- Dr. Love in the Media
You're a Human Punching Bag
January 17, 2005 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I have been with my boyfriend 2 yrs in April and most of the time we are arguing. I think it's something I'm doing wrong. I don't think I'm treating him right well.
I don't know what to think really. He says that I do alot of things wrong but the problem is I really try my best I don't think I am getting anywhere no matter what I do it's always wrong. Please help me give me some advice.
I think maybe it might be that we are not meant for each other but I hope that 's not true. Thank you for your time.
Your boyfriend tells you that you do a lot of things wrong. If nothing else, he should give you credit for your willingness to take all the blame for the problems in your relationship!
Let's start with the most obvious issue and go from there. You wonder if you're compatible. You don't need to wonder any longer. I have Introduced all kinds of new consultations on the site. My consultation 'Are We Compatible' will help you assess how right you both are for each other. If you are compatible, then we can assume that your conflicts are being caused by either poor communication or unresolved childhood baggage.
Let's start with examining how you both communicate.
The first thing we need to look at is how your boyfriend tells you about what's bothering him. It sounds to me as though he attacks and blames you. Doing so is going to make you angry and not willing to be responsive to him. The less responsive you are the more angry he gets, and soon you're in a vicious cycle.
He needs to learn how to tell you what you say or do that doesn't land right with him. He is not to attack or blame you. Instead, he should simply describe what you did or said, then say how he feels about it. He should include a concrete suggestion for what he would prefer you to do in the future, and that 's all he should say when he's upset with you.
When he tells you what's bothering him, your job is to listen and show that you understand what he said by repeating back what he tells you. Then ask him if you have understood his concern. If he says no, you haven't understood what's bothering him, then ask him to tell you again, and once again repeat back what you heard until you are on the same page.
Being understood by you should make him feel better. What I have just described will solve your problem if your conflicts are simply the result of improper handling of negative feelings, which includes his not properly stating his gripes and/or your not properly responding when he explains what's troubling him.
I suspect that there is more to this problem than poorly handled negative feelings. In fact, I think that the pattern that exists between you--you always being wrong and his being the wronged person--is meeting needs on both your parts. Let's first see what need could you be satisfying by accepting all the blame.
The most obvious need is the need to remain in a familiar situation. If you were blamed as a kid for everything that went wrong, then you became so accustomed to being beaten on that you don't know anything else. Since we humans are creatures of habit, we like to stick with what we know. There is an odd sense of comfort in staying with the familiar matter how painful it is--and this explains why you would choose a boyfriend who blames you for everything.
He keeps you in a painful, but very familiar and, therefore, comfortable place. It is also possible that you saw one of your parents being accused by your other parent. If this is so, you are recreating a pattern that you grew up with, which means that you're still sticking with the comfort of what is known and familiar.
As for your boyfriend, he is getting his own set of rewards out of blaming you. When he blames you, he releases all the anger he has stored since childhood toward the parents who did him wrong.
Since both of you are obtaining gains out of the pattern as it exists, you are both going to find it hard to let it go. He, especially, is getting a lot of satisfaction out of blaming you, and he is going to resist giving up the pleasure of this anger release.
So, where do we go from here? First, you have to decide whether you are willing to continue taking all the blame. If you are not willing to continue in this role, then you can begin by putting your foot down with him when he starts to blame you. If he refuses to talk properly to you, walk away and don't give him any attention until he talks to you the way he should.
Let's say he succeeds in talking properly to you, and that you, in turn, react correctly to him, understand his feelings, and do your best to respond to the requests he makes of you. . . and he still falls back into blaming you?
Then point out to him that he seems to have a well of anger inside him that comes from his own unfinished childhood business. Tell him that this well of unresolved anger fuels his fire toward you and explain that he needs to do individual therapy to work out this anger.
I have given you a lot of steps to take. Let me know how you both do.
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