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Angry Friend

Question:

Dear Anne, I had been dating a man on and off for about 6 mos. He has been divorced for over 4 years now, but his anger and resentment are still very fresh. He is very quick-tempered and the slightest thing will set him off. I believe he really needs therapy and counseling; is there a nice way to approach him about this? I am no longer in an intimate relationship with him, but would like to be his friend and offer any help I can.

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

Men often are not taught as children to be sophisticated about their emotions. Also – dealing with emotions (in healthy, non-violent ways) is often seen as a ‘sissy’ activity by many young men who compete to be seen as ‘tough’ by their peers. For these reasons, men often resist therapy. Once they are in therapy and begin to understand that it can be helpful, many men have a change of heart about the process, however. The nice way to suggest counseling to him is to have a face to face talk with him in which you simply, gently, make the suggestion. You might also help him to follow through by providing him with the name and number of a therapist you know is good and who is experienced in this area of work. You could go so far if you wanted to as to make the appointment for him but really it is best if he owns the process himself and does that sort of thing for himself. You’ll want to communicate your concern, but also that therapy is no big deal; it’s what you do when you have difficulty getting past emotional things; that it is a whole lot smarter of a thing to do something productive about emotional ‘stuckness’ and self-defeating anger than to let it smolder inside where it can lead to physical health problems and wasting of irretrievable time. Good luck.

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