What Do You Do When Your Boyfriend Is Emotionally Volatile?

Don't allow his anger to make you respond in a similar fashion.
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An emotionally volatile boyfriend can make you feel like you have to walk on eggshells. Your involvement with him could be unhealthy for both of you, especially if you hope that you can somehow rescue him, according to Seth Meyers, Psy.D., clinical psychologist, in a “Psychology Today” article, “Loving Broken Men: Rescuing Mr. Potential.” With this in mind, set loving limits.

1 Understanding Him

Many emotionally volatile men have difficulty controlling their emotions, according to Vincent Berger, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, on his website PsychologistAnywhereAnytime.com. He could suffer from borderline personality disorder characteristics, such as mood swings, quick attachment and detachment, a distorted self image, fear of abandonment or a desire to control others through anger or threats to harm himself. He can also be kind, engaging, personable and witty, but when the switch flips, you might find yourself at a loss for what to do. Therapy can help, according to Berger, but he has to want to change.

2 Require Adult Behavior

Your emotionally volatile boyfriend may throw temper tantrums like a young child, according to Meyers in a “Psychology Today” article, “Loving Men With Bad Tempers: Why They Get Away With It and How to Stop Them.” He likely uses tantrums to control those around him. Require that he behave like an adult if he is going to spend time with you, Meyers advises. Discuss how the tantrums affect you and why you find them objectionable. Discuss other options for venting his emotions when he becomes upset. If he can’t control his temper, have him leave until he regains control.

3 Self-Care

Spending time with a guy who can switch moods in an instant, going from sweet to angry or stable to needy, can make you worry about him or feel the need to fix him. Committing yourself to him can create a destructive situation if you decide that you can change him to make him better. If you see yourself as his savior, it’s time to realize that he isn’t likely to change unless he wants to. Many emotionally volatile men are emotionally unavailable, Meyers says, so it’s better be realistic. You might find that breaking up is safer and healthier than is staying with him.

4 Seek Help

If his temper frightens you, or he threatens to hurt himself, insist that he get help if he wants the relationship to continue. You might also need help if you can’t figure out why you allow him to control or scare you. If your male partners have followed that pattern, a therapist can help you find out why you are attracted to volatile men and what you need to do to choose healthier relationships.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.