April 22, 2014 6:47 PM Subscribe
How can I deal with the anger of my easily peeved boyfriend?
posted by a sourceless light to Human Relations (128 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
He gets pissed off when he's having an allergy attack, sleep-deprived, working late, the cloud ate his document, etc. He tends to snap, yell, bang around the house, fume, and respond to me with sarcasm and annoyance. Sometimes it's because of things I do (interrupting him when he's talking), but often I feel like I'm stepping into his anger accidentally. He's got stress in his life most days (we're graduate students), so this happens a lot.
Sometimes I feel hurt, like when he seems to respond to everything I say with sarcasm. Sometimes I just feel embarrassed, like when he snaps at me in front of our friends. Maybe it bothers me so much because I don't express my emotions the way he does; I tend to be more anxious, mopey, and self-doubting when I'm upset by something. He's good at comforting me when I'm like that, but I obviously have no idea how to deal with it when he's upset.
My attempts to talk to him about it so far have been really unsuccessful--even counterproductive. If I say in the moment that he seems angry, ask if something's wrong (thinking I'm being sympathetic), or outright say "Hey, don't shout at me like that," he tends to deny it or get offended that I think something's wrong. He'll say, "I'm angry? News to me," or "Since when does this count as shouting?" When I've tried to use "I" statements to talk about how I'm feeling because of the way he's acting, he's said I'm exaggerating. When I've brought it up later when we're not on edge, he's said he doesn't know what I'm talking about. The only time I can remember him acknowledging that he was acting out of the ordinary was when he threw a book across the room.
It's obviously really frustrating and hurtful to him if I try to talk about his tense and angry behavior; I think he thinks I'm picking fights or criticizing him. Trying to comfort him is definitely not a good course of action, either. So I do my best to just act like nothing's happening, which is actually pretty hard and leaves me feeling like I'm walking on eggshells.
I'm really puzzled by how this guy who has always been so sweet and thinks it's important to talk about emotions can also be someone who repeatedly denies what I see as a major aspect of his emotions and behavior. I don't think this is a dealbreaker, but I'm clearly missing something that's going on here.
Any ideas for how I can see this differently or take a new approach?