Should this be a massive red flag, or just a small yellow one?
September 16, 2013 7:42 AM Subscribe
Asking for a friend: If your significant other gets massively angry but doesn't ever direct it at you, how much of a worry should it be?
posted by yasp to human relations (77 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My friend wrote the following; please direct all answers as though to him:
I've been dating my girlfriend for just under a year now. Everything's going swimmingly: I moved in with her a few weeks back, we're now flat-hunting together for a bigger place (in London) and generally we're having a great time.
We've lost a few weekends over the last month to my work - I'm freelance in the entertainment industry, which means I often have to drop plans at relatively short notice and go haring off across the country to remote and improbable spots. My girlfriend is pretty understanding about this - it hurts, but she knows it comes with the job.
This Friday just gone, I received news that a very close family friend - who had been a surrogate father to me when my own father died during my childhood - had had a severe stroke. There was talk about him not lasting through the weekend, so I might have to drop everything and drive home - several hours away from London.
My girlfriend and I had plans on Friday night for dinner with friends, but when I talked to her she completely understood and said "you need to be wherever you need to be." At that stage I'd thought I could drive up on Saturday rather than driving through the night. We went out for pre-dinner coffee and to catch up on our respective days, and it was there that I received a call telling my that my surrogate father had been moved to his own home and was not expected to last beyond Saturday morning.
I realised then that I had to set off immediately if I was going to get back to say goodbye (I didn't get to say goodbye to my father when he died, and it's been something I've struggled with for years).
My girlfriend understood but was extremely upset, partly because we were losing the weekend again, partly because she couldn't come with me due to commitments of her own that she couldn't get out of (also, she doesn't really know any of the people that I would have been standing around the deathbed with, and it didn't feel right to her to intrude on that situation).
Standing outside in the pouring rain, she got more and more angry, shouting at the night in general, punching a concrete wall a few times, and smacking herself in the head to "make herself get a fucking grip on things."
Eventually we returned home - she never tried to stop me from leaving - and I packed a few things in my car to take with me. She said it looked like I was "taking all my things" and leaving her (most of my stuff is in storage right now as we don't have room for it in her flat) and when I promised I was coming back she said "whatever." At this point I didn't have time for a row, so I just calmly put stuff in the car, gave her a kiss, and told her I loved her. She told me that she loved me too, and to drive safe.
I made it to my surrogate father's bedside in time to say goodbye to him; he died on Saturday morning.
Since then I've been back in my hometown. I've cleared my work calendar for a few days and I've been helping arrange the funeral and take care of legal matters. I am missing my girlfriend terribly though and want to go home to her soon, hopefully tonight.
But the angry outburst has worried me. I've known for as long as I've known my girlfriend that she has a bad temper; it's legendary in the company that we both worked for when we met. Most of the time she's easygoing but when she gets into a rage she can really fly off the handle; I've had to step in to confrontations between her and various officials before now in order to stop things descending into a shouting match, and I witnessed her once, in something close to road rage, start screaming obscenities at a shopper who was "reserving" a parking space for her husband over Christmas. That last incident shook me up but as I wasn't the focus of her anger at the time I told her that I loved her despite the outburst and that I didn't hold it against her. We've never had a huge, shouting row, but when we have disagreed over something she's been very careful not to verbally lash out at me in anger - and has said as much after the arguments were over.
But what happened on Friday really bothered me. It's clearly bothered her too - she's told me how ashamed she is of how she acted, and how she knows that what I needed was support, not a meltdown (her words) - but all I've done is told her that it's okay, that I don't need her to be perfect.
I'm not wholly certain, though, whether this should have been a big red flag for me. I've been in relationships with short-tempered partners before, and I always spotted them because the anger came in my direction; that made it easy to know when to walk away. This time, though, it feels different. I love this woman, I want to live with her and make a future together; maybe even marry her. But that anger still frightens me.
What would MetaFilter people recommend I do here? Is this a sit-down-and-talk-to-her situation or a run-away-fast situation? Or am I just overreacting because my emotions are all over the place?