Post # 1
Bees, I have a horrendous habit of telling my boyfriend “I’m done” every time we fight, especially when things get particularly heated. My bf has made it clear that me saying that is a dealbreaker for him. Although it doesn’t happen often, it did again a few days ago. He “forgave” me but is now saying he feels more detached from me than ever, which is understandable. I asked him if he wants to break up, and he said that he still wants to be with me but doesn’t want this to keep happening. I honestly feel terrible that this is my go-to reaction. I know intellectually that it’s childish at best and emotionally abusive at worst. I’ve done a little soul-searching and honestly think it’s just a defense mechanism I use in the heat of the moment, but I know that doesn’t justify anything. I love my boyfriend so much, and although we have our issues, he’s super committed to making things work and often talks about how much he wants a future with me. I’m not too proud to admit when I fuck up, and I don’t want to lose him over me saying stupid things I don’t really mean. What can I do to curb this? I’m in counseling, but are there any good books or anything?
Post # 2
I can relate and my husband is the same way. We separated for a year and got back together in October and are really trying. It still happens when we fight though we are working on it. I would say to try to take a few minutes to yourself when you are fighting. When you want to say that, stop, breathe and think about the fact that you want to grow and not do the same thing anymore. Then try to figure out what is really bothering you and say that. Say how you are feeling, why you are frustrated, etc. It’s not easy, I often don’t know exactly why I am upset enough to say it at the time. Tell you bf, “I need a few minutes to figure out what to say/what’s bothering me.” If he knows you are working on this, hopefully he will give you the time you need. Don’t take too long though, just enough time to figure out what emotions you are feeling and tell him.
Hopefully, this helps.
Post # 3
paigelove : walk away before the fight escalates. He knows you are prone to saying things you don’t mean so if you feel yourself starting to get too angry call for a timeout and take a walk. Give yourself time to process and then come back to have a productive conversation about whatever disagreement you’re having.
Post # 4
Bee, I too, have been there. It can be more of a habit than anything. Remember to catch yourself, and redirect it so that maybe instead you say something along the lines of “im pretty frustrated at the moment, lets take a breather and get back to this when we’re both a little more clear minded?” or “give me a moment”
Try to get into a habit like that instead? Because remember, one reason you may revert to that phrase is bc you feel overwhelmed in the moment. Take a step back and think a basic questions, ‘do i love him?’ once you cool off a little, you can logically think about the situation instead of emotionally.
Post # 5
- Wedding: November 2019 - City, State
If you realize the disagreement is escalated or you are being controlled by your emotions, you cannot try to resolve the problem in that moment. You have to take a break and wait until the wave of heightened emotions is over before you can be reasonable. It’s just a good practice in communication and will help to keep you from saying dumb things. You also need to try and work on understanding why you get so heated in the first place, and whether or not the disagreement at hand warrants it.
Post # 6
LilliV : Agreed. If this is a gut reaction in fights, you need to prevent things from escalating. You can put a stop to the entire process before it goes too far if you do so while you’re still in control of yourself.
Communicate to your SO that you think this is part of the problem and that if the two of you get into it, you both need to take active steps to disengage for a cooldown period and address it again later. Impulse control, in other words.
Post # 7
To diffuse the feeling, you can actually say to your boyfriend, “Things have escalated to the point that I WANT to tell you I’m done, but I’m not. Something’s triggering that response in me right now, so can we please take a break?” Of course, discuss this possible strategy with your boyfriend ahead of time so that he knows to expect it and can agree ahead of time to give you space when it happens.
It might be helpful for you to read Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment. It sounds like you have a Anxious-Avoidant attachment style. I used to have that attachment style and I know I always felt TRAPPED when relationship fights reached a certain intensity. I felt like I needed to ESCAPE. Because the argument had triggered my fight or flight impulse, and saying “I’m done” or “I’m not sure I can do this anymore”, etc was my way of “fleeing.” It helped me to not feel trapped anymore. It gave me a false sense of being back in control.
It would probably be really helpful if both of you read the book, actually. There IS hope. I’m now a Secure attachment style, but it took a lot of work.
Post # 8
I am absolutely not proud to admit this, but I too have done this in the past when my boyfriend and I would argue. It happened a few times during the first few years of our relationship. For me, it would come out due to frustration but the real cause of it was insecurity and fear that HE would want to be done. My distorted thinking was “well, if I say it and he doesn’t want us to be done, he’ll try to stop me and then I can feel assured he wants this.” That was my own issue and a very childish way of thinking. It did not come from a place of malace, but rather from my fear of abandonment. Still, those words are hurtful and they are heavy, so you need to find a way to change your behavior.
I no longer feel the desire to say things like that when we argue but it was my responsibility to figure out why I ever did in the first place and to change my behavior. For now, if an argument feels like it is getting to that point for you, can you try saying something like “I’m not sure what the solution is right now but maybe we can take a break from this and revisit it in a little while?” Call a time-out, but make sure there is a designated amount of time and that you’re not leaving him hanging. Maybe agree to a 15-30 min break from the conversation and go for a walk or in another room. Then come back when you’ve had time to think and can have a rational discussion rather than one driven by emotion.
Post # 9
I agree with the comment above about reworking the line. Talk to him and see if you can come up with a new dialogue that would work. Maybe have an escape word or phrase that means you’re getting to a point where you need to step back or you’re going to say things you don’t mean and don’t want to say. Use the escape clause early and often until you get used to catching yourself. Is there then something that you could reliably do such as go for a walk or put on a comforting tv show? Have him then approach you at an agreed upon interval (maybe half an hour) and you can resume the talk in a calm way.
There’s a technique I call “put a pin in it” with note cards/post: if you two start to have a communication break down (i.e. get upset), you stop where you are, each take a card, and write down briefly whats bothering you in a to the point sentence or two. Take those cards, fold them in half, and pin them somewhere visible. Go do something else (together or separately) and come back in half an hour. Take turns reading your card and explaining what was on your mind. Center the explanation on yourself and your feelings, no blaming or picking a fight. It’s often easier to work through it and really hear the other person when you aren’t upset yourself.
One thing that helps me is just catching when something bothers me and making a note of mentally making my peace with it or bringing it up with my partner and finding a solution. Lots of little things are really easy to deal with in the moment, but practicing resolving them lowers my overall frustration meter and helps develop skills for when there is a disagreement that doesn’t get caught before emotions are involved.
Can you ask your therapist to a session where you work on strategies for this? I had really good luck bringing up a similar issue to my therapist and my husband and I had a bit of trial and error trying different strategies, but found the ones that work for us.
Post # 10
What do you argue about? Is it a lot? Big things? Small things? What triggers you to say these things, is there a theme?
It’s hard to gauge if the problem is you or you guys genuinely have big relationship issues where you genuinely should want to be done (and he’s gaslighting by shifting the focus / blame to you for saying you want to be done).
Post # 11
paigelove : There’s two things here.
One, as you already know, you are saying something incredibly hurtful, and yes it is manipulative and emotionally abusive to say something hurtful that you don’t mean.
Two, you guys are having arguments to the point of escalation where you say things you don’t mean. This is on BOTH of you.
Honestly you would both probably benefit on some couples counselling to work on communication. You’ve said you wouldn’t do it and have continued to do it, so it’s clearly out of your control at this point. A professional will help you learn how to change that habit and how to disagree productively.
Post # 12
paigelove : What if instead of saying “I’m done” you replaced it with “I need a few minutes by myself to cool off” or “could I please have some space?”. Finding a respectful phrase you can use when you’re feeling that level of frustration may help you to remove yourself from the situation before you say something you don’t mean.
Post # 13
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you might say something in the heat of the moment. If it’s something that absolutely needs to be discussed, suggest a short break – go for a walk, go get coffee, go to a friends house, etc.. then come back when you can both sit and work it out together.
Post # 14
He needs to walk away/leave the room before you get into that stage. If you can’t control your anger and lash out each time then one of you has to be the smarter one and leave before the “I’m done” is flung around.
Post # 15
Stop saying that you’re done every time, unless you really have one foot out the door, because there’s no other reason to say it.
Remove yourself from the room.
I’ve never said, “I’m done” to my husband during arguments. We both stop from things getting heated and excuse ourselves if we ever need to.