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Sweet But Aloof Boyfriend

Question:

My boyfriend is a sweet and very caring person, but I find myself getting frustrated with him because sometimes he’s pretty aloof (and this could be from being tired or having PMS). He is not a very enthusiastic person and when I’m slightly stressed or angry about something I get aggravated at him and I’m not sure why. He’s really laid back but I get impatient. The other night, I got into a slump because I didn’t want to watch a movie. He and I always watch movies because there is nothing else to do where we live and he loves movies, therefore, that’s what we do. I got really upset…I started my period four days later so I’m thinking it was due to that, but am not sure. I acted pretty crapily. After, I regretted acting that way. I don’t know why my anger is directed toward him. I do not think I have an anger problem, I just get stressed sometimes. I think it may be because he is not very assertive, thus, doesn’t tell me his limits. I find myself sometimes wanting him to get mad at me. Why is this?? Can you help me?

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Answer:

I’m tempted to just say that it’s the PMS and leave it at that. Most of us get irritable during our monthlies and there is no need to apologize for that! However, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “He’s really laid back but I get impatient”. People just have different ways of handling things. When two people with different styles get together, there can be a clash amongst the different styles. You, for instance, may have expectations of how your boyfriend should react to something based on the way that you would react. When he reacts differently than you expect, you might be interpreting it as a personal insult or something, when really it may just be his different way of handling things. What is needed when this sort of thing occurs is improved communication between the partners. You need to learn more about what your partner is thinking and feeling when he does something you expect him to do differently. He needs to learn what you are thinking and feeling when you do something he expected you to do differently. Using the strength of your mutual commitment, you each need to work on seeing your own behavior through the eyes of the other. In so doing, you can become much more intimate with one another. There are many ways to learn how to improve your communication. You may choose to do some reading on the subject (We like books by Dr. John Gottman for this purpose). Assertiveness skills may also be things to learn about. For instance, it is important that you tell your boyfriend when you don’t want to go to the movies, when you don’t want to go. If you go along but hate yourself for it, you’ll be angry at him. Some couples learn these skills best with a professional guide helping them along (a marriage/relationship counselor). Do what you can to enlist him in this learning process with you.

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