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My boyfriend is usually pretty assertive (and sometimes even verbally aggressive) when he is angry, except when it comes to me. When he's mad at me, he usually doesn't tell me and I have to figure out through his body language.

 

For example, tonight he woke up from a nap and he seemed fine. I watched him as he walked over to the refrigerator and he realized that there were leftovers that were gone (I ate them while he was asleep, because he rarely eats leftovers anyway). He let out a big sigh of disappointment, start slamming around the pots and pans. Ignore his actions, I began having a normal conversation with him in which he either didn't respond to or only responded to me in short and disgruntled tone, with his head down, avoiding eye contact. Ok, then I knew he was mad. I waited a few minutes and the behavior continues. Finally I ask him, "What's wrong?" He turned his back away from me, shaking his head "no" and walked away, slamming the door behind him. Now, I feel like crap because I know he's mad and I am pretty sure I know why....but he refuses to knowledge anything.

 

The thing is, this type of behavior and scenario is way too common. This exact scene happens at least once a week. Once a week, if not more! (But about something different each time)

 

I'm getting so sick of it. It always ends like this...

 

I let him be and after several hours, we go back to acting like it didn't happen, except I still think about it and feel like crap for a few days.

 

That wouldn't be so bad if it didn't happen so often.

 

Every once in a while, I might address it to him and try to get him to talk to me about it, but it rarely ends well. If anything, we usually stop after realizing we aren't going to agree no matter what.

 

He's terrible about communicating face to face. 9 time out of 10, when we argue, it has to be on facebook or through a note because he admittedly doesn't like talking face to face about hard stuff. Yes, I know, it's sad.

 

So tonight I facebooked him, while he was in the other room. "What did I do to piss you off?"

 

He hasn't checked it yet, but I want to hear some advice on how I can effectively discuss this with him without it blowing up into a huge argument. He gets triggered very easily, and so do I. In other words, every time we argue, it starts out small and ends up being all about blaming each other for what we feel each other does wrong...and I am including myself, although I sometimes try to keep my insulting language and trigger words in check.

 

I'll let you know what he says in response....stay tuned.

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I get the feeling you both live together. Co-living couples who have failed relationships are those who do not use effective communication. You shouldn't have to send him a Facebook message asking what his problem is, and him throwing a fit by slamming things around is beyond childish. Arguing and talking behind Facebook is going to drain you FAST.

 

Ok, he gets pissed about you eating leftovers. That's his problem. Is there a reason he can't cook something on his own?

 

You also say that he gets angry easily... This can lead to major relationship problems and result in a break up. In a healthy relationship, you should not have to feel like you have to tiptoe around his moods or that you can have open conversations.

 

He needs to get better control of it. You are not his emotional punching bag and he needs to get a grip of his feelings before they become destructive toward his relationship with you.

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Well he used to be worse. Before, when we would argue, he would throw things, punch the wall, but he has never laid a hand on me violently, and I have warned him that if he ever did that, he would regret it and he would never see my face again.

 

Since then, he stopped doing that and now he's more passive-aggressive about when there's a conflict. He might slam doors or wrote something vague about it within a facebook status. Otherwise, he shuts down whenever I confront him, and he says it's to avoid doing what he used to do.

 

Ok so he checked the message a half hour ago and hasn't replied yet.

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Sadly, when a person refuses to take responsibility for his emotions, there's not much you can do. You can confront him about this issue of non-communicating, but if he doesn't want to deal with it, then you have no leverage. You can't "train" him or use techniques to communicate effectively if that's not what he wants and not what he's willing to do.

 

I think you could try to tell him directly what it is that you want: You want to have a healthy relationship in which you both can share what you're feeling in the moment, and you can talk things out without accusation or judgment so that the problems are resolved and you grow closer to each other and understand each other better in the end. That takes work, and it takes learning some skills. You are willing to work at it, but you can't do it alone. Does he want this or not?

 

You know that if he doesn't want it, your relationship is not going to change. Are you willing to live with that?

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Ok so he walks into the room and asks me some random question, and I said, "Why did you ignore my message?" He said, "I'm not going to get into it on facebook." Which is fine, except for the fact that whenever he wants to address me about something, it's always on facebook and I comply. I don't get it.

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You need to tell him he either mans up and learns to communicate or your done and mean it! This passive aggressive behaviour can lead to all sorts including cheating coz he lets issues get so big till they are eventually too big to ignore! Huge red flag! Maybe relationship counselling?

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First, it's probably not a good idea to press for a response from BF whenever you know what he's angry about.

 

Think about it--doesn't it amplify your anger when someone has obviously pissed you off but says, "What?"

 

That's a no win.

 

I'd consider what childcare experts teach parents to do when their kid throws a temper tantrum--walk away. Don't reward it by being an audience to it.

 

During a calmer time I'd ask BF if he'd be interested in having a gripe session once or twice a week to talk about things in our lives that have bothered us--and how we handled them. It doesn't mean we need to complain about one another, but we can raise work, family, friends, the public, bad drivers--anything or anyone we want to speak about--including one another.

 

The idea is not to argue, it's a time to hear one another out--without interruption and without defending anything. Appropriate responses could be, "I understand," or "I didn't realize you would see it that way," or "I'll think about what you've said," or even, "I'm really sorry about that."

 

Point is, the defending is just as bad as the accusing. If you change that dynamic, you've created a safe space to communicate. Without safety, you're not going to get communication of any kind.

 

Another option is to bribe him--just not while he's angry. For instance, you say, "I would reallly like to know what has upset you, and if you'll tell me calmly I won't defend or argue. If I do either, I need to hand you 20 bucks on the spot."

 

But think about how much information you actually need. If you find most of his temper tantrums to be ridiculous and offensive, why probe with questions about them? If you'll stop taking the bait, you could see fewer of them.

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