My boyfriend gets upset when I tell him that I feel a certain way about our relationship. What do I do?

I’ll echo Katie Anne Holton’s typically excellent answer, here.

When The Husband and I got together, he was a huge fan of telling me what I think or feel. He was also a huge fan of the word “should.”

“You should feel x about y.”

“You should be happy about <blah>”

I responded, without yelling at him, without accusing him, but persistently:

“You may think I should, but I don’t. Now what?”

…until he got the message. To his very great credit, when we disagreed when we were dating, he paid attention to the difference in my phrasing vs. his. He’s learned – quickly! – to make “I-statements” instead of “you-statements.”

You can do this, too.

You didn’t tell your boyfriend how you feel. You told him what he feels. He didn’t reject you – you felt rejected. That’s not the same thing. “I feel like you don’t want x” is not the same thing as “I feel sad / hurt / angry when x happens.”

Your boyfriend is calling bullshit on the way you phrased that because you don’t get to tell him what he thinks or what he feels – only he does. Similarly, only you can tell other people what you think about a given thing.

If it was me, I’d have said, “I felt sexually rejected last Thursday.” …and then I’d see how he responded. If he’s anything like The Husband, he may have defaulted himself to a should-statement. “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

“Well, okay, you think I shouldn’t, but I do.”

No more than that. No argument. Just persistence. Tell him how you feel, and no more than that, until the two of you can actually work out a compromise that works for you both.

Original question on Quora:

My boyfriend gets upset when I tell him that I feel a certain way about our relationship. What do I do?


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