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Does Romance Lead To Aggression?

Question:

I am a young adult who suffers from depression. However, the one thing that truly makes me happy is being with someone. When I am with someone my outlook improves drastically. I am more motivated and outgoing, but, I recently realized something else. I become far more aggressive. I just started going steady with my new girlfriend after having a big low. Now I’m exercising more, getting into physical sports, and generally behaving more like an alpha male. It was going great until I got in a fight the other night as a result of road rage. I have NEVER had that happen before. I am generally a very passive individual. I am wondering if being in a relationship directly relates to my recently aggressive behavior. It should be noted that I am in no way violent towards my partner.

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Answer:

There is no reason why romance should lead to aggression unless something is wrong. You have indicated a couple of things that, for you, might be wrong. For example, you state that you suffer from depression but, when you are with someone, you feel much better. You also report that you have some problems with anger and it’s management.

You really need to think about why you feel depressed when you do not have a girlfriend. One of the difficulties that can develop in a relationship is if one or both people feel inordinately dependent on one another. In other words, there is no real reason for anyone to feel low if they do not have an intimate relationship. In these terms the feeling of dependency translates into a state of being whereby someone strongly needs the other person in order to feel normal. It is possible that this is what you cope with. Now that you have a girlfriend you are able to play sports and exercise. Why not all the other times? My guess is that depression is a fundamental problem for you.

Depression and anger often go together because anger is one of the symptoms of depression. Apparently, your depression expresses itself more when you are in a relationship as compared to when you are alone. Why this should be true for you I do not know except to say that psychotherapy might help you find the answer.

There are many books and manuals on how to reduce depression and how to manage feelings of anger and there is a self help section here at MHN. Road rage is never a good thing and can even have disastrous consequences. That is why I urge you to learn the skills needed to control anger. In the end, there is CBT(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) if self help does not work.

By the way, one of the best methods to keep depression away and reduce anger is participating in sports and doing lots of exercise. Don’t wait until you are dating someone to do those things. Also, meditation and yoga are excellent additions to your regimen.

Good luck to you.

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