What does he mean?

posted 8 months ago in Relationships
Post # 16
3376 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

Letitbee1 :  it would be helpful to have some context around what is happening when he says this. 

I’m inclined to label the comment as very dismissive and emotionally manipulative. He’s essentially telling you that your feelings are not valid and that he is the arbiter of what is and is not valid. That’s not fair and it creates an unbalanced power dynamic. It could even be a red flag for more blatantly abusive behaviour later on. 

However.. if you have a volatile personality and or a tendency to experience and express a range of emotions more intense than most people would consider normal or reasonable, it could very well be that he’s trying to manage those outbursts. 

You don’t choose your emotions, but you do choose how you allow them to affect your attitude and behaviour and perhaps that’s what he is trying to get at. 

You say your “fights” are handled calmly but again, don’t give us a sense of what that looks like. Tbh I think it is strange to fight regularly enough in your first six months if dating to have an established pattern of how you fight. 

Who or what is starting these fights and what are they about? If they often start with him being upset with you over what most people would consider normal behaviour (going out with friends, wearing what you liked, etc) then it’s a pretty clear pattern of abusive behaviour on his part. But if it’s usually you starting the fights and they’re about your emotional reaction to what other might consider normal behaviour from him, that’s an indication maybe you have some work to do on yourself. 

If it typically comes down to you guys holding different values and priorities and opinions on important topics than I’d say the issue is simple incompatibility, in which case his comments about you choosing to feel that way are irrelevant. 

Post # 17
106 posts
Blushing bee

I am just coming here to say that my grandpa tells me the same thing and it is the most irritating thing ever. He very rarely sees me in any other mood besides happy but if I tell him a story and say that somebody made me upset by doing this or that or whatever it is he always says “you chose to feel that way. You didn’t have to get upset by that”

One time somebody pulled out in front of me and ran into my car and drove off and that was his response…

Everybody has feelings. It is okay to have feelings. How you react based on those feelings is something you can control but from what you have written, you seem to be handling them fine. I have certain feelings on fighting so early on and so often in your relationship but the bees before have commented on that.


Post # 18
35 posts

Hmm, a few thoughts…He’s right in that you are choosing to feel whatever emotion you’re feeling. Every day you can look at a situation and let it affect you, make you angry, hurt, or (my personal favorite) offended. 

However, that doesn’t mean you should or have to stand for whatever he is doing that isn’t sitting right with you. Someone who knows enough to say you have a choice in what you feel should also know enough to choose actions that don’t cause discord. And if he does, than he should feel comfortable enough with a conversation addressing the issue. If he isn’t, than it doesn’t sound like any problems are actually going to be solved. 

Post # 19
13590 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Have you tried telling him outside of an argument of how that comment makes you feel?

To be honest (and this is rare and probably unpopular) – when I’m upset, I allow myself a time to be angry and ragey, or sad, or hurt, or whatever I need to feel for a certain period, and then I make myself get over it.  So in a sense, I “choose” it.  My close friends know that, and I will tell them “I will be angry until tomorrow, and then the argument is done.”  But I am also a huge control freak and try to control every freaking thing in my life, so, there’s that.

That being said – Darling Husband has never, ever tried to belittle my emotions or how I need to feel them in order to move on. If you feel your SO is, there needs to be a serious conversation. 

Post # 20
6435 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

Have you tried throwing his own logic back at him? Have you tried saying, “You told me X, Y and Z. I would love to interpret those things as positive, but there is simply no way that is possible”? In other words, have you used his own words against him and seen if he has taken any offense?

I don’t know your situation, and I don’t know what he has said or whether it is worthwhile being upset about. But I am betting that if you made him feel the same way you are, he might take notice.

Post # 21
12091 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

Six months in, you shouldn’t be “fighting” at all. This should be an early warning sign and would be a deal breaker for me. 

Post # 22
328 posts
Helper bee

This is what I would have answered: “I may choose to feel that way but I have the right to my feelings. I can feel however I want to. Right now, I feel that you are dismissive of my feelings, and you are unfairly placing the blame solely on me.” 


Post # 23
251 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2029

That sounds extremely manipulative about him.  You can’t choose how you feel.  What gonna happen if he cheats?  Is he gonna tell you that you are choosing to be hurt?  He doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything he does.

Post # 24
709 posts
Busy bee

I had an ex-boyfriend who used to say this, and he was a terrible communicator and we were never able to talk about and resolve issues in a constructive way. He was so dismissive of my feelings that I either learned to internalise and swallow them or he would just throw statements like this at me until broke down into tears.

That said, I don’t want to be guilty of projecting and assume that your boyfriend is like my ex. I think you need to look at your relationship holistically. If he doesn’t care and is invalidating your feelings, it will come out in other ways. How does he treat you? Is this relationship an equal partnership? Or is the power unbalanced in his favour? I’m confused because on the one hand you say you have been able to handle issues in a calm and adult way, and on the other hand, you seem to be saying that he is dismissing your feelings. I’d be curious to know what you guys are arguing about – I think that will give us some insight into your relationship dynamic.

All that said, however, I’d be concerned if you guys are bickering regularly 6 months into your relationship, or if he is regularly doing things to offend or upset you. As others have pointed out, this is the honeymoon phase of the relationship and if y’all are regularly having issues, you either are not that compatible or your relationship is not that good.

I agree with others that telling a person they are choosing to feel that way when they are upset is dismissive and seems to be designed to shut the conversation down. Or that was certainly the case with my ex. But we need more context here. 

Post # 25
688 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2018 - UK

I had an ex who used to say “I can’t be responsible for how you react to something I did”, usually right after he did something awful which really upset me. He was emotionally abusive for years, he even used that line whilst telling me he’d been cheating on me and was leaving me for her. 

Keep an eye on this behaviour bee, if it continues, I’m willing to bet it will escalate and you’ll be miserable, just like I was. Maybe have a sit down and talk to him about what it means to you when he says things like that. You’re early enough in the relationship that it might just be a communication issue, and if not you can get out before it gets too serious 

Post # 26
474 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2018 - City Hall

We don’t choose how we feel, we choose how we react to said feelings… there’s a difference. 

Feelings come to us, that’s the uncontrollable beauty of emotion, what we do with those emotions – that’s what we choose. 

Post # 27
328 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

He means: I am not responsible for anything I have done. 

It is not a great attitude. I have some sympathy sometimes – I see people wallowing in situations or putting unnecessary barriers in their way and then I can see why you might say someone was choosing to feel a certain way. Or if you are massively misinterpretting what he says or having a crazy reaction to it. Outside of that I’d say he is a arse. 

Post # 28
1931 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

Letitbee1 :  At around 6 months, you shouldn’t be having arguments. That’s the honeymoon stage.  You certainly shouldn’t be dealing with someone so dismissive of your feelings (which you don’t choose btw – duh biology), who has shown that he can’t take responsibility for his words and actions. Don’t get into a rut over 6 months, because it will lead to you in a rut at several years. There’s never a reason to settle for a partner. 

Post # 29
322 posts
Helper bee

So I’m responding here as someone who used to believe feelings were choices… But my husband opened up my heart to the reality of my feelings.

I believe some people grow up in emotionally suppressive households and never learn how to connect with their own feelings or how to share them. I’ve known my husband for 7.5 years and I’ve come a long way from my old thoughts of thinking feelings were choices.. but it’s still a journey for me. We’ve fought so much about this and it’s taken years to retrain my own brain and to feel ok opening up to him about what I’m feeling. When I thought feelings were choices I always imagined I was good and fine and wanted him to be good and fine.. but no long term relationship rests on good and fine. 

Post # 30
4910 posts
Honey bee

That shit would make me go nuclear.  What a dismissive jackass thing to say. 

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