by Andrea M. Darcy
Nice to everyone else, but once you’re alone with your partner, another side of you seems to emerge. You find yourself constantly asking, “Why am I always mad at my boyfriend?”
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Unraveling the Reasons behind Your Anger
It’s a complex question with answers that may differ from what you expect. The reasons behind your persistent anger can vary depending on your individual circumstances. Before drawing conclusions, take a look at the following scenarios.
Is It Solely Your Fault?
First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge the tendency to blame yourself. You may feel like the “big bad wolf” while viewing your partner as the helpless victim.
However, relationships involve the choices of two consenting adults. Your partner is willingly participating in the relationship for their own reasons. If they tolerate your mean behavior without setting boundaries, they likely have their own issues to address. They may be gaining something from the relationship.
This doesn’t justify being mean to someone you care about, especially if it leads to any form of abuse. Nevertheless, assigning blame and playing the “I’m a horrible person” card can blind us to other valuable insights within our relationship.
Are You Truly Mean?
If you find yourself verbally attacking your partner, it’s a serious concern, and it’s commendable that you recognize it.
However, there might be another aspect at play. Perhaps you hold yourself to unrealistic expectations of being a perpetually supportive, always smiling partner. You use the relationship to compensate for your low self-esteem and constantly berate yourself for not living up to your ideal image. In doing so, you’re being disingenuous.
Relationships and individuals are messy. Genuine intimacy stems from authenticity. While our partner witnesses our best qualities—our love, openness, and warmth—they also get to experience our shadow side. They witness our sadness, confusion, and, yes, even our occasional bitchiness.
Additionally, denying a part of ourselves can lead to outbursts. It’s akin to trying to keep a beach ball underwater—it requires tremendous effort until it inevitably bursts up to the surface. Conversely, if we allow the beach ball to float freely, it requires much less energy. That beach ball represents our frustrations and worries. When suppressed, they transform into explosive anger.
Is It You or Is It Them?
Once you shift away from a blame mindset, you can begin to evaluate the true root causes behind your tendency to lash out.
1. Are They Doing Annoying Things?
Do you have valid reasons for feeling on edge? Is it possible that, irrespective of their niceness, they aren’t the right match for you due to differing values? For instance, if personal growth is important to you, and your partner belittles such pursuits, it might signify a lack of shared values.
At times, meanness can serve as a defense mechanism to avoid facing an uncomfortable truth—such as realizing that you and your partner are fundamentally incompatible and it may be time to let go.
2. Do They Truly Understand You?
Research suggests that having a partner who truly understands us leads to better health and even a longer lifespan, according to a study conducted at Cornell University.
On the flip side, a lack of perceived partner responsiveness—feeling that your romantic partner fails to understand, care for, and appreciate you—can result in increased stress. If stress triggers your snappish behavior, this might be the issue at hand.
3. Is Your Bad Behavior a Response to External Factors?
Take note of when you lash out. Is it usually triggered after something else goes wrong? For instance, do you find yourself getting irritable with your partner after hearing that a friend excluded you from a social gathering?
Being mean can also be an unhealthy coping mechanism. It might be something you learned from observing your parents’ behavior while growing up—a way to vent your frustrations towards loved ones when you are upset.
If this is indeed the root cause, you might notice that your ugly side also emerges when you’re around your family. Essentially, when you let your guard down with loved ones, your mean streak reveals itself.
4. Is It a Pattern in All Your Relationships?
Next, ask yourself if this pattern has emerged in all your previous relationships. Do you find that as soon as you approach intimacy and love, your inner meanness intensifies?
If so, it could indicate an unconscious relational pattern or schema. You might be trapped in a loop of unhealthy behavior stemming from childhood difficulties or trauma.
For example, childhood abuse is a common cause of adult meanness. Abuse can instill an unconscious belief that the world is a dangerous place or that something is inherently wrong with you. If the person who hurt you as a child was an adult you loved, you might internalize the belief that love itself is dangerous.
Although, as adults, we can consciously recognize the irrationality of such thinking, these beliefs reside in our unconscious mind and influence our actions until we process and heal our past.
If the world is perceived as dangerous, we may resort to being mean to keep people at a distance so they can’t hurt us.
If we believe we are monstrous, we might suppress positive emotions and prevent others from viewing us favorably. Instead, we let them see our scarier side by being mean.
If love is seen as a threat, we might lash out whenever we start feeling too vulnerable or happy.
Borderline Personality Disorder and Outbursts
Childhood sexual abuse is highly associated with the development of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in adulthood.
One of the primary symptoms of BPD is emotional dysregulation. This means experiencing extreme mood shifts—going from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds. You might be fine one moment and in tears or angry the next.
If you have BPD, the emotional roller coaster often originates from feeling rejected. Even the slightest hint of rejection can trigger an exaggerated response, such as assuming the worst, even if it’s simply someone not responding to a text message.
Can Therapy Help Me Overcome My Mean Streak?
Absolutely. Therapy can greatly assist in understanding the underlying causes of your outbursts and in developing healthier coping strategies. By doing so, you can prevent others from bearing the brunt of your emotions and avoid isolating yourself.
If you suspect that you may have borderline personality disorder, our article on “Therapies that Work for BPD” can provide valuable information.
Are you ready to break the cycle of ruining your relationships through mean behavior? Are you longing to experience true love? We can connect you with a team of highly respected and well-rated therapists based in London. Alternatively, you can use our online booking site to find affordable therapy options across the UK and worldwide.
Share your experiences or ask questions about why you’re mean to your partner in the comment box below. Please note that we are unable to offer free counseling via comments.
Andrea M. Darcy is a health and wellbeing writer who also provides coaching on finding the right support for personal issues and navigating the therapy journey. Follow her @am_darcy.