Irritable Boyfriend

by sofie
(boston, ma)

I have been dating this guy for about 2 months. Well we all know that all relationships often start perfectly and everyone is so nice to each other. This is how mine started but... One day I realized that my boyfriend started getting very irritated with little things, yelling and using profanity in the same time. Little things bothered him such as me "chewing" on my nails, asking him to repeat something because I couldn't hear him the first time, asking him to explain something etc. Also I observed that he often gets really mad while driving or if some people seemed to "mess" with him. Well often he said that it was because I made him mad or something. When he said something unpleasant or started to yell and I reacted by crying or asking him why he did it, he would have said things like " oh don't start it again" or "what did I do this time... you are too sensitive." Another example was when we went on a date to a restaurant and he seemed very happy at the beginning but soon after we sat down, he started complaining about people bumping on him or making noise, making faces, being quiet and ignoring me, and just a mixture of very stressing behaviors. Well of course at the end we had a big argument. He said that it was my fault that he felt that way because out of so many restaurants, I had to pick that one.... and so on so on.
After every unpleasant situation or argument, he always apologizes to me, cries, and seems to feel really bad. We are good for couple of days and the situation repeats again, him yelling and arguing and blaming things on me.

The good thing is that he has admitted he had a problem. He told me he hates being like that and that he has no idea why he gets angry like this. He also said that he feels like he has to push me away sometimes when he feels to close to me. He said he gets scared when he feels that he is in a serious relationship and that he loves me.
My boyfriend is very nice to people and very polite. He is social and loves to make new friends. He loves his parents and siblings and doesn't recall any abuse in the past. He is also very giving and open when it comes to expressing positive feelings like love and happiness. However, I don't really know what to expect from him and when he will feel angry again and yell at me or blame me for everything. I really care about him and want to help him. I was reading about passive aggressive disorder and it seems that he has most of these traits but his yelling couldn't be consider "passive". I would love to hear any advice. I really want to know what I can do and what he can do. He really wants to control his anger and understand why he acts like this. We both love each other and want to be happy together.

Ben's Answer:

Your boyfriend sounds like the type of person who could really benefit greatly from some good therapy. Especially since he's able to admit he has a problem with anger. He may have issues from his family of origin that he simply can't identify. It's hardest to figure these things out when on the surface the family appears to not have any issues. Intimacy seems to be one of the triggers that causes him to pull away, shut down or become irritable and agitated. This is a common issue, with or without the passive-aggressive tendencies.

A therapist would be the best resource for helping him to figure out his own feelings.

Aside from that, using Meridian Tapping/EFT would probably be very helpful to him, as well as a daily meditation practice, for gaining self awareness. I'd suggest he do some of that work on himself first and maybe after gaining some insights about himself, couples counseling might really improve your relationship as well.

If he doesn't work on these issues in a real way, then you will always be on the roller coaster with him - watching him get angry, blaming, then being remorseful and crying... and then doing it all over again. (This is the same sort of pattern that most abusive relationships follow). Just be conscious and use good boundaries if you see this pattern becoming more extreme.

Best wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist


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