and didn't want another child and in fact didn't want anything more than what he has already. (He separated from his children's mother about a year before we met.) I wonder if he is just overwhelmed and can't deal with the demands of a relationship, didn't know what he was getting into, and doesn't care enough to stay and fight for our relationship. It's easier to just insist it's all my fault. It makes me feel horrible and believe me I'm not a pushover. Thanks.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Even if he feels bad about himself, he should not be cold and distant with you. That is abusive behavior because it makes you feel bad, like you did something wrong. No one needs to storm out. Instead, he could talk to you about how he feels and have a fair discussion about it. If you feel you need to go along with him and ignore your own needs, that is also abusive. Anytime your needs are ignored and you are made to feel you are at fault, you are in an abusive relationship. It is understandable that you don't want to have to leave this relationship behind, but staying in it without things improving is only going to subject you to a lifetime of hurt and pain.

Kate



If you're satisfied with my response, please rate me highly. Thanks!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I don't know how to talk to him about things without him feeling put-upon. I really could use some concrete advice about how to do that. He has in his head that it's all my fault and that if he's cold I am the reason, not him. It feels like we are at an impasse. Obviously he is upset about this too because he doesn't feel listened to and neither do I. But I don't storm out. When things are good with us they're fabulous and we do share an incredible amount and mean a lot to each other. He just says he can't stay when he feels I am being aggressive. But he finds everything aggressive! I really don't know what to do. I don't have low self-esteem, that's not the issue, and I also don't believe in walking out rather than trying to work things out. If you have any concrete suggestions for how to deal with him and understand each other better I'd be grateful. Thanks.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

I would be more than happy to continue working with you on any new questions you have. All I ask is that you remember to rate my answers for each new/different question you ask. Thanks!

Kate

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry, I thought rating was for the end. I can do that now. I didn't mean to ask new or different questions, this everything I have written is still on the same question. I felt like the first response to my initial inquiry was rather cookie cutter concerning abusive relationships in general, and I was hoping for something more personalized to this situation. Believe me, I have already scoured the internet for people with similar problems, as I suppose we all do these days. I just wanted some advice as to how to deal specifically with this situation and how to try to work through this situation because we seem stuck in a rut with his response being to just check out. Thanks.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

If he is willing to listen, you can suggest the two of you talk about this. Try "I" statements with him such as "I feel hurt when you say....". But if he feels that anytime you talk about your needs you are being aggressive, then it is unlikely he will listen. You may also want to try counseling together. That often works in these situations because there is someone neutral there to help you both see how you are missing each other in communicating.

I'm sorry you felt the answers were not helpful. I can opt out to let other experts help you.


Kate

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for reminding me of the "I" questions. I have tried to use that strategy in expressing myself to him, but I have not tried to encourage him to use that strategy in talking to me about what is bothering him. Maybe doing so will help. That is, if we talk again. I can't be the one who calls anymore after he hangs up or walks out or whatever rudeness he pulls; it is completely demoralizing. If he is ever willing to talk calmly without screaming at me, which seems to be his preferred volume these past few months, I'll try to suggest this way of talking. He'll probably tell me it's American psycho-babble (that's already what he calls my attempts to talk about feelings; he's not American). But I'll try. Thanks for your help. I tried to give a higher rating to your second response but then learned I was giving feedback wrong and it wanted to charge me double, so I'm sorry that the rating wasn't higher. This is my first time on the system and I'll know for another time. Thank you.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

It is worth trying with him if he does call you. My best to you. I hope things work out and he is better able to communicate with you.

Take care,

Kate

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