Are you someone who has an angry streak? Are you brutal in your criticism of your partner? Do you have hostile verbal outbursts? If so, are you minimizing or normalizing these behaviors?
Well, let me tell you: You’re in major denial. It is extremely likely that your behavior is doing both short and long term damage to your sexual relationship.
In my practice, I see both men and women whose inability to manage their anger constructively does terrible damage to their ongoing relationship. Being on the receiving end of hostility kills sexual desire for the majority of women, and it does the same for many men.
It’s unusual that you would have this problem in the beginning stages of relationship. First of all, many people will leave a dating relationship if the other person behaves in a belittling, angry or hostile manner.
When people are first in love, each is on his or her best behavior. Each is trying to entice and seduce the other with sweetness. In the early stages of relationship, there is even a word for this special state of affairs.
It is called being in limerence, a state where you are obsessed with the other person. You are infatuated. You idealize them. You can’t get enough of them. You want to be as close to them as is humanly possible.
In addition, in the beginnings of a sexual relationship, feelings of lust might make you pay less attention to your partner’s tendency to be angry. If your partner is cranky and unkind during the early phase of the relationship, and this does not throw up such red flags that you leave them, you’ll still want them sexually.
This phase of relationships is infatuation—romantic love. It’s part of being a human being.Anthropologists have found that romantic love exists in most societies that they study.
But this phase of relationship only lasts for about 18 months to three years. Once you are through the infatuation stage, relationships have to move into a new phase where safety and deep emotional attachment are what fuel the relationship.
And it’s after the fire of infatuation where problems with verbal anger and criticism will emerge and make trouble.
Anger is fueled by many things — disappointment, tension, stress, depression, anxiety, competition, or hurt. These are normal feelings, but if you aim them at your partner in a vicious way, you will ruin the safe attachment, and that will destroy sexual desire.
There are probably multiple reasons why you feel it is ok to have angry and insulting outbursts. One of them is having grown up in a family where you witnessed or experienced some kind of abuse
In families where my patients got criticized and belittled a lot, they learned that talking meanly and critically to their partner is “normal.” They minimize their critical statements as “not meaning anything”—as a time-limited blip.
But that’s not the way people’s minds work. That statement “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me” could not be more wrong. I have seen recent scientific studies that have shown that emotional pain and rejection actually is experienced in the body as exactly as painful as physical abuse!
So if you realize that your furious verbal behavior is hurting your partner, make a commitment to work on your anger issues. If you look on the internet under “books for anger management” you will find a treasure trove of reading resources. Read the reviews to see which book best describes your patterns.
Tell your partner that you intend to work on anger management, and see if he or she will also read the book reviews to help you pick the books that best fit your behavior. That simple commitment to recognize and begin to address your hurtful behavior toward your partner will be the first step toward improving your intimate relationship.
If you follow through with this venture, the trust between you will flourish again. Best of luck in this important and life-changing venture.
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