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Ask Lisa: Issues of Privacy and Verbal Abuse

I’ve been dating J for 1 1/2 years. We recently moved in together, I’m 27 and he’s 31.

We’ve had a few issues over the past 6 months, mostly due to me not feeling like he gives me enough affection which in turn makes me feel unloved. We talked about it and he is making an effort which I appreciate. However, we have started to argue. They tend to start with him either snapping at me and not saying sorry afterwards or if he does something that I don’t agree with, he gets angry at me for airing my views. The following is the latest:-

The other day J asked me for my email password, I asked why and he said he’d used my email address to get some more free online bets (he couldn’t use his email anymore as he’d used all the free bets he was entitled to) and he needed the email that the betting site had sent. I was annoyed and told him that I didn’t like him using my email and asked him not to do it again. I didn’t shout but I was stern with him and he said he wouldn’t do it again. I gave him access to the email he needed.

This morning he told me that as he had used my email he needed my passport and national insurance card to copy and send to the betting company in order to withdraw his winnings. I said I was not happy about sending my personal information to a company that I had not heard of. I said I needed time to read the email the company had sent him and to think about whether I wanted to send my personal information. He put a bit more pressure on me by saying that he’d use the winnings to take me somewhere. I repeated I needed to think. He asked me why I was being so moody. I told him again I wasn’t happy about sending my personal info. He then said that I had given him permission to use my email address. I said that I did no such thing. He argued back and said that I had so I raised my voice at him and told him that he didn’t. We argued further and he then told me to fuck off and that I was a nasty piece of work. I got upset and he walked out of the flat.

It hurts that he doesn’t seem to acknowledge my feelings. I feel that if I have an opinion on something and he doesn’t agree then he dismisses it. I feel that even if he knows he is in the wrong he will not admit it.

This has happend alot. I’ve started to write in my diary everytime an argument takes place to try and work out why things esculate. It seems that if he snaps at me for something or if he does something wrong and I get a bit frustrated/angry or upset then he just gets angry. Even small things like him fogetting to put the dinner in the oven, I was frustrated at him as he was just sitting watching tv when I’d had to work late, but instead of saying sorry or making an excuse he just got angry at me then ignored me for the rest of the evening. I tried to talk to him and I even apologised for getting frustrated at him. He said ‘forget about it’ but because he didn’t say sorry back I still felt hurt. We didn’t speak for the rest of the evening.

I know it is normal to have arguments but this doesn’t feel normal. I was with my ex for 3 years and we never argued like this. When he did something wrong he always said sorry and that was that, it never esculated.

Later J and I talked and he said that he gets angry because I get angry at him. He has an ability to shout me down. I try to stand up for myself but he’s emotionally stronger than I am and I just end up getting hurt and in tears, especially when he gets verbally abusive.

Lisa’s thoughts…

First of all, I don’t blame you for wanting to protect your private information and not let him use your passport and insurance card info for his online endeavors.  That could bring you a lot of trouble and he doesn’t appear to be very sensitive about that.  This is a clear boundary violation that brings great risk to you as well.

Yes, it’s normal for couples to argue but the ideally they are able to successfully de-escalate the situation, discuss feelings and work through the problem rather than let resentment build up.  It sounds like things never really get resolved and they just build up between you two so that the next time something happens there’s more of a powder keg.  And if he is behaving in a “verbally abusive” way towards you, that needs to stop for the sake of you both and the relationship.

I highly suggest couples counseling if he’s open to it to sort through the underlying dynamics and roles you might both play.  Approach him in a way that suggests the relationship is worth protecting but the way things are going now is damaging and hurtful.  Let him know you want to see a therapist to see what you BOTH can do differently to be happier and healthier.  If he’s not willing, then you need to ask yourself what is keeping you in this relationship.

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Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.