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Feeling angry is a fundamental part of life, and something every relationship must learn to deal with. But sometimes, that anger can get out of hand or be dealt with poorly. Dealing with angry boyfriends can feel debilitating, but there are constructive way to combat it.
Whether the anger takes the form of being passive-aggressive or intense outbursts of anger, it can be difficult to know how to handle it in other people.
If you’re dealing with an angry boyfriend, use these 15 tips to help improve him and your relationship (or end it):
1. Know The Triggers
I realize this is like telling women not to dress provocatively so they’re not “asking for it” —but knowledge is power.
This will probably take time, but know the types of things that set your boyfriend off or cause him to be passive-aggressive.
These might be small, but that will help you realize the types of things he struggles with.
This doesn’t mean you need to walk on eggshells or stop being yourself so you can avoid these things.
These triggers are his problem, not yours. But knowing the triggers is the first step.
2. Take Some Space
When he blows up or is passive-aggressive, take some space so you can cool down before confronting him about it.
This is a healthy practice in any relationship, and even parenting. Don’t talk about an issue while you’re still mad.
Take time to cool off, then you can both come at it from a calm, and hopefully rational, perspective.
It also helps if you both regularly take time to do your own things so you’re not smothering each other.
Not maintaining your own identity and hobbies can often cause emotional conflict.
Men may deal with that through either passive-aggressive sabotage or outright bursts of anger if they’re not in tune with their emotions.
They might not be able to express they need more time to themselves.
3. Reward Positive Behavior
I know it makes him sound like a toddler, but when you’re dealing with an angry boyfriend, you may have to reward him for “good behavior.”
While you should always be attempting to speak his love language, emphasizing good behavior can help him be more consistent about it.
Whether it’s sex, cooking a nice meal, or doing one of his chores around the house, when he handles his anger well or is in tune with his emotions, reward him.
Don’t make a big deal about it, don’t let him know that’s what you’re doing. It might come off as patronizing and he won’t take that well.
4. Withhold Sex
While you can reward positive behavior, you can also withhold sex and other important things if he’s really being a jerk.
This is an obvious way to let him know you’re angry without resorting to a confrontation.
The downside is, it’s passive-aggressive, and thus sinking to his level. It could backfire, but it might just wake him up to the fact that he’s being an ass.
This isn’t the healthiest method to deal with the issue, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.
It’s likely this will come naturally anyway, since you won’t be “in the mood” if he’s being a jerk. Don’t make this your first tactic though!
5. Don’t “Overreact”
I know it’s hard when you’re dealing with an angry boyfriend, and I know you have a right to be angry back, but that only escalates the problem.
Unfortunately, you have to be the adult and not lose your cool.
When he starts to yell or use his passive aggression tactics, don’t react. Take a deep breath, leave for a bit, and come back when you know you’re both calmer.
Hopefully he can talk about it then without getting angry again.
If you do lose your cool and overreact, apologize. Set the example you want him to follow.
6. Don’t Sink To His Level
If his problem is being passive-aggressive, don’t be passive-aggressive back.
Be the adult, be the example. Be direct and forthright, if not curtly polite about what you need.
What a passive-aggressive attitude really reveals is an inability to communicate or a lack of trust that communication will be received well by the other person.
Working on communication together will go much farther than being angry back at him.
You may need to violate this rule in specific situations, but you should usually aim to be the example you want him to emulate.
7. Match Emotion Then Deescalate
This is a technique commonly used to deescalate volatile situations. It’s less applicable to passive-aggressive tendencies, but works well for boyfriends with explosive anger.
First, match his voice level, body language, and emotions.
This includes things like yelling and putting your hands on your hips, but should not include throwing or hitting.
If your boyfriend is hitting you, get out of the relationship immediately.
Once you have his attention, immediately change to a calm, quiet voice and nonthreatening disposition.
He should follow suite, taking subconscious clues and actions to match you.
Use “mediating words” like, “when you do X, I feel Y,” and “I understand why you’re mad, but how can I help you react better?”
This may not work every time, but in general is an excellent way to diffuse a situation.
8. Call Him On His Crap
When you’re dealing with an angry boyfriend, bring attention to how he’s acting. Tell him how it makes you feel.
A lot of times people don’t realize they’re acting this way, and many will want to change it but don’t have the awareness to be in control yet.
When you do this, his reaction will tell you a lot about what he’s dealing with and if there’s any hope of him getting better.
If he gets angry at being called out, that’s a huge red flag that this just isn’t going to work.
If he can apologize, admit he’s wrong, or accept responsibility, you have a very good chance of making this work.
9. Keep Asking Questions
Help him examine why he’s acting this way. If he lets you ask him questions and is willing to answer them, it will help him be more aware of his emotions and process them better.
This can help deescalate the immediate situation and help avoid future ones.
You can ask questions like:
Why are you angry? What about that makes you feel that way?
How can I do better? How can you control the situation?
Is there a better way to handle this? How do you think this looks to other people?
Is there something else bothering you?
Make sure you use a calm tone once you have his attention or wait until you’re both cooled down to talk.
10. Get Help
If it gets to the point where it’s severely damaging your relationship or he can’t change without professional help, find a relationship counselor or anger management expert to intervene.
There’s no shame in asking for help; more people should.
It takes the burden off you to change him and you can both get an objective perspective on things that need to improve.
The help doesn’t have to come from a professional if you have someone you trust and who can be relatively objective.
Find a couple you both trust and who has a good relationship with great communication.
Use them as an example and talk with them about how they’ve cultivated such a good relationship.
11. Tell His Mother (And Friends)
Yeah, you were always told not to tattle, but sometimes a mother can influence their son.
If he has a bad relationship with his mother, or she isn’t really a good person herself, this strategy best be avoided.
But if he’s a good momma’s boy, go ahead and tattle. Just do it discretely.
When she asks, “how are you guys doing,” bring it up in a round about way. Or if you’re visiting, let her see just how poorly handled his anger can be.
Maybe she’ll keep her mouth shut. Maybe she’ll take his side.
If that’s the case, it’s a pretty good indicator of how his “family of origin” is going to affect your relationship. Take that into consideration.
Another tactic is to open up to your friends. While they may not wish to get involved directly, they can at least be a sounding board to give you some advice.
They may even tell him off if it happens in front of them.
12. Keep A Journal
When you’re dealing with an angry boyfriend, keep a journal of all the instances he didn’t handle his anger well.
Write the date, the situation that caused it, his specific actions (yelling, shutting you out, pouting, throwing things), and how you reacted. Also write down how it made you feel.
Not only will you have recorded evidence if you ever need it, but you might also start to notice some patterns in both of your actions and maybe when he’s more prone to anger and why.
When you get a good number of entries in the journal, give it to him. Have him read it.
Maybe he will be able to reflect on it and desire to change his ways.
13. Record Him
Sometimes reading about your anger and how it makes you feel just isn’t enough. It’s also less impactful to a jury (which hopefully you will never need).
When he has an angry outburst, even if it’s not physically violent, turn your phone on.
Record his outbursts on video if you can, but even just audio can go a long way. Try to be discreet.
This can also work to cue him into his petty passive-aggressiveness. Record a passive-aggressive conversation.
Next time you try to discuss communicating better, and he denies he has a problem, play back the phone conversation.
You might only ever use this to show him just how ridiculous he is, but it can also be used in legal instances if it comes to that.
Check your state guidelines for what constitutes legal use of recordings.
14. Have A Back-up Plan
There may come a point where your well-being is in jeopardy. Maybe he’s hit you. Maybe you’re just sick of all the work and he’s not going to change.
You might want to leave but are afraid of what he’ll do if you tell him it’s over.
It’s difficult to know when this situation might come up when you have an unstable or manipulative boyfriend. If you’re in this situation, have a back-up plan.
Keep some money in the bank that he doesn’t know about — enough to stay at a hotel for a week or two, or to take a week off work.
This can let you lie low for a while or hire a lawyer if you need to. If you happen to share a bank account, this is money that is protected from any retribution he might take.
Keep a bag packed and ready to go with all the things you need to get by for a week or two if you “can’t go home.”
This includes a couple changes of clothes, toiletries, and any materials you need for work, like a back up computer or handheld device.
Make sure you turn off location tracking on your phone, and maybe even take alternate routes to work.
Don’t visit places you frequent until you know you’ll be safe.
This may all seem a bit extreme, and hopefully you’ll never have to take these steps. But it’s good to be prepared.
15. Leave Him
There comes a point where you may decide to leave him.
If he shows no interest in changing, if you’re in danger or being emotionally manipulated, or even if you’re just tired of being the only one fighting for the relationship, there is no shame in leaving.
You are worth more and deserve more than a crappy relationship, and if you’ve tried, the failure is not on you. He’s the one who needs help.
Go find yourself a man mature enough to handle his emotions.
Anger problems range in severity from mild to severe.
While not all these tips will apply to every situation or relationship, taken altogether you should have a solution for almost every situation.
Stay safe, know your limits, and remember your worth. These 15 steps will take care of the rest.