How to talk to someone about their anger and negativity?
February 21, 2017 11:44 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend reacts badly to very common everyday frustrations. I'm a sensitive person and his negativity really weighs on me. His hot temper also makes me very uncomfortable. How do I talk to him about this?

We're both in our mid-30's and met online. At the start, he was sweet and seemed like a positive, fun-loving person. We clicked right away and had a great first date, which led to several more. Throughout this initial period, he was caring, open, and communicative. I was so excited about him. It really seemed like we were on the same page.

Only a few months into our relationship, I'm feeling overwhelmed. He's still been sweet to me, but his negativity overshadows the happy interactions we have. Some days it seems like everything upsets him, and he takes completely mundane things very personally. For example, if we pull into a restaurant parking lot and it's full, he'll go on a huge rant about how much he hates this city, it's far too crowded, he doesn't want to live here anymore. By the time we find somewhere to park and go into the restaurant (just a few minutes of minor inconvenience, not a big deal warranting that kind of reaction at all), I'm completely on edge and sad that the nice mood for dinner was spoiled.

I don't need to be with someone who's happy about everything all the time, but he regularly gets angry, to the point of yelling and swearing, about things that are totally common everyday frustrations. They're things that I think most people might express disappointment over, maybe even mild upset, but not anger. He's also very quick to judge and point fingers at people. He doesn't give people benefit of the doubt, or forgive mistakes. If someone crosses him, even if it's accidental or due to carelessness, then that person is an idiot or an asshole. If he disagrees with something, then it’s bullshit, or it’s the stupidest thing he’s ever heard. I worry that one day I’ll be a regular target for his anger, judgment, and blame.

I don't think he sees it as a problem that he has such a quick temper. He excels at his career and regularly receives accolades and promotions. He has a close relationship with his family, and has many friendships that have lasted since childhood. It doesn’t seem like he’s had too much trouble with romantic relationships either. I realize that I only know what he’s told me about his past relationships, but there’s nothing there that raised any red flags to me.

We have talked about the tone and language he used to speak to me during an argument, and he apologized and said that he would be mindful of it in the future. The reason for the argument? I was mildly annoyed about something he did, but it was so insignificant that I just wanted to drop it. He got upset that I didn’t want to tell him what was wrong, and it escalated into a huge fight. I almost broke up with him right then and there.

I know… this much so early in the relationship is not a good sign of things to come. Everything should be fun and rosy right now. One good friend advised me to break it off with him now. I can’t fix him, even if he wants to change he may not be able to, and it’s not worth putting myself through the effort. Another friend feels it would be worth it to talk to him about how I’m feeling, and if he’s receptive to what I have to say, then things could improve.

As for how I feel, I really do like him a lot. He’s smart and funny, and I find him incredibly interesting. He’s had a lot of really cool and unusual life experiences. We have a lot of fun together, when he’s in a good mood. I do think it’s worth trying to talk to him and giving him a chance to hear my concerns. I know that it could erupt into another huge fight if he takes it badly, and though it hurts a lot to think about that, his reaction will tell me everything I need to know.

I need help figuring out how I explain to him how I’m feeling, and what I want from him. How do I bring this up? What do I say?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
He has to want to change.

You have to be willing to walk away.

Break up with him. For real. If he asks, tell him why. He has anger issues, you fear for your safety, and that's not ok. You can't live like that.

After that, if he is motivated to change, he can do the work - with a therapist or anger management specialist or what have you. When he's made real progress, he can check back in with you.

Good luck.
posted by metaseeker at 12:34 AM on February 22, 2017 [27 favorites]


I've been in two relationships like this. One was a lot worse than the other but in hindsight they were both really bad for me, for my self esteem, for my sense of self, my health, my happiness... just downright bad. It definitely altered the way I am in the world, specifically the way I interact with men. My life is a lot harder because I stayed with angry men for years; the past eight years of my dating life were spent with angry men. It aged me. It robbed me. I sold myself so short, staying with these angry men.

Man, I wish I had walked away, both times. He's in his 30s? He's not going to change. I'm sorry.
posted by sockermom at 12:38 AM on February 22, 2017 [42 favorites]


I don't think he sees it as a problem that he has such a quick temper. He excels at his career and regularly receives accolades and promotions. He has a close relationship with his family, and has many friendships that have lasted since childhood.

This is a HUGE RED FLAG waving in front of you, by the way. He's able to control his temper in other situations. He can control his anger but he is choosing not to around you. This is super common and super toxic. Both my exes did this, too. It is not going to get better. I am so sorry. It is going to get worse.
posted by sockermom at 12:43 AM on February 22, 2017 [101 favorites]


I worry that one day I’ll be a regular target for his anger, judgment, and blame.

You should listen to yourself and find someone new who doesn't put you on edge. There are other fun, interesting men out there.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:44 AM on February 22, 2017 [24 favorites]


At least promise yourself that after one conversation, you'll break up if you see the anger again.

I mean, really, there's no way something as fundamental as his reactions to a wide swath of things -- a full parking lot, people, tons of common everyday frustrations - is going to be able to change based on one conversation from someone he just started dating. So then what happens the next time he gets angry? Do you walk away then? Do you say "there it was again, that thing I was telling you about?" Do you tell yourself "It's been a bit longer than average since this last happened; I think things are getting better?" Has he put you in charge of reminding him?

Don't get trapped by the idea that if only you could explain it right then he will change. If, when you bring it up, he says that it's your fault in any way, that's a huge red flag.
posted by salvia at 1:07 AM on February 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


I think after the first couple of months, people begin to show you who they really are. So when you are making decisions about this relationship, don't cling to the first months as a sign that he's not really like this. Instead, re-frame it in your head as: he was on his best behavior around you for a few months, and now you two have gotten serious enough that he has relaxed and he is now acting the way he normally does with a partner. Assume that you're never going to get the other version of him back, and decide what you want to do with this relationship accordingly.

And, from the sound of it, I think he doesn't want to change his behavior, because it works for him, so there aren't any magic words or ways of phrasing you can use to get him to actually change. He sounds like a sort of frightening guy to be around. If I were you, I would stop dating him and look for someone who is sweet and smart and venting his irrational anger at me all the time.
posted by colfax at 1:27 AM on February 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


Oh man, I recognize this. If only I could have noticed and articulated things as well as you have, when I had first started with a similar type of man, I could have prevented a personal disaster.

It's not going to change, no matter how much you talk about it. It's just not. It will only break you down. It's time to go.
posted by (F)utility at 1:28 AM on February 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Tell him that this is a dealbreaker for you.
If he's motivated to do his best to keep the relationship, he'll work on it and you'll see real results, real soon.
If he's not, he won't and you won't, because he does not actually care enough, and then it's not worth keeping the relationship. My money's on that, but you'll see soon enough.
If you tell him and he responds badly, well, you already said it: that will tell you all that you need to know. Someone who you can't even talk to about the bad stuff in the relationship is not a good, loving partner.

You can't keep living like this, and by itself it's only going to get worse. Something needs to happen. If that something is you breaking up with him, so be it.

I hear you that he's desirable in many ways, but as we say here, just a little bit of shit in an otherwise delicious milkshake and it's now a shit milkshake. Don't settle for shit milkshakes: there are plenty of milkshakes out there that do not have ANY shit.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:33 AM on February 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


I worry that one day I’ll be a regular target for his anger, judgment, and blame.

Probably. Even if you continue to be one of the free things in life he has patience for, you'd still get to hear these monologues all the time for as long as you're together, and often about things or people that you care about or enjoy. I very much think it makes sense to break up over something like this; it's not a quality I'd want to deal with even in a friend. I also think that giving people the benefit of the doubt as a default shows an understanding of humanity, and of one's own flaws, that is pretty important.

Aside from that, you have to figure out if having big fights that blow up is something you really want in a relationship in terms of communication style. (Some people have no problem with that, or even prefer it. It really depends on what you want to bring into your life.)

(I don't know if children come into your calculations at all, but living with that kind of parent is also not something I'd wish on anyone.)


Still, your actual question was about what to say to him. I don't think I'd say anything to him, personally, because it seems too likely that it would turn into an argument when it really isn't: the fact that his behavior and whole approach to the world bothers you isn't up for debate, and any argument about who's right or wrong is an internal one he needs to have within himself.

But if you do want to talk with him, I guess I'd do it in a public place, like over dinner; on a date/meeting where there's a definite end understood by all in advance (as in "I have time to meet for a meal but after that I've got to be somewhere"); and presenting it not as "this is bad and you have to change" but as "I like you, but this is a truly fundamental thing for me; I know you like me, and if you decide it's worth it to you to work to change this I think ours has the potential to be a great relationship. If you don't, that's valid and I understand. I'm sad, but this is that important to me. It's been wonderful to know you." That way the ball is in his court, he has time afterwards to think about it, and neither the time nor the place to really get into a fight. I'd be prepared for him to still get offended and defensive, though, and you need to plan how you want to deal with his potential reactions.

If he does opt to keep the relationship going, keep checking in with yourself from time to time to see if his new behavior is holding up and if he's really internalized how you feel and come to agree with it, at least in part. Does it feel like he's altered his behavior, but not his actual reactions to things, to keep you happy, or like he's decided he truly doesn't want to be that person? If the former, is it enough to make you feel confident he'll keep it up even in bad times?

Finally, if you stay together make sure to also check whether his attitudes are rubbing off on yours at all. It can be hard to be around a very intense mentality and not absorb some of it.
posted by trig at 2:07 AM on February 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I need help figuring out how I explain to him how I’m feeling, and what I want from him. How do I bring this up? What do I say?

Say exactly what you told us here - "I really do like [you] a lot. [You're] smart and funny, and I find [you] incredibly interesting." But something is making him quick to irritation & frustration and "I'm feeling overwhelmed...I'm completely on edge" when that happens.

If he agrees that it's a problem, his next steps are changing his behavior, getting therapy or help and seeing how it progresses from there.

If he doesn't see the problem, that's your dealbreaker and you should get out of there - do not take his calls, pretend he got eaten by tigers. Nthing the excellent advice everyone had above: have this conversation in a public place, this is a huge red flag so early in the relationship, etc. OMG I totally wish I'd had your self-awareness & ability to articulate the problem so early on in my last relationship, where is my time machine
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 3:02 AM on February 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


Tell him you're scared of him.
If he isn't repulsed, ashamed and horrified that he makes you feel like this he's not ready to change and you need to get out before it gets worse.

If he rationalises or dismisses your fear then it isn't going to get better, ever.

He doesn't have to want to change, he has to be desperate to change; terrified of not changing. He's abusing you and there is no scenario where that is remotely OK or should be anything but horrifying to him.

Or you can skip the telling part and just get out because you have zero obligations here.
This is on him, completely and utterly on him.

Stay safe.
Good luck.
posted by fullerine at 4:03 AM on February 22, 2017 [18 favorites]


Even if he never takes his anger out on you (which is not a bet I'd make), he's the kind of person who will suck all the joy out of your life. He sees the world through shit-colored glasses. I wouldn't take his successes as proof otherwise; it's not uncommon for jerkasses to have great-looking careers and social lives. Look a little closer and there are usually burned bridges, people who don't cut him off but keep him at arm's length, and a whole lot of "he seemed like such a great person at first..."

He can change, but it's a lot of work, and the odds that he will do it are low. And if he considers himself a successful person with lots of friends and a decent love life, he's not going to see the point of changing, because his way is working fine. He will try to make it your fault for being too sensitive or for fueling his negativity. (It goes without saying, but for emphasis: it's not your fault.)

I don't think it's worth investing any further in this person.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:12 AM on February 22, 2017 [16 favorites]


sockermom nailed it. If he receives promotions and accolades at his job, then it's likely he doesn't go on a swearing rage when the conference room is booked or the copier breaks or a colleague or boss screws up paperwork. Yet he does let his anger out around you.
This is a red flag for sure.
posted by pointystick at 4:27 AM on February 22, 2017 [24 favorites]


He's already taking out his anger on you. You're already being affected by it. The last time you had a minor argument he blew up. Now you're coming here to try to find magic words that won't set off the volcano again.

There aren't any magic words. This is who he is with you.

I mean, I guess if you really want proof you can bring up what you've said here basically. He'll likely get defensive, blow up at you, blame you for you being afraid (like it's your fault). But I feel like you already have you answer and you know it because you're trying to tip-toe around this issue of anger in order to not make him angry.

Sometimes we have to bring up difficult things that may ruffle feathers for the good of the relationship. But this type of anger, rage, etc and your worry about bringing this up is beyond red-flag to me.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:33 AM on February 22, 2017 [31 favorites]


It sucks, but he's now showing you who he is. He's a powder-kegging aggressive asshole.

I worry that one day I’ll be a regular target for his anger, judgment, and blame.

That's because one day YOU WILL. I was engaged to someone who also was able to hold it together is some areas of life*, but he had a temper which he hilariously defended as being passionate. Like, yelling in the car or at me was being passionate. After I REALLY NICELY explained that I didn't find it passionate but obnoxious and anxiety-producing and scary, he kept yelling.

One time he was at my place and I went out for a bit and when I returned, he began telling me some (completely typical for him) story of road rage -- some a**hole had cut him off, blah blah blah. First thing I thought was, "I just walked in, WHY do you keep getting into things like this and why are you telling me this?"

Then the police came to the door to talk to him because it turned out that he tailed this person, pulled in front of them and started slamming on his brakes just to be an asshole, then TURNED INTO MY DRIVEWAY so this person saw where he was.

Do yourself a favor -- accept that he's not going to change. Just get out now and break up with him in an email or phone call or public place.

*I discovered after the breakup that his whole family and co-workers KNEW he had anger issues -- they all hoped I could be a calming influence on him. Trust me, people who know him already KNOW he does this.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:00 AM on February 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


You are exactly right that, if his default response is that someone who makes him upset is an idiot or asshole, that he will regard you that way when he's upset at you.

When you confront him hard on this issue, he's going to make it clear that he thinks you're an idiot and an asshole.

It can be very, very hard to experience that when in your heart you're hoping he'll see you're right and treat you with tenderness and respect.

The trick to getting through that is being firm within yourself about what's accept and what's not. If you are very clear that you are entitled to be treated better than that, then when he acts that way, it will really only reflect on him and his suddenly low opinion of you won't matter to you.

In your question, you seem to have a handle on the issue that his behavior is way out of bounds and that you don't want to be in relationship with someone so rageful and negative. So I kind of wonder if what's under this question is, how do you enforce your boundaries, or maybe the fear that enforcing them will be painful and unpleasant.

I'm in agreement with others that staying engaged and trying to change this will be fruitless. If you want to end the relationship, you can do that without his agreement. Being in a relationship requires the active agreement of two people and each person is entitled to revoke that. You will not be a bad person if you do that in a way that protects you from his inevitable upset. In general, breaking up by text or email has a bad rap, but in this case I think it's totally justified.
posted by Sublimity at 5:10 AM on February 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, and I say this in all kindness as someone who has been there, got the t-shirt, you're already backpedaling and making excuses for him:

I'm a sensitive person and his negativity really weighs on me.
He's still been sweet to me
I don't need to be with someone who's happy about everything all the time

but the worst one is: We have a lot of fun together, when he’s in a good mood.

No, no, no. Do you really want to be endlessly walking on eggshells around your partner because who knows what their ever-shifting mood is? No. Cut this one loose.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:16 AM on February 22, 2017 [44 favorites]


I just want to say that while this can be affected, it is generally a multi-year process and the changes are not going to be that huge. This person has had 30 years to learn this method of coping with the world. Even if he's trying, it will probably take at least a decade to unlearn. Can you live with this for a decade before it gets better?
posted by corb at 5:38 AM on February 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Nthing the nopes. This just isn't healthy.

Also this:
*I discovered after the breakup that his whole family and co-workers KNEW he had anger issues -- they all hoped I could be a calming influence on him. Trust me, people who know him already KNOW he does this.

Yep, yep, yep. As someone who has had the, uh, "opportunity" of being up close with toxic management styles? Sometimes when aggressive people are promoted and successful, it's because they're in an office culture that's toxic. As in, management are purposefully promoting people like that. Just because someone is getting accolades and promotions does not equate to them behaving with a moral compass at the office.

Likewise, having a lot of childhood friends. Do you know his friends? Because my ex had some really nice childhood friends... who we rarely saw... and then he had others who were assholes, and who became his inner circle.

Meanwhile his family kept putting the emotional burden on me too, same damn thing, "work harder to be a calming influence on him." Well, after he hit me and told me he wanted to sleep around, I left him. Note: I did ask him to see a therapist on his own. He refused until I finally broke up with him. He then used his therapy visit as a way to tell me I'd made the wrong choice. Somehow his therapist was awesome enough to get him to repeat to me: "the therapist said I had to tell you, in order to maybe get you back: you were right to break up with me." Ex added he wouldn't be returning to therapy. So that was that. (Thank you, therapist.)

People like this have to want to change for there to even be hope – and not just in words, but in actions. Such as voluntarily seeking out help from people other than their intimate partners.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it ain't a swan. Take care of yourself. There are better guys out there. And FWIW? I'm still single 13 years after leaving my aggressive ex, and I've never been happier. The only regret I have is not leaving him earlier.
posted by fraula at 5:43 AM on February 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


Nthing everything that has been said already, particularly that you absolutely will become his anger sink if you stick around.

Leave. You have known this person for only a short time. You do not owe them your happiness, sanity, or self-esteem, and from the way you phrased your question, this dude is already getting to you.

Seriously, leave. And be safe about it.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:49 AM on February 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Seconding just about everything said in this thread so far. Moreover, this behavior of his is absolute immature bullshit. It's bullshit. Whether he can't or chooses not to (my money is on the latter) handle his disappointment and upset like a grown-up around you, either way his tantrums are bullshit.

I think women are socialized to overlook this sometimes: any time a potential partner exhibits patterns of behaving like a child around you - whether it's through expressing anger like a 2-year old, expecting you to do all the caretaking, whatever - they are not being a worthy partner. I think it's a good idea to remember that you are an adult and it is 100% right to expect your romantic partners to comport themselves as adults, too.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:59 AM on February 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I probably wouldn't have listened to—didn't listen to—this advice years and years ago. But listen if you can: He's not going to change. You'll never be able to fully please him. You'll never be able to prevent the next tirade, and you'll always feel embarrassed about it on some level. It will feel pleasant and somehow reassuring when it's you two against the world, but when it's forever him against you—and it will be—it's going to burn. I don't know how to put it gently enough that you'll hear this and recognize yourself in this answer, but you should. I know your side of the story quite well.
posted by limeonaire at 6:11 AM on February 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


Please leave before you start to accept the viewpoint that his issues are in any way related to YOU- that you aren't good enough, or saying the right thing, or ANYTHING. Please leave before you start to internalize this as something that is your job to fix. IT'S NOT. As so many others have said- nothing you say or do can change this man.

Even a tiny bit of exposure to this dynamic can devastate your self-esteem and mess with your perception of what is acceptable behavior. If you don't assert yourself now, pretty soon it's going to affect you in ways you will not even be aware of. Please protect yourself.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:06 AM on February 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


You've already had a lot of good advice-- and forgive me if I've missed some discussion of this-- but is there something about the angry side of his personality that positively appeals to you? One of my parents was rageful and controlling, and I kept getting involved with people who had some similar aspects. Not exactly the same, because I thought I knew enough to avoid falling into patterns from my childhood, but I was kind of programmed to fall into those patterns and would find people different enough from my parents to convince me I wasn't buying into all of that again. I was always tricked by the idea that the person couldn't quite control themselves and that it was like a disability I had to be understanding about. And by reassurances that they were "trying." But even then I think I would have admitted I found those people challenging, and enjoyed taking on a challenge. But that kind of challenge is bullshit.
posted by BibiRose at 7:32 AM on February 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I had to put my foot down: I'm not interested in being in this kind of environment, this isn't how grownups behave.

I've had two of those moments in my marriage. The first one resulted in him pursuing ADHD treatment, the second antidepressants. These are his issues to manage, and for the most part he does. I provide support (I carry our insurance, I remind him when things are especially bad that of course he deserves to feel better and needs to talk to the doctor again etc), but I've made it clear that I'm not here to deal with it instead of him dealing with it.

BUT, there's a difference between "needs some assistance" and "is an asshole who is either never going to change or won't change until he hits bottom and that probably means being single as well". It's hard to tell where yours falls, and you're only a few months in. These are supposed to be the good easy fun times, but instead it's likely that he's now showing you who he really is, and that person doesn't even seem to think it's a problem. This is a giant red flag. You'd be better off wishing him well in figuring out his shit or finding someone who's interested in taking it, but that person isn't you.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:49 AM on February 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


I would break it off.

If you need to talk with him, you could say something like, "I'm not sure how to explain how I'm feeling, or exactly what I want, but I do know this isn't working for me as-is because your anger--how angry you get, and how often--is making my life worse. Unless this dynamic changes in a big way, this relationship won't be workable for me. Is this something you want to talk about and address, or should we just wish each other well and part ways?" Just keep it simple -- you have an immovable boundary and preference for how each of you will be in a relationship. If he doesn't want to or can't fit that, then the relationship is over.

If he is going to work on it then I would give him one chance--one more instance of this kind of destructive anger, and then you're out (this includes during the above conversation).
posted by ramenopres at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


I married this kind of guy because he was smart and funny and romantic when he wanted to be. Your description is so close that I double-checked the age to make sure you weren't dating my actual ex. I left him when I was afraid for my life. There is nothing you can do to make this better. No magic words you can say or avoid saying. If he was 15 and you were his parent, okay, but he's an adult. As someone noted, he can control himself at work, therefore he is choosing to be an asshole around you. Why? You are worth much more. There are lots of guys who won't treat you like this.
posted by AFABulous at 8:30 AM on February 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I really like ramenopres' script above. Because his response to it will reveal TONS about his perception of you as a real, valid person vs. someone who simply exists in his orbit. Had I delivered such a statement to someone like this in my past, I would have been told some flavor of, "Well, this is how I am, so you're the one with the problem. You need to do X, Y and Z to adjust, and fix yourself, or you must not love me."
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:59 AM on February 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


If he receives promotions and accolades at his job, then it's likely he doesn't go on a swearing rage when the conference room is booked or the copier breaks or a colleague or boss screws up paperwork.

Or else he works in the kind of field/environment where this behavior is tolerated or even rewarded, which in many ways will make it worse.

As someone who's had battles with her own temper as well as having been on the receiving end from worse people, OP, I can say that this kind of behavior in adults does not change by osmosis from a good person in one's life. It requires a sustained and serious effort to get better.
posted by praemunire at 10:12 AM on February 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


If he is going to work on it then I would give him one chance--one more instance of this kind of destructive anger, and then you're out (this includes during the above conversation).

I wanted to say something like this. It sounds like your last argument was a long one. I don't have the stamina for long arguments. Is he the one dragging it out? Next time there is some conflict between you, I think you should call a time out five or ten minutes into the disagreement and say "Let's stop this. I need a break. We can settle this tomorrow." (Or an even longer time period if that's how much time you both need to be calm.)

Pay close attention, in a meta way. A guy who won't allow you to stop fighting is a guy who in the long run won't allow a lot of things that you should be able to do. (e.g. criticize him, see your friends, spend your own money.) Relationship disagreements happen. He shouldn't enjoy dragging out a fight at great length as a way to punish you and discourage you from asserting yourself in the future. He needs to be able to accept disagreement, not fight and fight until you are ground down. (I know I am reading a lot into just a few of your words. Feel free to ignore me if I'm way out in the weeds.)
posted by puddledork at 2:20 PM on February 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


The fact that he didn't see this as a problem without your intervention was a huge yellow flag. If he doesn't see it as one after you've spoken to him, it's a red one. If that's the case, it means he's happy with things as they are, and doesn't value your relationship enough to do what he needs to make you feel safe and happy.

There's nothing wrong with giving him another chance, if that's what you want, but you need to do it with your eyes open and not make excuses for him if he blow it. As I was reading your post, the bottom line seemed to be that you are not having much fun in this relationship, despite the guy's many good qualities. You deserve to feel good when you're with with someone. Period.
posted by rpfields at 5:08 PM on February 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I worry that one day I’ll be a regular target for his anger, judgment, and blame.

No no no no no no no no. Breakup breakup breakup breakup. What you are saying is completely true. You will get bitched at over nothing for the rest of this relationship. I am literally screaming in fear for you on the other side of my monitor. You need to stop dating this person, they will make you MISERABLE. Omg, break up with them now, please heed the responses above, this is the person who will KEEP you from finding the right person for you. Breakup now, it may not get worse, but it will NEVER get better. Expect to never enjoy a birthday, holiday, or weekend as long as you date this guy.
posted by benadryl at 8:07 PM on February 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


You need to leave. My abusive ex-boyfriend of 4 years took out his anger selectively around me and said it was because he felt 'safe' around me, and eventually towards the end when nothing I did could have pleased him, he would yell at me for hours on the phone. I was so broken by the end that I didn't even know how to start making friendships, and I have been working for six years to pick myself back up from it.

If he asks for feedback, it better be from a distance, and after the breakup.
posted by yueliang at 12:14 AM on February 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Please leave him before he damages you. He sounds like my ex, who I spent almost two years with. Like you, the first few months were great, and then the real him started to come out. And I stupidly made allowances for it, because I thought the guy of the first few months was the real him. That guy was an illusion. I went from being 'perfect' those first few months, to suddenly being incompetent about everything. I couldn't do anything right, nothing was ever his fault, and he had a way of twisting things to make it seem like I had done something wrong. Classic gaslighter. He once argued with me for four days because he didn't like how I had merged on to the highway. Four days! Anyway, after finally breaking up with him, he became my stalker. Ugh. And I'm still suffering the emotional consequences of that relationship over three years later. So, please, get out now before you've invested too much.
posted by poppunkcat at 10:13 AM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is a HUGE RED FLAG waving in front of you, by the way. He's able to control his temper in other situations. He can control his anger but he is choosing not to around you. This is super common and super toxic. Both my exes did this, too. It is not going to get better. I am so sorry. It is going to get worse.

...

And I stupidly made allowances for it, because I thought the guy of the first few months was the real him. That guy was an illusion.

Both comments quoted for truth.

A grown man should know how to conduct himself like a grown man. When he chooses not to about little things, he's testing you to see what you will accept. The more you accept this behavior, the worse it will get.

Please heed the advice and experience of those of us who have been there. It was hell, and we don't want to see it happen to one more person.
posted by vignettist at 12:04 PM on February 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


*I discovered after the breakup that his whole family and co-workers KNEW he had anger issues -- they all hoped I could be a calming influence on him. Trust me, people who know him already KNOW he does this.

omg, THIS, so much. They wanted me to do the emotional labor that they would not or could not do, namely, to tell him to grow the eff up and start acting like an adult.

I felt that they were extremely selfish to throw me into the lion's den that way so that they could walk around saying "la la la" and pretend that it wasn't happening. So of course because I realized that they'd done this I did not trust his family or friends, and I never developed any sort of easy, fun relationship with them. Hanging out with any of them became an unpleasant chore. Which he then seized upon and made my fault.
posted by vignettist at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


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