Every relationship goes through fights and arguments, ups and downs. Maybe you and your partner even have said a few angry words to each other along the way that you wish you could take back. But suddenly, things go too far to tolerate and here you are, looking for signs a man has anger issues.
There are ways to tell when a guy has anger issues. It could be as subtle as being too quick to react to everything you say or as obvious as isolating you from friends and family. Since there is no defined behavior template for men with anger issues, attributing all their reactions to temper can get confusing. But the ice-cold silent treatment and the sharp words stabbing like a sword will always notify you when a guy has anger issues.
Wondering how to deal with anger in relationships? We’ve rounded up some signs of anger issues in a man to look out for, along with expert insights from counseling psychologist Kavita Panyam (Masters in Psychology and international affiliate with the American Psychological Association), who has been helping couples work through their relationship issues for over two decades.
How do anger issues impact a relationship
Getting angry at your partner once in a blue moon is not an unusual occurrence. At times, their hurtful words may sound offensive to you or certain actions can go against your needs, leaving you surprised. Up until here, the situation is under control. The negative effects of anger in relationships can be seen in the ‘pattern’ of expressing that rage. It can range from stonewalling your partner to something as scary as domestic violence.
Here’s how to know if a man has anger issues. Yelling, calling names, breaking things, and constant nitpicking – in short, lack of ability to manage anger – could be a crucial red flag for many of us. We asked our readers, “Would you date someone with anger issues?” And the majority of the answers turned down the prospect of dating a man with anger issues. Let’s face it, severe anger issues can rust healthy relationships. It splits two partners into different teams – as if you don’t play with each other, you play against the other person.
From dealing with an irresistible urge to beat your partner in verbal attacks to tiptoeing around them to dodge physically abusive gestures, you slowly drift apart in the relationship. When a man gets angry easily, chances are all his romantic and other relationships will suffer its consequences. Let’s find out how:
1. Affects the other partner’s self-esteem
If your partner is that typical, nitpicky narcissist whose words cut like a dagger, your relationship is highly at stake, my friend. The whole purpose of this person’s life is to find fault in others, criticize their loved ones for insignificant matters, humiliate them in front of others, and even belittle their achievements.
Expecting a bit of appreciation and gratitude in a relationship is not too much to ask for. When you are living with a partner who is critical of your every single step, it will hurt your sense of self-worth and confidence, making you second guess each small and big decision in life.
2. Makes their loved ones walk on eggshells around them
“My boyfriend is always angry at me,” says Anne, a 21-year-old literature student at NYU, “I almost never know what little things could upset him so. The other day, I forgot to turn off the heater before leaving for school and he actually called me in the middle of a class to shout at me. As much as I love him, I hate walking on eggshells in my relationship ALL the time.”
Do you see how the unpredictability of a bad temper could be extremely unsettling to the other partner? When one person is constantly trying to watch their words and actions to keep the other calm, they can never show their authentic self and it’s not a sign of a healthy relationship.
3. Makes their partner revengeful
When a man gets angry easily, it triggers their partner simultaneously with each fight, argument, and a little spat. If the angry man’s partner is not the kind of person who suppresses their resentments for the sake of harmony in the relationship, things might take an ugly turn for both of them. They will be always on the lookout for opportunities to show the other down and prove them wrong by hook or by crook. No two people can live with such toxicity for long and it’s only a matter of time before they realize, “Enough is enough! I can’t do this anymore.”
4. Presents them as a frightening creature in others’ eyes
There are many reasons why women stay in abusive relationships (rather, forced to stay), but the man on the other half of the relationship remains the same monster scarring her life and body with bruises. My friend Angela shared her bitter relationship story with me, “My boyfriend has a bad temper and it scares me. I sometimes can’t believe we started this relationship with so much love, affection, and hope. And here we are today, tearing each other to shreds every other night. And the worst part is, with the baby coming soon, I can’t even pack my bags and just slam the door on his face.”
The kind of future Angela was planning for her baby and herself terrified me to the core. Fair warning: Dating a man with anger issues has many, many downsides but physical violence should be a deal-breaker no matter in what situation you are stuck. Call for help, get a restraining order, move away if you can, report him for abuse – do whatever it takes to ensure your safety.
11 Signs A Man Has Anger Issues
How do you know if your boyfriend has anger issues? “My partner’s reactions are often disproportionate to the situation,” shares Vern, an engineer from Toronto. “I understand being frustrated, but the way he reacts to every small nuisance is sometimes frightening and concerning. Apart from being obviously impatient, does my husband have anger issues too?” What do you think? Is this a sign of anger issues in men? Do you find yourself wrestling with similar questions as well? If so, it might be time to delve deeper and look for signs he has a temper. Don’t write it off as a phase or assume that he’ll never do it again. Not even if he apologizes for hurting you and promises to never repeat his “unacceptable behavior”.
We’re not saying that his remorse is not genuine. However, men with anger issues have trouble controlling their reactions. Even if in his calm, composed state of mind he sees that his anger is becoming a problem in the relationship, he may not be able to hold himself back from lashing out once his temper is triggered. The only way to protect yourself and possibly work toward finding a solution to this problem is to identify the signs of anger issues in a man for what they are. How to tell if a guy has anger issues? Read on:
1. He cannot manage his emotions
For Lisa, it was difficult to read her husband Richard. There were days and weeks when he would shower her with flowers, presents, and compliments. A few days later, he would be shouting her down because she had bought the wrong brand of breakfast cereal. “When a guy has anger issues, he will swing back and forth between extremities,” says Kavita, adding, “He will show tremendous love and care one day, and then lash out at you furiously the next. There will be no balance, no mid-point.”
If your partner indulges in extreme love-bombing at times, but belittles you or screams at you about little things the rest of the day, these are signs he has a temper. Not knowing how he is going to react to a situation is among the most telling indicators that your spouse or boyfriend has anger issues. As a result, you will find yourself walking on eggshells around him – even in your most peaceful or blissful moments of togetherness.
2. He apologizes but won’t change
Knowing how and when to apologize is key to a healthy relationship. If your partner apologizes every time he takes his anger out on you, but refuses to change his behavior, it’s one of the signs he has a temper. It becomes a truly toxic relationship and a vicious cycle where he knows that all he needs to do is to say “sorry”, and you will forgive him no matter how much he has hurt you.
He may even be genuinely sorry every time, but unless he’s getting help or learning to control his rage urges, his apologies are hollow and meaningless. You know your spouse or boyfriend has temper issues when despite their most emphatic and heartfelt apology, a part of you refuses to believe that things are going to change for the better.
3. He neglects you emotionally
“Anger issues manifest in many ways,” says Kavita. “It may not only be screaming fits or verbal abuse. Emotional neglect could also be a way to tell if a guy has anger issues. If he never has your back, shows no support or care, and doesn’t make it a point to communicate with you every day, there’s a good chance that there are, at the very least, latent anger issues. The silent treatment is a symptom of anger issues as much as screaming and shouting,” Kavita warns.
That’s what happened to Martha and Ben. Ben rarely yelled at Martha; his anger was of the cold, sullen type where he simply clammed up and refused to talk to her at all. It was as though he was punishing her all the time. She was constantly on edge and kept wondering, “Does my husband have anger issues?”
If you are being shut out or given the cold shoulder after every disagreement or argument, know that this could very well be among the signs of anger issues in a man. The brooding, aloof personality may seem appealing from afar – thanks to pop culture and media feeding us misplaced ideas of masculinity and machismo – but it can get exhausting to put up with rather quickly.
Related Reading: How To Control Anger In A Relationship: 12 Ways To Tame The Temper
4. He’s always quick to judge
How do you know if your boyfriend has anger issues? Take a moment to introspect how you’re made to feel in the relationship. Does your partner encourage you, lift you up, and make you feel like he’s truly blessed to have you? Or does he find newer, more creative ways to let you know you’re not good enough?
You wear a new outfit, he passes a scathing remark. You decide to watch a movie together, he complains about it and blames you for choosing it. No matter what you do, it’s never good enough for him and he will judge you immediately. If you found yourself nodding, take note: This is a warning sign that a man has anger issues.
“Someone with anger issues will try and change everything about you. They will continually make you feel unworthy and every choice you make will come under criticism,” Kavita says. “Even when you try to resolve things, they will bombard you with insults and refuse to work things out.”
5. He will bring up past mistakes
Fights and arguments are common in every relationship. When tempers are flaring, we may end up saying or doing things we aren’t exactly proud of. So then, how do you tell if a guy has anger issues? He won’t be fighting only over the present disagreement but will bring up everything you’ve ever done wrong, even if they have nothing to do with what’s happening now.
Maybe right now you’re fighting over something as simple as whether or not to have guests over on the weekend. He will bring up something you said at a party a year ago. He’ll remind you of that time you brought home flowers he was allergic to. Of how money was wasted on party food six months ago. Ugly fights occur when a partner with anger issues makes every attempt to beat you down with past mistakes just to leave you feeling small and helpless.
6. He will isolate you
Among the most telling signs of anger issues in a man is his need to control every aspect of your life and curb your independent streak, little by little. He doesn’t like you to meet your friends. He doesn’t like that you go to see your family for Sunday brunch. He hates that you have a career and go out to work. “Why do you need to work? I earn enough for both of us,” he might tell you.
“A man with anger issues will isolate you from all your support systems,” warns Kavita. “The idea is to make you entirely dependent on him so that even if he takes out all his anger on you, you have no one to turn to and nowhere to go. They even make it sound like they want what’s best for you. But then they won’t allow you to earn and spend your own money,” she adds.
7. He manipulates you
How do you tell if a guy has anger issues? He will almost certainly be a manipulative partner. He will make you think you’re always in the wrong and he is, in fact, the victim. He will constantly gaslight you or stonewall you until the point you think it is you who has issues instead of him. In case you suggest trying couple’s therapy, he’ll immediately tell you he doesn’t need it because apparently, it’s all in your head.
If you try to defend yourself, he might look wounded and accuse you of hurting him, when it’s actually the other way around. Even if he does, by some miracle, end up in therapy for a few sessions, it’s possible he’ll play the victim the entire time and blame you for everything. Men with anger issues have an undeniably manipulative side to them which you will neither be able to see for what it is, nor deal with it until you accept the reality of your situation.
8. He makes you feel unworthy
We’ve all got examples of hurtful things we should never say to our partners. But a man with anger issues will take things a few steps further. He will constantly make you feel unworthy. He might tell you you’re lucky he married you because no one else would. If your husband or boyfriend has anger issues, he will always find a way to put you down because that’s what he needs to lift himself up in his own eyes.
For Sharon, her whole world revolved around pleasing her husband Joseph. He would constantly say that he had done her a favor by marrying her. “It’s not like you’re so attractive or have a good personality,” he would taunt. Sharon’s self-esteem shrank every time as she believed in everything he said to her.
9. He gives you the wrong advice
If you ask a man with anger issues for advice, it’s certain that he won’t be helpful. Instead, he will give you advice that sends you down the wrong path. This could be about your career, your family, or other life issues. That’s how to know if a man has anger issues – he will give you advice that will bring your life crashing down. He doesn’t care how it affects you, in fact, he’s deliberately trying to hurt you and make you miserable.
Bill learned this the hard way. He had turned to his husband, Warren, for advice when he was passed over for a promotion at work. He insisted that Bill take the matter up with the management, citing that he wasn’t given the promotion because he had just returned to work from a sabbatical. This set in motion an internal inquiry at work and both Bill and his boss were asked to take some time off. When he told Warren this, he shouted at Bill angrily, “Of course! You can’t do anything right.” That’s when it occurred to Bill, “My husband has anger issues and it is taking a toll on my life, and even my career.”
10. He badmouths you
If he’s constantly being hurtful to you, rest assured he’s talking bad about you behind your back as well. He could be telling your family you’re a bad spouse, he’ll tell your friends you can’t keep a secret. He might even tell your boss that you weren’t really sick that day you took a leave.
A man with anger issues won’t care about how he makes you look to the outside world. His focus is entirely on his own rage and how he can use it to hurt you. If he can cut you off from everyone else, it means you are entirely in his power. And that’s just what he wants. Anger issues in men can truly impair their judgment and their partners are the ones who have to bear the brunt of it.
11. He may force you to leave
If you’re with a man with anger issues, there will be countless screaming matches. He may even force you out of the house, saying he can’t stand the sight of you, or it would be better for everyone if you just left. Again, it could be daytime or the middle of the night, but he’s not worried about where you’ll go or if you have enough money for gas in the car. He is simply asserting his anger issues and his power over you by forcing you to leave.
“For a man with anger issues, you’re not really a person, you’re just their punching bag – a dump yard for all their emotional trauma,” says Kavita. The bottom line is, if your husband or boyfriend has temper issues, it won’t be easy to put up with him. The more you cower down for the sake of keeping the peace, the bolder he will get. That’s why it’s imperative that you learn to find your lost voice and hold your ground once you’ve started seeing the signs of anger issues in a man.
Related Reading: 13 Of The Worst Things A Husband Can Say To His Wife
What to do if the man you are dating has anger issues
“My boyfriend is always angry at me. But I still have feelings for him and want to work on this relationship,” says Millie, a kindergarten teacher. Do you wish to give him one last chance before making the final call? We appreciate your patience and devotion but please ensure you are not damaging your own mental and physical health in the process. However, there are a few thoughtful steps you could take to help him overcome this unpleasant attitude:
1. Help him find out the reasons and triggers
When a man has anger issues, it may not be always under his control to tame his beastly alter ego. Many internal and external factors might add up to transform him into the person that he is today – insensitive, rude, and a bit scary. The first order of business here should be pinpointing those factors to understand where this anger stems from.
Was he ever abused emotionally and physically or bullied as a child? Is he trying to cope with relationship anxiety issues? Maybe his upbringing has something to do with it and this is the best he can do. Once you spot the triggers and his pattern of letting out the rage, you can find a way to deal with the problem.
2. Be compassionate
Love, patience, support, compassion – there are no better healing forces than these in the world. Offer your man a sweet dose of positive affirmation every day. Try to convince him to engage in deeper conversations and be vulnerable about all his negative emotions. Acknowledge his concerns no matter how trivial they seem to you. Seeing you standing by his side might give him the zeal to sincerely work on his shortcomings.
3. Encourage him to practice mindfulness
If you are dating a man with anger issues, you may as well try to support him through the journey before you completely give up on him. Do you think he is willing to fix his temper issues? If yes, you both can take part in some mindful activities, for instance – begin with journaling to help you keep a track of your emotions. Taking long walks, hand in hand, might be a great way to reconnect after a big fight. Soothing meditation sessions and breathing exercises are highly effective in channeling the pent-up rage.
4. Walk out when the situation is out of control
“My boyfriend has a bad temper and it scares me,” says Lily, one of our readers from California, “Sometimes he becomes this whole different person, yelling at the top of his voice, throwing things at me. I feel so numb and helpless at the same time.” Lily, you don’t have to stand there and tolerate his erratic outburst until he calms down. Find a way to leave the house and reach a place where you can feel safe.
Keep a few domestic violence helpline numbers at hand and keep your friends and family informed about your condition. Even if your man’s anger issues don’t hit as bad as Lily’s, you should walk out of that door for the time being when you see him losing control. It will spare you both some time to reflect on the situation and get back to a rational discussion.
5. Seek help NOW
There is a possibility that this man will refuse to get help or go to therapy, in fact, he might refuse to even acknowledge that he has a problem. In most cases, this anger will have its roots in early trauma, but he is not open to treatment. You have to try your best to get professional help. Skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are always here for you. Feel free to visit us anytime!
After going through the ebb and flow of anger in relationships, would you date someone with anger issues? We hardly think so! Remember, you are not a doormat or a rehab center for a man with anger issues. If he keeps refusing to change, it’s a good idea to keep your dignity and leave this toxic relationship. You deserve better.
You can tell a man has a temper if he is always belittling you, bringing up past mistakes in every fight you have, and making you feel worthless. These are all glaring signs a man has anger issues. Other more subtle signs include him slowly isolating you from friends and family so that you have no support system but him.
Fights and arguments are signs of a healthy relationship but anger that is cold and hurtful is not a form of love. These are again signs that your man has a temper and doesn’t hesitate to use it in the most toxic possible way. There are healthy ways to express disagreement in a relationship – making your partner constantly feel bad is certainly not one of them.
Yes, with help and therapy, such a man can change, but he has to be willing to accept this help. When a guy has anger issues, it is rare that he accepts that he is in need of therapy or any kind of help. He may even play the victim or call you names for saying he needs help. You need not remain with him, hoping he will change. Set boundaries, and leave if he doesn’t change.