My Boyfriend Blows Up Whenever I Try to Talk About Our Issues

Dear Neil: My boyfriend refuses to communicate when there is an issue in our relationship. He would rather I simply never talk about it. If I dared to make suggestions to him about how to better deal with conflicts or issues, he would blow up. I’ve tried to have calm conversations with him on what I need to change, but all he says is that he doesn’t want to talk about any of our issues. He has fits of anger if I confront him about anything. I know I should just walk away, as this is killing me.

Unhappy in Leicester, UK

Dear Unhappy: Every relationship has its share of disagreements, hurt feelings and misunderstandings. This is regardless of how happy or loving the relationship is, or how long you’ve been together. Being in an intimate relationship requires that arguments and wounded feelings be addressed and resolved in a timely fashion—or your relationship will inevitably become hurt, resentful, angry and distant. I am saying this about all intimate relationships, not solely about yours.

Your boyfriend doesn’t want to talk about uncomfortable subjects that he might find critical or imposing—or possibly he may be asked to compromise or do things your way—so he uses anger as a way to intimidate you into silence. But the two of you cannot sustain a close relationship that way. This is why we have all heard people say that marriage requires a lot of work. A close relationship requires—at the very minimum—a genuine willingness to hear out the other person without interrupting, stonewalling, dismissing or belittling. It necessitates extremely good communication skills, which asks us to say calmly and succinctly exactly what we feel, need and want, and it requires that we be truly good listeners as well.

A close relationship necessitates that we learn and practice effective conflict resolution skills, which in turn requires us to be willing to negotiate, compromise and problem solve so that both partners feel heard and respected. And it asks us to do this while repeatedly giving our partner the benefit of doubt and an assumption of good will.

So, for starters, your boyfriend’s refusal to communicate, and his angry reactions if you attempt to discuss an issue or a conflict is destined to leave you feeling hurt, resentful and distant from him. Sooner or later you are going to have to draw the line. If you walk away from him, you will learn very quickly whether he is then willing to communicate and resolve conflict when he realizes that the relationship will end if he doesn’t. But even then, if he refuses to listen or blows up when you say something he would rather not hear, it will be time for you to end the relationship once and for all.

Relationships ask more of us, not less. More desire to please, more interest in hearing you out, more willingness to engage, more ability to negotiate and compromise. If your boyfriend doesn’t want to do that, find someone else who will. You want someone who values how you feel and what you want, and who is willing to talk about it.

4 comments on “My Boyfriend Blows Up Whenever I Try to Talk About Our Issues

  1. Hello I’m in a narcissist relationship and wanting to get out badly and hurting, 2 years of nothing with this 59 year old narcissist alcoholic

  2. I live with my 61year old boyfriend of six years. We know we will never get married again, but in these six years, he’s never given me a piece of Jewlry or a personal gift, he can definitely afford it. I want a commitment ring, I do everything with his family, and he does with mine. He is a big jokester, people LOVE this man everywhere we go. But for me, he can’t get real and speak to me if it is serious, he starts screaming at me! Saying “ why was everything ok yesterday and now everything is shit?” Another thing that bothers me is he won’t ever put a picture of us on fb, “ in a relationship “ even his phone screen is a pic of his deceased dog! He has paid off all my debt,yes, very nice. I own a condo that is paid for that I rent and get a monthly check for. I’m not working now because sadly, my daughter died a few months ago and I’m heartsick. I’m thinking of moving back into my condo when the lease is up in July and going back to work and never dating again. He is also, a narcissist, we only go to concerts he has planned, he makes it look like “look what Ive done for you, “ when really, it’s all about him. Please, please, help me. I’m lost.

    • Wendy, I’ve been there. I’m 56 and my ex is 58. I have gone through all the things you have and more. We were together 3 1/2 years and I moved out 3 months ago. He would tell everyone we didn’t want to get married but I had told him I had and he ignored it. He was very generous with money and gifts and travel, but he absolutely hated any talk of us as a couple.

      I lived with him for these last 2 years and when his worthless, greedy, whiny, lazy, self centered college graduate (he paid every penny for) 23 yr old daughter moved in a year ago, it was as if she was the wife and I was the ‘can’t do anything right’ girlfriend. I became very bitter towards her as she refused to work or do anything around the house and I couldn’t say anything as he would get mad at me if I said anything negative about her.

      I had always paid rent and half of groceries to him when I moved in but his daughter didn’t pay for anything, not rent, not food, not cell phone, not even gas. He suggested that I buy a cabin home for us to visit in the winter when we go skiing and that I could have to fund my retirement. He still wanted me to pay rent to him but he didn’t want to add my name to his mortgage and didn’t want his name on my mortgage. We were never going to co-mingle anything he said because he wanted to make sure his precious daughter and his wonderful 27 yr old son (who I really liked who has a great head on his shoulders) would get it all when he died. I have a 25 yr old son in the Air Force and I understand him getting my share of what I have, but I always thought I would provide for him in my will and if I bought a home with a partner that it would be in writing that my son get his part. I always thought that a surviving partner would stay in the home until they died and then it would be divided up. My thoughts were not well received by my ex-boyfriend. You would have thought I was insane to suggest such a thing.

      I said I didn’t think I should be helping him pay his mortgage when he wasn’t going to help me pay mine if I bought a house. He was very angry at that. I know if he died that his selfish, greedy daughter would kick me out immediately. The tipping point was when she said she wanted her gainfully employed boyfriend to quit his well paid job and move in (he lived 2 hrs away). She wanted her dad and her mom to pay them to travel the country in a white van and do nothing for at least a year. I was shocked but her dad said it sounds like a fun time. This completely disfunctional boyfriend and his daughter was too much for me.

      As sad as I was to be single and on my own again, I was relieved I didn’t have to have the stress of being with someone who didn’t care at all what I really wanted and refuse to talk about it. I am worried I will die alone but I’m throwing myself into work and I will move out of this apartment that I live in when I find a home that I want to buy. I’m pre-approved for a mortgage and saving up my down payment.

      I still believe in love and I do hope someday I will find a man who is patient, kind, and willing to communicate about the tough things, and wants to be a real partner with me. This has been healing for me to write all this and I hope you find some courage on your part to leave your dead end relationship. Communication is key to a loving, lasting relationship and you must find it with someone else. I do believe it’s out there. You’ve learned your lessons.

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