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A Very Bad Temper

Question:

I have been dating the same guy for 2 1/2 years off and on since October. That’s when we discovered a problem. He had a very bad temper. It seemed he would get extremely angry about little things. He would get so angry that he would break things and punch holes in his walls when I was standing there crying. In one instance, he even threatened to kill himself. This scares me and I don’t know how to handle this. I find that I am afraid of telling him almost anything that might slightly anger him. He doesn’t exhibit this behavior very often. This only happens about once or twice every 3 months. In every day circumstances he is very kind and understanding, it just seems that sometimes he blows up. In my opinion, I think he holds in his emotions and they eventually blow up. I have told him I think he needs help and just recently, after one big anger blow up, he agreed and is willingly pursuing it. We are planning to discuss this all with his parents and seek their advice on what actions we should take. I really love him and I care about his health and I want to help him as much as possible. What actions should we take to help this anger problem (if that’s what it really is)? Should we see a psychologist? I’m stuck!

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

Your boyfriend’s anger problem is a very real problem for your relationship, and for your personal safety and sense of self-worth and the safety and self-esteem of any children you might one day having with him. From your description, he has acted his rage out on you in increasingly violent ways such that you have become afraid of him. It is unequivocally FOOLISH to remain in a relationship with a person who you are afraid of. No amount of love you may have for this man will change the fact that it is foolish to remain in a violent relationship. You would be well advised to break off the relationship with him no matter how much you love him. This being said, and this being true, It is possible that he could change. Just about anything is possible. You have to judge how likely it is that he could actually make the changes required so that you were no longer in any way afraid of him. As the minimal evidence you should see from him if he is serious about changing his violence, he should tell you that he has been wrong and then show you that he believes it and is doing something to change it by voluntarily participating in an anger management class with a licensed psychologist. You both would be well advised also to participate in relationship counseling with the goals of discussing how his violence has affected the relationship and reducing the violence to zero. If he isn’t willing to do these things; if he minimizes how his violence affects you or shows you any further violence you should just plain and simple leave him. If you stay at that point you are just being foolish.

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