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Parent’s fighting has impact on my relationships

Jane Doe

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Has anyone else grown up in a household where your mom and dad fought all the time? My parents fought like cats and dogs, with many of the fights becoming very scary. You never knew when they were going to bust out in an argument. I know they loved each other, but they both came from homes with parents who yelled, so that was their natural communication style.


My problem is that as a grown adult, it has a profound impact on my relationships with men. After 20+ years of being in that type of environment, I am emulating it in my relationships. When I get mad, I start yelling and often hit below the belt. Even if my boyfriend has down nothing, I seem to want to argue. One ex told me I just can’t be happy; when things are good, I have to stir the pot because I’m so used to being around fighting…I don’t know how to function otherwise.


I’ve already ruined two serious relationships because of it, and my current boyfriend, a wonderful man, said that if I can’t control things, he doesn’t see a future for us. I know I shock these poor guys because normally I’m a very cheerful, bubbly person, then I have these outbursts. The thing is, my parents could say the cruelest, more awful things to each other, then be fine a day later. I’ve found, however, that this is not normal and words really hurt. I’ve been told to “just stop it,” but it's easier said than done when all I know about relationshiops has involved fighting.


Has anyone else had parents who fought a lot? How did it impact you? Was anyone able to “break the cycle” and change their relationship habits?

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I grew up with a single father who was very emotionally and mentally confusing. He was like your parents but all in one towards me. One minute he'd be proud of me, the next he'd flip out over the smallest thing. I always knew it was wrong, I always had this instinct that told me he was incredibly bipolar. And little did I know it had begun affecting me in my relationships too, just as you.


What got me to break the cycle was a number of things, most of all being able to forgive myself first for having the issue. I would often just get so mad at myself for being mad that I'd continue being mad (vicious, nasty self-sabotaging cycle).

I went through this stage years ago and here's what I did.


I remained constantly conscious of everything I said, retraining my reactions to things.

Whenever I became flustered or heated I would take long, deep breaths and leave about 1-2 seconds between each word.

I would refrain from saying anything that I would have to apologize for later.


Those were the first basic steps I took and I still remind myself of them every time I get flustered. It's very important to remain self-aware.


Hope this helps and I'd be glad to keep discussing this with you if you need anything


PS I would do some good to explain yourself to your bf; explain the background you come from and how it's affected you negatively and that you are going to begin taking steps toward changing that behavior. Tell him you need him to set you straight when/if you start reverting back to those ways. That's what my bf and I do if ever I begin getting carried away. He'll tell me when I've said something below the belt and I will make the conscious decision to apologize honestly and immediately. It'll be hard at first but it will get better if you try your hardest

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Thank you so, so much for your advice. Hearing your story gives me hope.


I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "What got me to break the cycle was a number of things, most of all being able to forgive myself first for having the issue." I am so hard on myself and get so down about my instinctual behavior. I often wake up in the middle of the night regretting how I treated my last boyfriend. Forgiving myself with lift a weight and help me move forward. I also like your advice on stopping and taking a deep breath.

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