My partner explains that his anger and negativity are because of his anxiety, but I still feel really hurt when he blows up at me after I go on dates or says tons of negative things about anyone I have even slight interest in. How can I be both supportive of his anxiety, which I know he’s trying to work on, and also take care of my own emotional needs? I feel like I’m taking on all the emotional labor because my anxiety isn’t as “loud” as his is and it’s really starting to make me miserable

Mental illness is never an excuse to be hurtful. It can be an explanation, a way to give language to the challenge, a way to help understand and communicate through tough spots. But explanations are not the same as excuses.

You are not obligated to simply bear your partner’s anger and negativity because he can tie it to a diagnosed mental illness. Your partner’s behavior - making extreme emotional demands, refusing to take responsibility for his behavior, guilting you about your feelings for other people, blowing up at you - is not healthy and it is not okay. Period.

If this relationship is making you miserable, leave it. If you want to try and make things work, let your partner know that some pretty big changes need to happen. He can no longer dump negativity and anger on you simply because he has tough-to-manage thoughts and feelings. Not all thoughts and feelings need to be acted on. He needs to make some major steps to start working on this unfair and unhealthy behavior, stat. If he is not seeing a therapist, he needs to do that. If he is seeing one, he needs to make this a treatment priority.

You have the right to set down clear boundaries: “I am no longer going to accept this kind of treatment. I am no longer going to have this kind of conversation. You need to come up with a healthier way to relate to me about these issues. Your current strategies for managing your anxiety are not working and you need to commit to serious changes for the sake of our relationship.” If he cannot or will not do this, this relationship isn’t healthy for you.

My boyfriend and I got into a really big fight and almost broke up and he’s been really cold towards me since. I send little hearts and he ignores them. I say I love him and he doesn’t say it back. I don’t know what to do. He started doing this a week before we got into our fight and it’s been really bugging me which is partly why we got into such a huge fight and I don’t understand why he’s being this way?

Have you asked him why he’s acting this way?

Maybe he needs some space.

Maybe he does want to break up.

Maybe he just expresses affection differently than you.

Maybe he’s been replaced by an alien pod person.

Maybe he doesn’t like little hearts. 

Maybe he’s feeling overwhelmed by other obligations and doesn’t have the emotional energy to respond to you, even in a positive context.

You gotta ask him! Don’t do it with pressure or accusations; just gently ask him why he seems so avoidant with you and whether there’s anything he needs from you to solve the problem. If he really seems to just not want to be present to you in ways that you need in a relationship, then maybe this isn’t the relationship for you.

i get upset easily with my boyfriend of 2 years over issues such as him making excuses not to call me & i worry really easily because he used to talk to lots of girls when we first got together (doesn’t anymore), i get mad easily and sometimes say mean things to him or about our relationship e.g ‘we are better apart’ & whenever i say this, he tells me it hurts and he’s not good enough for me, and i’ve noticed that he is beginning to like girls photos & one girl in particular i don’t like.

You need to get this behavior, and whatever feelings are driving it, in check, and fast. 

When you say he is “making excuses not to call you,” either he has legitimate reasons not to call you - life stuff comes up! - and you need to figure out a way to develop more compatible schedules or expectations. Or, he really is making excuses not to talk to you, which means he finds talking with you somehow unpleasant or scary, and is trying to avoid it. That is not how you want your partner to feel! Either way, change needs to happen.

You know that this is your problem - you say twice that you “get upset easily” and “get mad easily.” It doesn’t sound like you’re dating someone with an awful pattern of upsetting and angering you; it sounds like you have an emotional hair-trigger that causes you to over-react to situations. And that makes you treat your partner in ways that aren’t okay. You’re making him feel hurt and like he’s not good enough - is that how you want your partner to feel? If yes, leave him - something is deeply wrong with that dynamic. If not, stop doing and saying the things that make him feel that way.

If you truly believe that you are better apart, if you don’t like how he responds to you asking for a phone call, if you find yourself consistently acting in a way that hurts him - perhaps you two are better off apart. A relationship where you find it easy to get into a headspace where you act out of anger and a desire to make your partner feel bad is not a healthy relationship. Consider asking your partner what he wants. Does he want to stay with you? Does he want some things to change? Consider working with a therapist or self-help guides to identify the root of your frequent anger and sadness. What is making you feel so threatened that you lash out, and how can you alleviate that threat in a healthier way?

Me and my boyfriend have been together for 2 years now and for the past few months I have been going through family problems. I guess in a way I’ve been letting it out on him which I don’t purposely do it just I have so much going on and I feel like my relationship is falling apart. He said “this relationship isn’t for us” but I know he loves me and I love him but I feel like he’s giving up on me what should I do I love him so much.

If someone has decided that the best thing for them to do is to leave, you gotta let them leave. You can believe deeply that he’s making the wrong choice, that you two love each other and that you can and should work this out - but there is no guarantee that you can get him to feel the same way.

If you know that your family problems and life stresses are wearing down on your relationship, and you are fully committed to working on healing that, you can try to have that conversation with your boyfriend. You can say something like “I know that our relationship has carried a lot of tension and negativity because of the stress I bring into our time together. I want to fix and heal that. I am committed to going to therapy to find healthier ways to manage my stress, I am committed to intentionally bringing presence and positivity into our time together, I am committed to finding other support systems to help me through this family situation, etc.” Make space for him to let you know what, specifically, he needs from you to get through this.

If he accepts - if he wants to try and fix what has fallen apart - then you need to commit 100% to those promises and work on rebuilding. But there is no guarantee that he will accept, and he has no obligation to. If he has decided that this relationship isn’t one he wants to stay in, it is okay for him to make that call. Try to be gracious about respecting his choice, and find ways to care for yourself in the event of a breakup.

Whether you two stay together or not, it sounds like you very much need to work on healthy stress management and positive communication strategies to help buffer your relationships, romantic and otherwise, against life stresses. Even if this relationship ends, you can learn a lot about how to lay a strong foundation for future relationships.

Hello, I need some help. I’m currently speaking to guy and he’s constantly letting me down. When we arrange to meet he turns it down because of ‘work’ or because he’s always late. He says he wants me to be his girlfriend but he never makes the effort. I always have to text first and I’m fed up. Why can’t he make the effort? What can I do?

You can’t control another person’s feelings or behavior. If he’s not prioritizing you, it’s not because you aren’t deserving of his attention. There’s not some secret thing you can do to make him want to pay attention to you in the way you need.

Getting randomly rewarded for things can be very powerful - this is why gambling is so addictive, and why rats become obsessed with levers that dispense food randomly. We start thinking about what we can do to discover or control the pattern, because our brains can’t handle randomness.

Relationships work the same way. When someone doesn’t respond to our affections consistently, it makes us want them even more. We try to figure out what we can to do capture the attention of this enigmatic person, and think that since their affection is so hard to “earn,” it must be worth a lot.

But you deserve to be the girlfriend of someone who cares about you and shows it in a way that feels right and healthy for you. The best thing you can do is drop this guy and find someone who doesn’t make you feel let down and fed up. Never prioritize someone who won’t prioritize you.