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Karin Samms
Karin Samms, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 299
Experience:  with over 15 years experience offering support with relationship, mental health & addiction issues
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My boyfriend and I have been dating for 2 years. I love him

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My boyfriend and I have been dating for 2 years. I love him very much, and I know he loves me too, but we can't stop fighting! In my point of view, he gets really mad about things that don't warrant a fight-- not asking specifically about his day, not picking up my phone, neglecting to introduce him to people. It's not intentional-- most of the times he's gotten mad at me, I don't even see it coming! There are times I agree that I overlooked things or I was wrong, and I'll apologize and it will most likely blow over. But if I try to argue my point, things will quickly spiral out of control. He gets mad and won't admit he's mad. He can say some pretty mean things when he's angry, and I will keep trying to work things out until I get to a point where I'm completely frustrated and hurt. Right at the moment I walk away, he will badger me into engaging with him, demanding that I text him back or go to his place before he throws my stuff out. When we fight, he often accuses me of acting suspect and talking to other boys. I'm not! When I tell him some of the behaviors he needs to change for our relationship to work, he thinks I'm trying to change who he is as a person. I honestly don't know what to do anymore! This fighting ruins my sleep and my ability to have a happy, productive life! When things are good, they're great. I just wants is to be good again.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Karin Samms replied 1 year ago.
Hi there, welcome to Just Answer. I will try and help you with your question.

I'm sorry that you've been going through this, it is certainly not normal and his reactions are not appropriate for what seems to be trivial issues. He may have problems with his anger and doesn't know how to channel his stressful situations. He sounds as though he needs to understand better that you will not accept this behavior towards you. The relationship has inevitably suffered due to the lack of respect and communication.

You're asking what to do? Here's what might help you:

Firstly, you may need to arrange a meeting with him and set up/ establish some definite rules for how to talk to one another (i.e. when one of you is talking, the other will wait and listen and vice versa).. During this meeting, you both get a chance to discuss how you feel and what he thinks is the issue (let him have his say) and then it will be your turn and you can say too, what hurts you and his words etc are hurtful to you and so on.

Secondly, it would be important that some longer term rules are established in terms of how you both interact with one another. He needs to understand that you will not tolerate his abusive language and attacking you verbally and that he needs to find a way to stop shouting or getting angry before it escalates with you present, he may need to walk out of the room, go for a walk etc..

Thirdly, it is vital to try and help him understand what is CAUSING him to feel so stressed out that he gets so angry. Usually, there are problems underlying the anger - he might be feeling out of control or insecure about your relationship etc and so takes it out on you. You can help him to understand the anger and also help him with strategies to enable him to get it under control, as usually anger can come from low confidence or self esteem.

Another option is to seek out counseling for him, he may well need to speak with someone about his anger and he might want to do this alone. Here are some links that might help:

USA therapists website: http://www.psychologytoday.com/

Another website where you can search for counselors:. http://www.nbcc.org/counselorfind

For anger issues, you and or he could take a look at this website: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_97.htm

The above anger management link has some useful exercises and he might be able to relate to some of what it says.

If he is not willing or reluctance to accept help, you will need to consider being much more direct and firm with him. Express to him that he cannot continue (you cannot continue) with the relationship as you are as it is making you both unhappy and so you are willing to help him but he has to want to help himself.

You have done the right thing by seeking guidance on this, as you deserve to be treated with respect and not to be barked at, however please bear in mind, his anger is down to something deeper that is going on inside him and only he can deal and confront this.

I do hope this is helping, please do come back to me for further assistance and support if you need it, I'd rather support you as much as possible and receive a positive rating and I'd be more than happy to continue supporting you until you feel satisfied.
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If I have answered your question, kindly rate my service positively before you leave the site so I may be credited for my time. If you choose to rate me anything less than positive, please do come back to me and I will clarify further or support your query further. Your question will not close and I will continue to support your question. Bonuses are always appreciated.

Kindest Regards, Karin

Expert:  Karin Samms replied 1 year ago.
Hi there S,

Can I be of any further help to you? If so, please do let me know.
If I have answered your question, kindly rate my service positively before leaving the site so I may be credited for my time. If you choose to rate me anything less than positive, please do come back to me and I will clarify further or support your query further. Your question will not close and I will continue to support your question. Bonuses are always appreciated.

Regards, Karin
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Karin,

Thanks for the quick reply. I think you are right about the anger piece.
He has had anger management issues in the past and has actually gone to
court-mandated counseling for it when he was a teenager. (He didn't think
it was useful, and is against any type of counseling now.) He has been
working on these issues on his own, because he says it used to be a lot
worse. His anger growing up stemmed from having a father who abandoned the
family. His anger now is more centered around his work. He made a lot of
sacrifices to move out across the country and he is not getting everything he was promised for the work he does.

I'm also glad to hear that we've doing some of the right things. We have
created some rules for how we talk to each other (not interrupting).

He sometimes listens very dismissively, but it takes a while for us to emotionally connect. Sometimes we never get there. I have
also tried to set boundaries around abusive language. There was one time
he called me a f**king whore, which especially hurt because one of our big
issues was me hiding my past, and when I finally have the courage to tell
him about my previous relationships, it became ammunition for him. We almost
broke up. We did set boundaries around this kind of disrespect.

So I guess what is still unclear to me is how to proceed. I've suspected
for a long time that his work stress was affecting our relationship, but he insists its
not. He thinks the problems stem from me not meeting his emotional needs,
by not putting him first and not being there for him. I am trying to be
more careful about his triggers and more concerned with how he may be
feeling, but he obviously needs to do his part too. How do I find out whether he's really willing to work on these issues, and not just saying it? If he refuses counseling, what else is there?

 

There's a lot of information I've been reading about verbal abuse too, and some of it resonates. Do you think this is verbal abuse, and if so, does that mean this relationship doomed? My boyfriend told me I'm the last girlfriend he wants to have. I believe him. How do we make this work?


Thanks,

Sarah

Expert:  Karin Samms replied 1 year ago.
Hi there Sarah,

I'm relieved to hear that my response thus far has been helpful to you, please could you rate the service so far by accepting my response to you, it would be very much appreciated as we are not compensated for our time until you rate the expert positively.

I'm not surprised that he has dismissed previous attempts of counseling as he was much younger and probably couldn't emotionally or mentally understand how it could help him, I've seen many young adults in his circumstances in my role as a counselor.

The point I'd like to make is that it's great that you've tried many things that we discussed above, however I wonder whether you could re-establish those boundaries and any veering from them needs to be highlighted immediately and talked through/discussed. Furthermore, a conversation needs to happen around his work related stress - if this is affecting him it is very unfair him misdirecting his frustrations, resentment and hence, anger at you.

You are going to need to be extremely firm and also accept that if he can't make the right sacrifices for you and yes, he is verbally abusing you but I don't believe this is the end of your relationship, it needs another chance which has the SAME goal in mind for the both of you - you could both sit together and decide what that goal is (can you both decide together what this goal can be?) the goal needs to be achievable, realistic and you need to give yourselves a good amount of time to change things - perhaps a couple of months and at the end of each week, you could discuss how it's gone for you both.

There is no miracle cure, it will need new strategies to be applied and if after you feel you've exhausted all attempts to help him and if he's unwilling, you will need to decide whether you have the strength to continue on as you have been or do you draw a line under this relationship and move on....

Regarding counseling; you could consider couple counseling as this way you are both working together. The links I previously have offered you above will list a directory of counselors and their specialisms, please do refer to the list. The anger management link has practical worksheet and they can be printed off or at least worked through - it will give him something to focus on. There might also be anger management workshops which he could look into, but again, I believe if he doesn't deal with underlying issues he will return to his old coping mechanisms of misdirecting anger.

If he doesn't want to do any of the above, you need to tell him that if he's not willing, then the relationship, as it stands cannot continue (you are not the parental figure who he is trying to emotionally connect with and who must demonstrate unconditional love to him, does this make sense?) Relationships all require work, commitment, openness and honesty as well as you say, respect and genuine love and caring and overall, it is an equal partnership. He is capable, but perhaps very frightened of letting go of his defenses and stays within his insecurities as opposed to challenging them, confronting them and breaking out of his vicious circle (couple or individual counseling, or group workshops could help with this).

One last thing Sarah, if he demonstrates further disrespectful language such as the language he previously used, you need to make a choice of whether you want to be with someone that potentially will bring your self esteem and your self worth down, he needs to know that is not acceptable and below the line of what is truly acceptable and dismissable.

My best to you Sarah, I truly do hope this is helping you and provided you with some clarity and perhaps a few further points to consider. If I have answered your question, kindly rate my service positively before you leave the site so I may be credited for my time. If you choose to rate me anything less than positive, please do come back to me and I will clarify further or support your query further. Your question will not close and I will continue to support your question. Bonuses are always appreciated.

Kindest Regards, Karin
Karin Samms, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 299
Experience: with over 15 years experience offering support with relationship, mental health & addiction issues
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Karin Samms
Karin Samms
Counselor
299 Satisfied Customers
with over 15 years experience offering support with relationship, mental health & addiction issues