Feeling Like a Doormat
QUESTION: My boyfriend of four years (long-distance, and intercultural Asian-Western relationship) always says hurtful things to me and gets really angry to the point where no conversation is possible. I usually get upset and don't talk to him. Or if I tell him that it hurt me he says it's because I do have that fault he is pointing out. Sometimes I practice patience, be sort of like a doormat, and sometimes I don't talk to him. Then he doesn't call me back forever and when he calls again he acts like nothing has happened. But I'm still upset and this makes him angry again because I can't let go of it, and that is why we are having these difficulties, because of my negative character. When I tell him why I'm upset, he just tells me to stop arguing. Then he accuses me again of the worst stuff. I really do love him and want to be with him and he also loves me, he calls me many times a day to see what I'm doing, almost a little controlling, and really cares for my life and work, and helps me with anything. But this constant anger and arguing thing is really draining. Sometimes I just want to be the 'adult' and let him talk (doormat?) but sometimes I feel that it's not OK to allow him to treat me like that. What to do?
RESPONSE: I appreciate that you care enough about yourself and your relationship to ask for some relationship help here. A couple of things really stand out for me when I read your post. First of all, the only doormat in a healthy relationship should be the one at the front door. Being patient isn't the same as letting someone continually be hurtful or controlling. There is nothing "adult-like" about being a doormat. Please consider the practice of loving yourself first. This will help you to be firm, yet loving and understanding of whatever painful things he is going through that make him feel like hurting someone he supposedly loves. Loving yourself will help you to envision the kind of relationship you truly want - one that is supportive of who you are and open to who you are becoming.
The second thing that stands out from your post is that there isn't much communication going on about the difficult things that come up in your relationship - not that you haven't tried. However, a healthy relationship can only thrive if BOTH of you are committed to honestly and openly communicating about those hardships. Try staying away from blaming each other. Face your conflicts honestly and take responsibility for the parts that are yours - you can't change him to do the same if he is not willing. Focus instead on the aspects of your relationship that are working well - the things that you really love about him. Continue to envision the relationship you want - there's no guarantee it will be with him or not but it IS guaranteed to get you closer to what you want out of life.
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