DEAR KELLY: My boyfriend likes to fight. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true. Sometimes I feel like he picks a fight just to fight.
Last week he picked a fight, then he went out with his friends but texted me all night how mad he was and how he didn’t know if we should be going out or he wasn’t sure about us anymore. I was so upset, and texted him the entire night. I offered to meet him somewhere so we could talk and work things out, and he never wanted to. The next day he was like, “OK, we are chill again. Sorry if I freaked out on you last night.”
He does things like this all the time and expects me to just go back to the way things were. He hasn’t cheated on me and I haven’t cheated on him, but we fight more than other couples who have way bigger stuff to fight about. He’ll get mad at me at school for something stupid like flirting with a guy or not paying enough attention to him, and then it just becomes this big texting thing where he texts me during class all day or after school until he finally says we are good. Sometimes he just won’t talk to me, for like a whole day, and I don’t even know what I did.
I really do love him because when we aren’t fighting, he’s the sweetest guy ever and we have so much fun. We love the same things and he’s like my best friend, but I just can’t take the fighting anymore. When I tell people at school that we are fighting they always say things like, “What’s new?” or “You always fight and you always make up. Don’t trip over it.”
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I know he feels a lot of pressure from his dad to be perfect and he’s always trying to please his dad, but I don’t know what to do about the fighting. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal, and says that all couples fight. I don’t know what’s normal and what’s too much. What should I do? I know he loves me, but I don’t know how much more fighting I can take. How much of it is me and how much do you think is his dad?
DEAR JENNY: If it feels like it is too much, it is too much. Your instincts are correct. When fighting becomes the norm and people expect you to fight, there is an underlying issue that is not being addressed. Most couples don’t agree on everything but if you fight daily just for the sake of fighting, something is wrong.
Whether his issues are with his dad, issues with you or issues with himself, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you are tired of living your life walking on eggshells and trying not to make someone else mad. That is not a pleasant way to spend your days, especially high school, which is supposed to be all about having fun, hanging with friends and making good memories.
If your boyfriend is stressed because he is unhappy or overwhelmed in his life, perhaps he needs space and time to figure it out. Being in a relationship is a lot about timing. If the timing is not right in his life, then maybe he should be single. Trying to take care of two people in a relationship is difficult. What you really need is to take care of yourself.
One concern is that your communication seems to be all by text. I know that’s how your generation “talks,” but maybe this is part of the problem. He gets angry with you and texts you until he feels like things are OK. Texting you all night or all day at school seems very distracting and stressful. Aren’t you supposed to be in class or sleeping? Where are the face-to-face conversations that enable you to work things out with your mouths rather than with your thumbs? A relationship is only as good as its communication. If you can’t discuss or talk about issues, then they will never be resolved. Electronic conversations don’t have the same value as sitting down and figuring things out.
I understand you care about him and that he is a sweet guy, but he may have other issues in his life that are preventing him from being in a good place to be in a relationship. He might be projecting the unhappiness or stress between himself and his dad onto your relationship, and no matter what you do, he will always be unhappy or upset with you.
Tell your boyfriend that you care about him, but all the fighting is too much and is stressing you out. Suggest you take a break and both take care of yourselves. Be OK with being single. You might surprise yourself with how happy you are once all the fighting stops and you can just concentrate on having fun with your friends and being a teenager. Stop letting your days be controlled by his emotions.
Email Kelly Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org