June 24, 2009 10:25 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with my angry girlfriend?

I've been going out with my girlfriend for 7 months. We've had a lot of highs and lows and overall have a lot of fun together. One thing that has been a huge issue, however, is the fact that my girlfriend often vents her anger about her friends and I get impatient listening to her be angry. Example: My girlfriend vented to me today about how angry it makes her that her roommate is constantly reminding her to do things (i.e. take out the trash, drink less coffee) that make her feel like she thinks her roommate thinks she's incompetant. My girlfriend hates being told what to do. I personally think that her roommate is perfectly reasonable in this situation find my girlfriends anger to be petty. My girlfriend knows this and we always get into an argument when I am not able to simply acknowledge her anger. I must admit that I emotionally distance myself in these situations because I just don't know how to speak my mind and also not make her angry at me.

She yells. I'm like "What you yelling for?". She yells at me for not understanding her. <------ this is essentially how I feel when am her "venting partner".

What should I do? Do I just say "yeah, you're right. That really sucks." when she has a complaint that I find uncomplain-worthy? Is there a way for me to stand my ground and be there for her as well?
posted by defmute to Human Relations (46 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If this is getting old, and causing you to "emotionally distance yourself" after just 7 months, imagine what it will be like after 7 years?
posted by carmicha at 10:31 AM on June 24, 2009 [6 favorites]

As someone who has been your girlfriend: No; if she is venting, there is no way to stand your ground and be there for her. She already feels attacked or unappreciated or frustrated and then you — the person who is supposed to be on HER side — doesn't even understand! It doesn't really matter if you agree; that is how it feels.

At the same time, I found while some venting makes me feel better, constant venting makes me feel worse, so I would recommend limits. You can vent about her X long and I will listen but after that I am either going to make suggestions or consider the subject closed. Or distraction: that sucks, I understand, let's go get a milkshake. Preferably a combination of the two.
posted by dame at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

People don't vent because they want feedback, they vent because they are pissed and want to get it out of their system.

If you do not want to DTMF, learn to keep your mouth shut.
posted by Loto at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

Hmm, in my experience people who are easily and irrationally angry are very difficult to have long-term relationships with. I feel pretty worried reading your descriptions.

It's also true that people need to talk about their feelings, and also in my experience, being with someone who isn't interested in hearing my feelings, or wants to turn to rational assessment when I'm still needing to express frustration or whatnot is pretty challenging too.

So perhaps start with thinking about your own discomfort around her expressing her feelings, and also think about what you're willing and able to put up with in terms of inappropriately expressed or excessive anger.

Good luck.
posted by serazin at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

nod and smile, nod and smile. You've seen Hal from Malcolm in the Middle right?

you could try changing her - suggest anger managment, cognitive therapy, but she won't.

if you decide the nodding and smiling is no longer worth it ... DTMFA
posted by fistynuts at 10:33 AM on June 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Do you actually need to speak your mind about these matters? I don't see why you can't simply say something along the lines of, "I see/understand/hear that you are upset." Venting is usually just that -- blowing off steam, not asking for your opinion.

Of course, having a conversation about her anger is another matter entirely. And if she's asking you to choose sides, you can refuse to do that, too. And if it's not worth the effort to do these things, then you know that the relationship isn't worth the effort.
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:35 AM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

if you decide the nodding and smiling is no longer worth it ... DTMFA

posted by GuyZero at 10:35 AM on June 24, 2009

You both sound pretty young. You've had a lot of lows in seven *months*? That's the honeymoon phase and if you're experiencing that much of a rollercoaster in that short of a timeframe, this may not be a good match for either of you.

From what you've said, she has problems addressing her roommate directly about her concerns, displaces her anger on you, may have some communal living issue problems (can't take out the trash?), is defensive when you ask why you're the target, and is unable to locate a good outlet for her frustrations (uh, as in, maybe she could find a gym for her stress relief). In short, this doesn't appear to be a person who is communicating at the level you need. This doesn't bode well for your relationship.

Move on. Let her grow up. Find someone who communicates with you in the manner you need and prefer. We all vent at times, but it's just that: venting. Talking. Getting it out of the system. But when the venting creates arguments and tension between you two, yeah: no.
posted by December at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

I can't deal with other people's anger either. I spent a lot of time getting yelled at and worrying about being hit without warning as a wee one and hence when someone I love gets all shouty and frustrated I shrink down in my seat and try to retract my head like a turtle and wonder why they're freaking out over someone cutting them off in traffic when they'd probably be a happier person just letting it go.

Telling you to DTMFA is pretty unhelpful, I know. I will say that I'm much happier now that I'm with someone who doesn't get irrationally angry. Upset or displeased? That's fine, I mean, we're human. I'm a bit too zen to deal with I CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS rants, though, and I don't want people like that in my life.

When my fellow gets upset or frustrated, I do listen, and generally try to make him see why it's not such a big deal. Not belittling "That's a totally stupid thing to get angry about" response, but things like this:

"If you were in their shoes you might have done the same thing."

"I am sure they didn't intend it as an insult to you. It's nothing personal."

"Next week it'll all be over."

"It'll be OK, cookie, I promise."

I probably wouldn't be such a laid back hippie if someone was yelling at me about something I didn't even do, though. Oh god I feel like more of a dipwash than ever for recommending an I-statement but maybe instead of "Why are you yelling?" try "When you yell at me, it makes me nervous and makes me think that maybe I did something wrong. I'm happy to talk to you if you have a problem but if I didn't do anything wrong, I don't think it's fair to raise your voice at me."
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:42 AM on June 24, 2009 [9 favorites]

and I get impatient listening to her be angry

She's a venter and needs to vent. You are not a good venting partner, pure and simple. There's nothing wrong with either of you, but together there's always going to be this friction.

I'd say end it, as what you want i.e. to stand your groundand her need to vent are not compatible. You could start agreeing with her and being quiet about your impatience with her anger, but that's not going to be good for you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:48 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, venting should be discussing something that's bugging you to get it off your mind, not taking out your frustration on someone who's not even involved.

Going on for 10 minutes about your d-bag customers after a really stressful day at work and then saying, "Sorry, I know that was boring, I just needed to vent," is cool in my opinion.

Habitually picking fights with your boyfriend because he just doesn't understand how difficult and unfair your situation is? Not ok.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:48 AM on June 24, 2009 [6 favorites]

I think she's just a particular personality type and you can like it or lump it. People who YELL ANGRILY about everyday things scare the crap out of me and I couldn't date someone like that and be happy.... but some people are perfectly content with Big Temper folks, it's just a matter of how well different personalities mesh. She isn't going to change, so you just have to decide whether this is a dealbreaker for you.
posted by moxiedoll at 10:48 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't think of myself as an angry person generally and I think my girlfriend would agree. But I do like to vent about my job, roommates, or whatever when I'm frustrated. I do it because I want to feel understood and like there's someone on my side, and my girlfriend is good about listening to me.

Hearing about why I shouldn't feel frustrated definitely doesn't help me, though. Statements like:

"If you were in their shoes you might have done the same thing."

"I am sure they didn't intend it as an insult to you. It's nothing personal."

would probably make me more annoyed. However, supportive statements like:

"Next week it'll all be over."

"It'll be OK, cookie, I promise."

would be just dandy.

The important point is that when your girlfriend is feeling angry about something is not the time to explain why logically she should not be upset. That's for some other time when she is calm and not feeling frustrated or attacked.

However, I do agree that lots of highs and lows in 7 months of dating doesn't sound very good.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:52 AM on June 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

Someone wise once said, "Men want to be respected, and women want to be heard." She wants to be heard and her feelings validated. Listen to her, let her vent, nod your head while you think of other things, whatever. And encourage her to take action -- either by moving out or discussing these issues with her roommate.
posted by heather-b at 10:55 AM on June 24, 2009

I don't know that you need to DTMFA already, but you do need to have a serious, non-confrontational talk with her. I'm a venter, but most of my boyfriends are not good venting partners. I'd be angry about something, blow off some steam, then they'd try to solve my problems or reason my way out of it or tell me I was wrong, and I'd redirect all that anger at them. The biggest problem was, I didn't want them to fix it or even take my side. I just wanted to SAY it, and have a person in the room listen to me. It was a hard cycle to get out of once it started, and it was more about our compatibility than anything else.

I'm pretty sure my current boyfriend tunes right out when I get in that mode, which is fine with me. He doesn't try to solve my problems unless I indicate that I want his advice. If he says anything at all, he doesn't take my side necessarily. And sometimes, he tells me that he doesn't want to listen to me vent, and that I should call my sister. Which startles me and then I call my sister because she'll be all woe is me about it.

So you either need to learn to tune out your girlfriend and let her vent without feeling you need to participate or you need to tell her (calmly, gently) that she can't vent to you anymore because it's causing problems in your relationship. She should find someone else to vent to. And if neither of those choices appeal to you or her, then you should call it quits, because it won't get any better.

Another voice piping in that highs and lows in seven months is not a great sign for longterm compatibility. Highs and lows in two years, ok. But in seven months? That's still supposed to be giddy butterflies in tummy territory.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:04 AM on June 24, 2009

Just tell her that you think she's wrong about this particular issue and that you've discussed it about all you can. Say that you're willing to agree to disagree about it, and you no longer want to hear about this from her, although you welcome her venting about other issues.

If she reacts unreasonably about this, let her know that you need her to be more mature - because it sounds like you do.

Maybe she'll realize she needs to grow up a bit or maybe she'll break up with you.
posted by ignignokt at 11:05 AM on June 24, 2009

Do I just say "yeah, you're right. That really sucks."

Would it kill you? The time for coolly explaining the reality of the situation everything is not when emotions are flaring, it's later when a person can consider their feelings and behavior more rationally. So during the flare-up, all you have to do is be able to sincerely say, "I'm sorry she gets to you. What a mess!" and save the rest for later.
posted by hermitosis at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Screaming at people is not an effective way to deal with problems of this kind. I think before any other issue is dealt with, your girlfriend needs to understand that, for her own good and for the good of her future relationships. Maybe she has lived in an environment where this was tolerated, but she is bound to find out sooner or later that there are many places where this is not, and it will in fact weaken her position, whatever it may be.

In short, it is verbal abuse (from what you describe).

Asking to be heard, to be validated, etc etc, all these things are fine, but I think it would be foolish to think that it is your fault for not hearing/validating her feeling that she is acting this way. It would also be foolish of her to deal with these needs by yelling at you.

I am not in a position where I would be able to suggest what is the best way to broach the subject. Perhaps if you seek counseling, you might be able to get more knowledgeable advice about how you can get her to acknowledge her problem, and to seek help.

Whatever you do, don't yell back. In fact, I'd say talk to her calmly, don't oppose her or try to play devil's advocate. You won't be able to reason with her in that state. When she has cooled off, you can try pointing out to her that it is not cool for her to yell at your when she is upset, and that you don't appreciate it. No ultimatums, no threats.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2009

Would it kill you?

I think the poster should look for more out a relationship than possible death. DTMFA.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:13 AM on June 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

People don't vent because they want feedback, they vent because they are pissed and want to get it out of their system.

I agree with this. And not to get all guys are like this girls are like this on you but there do seem to be clear cultural differences in how men and women approach discussions about problems. It's a bit of an oversimplification, but men tend to view those kinds of discussions as a way to figure out how to solve a problem, and women tend to view those kinds of discussions as a way to get some emotional support. This is not me making up sexist generalizations based on my own experience alone, for more details check out some of Deborah Tannen's work.

So what your girlfriend is probably looking for is something along the lines of "Yeah, that sucks, I had a bossy roommate like that once too" and just a general supportive and empathetic response. This doesn't mean you need to lie or be disingenuous, because regardless of who is at fault in the situation you should be able to empathize with her point of view to at least some extent. You can still give her advice or express your opinion about how she should deal with her roommate, but save it for a time when she is not upset and will be more open to different points of view. Or just pick your battles and decide that it's not worth trying to convince her to acknowledge or accept your point of view in this particular case.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:15 AM on June 24, 2009

I was totally your girlfriend at one point in time. It took years of therapy and some unfortunate incidents with long-term consequences before I wised up and learned to deal with getting angry (more or less, I still am not perfect). There is no way you're going to be able to make her change. Hopefully, that's a lesson she'll learn on her own at some point. If you can't have handle her getting angry in a calm manner, you two really aren't compatible.

And honestly, you don't have to deal with it. Nobody likes getting yelled at when they haven't done anything wrong, or even if they have done something wrong! You need to figure out what your limits are as far as listening to her vent, etc., and communicate those clearly to her. If you're okay with say, listening to her vent about something for 10 minutes or less, but draw the line at extended rants or yelling at you, tell her that, give her some time to adapt. If things don't change or you're still not happy, this is not the relationship for you.
posted by booknerd at 11:17 AM on June 24, 2009

Some couples just aren't mean to be and I suspect you two are one of them. I spent two years in a relationship with a woman who sounds a lot like your girlfriend. It was hard to end the relationship, mostly because the relationship wasn't all bad, but I eventually realized that her temper and need to argue were things I couldn't live with.

Your girlfriend doesn't just want someone to vent to. She doesn't just want to be heard. She wants someone to be on her side. Someone who will agree. Always.

Don't your arguments come from the times when you don't agree? How often have you asked yourself (or maybe even asked HER) "Why do we always have to fight about this stuff?"

"Is there a way for me to stand my ground and be there for her as well?"

Not without either getting into a fight with her or making her angry.

Some couples just aren't mean to be and I suspect you two are one of them.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:19 AM on June 24, 2009

She wants empathy from you. Learn to give it. I recommend the book I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better. She should read it, too.
posted by rocket88 at 11:24 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Your girlfriend needs to understand that her venting causes you distress. That doesn't make her a bad person or her behavior terrible -- it's more about 'your reaction' than 'her behavior.' You also don't have to justify why you feel that way. Both things are just neutral facts: she needs to vent, and it makes you unhappy to listen to it.

That means that if she wants to stay in the relationship, it'd be smart for her to figure out how to get her venting needs met elsewhere. If she makes a good faith effort to do that in general (like, through friends who aren't bothered by it), then you might be more open to listening occasionally, if and when she really needs you to.
posted by Susan PG at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2009

Before you dump your girlfriend, why not use this as an opportunity to work on both your communication skills?

Communication skills are learned. Usually lack of communication skills is not a big problem when you're young, but combined with anger management issues, the whole scenario is not very pleasant.

But since we all learn and grow, perhaps your relationship is still salvageable, and perhaps you both have the opportunity to learn, mature and move on towards the next stage of emotional development.

If it doesn't work, at least you tried.

Here's what I would do:

Practice reflective listening and speaking:

If your girlfriend says, "My friend was late, and it really pissed me off," YOU SAY, "So I hear your friend was late, and it must have really pissed you off."

Try this for few minutes (maybe three), and then try to move the conversation on by saying:

"What are you going to do about it?"

Hopefully this will resolve the issue, and you can then suggest a new activity: play video games, go for a walk, make out on the couch, whatever it is you like to do.

However, if your girlfriend can't move on at that point and time...

Always say what you mean:

"You sound pretty angry right now. Can we do something else a little more fun? How about I go for a walk and wait for you to calm down? We can talk a little more then if you like, but I'd like to do something kind of fun with you."

Always listen, always stress that you're willing to listen and help, but also define your own limits, and stress the importance you place on being with your girlfriend and having fun with her as well.

If this doesn't work, you may wish to move on before you start to own your girlfriend's emotional baggage.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I understand the need to "vent", but unloading your personal baggage on someone while being angry is never pleasant for the listener. Especially when you yell.
Your girlfriend sounds like she is not a good listener herself, and certainly can't even take legitimate criticism. This is a stepping stone in your relationship.

I learned, while venting to my boyfriend, that he was taking my side by not petting me on the head and telling me I was right. By pointing out other people's points of views or positions, he made me see why I was simply wasting my time being angry about nothing. Then I wasn't angry anymore.

But it is clear that your situation involves someone who thinks the world of herself and her opinions. A relationship is about two people, not one, so you should think about how she treats you and how you fit into all of this. When she isn't angry, sit her down and explain that you are worried about her temper, and that it is affecting your perception of your relationship negatively. Ask her to work on it with you. Because her anger is not your fault, you shouldn't just smile and nod. If you were a woman, everyone would be telling you to run away. Just because you're a man doesn't mean you have to deal with anger and irrationality. There are plenty of women who are neither.
posted by anniek at 12:08 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

She sounds like an angry and immature person. As I see it, there are 2 ways to deal with this:

A. Dump her
B. Have an honest discussion about how her tirades make you feel.

I think if you choose option B, you have to be prepared for her to be angry and/or emotional. She doesn't seem like the kind of person who will want to rationally discuss a situation where she is mostly at fault.

I also think that she other underlying issues that make her this angry. Are you prepared to help her deal with these problems? If not, get out now.
posted by reenum at 12:40 PM on June 24, 2009

It takes energy to be that angry. Help her burn it off some other way, and she won't be able to be (quite) so angry all the time.

I've been involved with someone like this: she had to be "walked" every night for an hour or two (insert your pet/dog joke here). If it didn't happen she would be crawling the walls, yelling, and hating everyone in no time at all. I once left town for a funeral weekend, and I arrived home to find she'd driven her best friend and housemate out -- apparently three days of pent up energy required screaming at whomever was available, no matter the consequences.

I'm not going to recommend you live like this, it's exhausting. But it's all the help I've got, 'cause you sure aren't going to fix this...
posted by Pufferish at 12:41 PM on June 24, 2009

Dump her and tell her its because of her unchecked anger. If she wants to change for your sake, she will, and if not, you'll be happier and she will find a new rage cage.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:01 PM on June 24, 2009

I think some people are answering this as a generic "my girlfriend likes to vent, and she gets upset when I try to fix what she's venting about" question. OP, I don't think that's your situation, because as you describe it:

* you call her "my angry girlfriend"
* you say she's "angry a lot"
* your girlfriend yells about "petty" things
* your girlfriend "hates being told what to do" [red flag, btw -- is everything she doesn't want to hear turned into some kind of "disrespect" thing?]
* "I just don't know how to speak my mind and also not make her angry at me" [red flag again]
* "I emotionally distance myself in these situations" [sounds like a protective shell]
* "she yells at me for not understanding her."

God, this sounds horrible -- immature and punitive. It seems also like she's successfully used her anger to punish you into silent self-protection. Yes, you can ask a certain amount of loyalty and fellow-feeling from a boyfriend, but it sounds instead like she thrives on conflict and wants to pick fights with you to relieve her feelings. Ugh.
posted by palliser at 1:21 PM on June 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Say, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to listen to this right now. Is there something else you'd like to talk about?" If she gets mad at you for that, treat her like a toddler having a temper tantrum: ignore her, and allow her to vent on her own. After she's calmed down, you could have a frank but respectful discussion about how rants make you feel.

Of course, part of having a successful relationship is the willingness to listen to your partner vent their frustrations, within reason. Sounds like she is crossing the line here, but you could try to compromise by being more supportive of her feelings. Dr. John Gottman recommends that even if you don't agree with your partner about their complaints, you should express sympathy for their frustration.
posted by Lobster Garden at 1:24 PM on June 24, 2009

I was married to someone with unchecked anger issues and a paranoia about "not being understood" (even if I actually did...this stuff only gets worse, apparently). I thought I could handle the situation. I couldn't really. But it was she who dumped me: all of a sudden permanently angry with me...
You can't change her, whatever you think now, so - as others said - there's some work to be done on your part too. But you nevertheless might consider stepping out of it now, as other Others also said.
posted by Namlit at 1:25 PM on June 24, 2009

The best partners for venters are people who don't take the venting personally. It's not about you, it's about her. If she's having a rant you have enough distance from the problem to help her calm down. Give her a hug, stroke her hair, soothe her, make her laugh, hold her hand, sit quiet etc, but don't get upset - remember: she's not angry with you.

If she doesn't calm down, tell her you're sorry she's upset but you don't want to be yelled at. Quietly leave the room. If she runs out of steam and then comes to find you to say sorry, all's good. If she sulks endlessly, or gets violent - not good, and probably time to move on.

Living with strong emotions is not easy, and sometimes emotional people need some help to diffuse the energy. In time she'll learn to calm herself. This is is, however, very different from being abusive and if her temper veers in that direction, or she doesn't ackowledge and try to manage the effect it has on you, you need to drawn the line and leave the relationship.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:35 PM on June 24, 2009

Do I just say "yeah, you're right. That really sucks."

As revised. You can acknowledge the badness of the situation without agreeing with her.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 1:43 PM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

If she's yelling at you she's not venting, she's being abusive and not acknowledging your right to be treated with courtesy and respect.

We can all flash aggressive anger at those closest too us occasionally, but when it's a regular occurrence which leaves others feeling resentful, depleted, and apprehensive that any response to our anger is going to be "wrong", then we shouldn't be surprised when those people exit our lives.

It's perfectly possible to vent without being destructive. And it's perfectly reasonable to refuse to engage someone who vents their anger in destructive ways.

I grew up in a home where anger was expressed destructively on a daily basis. It took me a very long time to learn healthier ways of expressing my anger than demanding that other people endure hours of my tirades so that I felt validated and acknowledged. Experience has taught me to keep people who are high maintenance in terms of needing to constantly vent at a distance until they're actively trying to change that behaviour. Life's too short to be someone else's whipping boy.
posted by Lolie at 2:36 PM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Someone wise really sexist once said, "Men want to be respected, and women want to be heard."

Fixed that for you. On what planet do women not want to be respected, and men not want to be heard? The majority of humans want both things.

Now, to defmute's issue: Neither of you are being rude or bad or wrong; you just have very different communications styles. This may be a sign of fundamental incompatibility.

You don't have any responsibility to listen to her venting if it makes you uncomfortable--being uncomfortable with other people's venting isn't a bad thing per se. She doesn't have any responsibility to refrain from venting because it makes you uncomfortable--venting isn't a bad thing per se.

Perhaps there is a compromise? In any case, you guys should have a discussion about it NOT when she's upset and venting about something, and you're uncomfortable and wishing she would stop, but at a less emotionally charged time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:34 PM on June 24, 2009

Without reading any other responses: break up. This doesn't sound at all fun. Break up.

Just my $0.02. Good luck.
posted by Neofelis at 4:25 PM on June 24, 2009

I had an angry girlfriend like this. The targets of her anger were a bit different, but I always felt like I was walking on eggshells around her. It made me fucking miserable. It took me longer than I wished it had, but I was very relieved when I finally broke up with her (we dated about 2.5 years).

From the sound of it, it seems like you'll be a lot happier if you break up with her now.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:53 PM on June 24, 2009

As a fellow venter, I have some sympathy with your girlfriend. If you don't want to break up, try reading the section in "Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" about validating feelings.* She doesn't want your feedback, and she doesn't even need you to agree with her. What she wants is to have her feelings validated (which you can do even if you agree with the roommate).

Don't shut down--that just leads to frustration and anger.

Example good scenario:

HER: I can't believe my roommate told me to stop drinking coffee AGAIN. What business is it of hers anyway? I wish she would just let it go. And she brought up the trash again, too!
YOU: Man, that's really too bad. I can see where you'd be frustrated that she keeps bringing these problems up when you've talked about them before.

The key is to show you understand why she's upset (again, you may totally sympathetic with the roommate, but that's not the point here). Try it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

*Other books might have advice on this that is as good, or better, but it's the only one I can think of that addresses the subject in a practical way.
posted by timoni at 5:00 PM on June 24, 2009

Does she feel better after she vents? Excessive anger can be a symptom of depression. You might look into whether there's something going on there before chalking it up to a personality defect.
posted by lakeroon at 6:08 PM on June 24, 2009

I think some people are answering this as a generic "my girlfriend likes to vent, and she gets upset when I try to fix what she's venting about" question.

It's really not clear that it isn't that kind of question. The only thing he says that makes it sound like his girlfriend might be doing something really inappropriate is

She yells. I'm like "What you yelling for?". She yells at me for not understanding her.

Now if she's actually expressing frustration by screaming at him, yeah, that's bullshit. But it sounds more like she's trying to tell him she's upset, he doesn't want to hear it, and then she gets mad at him for being a crappy boyfriend who doesn't want to listen to her. I have a feeling if she told it we'd hear a different story. He says:

I get impatient listening to her be angry... I personally think that her roommate is perfectly reasonable in this situation find my girlfriends anger to be petty. My girlfriend knows this and we always get into an argument when I am not able to simply acknowledge her anger.

Also, seriously? Her roommate tells her to drink less coffee? And you think her roommate is being perfectly reasonable?

What should I do? Do I just say "yeah, you're right. That really sucks." when she has a complaint that I find uncomplain-worthy? Is there a way for me to stand my ground and be there for her as well?

What does it matter if you think her complaint isn't worthy? If you can't find the patience to listen to your girlfriend when she's upset it sounds like you don't really like her. You can't be in a long-term relationship with someone if you only like them when they're happy.

Say, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to listen to this right now. Is there something else you'd like to talk about?"

Are you kidding? Just break up with her if you're going to start saying shit like that.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:08 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm gonna go against the grain a little and say don't worry about it.

Indulge your girlfriend. LIsten to her. Let her vent. Take the opportunity to vent yourself.

These sorts of things can add texture to life.
posted by milinar at 6:40 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is there a way for me to stand my ground and be there for her as well?

Standing your ground is being there for her. You do no one any favors by tolerating something that bothers you in order to keep the peace. If she can't learn to control her temper, then she's going to have a lot more problems in the future - far bigger ones than she's complaining about now. There's no guarantee that she'll learn to recognize her bad behavior before you get sick of it and leave, but if you continue to suck up whatever she dishes out, you can be sure that she won't learn anytime soon.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:22 PM on June 24, 2009

Do you know her parents? How do they talk to each other? how do they discuss contentious issues? how do they complain to each other about the outside world? It is highly possible that your GF thinks that yelling [at you] is the way to vent. I'm married to a venter. Her parents scream at each other in the above situations. You'd think they hate each other, but from what I can tell...they don't.

You might just have to deal with this if you remain together. Decide now. If she grew up in a similar environment it will likely not improve.
posted by teg4rvn at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2009

Also, seriously? Her roommate tells her to drink less coffee? And you think her roommate is being perfectly reasonable?

I guess I was already prejudiced against the girlfriend, as I figured they put money into a communal coffee fund, and the girlfriend is hogging. Or the "drink less coffee" advice came after some long-winded angry rant about not being able to sleep at night and/or being jittery and/or being too tired to take out the garbage because she has insomnia and/or etc. You're right that if it was just unsolicited advice, it would be nosy.

But honestly, if I had a nosy-naggy roommate (not an evil roommate who went through my stuff or badmouthed me or something, but just sort of Mom-ish and annoying), I would tell my boyfriend stories about it while laughing, not while yelling. I guess that's a personality thing, and some people are more intense, but if she's alternately boring the crap out of him and making him anxious with her ranting, he should maybe look for someone who would tell coffee- and garbage-related roommate stories with a little more lighthearted mimicry and a little less THAT FUCKING BITCH AMIRITE.
posted by palliser at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2009

Have you discussed this with her during a time when she ISN'T venting? If you only talk about it when she's already mad, of course nothing will change, but maybe bringing it up another time could work.

My mom does this sometimes (while driving), and discussing it with her didn't totally change things, but at least now she understands my feelings better. She still vents, but doesn't really expect me to respond.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:17 PM on June 25, 2009

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