Most of us have ended up—at least ONCE in our life—in a shouting match with someone we love.
Sometimes, it’s necessary. You’ve both got so much pent up frustration and so many things you haven’t been able to say that you’ve just got to get it all out.
Hopefully those shouting matches don’t happen very often.
They’re rare occurrences. And when they do happen, you talk it out afterwards and apologize and figure out a way so it doesn’t happen again.
Sometimes it isn’t a matter of your guy occasionally losing his temper.
Instead, something feels wrong.
It doesn’t feel like what’s going on is okay.
If your boyfriend yells at you, or if your boyfriend shouts at you, then you need to know what you’re in for.
I’m going to give you 3 important questions to ask yourself.
These questions will help you figure out for yourself whether his behavior has crossed a line and what you might need to do next.
Does he expect to be able to yell at you?
We all make mistakes in relationships. We all do things we know we’re not supposed to do.
But when we love someone, we know that doing a bad thing could drive them away. So we try really hard. When we mess up, we can see the pain we caused. So we do whatever it takes to repair the relationship. We apologize. We talk it out.
As long as our partners see us doing the work—trying to be a better person, trying to live up to what a great relationship demands of us—it doesn’t matter if we mess up from time to time. Love is hard. It’s a journey.
But not everyone is willing to do the work.
For some people, yelling is a natural and normal part of relationships. They expect to be able to yell. They will defend their right to yell to the grave.
They’ll tell you it didn’t mean anything. They’ll say you’re making a big deal over nothing. They’ll say that you yell, too.
So you want to look at his expectations. Does he expect to be able to yell at you, or does he hate it and know it’s not the person he wants to be?
What does he do after he yells at you?
Does he blame you for provoking him? Does he actually seem happy, like he’s energized by it? Does he storm out and then pretend like nothing ever happened?
If your guy says that you made him yell at you—what he did is your fault—then that’s a red flag. If your guy feels great after yelling at you, that’s another red flag. You might want to learn more about verbally abuse.
Now, if he storms out and then refuses to talk about it, that’s not a red flag, but that doesn’t mean everything is okey-dokey. You can’t undo something by pretending it didn’t happen.
Ideally, your guy will eventually open up about what happened and talk about how he felt and what he wishes could have happened instead. In healthy relationships, we always do our best to talk it out and make things right.
Can you talk about the yelling?
Can you bring up this topic with him? Could you say something like:
I don’t like the way we yell at each other. I’d love to be in a relationship where we can talk things out without saying things we’ll later regret. Would you help me figure out a way we could be kinder to each other when we’re mad?”
Because chances are, if your guy has a good heart, he hates it when you’re mad at each other. He hates the fact that he sometimes yells. But he doesn’t know how to do it differently.
There’s tons of information out there on how to navigate conflict in a relationship. I recommend anything by the Gottman Institute. So go out there together and learn some techniques you can put to use.
One technique I’ll share with you right now is the soft startup.
In general, the way you start a conversation is the way it will continue.
So if you start out by accusing him—“You yell at me, and that’s rude, and I want you to stop!”—chances are he’s going to respond by firing something back at you.
What you want to do is open a conversation softly.
Tell him about the pain you feel when you fight. Tell him how much you love him, and you want to find a way to do this better so that you don’t hurt each other so much.
Focus on the love and caring. Acknowledge that it’s hard. Ask him questions about what his past relationships were like, whether he’s ever been with a girlfriend who yelled, whether his parents yelled.
If you can have that conversation, chances are good that you can work through this.
But if your guy expects to be able to yell at you, if he refuses to take responsibility for his yelling, if he actually likes to yell, if he won’t even talk about it with you, then you’ve got a problem.
And whatever you do, look after yourself.