Anger is a necessary but complex emotion. We can feel angry for multiple reasons, and our angry feelings can last either a few minutes or an entire lifetime. Do you know anyone whom you would say has a bona fide chip on their shoulder? When people use that expression, they’re talking about anger, and they are saying that the one with chip carries such deep anger that it clouds almost everything they do. If you are someone who feels angry often, you probably show your anger in a number of ways, each of which is going to negatively impact your dating and romantic life.
Have you been told that you have the tendency to get defensive?
Picture this scenario: The new guy you started dating has shown up for a few dates late. When you mention it to him, he quickly gets defensive and throws it back on you. He says, “What, you’re never late?” Someone who gets defensive easily has an anger problem, and even if the individual sees it and knows it, this trait is difficult to change. If you detect defensiveness early in the dating process, you should realistically tell yourself that your date is probably going to carry that anger and defensiveness with him for many years to come. I have found that only therapy – once per week or more – can nip this problem in the bud for good.
Do you tell yourself that someone you trust and love will ultimately let you down or betray you?
When we walk into relationships, we already have preconceived notions about how we expect to be treated. For example, if I like myself a lot, I will unconsciously expect to be liked and cared for in the relationship; if I am self-critical and insecure, I will unconsciously expect to be neglected or rejected. If you are someone who feels angry frequently, you probably walk into relationships expecting any of the following possible scenarios: she will let you down; he won’t be able to meet your most important emotional needs; or she will betray you once you start trusting and needing her. It’s critical that you ask yourself what you expect from the person you start dating. Pretend you have a crystal ball and ask yourself the following question: “If I had to guess how this will end or why it will end, what would I say?”
Do you have a habit of getting into frequent arguments with previous partners?
Simply put, angry people need to discharge their anger, and the easiest way to do that is by starting a fight with someone else. If you have a problem of starting or getting into frequent arguments with others, keep in mind that anyone you date will eventually grow tired of this behavior and will become angry toward you, too. What happens when two people feel overwhelming anger toward each other? The relationship ends sooner or later.
Do you need to have the last word in an argument?
The angry individual usually needs to have the last word in an argument. Angry people are often very focused on having power over others because they believe that they will be less likely to be taken advantage of if they have power. (Yes, angry people are angry because they were often mistreated by parents or other important figures in their past.) In an argument, the angry individual doesn’t truly listen to what his partner has to say; he is waiting for air time so he can make his point and prove that he is right. Above all, angry people need to be right most – if not all – of the time. If you find yourself getting overly pumped up and fighting for the last word in an argument with your date, try for once to let the other person have the last word. Trust me: A few hours later, you will realize it really didn’t matter who had the last word anyways!
Tips to take with you
If you honestly struggle with feeling angry, don’t beat yourself up about it. If we all played the video of your life up to this point, we would come to see that you are angry for a reason. After all, no one wants to stay in an angry place for long. Do an online search for self-help books that focus on letting go of anger, and remember that trips to the gym, walks outdoors, or practicing hobbies is a great way to decompress and manage your feelings in a more consistent way. Finally, be open about the fact you are trying to change your angry ways. Start by saying, “I used to have a problem with anger, but it’s getting better because I’m aware of it and working on it.”
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve