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Old 07-06-2005, 08:39 AM   #1
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Dawn36 HB User
What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

I've been dating my BF for about 6 months. We're both middle-aged. He is very intelligent, responsible, ethical, family-oriented, loves and cares about me, is generous and treats me well. He's a very reasonable person, someone with whom i feel i can talk to, but i don't know how to deal with his anger issues.

Every once in a while, something will happen to make him lose his patience and he is suddenly VERY angry, yelling loudly, swearing and using foul language, sometimes banging doors. This has never been directed at me, but I just don't know how to cope with it and i'm afraid of what would happen if it were directed at me. I've tried getting angry back at him, telling him to calm down, etc., I've tried being loving and gentle, I've tried just leaving the premises cus i don't like being around him when he gets this way. It scares me.

I've talked to him about it a few times, asking what i should do that would help him calm down, and he really didn't have an answer for me. He said it was more "show" than anything else, that he wasn't really that angry, but it sure looks like it to me.

Although he appears very calm/mellow on the surface, I think he is actually a closet Type A person, someone who gets uptight/stressed about work and things like that fairly easily. He seems to keep his emotions to himself until he explodes.

The kinds of things that set him off are bad drivers, like someone who cuts him off on the road, or not understanding directions when trying to put something together and getting exasperated, or getting a work-related call on the weekend unnecessarily.

Here are my specific questions:
1. What's the best way for me to react to settle him down when this happens?
2. Where is the anger coming from? Is it something he grew up doing? Something unresolved from childhood, previous relationships?
3. Does anyone know how anger management therapy works, and what kinds of techniques are used? Any meds that work?

Really appreciate your insight. I love this man very much. He is not an abuser or a loser. He has a lot to offer and i would like to spend my life with him but this is an area that needs some work.

 
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:42 AM   #2
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Hi Dawn,

Read my post several threads below on Anger, control and domestic violence. I recommend a good book on this subject.

Also, look under the relationship boards for my thread on 'Just how much attention is enough". See if you identify with anything I've written or other people have written there.

Even though you 'feel' it might not be directed at you, I'm telling you from experience, his angry behavior is a clear warning sign....one that you should pay close attention to. If you'd like, I'd be happy to give you more insight after you read suggested posts.

In answer to your questions, listen to your gut feeling. If you feel uncomfortable or scared, leave. Even if it's just for a few hours. If you stick around during his outbursts, it will send him a message that it's acceptable to you. And, it will also teach you to become more comfortable with his behavior to the point where it is possible you will talk yourself into believing that "it's not that bad....he hasn't hit or thrown anything at me"....NOT YET anyway!!!

Where does his anger come from? Could be anything. It could be a chemical imbalance, substance abuse, the way he was taught growing up. The possibilites are endless.

I've been told by a domestic violence group that I go to that 'anger management' is not good because, in their opinion, it teaches the individual how to better cover up his anger....not get to the root of it. For known abusers, a batterers group is advised. But, because we don't know the full extent of his problems yet, it wouldn't be fair to say that's what he needs.

I hope I'm not upsetting you, but I happen to feel very strongly about this subject as I am a domestic violence survivor. If I can help at least one person not to go through what I have,jthen there was a good reason for what I endured. I do hope your situation is different than mine. Maybe it is....but, maybe it isn't!!!

Please keep in touch!


Gianna

 
Old 07-06-2005, 11:56 AM   #3
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Gianna, thanks so much for responding. No i'm not at all upset by your reply, i wanted someone's honest opinion. I'm not sure, though, that being a domestic violence survivor, we are comparing apples to apples here. You can tell me if you think i'm wrong, but don't think my bf's problem is in the same category.

He does not drink alcohol. Ever. His outbursts last about 5 minutes,then he'll come around and often apologize. The bursts of anger are not accompanied by verbal abuse, jealousy or other controlling behavior. It's just that his expression of anger often seems way out of proportion to the issue at hand, and i think someone ought to be able to express anger/frustration/etc without yelling, slamming doors and using foul language. I shouldn't feel frightened when he gets this way.

I did think you made a very good comment that sticking around while he is angry sends the message that his behavior is acceptable. You're right. I will make a point to walk away, even if it's to go sit outside or take a short walk. I've also browsed amazon and today ordered a book that i plan to read first, then give him; hopefully it will at least make the point, if i haven't already, that this is something he needs to get a handle on.

 
Old 07-06-2005, 12:56 PM   #4
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Hi again Dawn,

It's quite possible that your situation and mine are totally different. I truly hope that they are.

You mentioned in your last post that...

[I]" It's just that his expression of anger often seems way out of proportion to the issue at hand, and i think someone ought to be able to express anger/frustration/etc without yelling, slamming doors and using foul language. I shouldn't feel frightened when he gets this way."[/I]

And in your previous post.....

Every once in a while, something will happen to make him lose his patience and he is suddenly VERY angry, yelling loudly, swearing and using foul language, sometimes banging doors. This has never been directed at me, but I just don't know how to cope with it and i'm afraid of what would happen if it were directed at me.

That last line is a bonafide redflag.

Everyone gets angry. Some people express it better than others. And maybe, just maybe he is truly sorry after his outbursts. But his apologies hasn't changed his behavior has it?

I'm sure he's not the first person in your life that has gotten angry in your presence. How did you feel then? Were you just uncomfortable or did they frighten you when they were expressing anger? If it did frighten you, then you need to look at why? If they didn't frighten you but your boyfriend does......

Then your fear is a clue...a warning sign....it's your protective instinct telling you this needs to be looked at further. I'm glad to see that you are not ignoring it.

I don't know what kind of book that you are getting, but I admire your willingness to look into the problem further. Knowledge is a good thing.

But also keep in the back of your mind that this is his problem, his behavior that he needs to work on. It's nice to want to help......I'm guilty of that myself. My problem was I ignored the initial warning signs. You aren't. In this respect you're much smarter than I was.

I know you want to give him a copy of the book after you read it, but in the mean time, I would also suggest seriously talking with him about how his expression of anger makes you feel. I would tell him how much it frightens you. If you don't want to be with him during that moment, tell him that the next time it happens you will leave until he is calm again.

I hope that I adjusted this last post to more meet your situation needs than I did the last time.

If you would be so kind, please advise what book you are getting. I might be interested in taking a look at it as well.

Thanks and please continue to be informed!


Gianna

 
Old 07-06-2005, 01:25 PM   #5
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Dawn36 HB User
Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Hi, Gianna. Thanks again for your response.

I read your post in the relationship category and it truly sounds like your experience was a nightmare. You have my sympathy and admiration for getting out of that situation.

The book's title was "Beyond Anger:....." and then it had some sort of sub-title which i can't remember now.

I will let you know how it goes this weekend, and if anything comes up. I know i need to be more consistent by removing myself from the premises when this happens. But this really is just a short-term solution, as, as you point out, it's his problem, not mine, to deal with ultimately. i have a tendency to let things slide, basically, i guess, because i love him. I do know i am not ready to give up on him as i haven't really tried to address the problem with him. I'm just beginning to see his behavior as a pattern that has repeated itself maybe 3 or 4 times since i've known him. However, I'm sure he knows he has a problem, has had it before in previous relationships, so i think it's important for me to try to nip it in the bud and not let him think he can continue this pattern of behavior if he wants me around.

I believe he is successful in controlling his temper in front of family and friends, so if can maintain self-control with them, he should be able to do so with me.

 
Old 07-06-2005, 03:02 PM   #6
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

i have a tendency to let things slide, basically, i guess, because i love him.

It's not uncommon to excuse or overlook behavior because we love them. Women especially have been doing that for eons.


I'm just beginning to see his behavior as a pattern that has repeated itself maybe 3 or 4 times since i've known him.


3 or 4 times in 6 months is not horrendous, but not good either.


However, I'm sure he knows he has a problem, has had it before in previous relationships, .....

BIG CLUE!!!.....BTW, how do you know he's had this problem in other relationships? Do you know any of his ex girlfriends? Or has he told you? If he told you, there 'may' be more to the story.

I believe he is successful in controlling his temper in front of family and friends, so if can maintain self-control with them, he should be able to do so with me.

Not necessarily true. Often, people who have anger issues are very particular with those they demonstrate it to. He doesn't show it to his family or friends, but shows it in the company of you and ex-girlfriends? Hmmm...

These are all things for you to think about.

For now, I'm going to let this go as I don't want to influence you more than I may have already. You need to make your own decisions and determine if there is more going on to the situation or not. No one can tell you what is comfortable to you or not. Only you can decide that. I just wanted to point out some clues to you. They may add up to something more, they might not.

You are already on the ball by questioning his behavior and admitting that you are not comfortable about it. Keep your eyes and ears open, and always pay attention to how 'you' are feeling.

I truly hope that your situation is only a minor, but treatable one!

Gianna

Last edited by Gianna2; 07-06-2005 at 03:04 PM.

 
Old 07-07-2005, 06:40 AM   #7
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Thanks again, Gianna.

I appreciate your input, but i do think you have a built-in bias, having experienced domestic violence. It's perfectly understandable. I also feel that not every man with an anger management problem is a batterer in the making.

 
Old 07-07-2005, 11:38 AM   #8
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

I never said, nor did I imply that your bf is a batter in the making. I'm truly sorry if you felt that's what I was trying to tell you. I just wanted to point out red flags in his behavior and, to encourage you to pay attention to those clues, and to 'your' feelings as well.


Gianna

 
Old 07-24-2005, 02:20 PM   #9
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawn36
Thanks again, Gianna.

I appreciate your input, but i do think you have a built-in bias, having experienced domestic violence. It's perfectly understandable. I also feel that not every man with an anger management problem is a batterer in the making.
Surviving domestic violence does not in any way suggest a built in bias and I see nothing Gianna has said to suggest such.

Your posts scream "red flags" a plenty. You've come here looking for advice and then argue it.

This man has, at the very least, anger problems. You are playing with fire. It is obvious from your posts, this is a problem he has had for quite a while and something he has done nothing about.

Apologies after such outburst are empty and quite frankly meaningless, especially since the behavior continues.

Why are you buying a book regarding anger when you are not the one with the problem? Do you think you can fix him?

Last edited by Constant; 07-24-2005 at 02:21 PM.

 
Old 07-24-2005, 02:41 PM   #10
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Gianna is giving you excellent advise. This man has ghosts that he's dealing with. Let him deal with his past before continuing on with this relationship. Why is he saying it's for show? That's what he wants you to believe. Trust me, there's more to it than just for show. You're middle aged..do you want to live with this the rest of your life? Do you want him to have a reaction like this in front of your family and friends?..wouldn't you be embarassed? And don't think for a moment he won't. Ask yourself you you want to go thru life making excuses for his behavior. Like I tell my nieces..think with your brain..not your heart! Best of love...

 
Old 07-25-2005, 10:41 PM   #11
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

Hi Dawn,

What you are going through is verbal and emotional abuse. I watched my dad react to things that upset him in the same way, I saw my mother deal with this for the last 2 and a half decades. He has finaly changed his ways in the last year or so after she made arrangements to come live with me. Now I'm not saying he is a horrible person, he is loving when he is not angry, but it is purely unaceptable the way he would react at times. He has slamed doors, punched windows, driven crazy, left for days at a time, choked a family member once, its out of control. They can change, but ask for counseling now, my dad never wanted to go to it. I worry about myself, I have a lot of his personality traits, and I never want to subject someone I love, or a stranger for that matter to anger. I hope you can work this out, but i strongly urge coulseling if you continue this relationship.

Last edited by Bonitagirl; 07-25-2005 at 10:45 PM. Reason: spelling :)

 
Old 07-26-2005, 08:36 PM   #12
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

I have to say I agree with paying attention to red flags. I dated a man six years ago (actually lived with and almost married) that still has left a bitter taste in my mouth. After he finally got the upper hand and dumped me (the last time I broke up with him he tried to slit his wrist in front of me, so I stayed to help him) the man was living with someone within months and married her a year later, the exact day I moved away from him and his terror. His new wife left her ex for him, her ex beat her. The patterns are true and once they are truely comfortable with you they will show ALL their anger. You have unfortunately just tapped the surface, so RUN with all your strength before you have emotional problems as well. I had another abusive relationship after this one and now am a single mother. I do not date but am working on who I am attracted to so I do not repeat this cycle (my mother had the same problem, as well as my grandmother's on both sides, etc...). It becomes a pattern as to who you are attracted to, so look at why you are attracted to these types of men and learn why. Codependancy is not a relationship it is an addiction and this is usually the reason women get stuck in abusive relationships. I know that I was so afraid to be alone I settled, and that is when you are most vulnerable. Life alone is better than living in an eventual hell. You may have to learn the hard way, but in the end the truth will show it's ugly face, whatever it may be. I just pray that it is not that bad for you.

 
Old 07-31-2005, 05:36 AM   #13
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Re: What's best way to deal with boyfriend's anger?

You're definitly at the start of the abuse cycle, it can take years to evolve. Things that typical make it excellerate are marriage and kids. The more trapped you are economicly the more the abuser get's comfortable in escalating the abuse.There's a great book out , Google the words "verbally abusive", the authors last name is Evans. verbal abuse is also mental abuse, ranting in your presense over trivial matters ,while not directing it at you, is abusive .It's only a matter of time...it rarely ever get's better.Trying to explain to him why it upsets you isn't effective, you have to say "stop it" and leave.If he wants to change his behavior he'll get the message. Once your boundaries are compromised,(by you staying around during a rant or explaining why it hurts you when he's ranting), it becomes overwelming to try and salvage a healthy relationship.If he really respects himself and you he'll stop.

 
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