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My partner gets angry at every little thing and starts ignoring me, do they love me?

Original Question:

My partner gets angry at every little thing and starts ignoring me, do they love me?

For many people. love is seen as a contract. I give you what you want, you give me what I want. Ultimately this is not a very sustainable model for a happy relationship, because it’s full of expectations and rules. To make matters worse, most people don’t know themselves well enough to know what they want out of life. So they can’t even communicate what they would like from each other. His thinking stack probably goes like this… He deserves to be happy You, his partner, are meant to make sure he’s happy He’s NOT happy You must be doing something wrong What are you doing wrong? … and then he proceeds to start looking for all the things that trigger a negative emotional response in him, and blame you for them. What he’s not able to do yet is to stop and recognize that his unhappiness has nothing to do with you. You’ve simply been give the responsibility of his happiness, and you’re expected to succeed. Which, don’t fool yourself, is not possible, since the problem is within him. He may love you, deeply, in his mind. Want only you, feel entirely dependent on you. He may imagine that his entire life will be spent with you. But it sounds like what he’s expecting from his relationship - expecting from you, is entirely misguided. Loving relationships are not about creating happiness. Happiness will probably happen, but only as a side effect of the respect, connection, appreciation, trust, intimacy, protection, companionship, attention, and life-experience-sharing that the relationships creates. There will also be lots of unhappiness, even because of each other… but in a good relationship, that is a very small price to pay for the benefits. So what can you do? First, be straight up and honest with him. Be willing to lose him with your honesty, but try not to blindly hit the eject button, even though it may feel like it sometimes… “I care for you deeply, but I feel like I can never make you happy.” “I think you are expecting too much of me” “I am worried about our relationship, because you never seem happy with me.” And challenge him to look at other causes in his life, which are contributing to his unhappiness. “What’s one thing you’ve always dreamed about doing that you haven’t done yet?” “Are you happy in your career? What would you change if you could?” “Something seems to be bothering you, how are you feeling?” “How did your day go?” “Did you have anything really stressful today?” Those last two are especially helpful because they can help him reflect on his current emotions. If he’s honest with himself, he’ll probably see that he was stressed all day about all kinds of things. It’s just that coming home to you, he can let out the steam that’s been building up. It’s not at all healthy. But, often, it’s the only way he can see to feel better in that moment. Express real concern about wanting him to be happy, BUT, make it very clear that it is not within your abilities to deliver that happiness. You are his companion. You are his boxing coach, in the corner with him, icing his bruises and giving him cold water. You are not the boxer fighting him. Help him see that.