He's Always Angry
Q: I have been going out with a guy for two years. He is great in every aspect, except one: his temper. He throws explosive fits frequently and unpredictably. He is aware of his bad temper and has agreed to make an effort to change, though I haven't seen an improvement in real terms. Sometimes he makes me quite miserable but usually apologizes when it is over. Is temper something a guy can change? Is there an optimal way to deal with his anger? Is this enough of a reason to leave someone? -- Shelly, 25
Dr. Susan: You've being emotionally abused by this fellow's anger. It may only be a matter of time before you are also physically abused. One often follows the other. It's nice that he knows he has a temper and would like to fix it, but words mean nothing here. He should talk to someone (a therapist perhaps) about learning how to deal with his anger BEFORE it erupts. People like him often use anger in manipulative ways to get what they want, and if there are no negative consequences for them, they don't change. I suggest you turn and walk out of the room the moment he starts raging. If he follows you or threatens you, it's time to leave him altogether. People can change, but not just by saying they will. He needs strategies for expressing himself that don't hurt others. Be careful about challenging him when he's in a fury, but think of your future. He sounds like a time bomb.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.