Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He Sprayed Me in the Face!”

I love to cook and have been doing it a lot more often now that I’ve moved in with my boyfriend (I cook and he agrees to do all the dishes). Recently, I was cooking dinner and he started eating candy, which irritates me to no end, and I said something about not doing that right before dinner and he got mad and sulked off to go shower while I finished dinner. As I walked into the bathroom he angrily sprayed me in the face with the shower head and said I was being really mean, before I had the chance to say anything. He then stormed off.

I started wondering about his need to express his anger in a physical way like that. I know it was a small thing to spray me in the face with water but it was the whole idea of it being a physical expression of anger that worried me. Is this something I should address? The whole thing honestly felt very childish but it made me wonder if this had been an actual argument if he would have felt the same need to do something to physically express himself. Or maybe he really is just being childish and knew no other way of expressing his anger than a petty act. I also don’t want to read into something that’s not there. Should I talk to him? Watch for other signs? — If You Have Something to Spray, Spray It Nicely

Yes, spraying you in the face with his shower head — especially in an angry way — was incredibly childish of your boyfriend. And while his act isn’t one I defend, I can understand where his frustration and anger stemmed from. You treated him like a child. You told him not to eat candy before dinner — something a mother would say to her eight-year-old son. No wonder he acted out like a little kid. You made him feel like one. And do you really think a few pieces of candy is going to ruin his appetite (which, I’m assuming is the reason you prefer him not to eat it before dinner)? I know grown men. I live with one. I can’t imagine my husband, for example, being unable to eat a meal simply because he had a few M&Ms before dinnertime.

But, back to your question: Yes, I’d suggest you look out for other signs that your boyfriend has an anger problem or that you have something to worry about in terms of him expressing his anger in a physical way. Spraying you in the face with water and then stomping off isn’t grounds for breaking up or moving out, but if you — someone who hopefully knows this guy really well — feel genuinely concerned, that’s definitely worth expressing to him. Let him know you were disturbed by his behavior, found it out of character, and hope in the future if he has an issue with you, he won’t resort to expressing his frustration in a physical way. I would hope he’d apologize to you, but you can grease the wheel of that apology by offering up your own for treating him like a kid.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

203 comments… add one
  • avatar

    SGMcG December 14, 2011, 8:04 am

    I was thinking something TOTALLY different (and totally dirty) when I read that headline.

    Although I agree with Wendy that your behavior towards him was overtly motherly, him spraying you on the face with water is not cool, especially when done in anger. It may be a simple spray now, but it’s potentially going down toward a slippery slope in having your head pinned while he’s spraying you with water. Some pet trainers hardly use the squirt gun method of disciplining their pets, only because it’s better to use positive reinforcement in housebreaking a dog or cat. Yet you are supposed to be his partner, not a pet, just as he is supposed to be your partner, not talked down upon like a child. To resort to such methods of communication is not establishing equal ground in the household.

    I don’t know how long you guys have been dating, but it sounds as if the two of you recently started living together. It takes some time for those routines to get established, but it sounds as if you guys are still adjusting. Talking to each other like partners in getting everything done together for the sake of the unit to function, not as if there are assigned tasks that are expected to be individually done, helps change the philosophy of two individual people living together into one of a couple trying to establish the beginnings of a relationship. Believe me, there is a difference between acting in tandem as two individuals and acting as one.

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      Anna December 14, 2011, 8:54 am

      I must have a dirty mind, I read the title and thought something else too. I was like “Wait, he’s supposed to ask before he does that!” LOL

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        LolaBeans December 14, 2011, 9:31 am

        i thought the same! bahaha.

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        honeybeenicki December 14, 2011, 9:39 am

        You guys are not alone in that.

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      • ScrambledMegss

        ScrambledMegs December 14, 2011, 9:49 am

        ditto

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        lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 9:50 am

        I’m in love with your name.

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      • ScrambledMegss

        ScrambledMegs December 14, 2011, 10:13 am

        thanks! I think it sums me up quite nicely 🙂

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        phoenix28 December 14, 2011, 11:02 am

        yep I thought that too :p

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      • avatar

        Christy December 14, 2011, 10:13 pm

        Is it wrong that I thought of pepper spray?

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  • avatar

    Tax Geek December 14, 2011, 8:11 am

    >he started eating candy, which irritates me to no end.

    There’s no excuse for spraying you in the face, but it sounds like you both could use some anger management counseling.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 9:50 am

      Eh, I haven’t read the other comments yet, but I don’t see this as an indication of potential future abuse. She treated him like a baby and he got annoyed and sprayed her with water. Big deal.
      While advice to watch out for abuse is great for every person in general, I don’t see this as a red flag at all. Maybe the fact that LW seems to think it is means there is more to the story, but I’m not going to read into it.

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        cporoski December 14, 2011, 11:30 am

        totally agree. I think she is completely overreacting.

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      • avatar

        Yammy December 14, 2011, 1:11 pm

        Yeah and why was she in the bathroom anyway? Did she follow him in to continue to nag him about eating candy before dinner? If that’s the case, immature though it may be, I would’ve sprayed her too!

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      • avatar

        honeybeenicki December 14, 2011, 1:26 pm

        It says “As I walked into the bathroom he angrily sprayed me in the face with the shower head and said I was being really mean, before I had the chance to say anything.” which makes me think that she was going in there to continue the conversation he had removed himself from. My husband and I have a hard and fast rule that if one of us walks away, the other needs to let them go at least for the time being because its a good way to remove yourself from the situation and calm down (we also have a rule not to leave the house in a vehicle during this time though – we can go for a walk, but the keys stay behind).

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        ape_escape December 15, 2011, 3:56 am

        these are examples of good rules! cheers.

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      2_J December 15, 2011, 9:50 am

      Sounds like an ex of mine, we broke up due to her (isn’t it us guys that normally get called on this?) control issues. If my girlfriend told me, and was actually mad about it, to not eat candy before dinner, and got that bothered by it, it would be done. I totally agree though it could be a peak into how he can lash out when angered, by him spraying you..both at fault!

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey December 14, 2011, 8:11 am

    I very much agree with Wendy on this. You treated him like a child…and then he acted like a child. The blame should be shared equally, here. I think what’s most important for you to look out for, other than him expressing anger through physical acts, is how you all communicate with each other.

    If you’re acting like his mother regularly – telling him not to eat candy, nagging, punishing, etc. – and he’s acting like a child regularly, then both of you need a serious facelift on your communication skills. If what you described wasn’t a one-time thing, which I’m inclined to think it’s not, then both of you need to seriously mature in the way you interact with each other.

    That said, there’s no quicker way to kill a romance than to develop a mother-child relationship with your boyfriend. If this continues in any sort of pattern, I don’t expect this relationship to last. You need to be partners and equal communicators, and one person can’t be the “authority figure.” Maybe you can overhaul the way you communicate and improve this. But know that this could also be a sign that you two aren’t right for each other – if this is how you resort to expressing yourselves with each other. THAT is what you should really be on the lookout for.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 9:52 am

      Great advice as usual RR. Hopefully this will be a chance for them to better their relationship because the whole mother-child thing they have going is just bad.

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    • avatar

      PFG-SCR December 14, 2011, 11:22 am

      I disagree that there is equal blame. As most women who have lived with a guy have experienced, the woman often does take on a somewhat maternal role at times. I agree that it’s important to not go too far in that direction, because both individuals will likely feel resentful of that. (There was even an article about this at the “other site” earlier this year.)

      I’m assuming that the delivery of the her message is what annoyed him, not the actual message itself. But, he should be able to tell her that in a mature way, just as she should be able to do.

      I thought this was all kind of silly, and if this is the worst of their relationship problems, I don’t think they’re as doomed as you’re predicting. They’ll actually probably be engaged within six months. [joke]

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      • avatar

        cporoski December 14, 2011, 11:33 am

        i agree. I definately take care of my husband and sometimes I have to remind him that I am not his mom. However, I think he was pissed about what she said. They have barely been living together and she is demanding what food he can eat? He is a grown up. If he wants to eat candy and drink soda all day, he can. It isn’t my choice but he can.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant December 14, 2011, 1:33 pm

        “As most women who have lived with a guy have experienced, the woman often does take on a somewhat maternal role at times.”

        Only if you want. Personally, I have no interest in mothering a guy. He either gets his shit together, or he doesn’t. I don’t take “care” of my boyfriend anymore than he takes care of me (which is to say, there is give and take on both ends).

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        Rachel December 14, 2011, 1:49 pm

        I’m with you. I have no interest in taking care of a boyfriend. I’ve done it before and it led to no good. My live-in boyfriend is an adult and he can take care of himself. Like you said, there is give and take. He nags me to do the dishes occasionally, just like I nag him occasionally that toilet paper goes on the roll.

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        ele4phant December 14, 2011, 2:09 pm

        Right, and I think there is a bit of difference between nagging for something that benefits you both (“Can you remember to pay the cable bill tomorrow?”), and nagging about something that isn’t really your business (ie personal choices like eating a snack before dinner, wearing that ugly t-shirt you hate).

        A little mutual nagging can be beneficial and keep you both on top of things (the nagging shouldn’t be one way), but just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you lose all your personal choices, or get to dominate your partner’s.

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    • avatar

      Sarah December 14, 2011, 12:03 pm

      Exactly! The mother-child relationship thing is such a bomb waiting to go off in a relationship. Its like, hey you treat your boyfriend like a child, why are you surprised that he’s acting like one?

      I would be crazy pissed off if my boyfriend sprayed me in the face with water, but not nearly as pissed off as I would be if a significant other told me not to eat candy before dinner! I mean, what the hell? I think the LW needs some counseling to get that naggy mom dynamic out of her system.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar December 14, 2011, 8:19 am

    I’d love to know how old the LW and her boyfriend are – though apparently old enough to live together. Lashing out in anger and frustration is never good and you need to have a conversation with him about how you do not want to communicate like that as a couple – which includes you snapping at him for eating some candy before dinner. If you think candy before dinner is a real problem then just wait. I can promise you that emasculating a grown man by treating him as an errant child will provide you enough real problems that you will be outright nostalgic for this fight.

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    • avatar

      6napkinburger December 14, 2011, 5:04 pm

      Um, I gotta disagree with this: “Lashing out in anger and frustration is never good.”

      First of all, if someone lashes out at me, I would hope its in frustration or anger. Because what are the other options? Disgust? Hatred? No one lashes out in indifference.

      Second, if we all lived on the planet of perfect relationships and people, of course everything would be discussed around the table with civil dialogue and concerned expressions. And that’s great for work and friends and acquantiences. But your significant other is your SIGNFIFICANT other. They’re there. A lot. Most of the time actually. And no one is at their best all of the time nor should they be. It’s just too much work.

      So I am of the opinion that lashing out in anger and frustration is ok. Sometimes its even good, because it gets the issue out in the open. Of course, there are times and places for this. The big things should have calm and collected debate. But the little things that drive you nuts or piss you off? I can’t tell someone they aren’t allowed to feel or express that.

      This means yelling sometimes, and screaming others, and slamming doors at other times, and spraying someone with the shower who followed you into the bathroom when you went to cool off. I think the goal should be: to never intentionally hurt the other person (through violence or through intentionally cruel words or actions, rather than “the truth hurts”), and never put the other in fear of their safety (either mental or physical.) And always apoligize if you were wrong

      But don’t express anger and frustration in the way people are programmed to express anger and frustration? I’m never going to sign up for that relationship.

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  • avatar

    TECH December 14, 2011, 8:54 am

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that him spraying you with a shower head is a sign he could be physically voilent. This was a childish act for sure, but doesn’t strike me as particularly violent. I remember an instance when my stepfather was incredibly frustrated with my mom when they were talking in the kitchen, and he poured oatmeal on the floor. It was bizarre and childish, kind of like the letter writer’s story, but not violent.
    I also wanted to address how people are saying the LW treated her boyfriend like a child. You know what, I can understand why it irritates her that he’s eating candy before she’s cooking him a nice meal. She probably could have said it in a different way, but if she’s taking the time to cook him a nice meal , it would be nice if he didn’t do that. I think it might be more like he’s not appreciating her or respecting her by eating candy when she goes to the trouble to cook every meal. She probably could have expressed her feelings in a different way, like, “Honey, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t eat candy before dinner since I’m going to the trouble to make you this nice meal.” And see what he says.
    It drives me bonkers when my guy just throws dirty clothes on the floor and not in the hamper. Maybe I’m “treating him like a child” by asking him to please put his clothes in the hamper. But if you live with someone there does need to be some mutual respect and communication when things bother you.

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    • avatar

      Allison December 14, 2011, 9:29 am

      I agree that it was probably rude for him to eat candy before dinner. But I’m not sure his candy-eating habits really fall into the category of things that need to be communicated. It would be one thing if he ate the candy and had no appetite for dinner, but presumably a few pieces of candy aren’t going to make him unable to eat his meal. In that case, I don’t see how it’s really her business. Honestly, him eating a large, heavy lunch probably would affect his appetite for dinner more so, but I think most people would think that it was unreasonable to dictate his lunch choices. I think it makes much more sense to address clothes not in the hamper because it directly affects the other person’s environment and work that they may have to do later on.

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    • avatar

      cporoski December 14, 2011, 11:44 am

      you are right about it being disrespectful for him to eat before dinner then not be hungry. but honestly, i feel like if it takes awhile for dinner to be prepared, you might need a snack in the meantime. I bet he took it like he was fat or lazy and that is why he was mad.

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  • avatar

    Anna December 14, 2011, 9:00 am

    I have to agree with Wendy on this one. How would you feel if it were the other way around and your boyfriend were telling you not to eat candy before dinner or to make sure you brush your teeth before bed or something? It would be kinda embarrassing and degrading, wouldn’t it? Two people in a relationship should be absolutely equal, neither one authoritative over the other. Treat your boyfriend like an equal and he will most likely refrain from future childish outbursts like this. I don’t think this means he’s violent, I think he felt emasculated by the way you treated him.

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  • avatar

    Maracuya December 14, 2011, 9:13 am

    I just assumed he *was* 8 years old from the way he sprayed you with the shower head and walked out. But you did definitely did pull some mom talk on him. I would have felt condescended to if my boyfriend did that to me. He’s a grown man, I’m sure he would’ve eaten dinner anyway.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl December 14, 2011, 9:25 am

    LW, that was definitely a “mom” move. If I was your BF I’d be pissed at you too. It takes a lot for a grown man to no longer be hungry (assuming hunger was the reason you told him not to eat the candy, not like a health reason or something), a few peices of candy is nothing to them. You treated him like a child, so he reacted like a child. Sit down and have a grown up conversation with your BF. Tell him you felt disrepected that he would eat right before your meal you prepared, which is why you in turn disrespected him. And appologize. Both of you were wrong.

    While I do agree Wendy might be over reacting slightly- every person in a relationship should watch out for violent or potentially violent behaviour.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie December 14, 2011, 9:27 am

    There’s plenty of fault for them to share about this incident. She came on like a mom scolding a child about eating candy which pisses me off when my wife does it. Then stormed in the shower Demanding resolution. Imagining all this, I’d have sprayed her myself.

    Obviously eating candy just before dinner isn’t a good idea but we don’t know if it was a handful or just a small bite. The worse outcome to that would be a spoiled appetite, but so what… None of this excuses his spraying her, that’s just immature and potentially harmful. This couple needs some couching about conflict resolution and grow up already.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom December 14, 2011, 10:02 am

      A couples researcher has hooked couples up to monitors and then had them argue. He has found that men will have a very rapid rise in blood pressure when they begin to argue while a woman’s blood pressure will usually remain at the usual stable rate. The men are having a fight or flight response and most men will stalk away rather than get into a physical confrontation. She needed to leave him alone when he stalked away rather than cornering him in the shower. He was in a position where he couldn’t just walk away. Spraying her was childish but stalking into the bathroom after him was also childish. There isn’t a more mature adult here.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl December 14, 2011, 10:50 am

        From my own experiance I can totally second where ever this research comes from. When the BF and I have a disagreement I can feel his frustration levels sky rocketing, over something as silly as taking out the trash. It takes a lot for me to get to the state he can reach in a short, silly arguement. Men and women have different arguement styles. (It sounds like my BF is a pyscho, he’s not.)

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      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 11:07 am

        Re: letting the guy walk away

        Does anyone have an opinion on this? My bf does this, and it drives me crazy, because I’m terrified (due to past relationship patterns of failure) that when he just walks away he won’t come back. So I tend to keep pushing and prodding and asking him what’s wrong and trying to get him to talk about it because I’m scared to let it go, but this makes me think maybe I’m just making it worse? How do you know when to let someone walk away and when not to? Note that this isn’t usually physical “walking away” (LDR), more of a “I don’t want to talk about it so I’m going to give you one word answers all night” walking away.

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 11:20 am

        From a guy that hates conflict…I typically shut down when confronted by a girl friend in a “hostile” manner (i.e. excitable words and talking – not violent).

        Stake your claims in a healthy/calm/communicative manner (the calmer the better)….give the guy time to think about it, process it, and decide how he wants to adjust, fix, or not fix the situation…the more excitable you are – the worse the shut down gets for guys that respond to it this way…the more you “nag” about it…the more resistant he is to what you are trying to talk about.

        You can’t always kiss and make up immediately – sometimes you just need to trust the relationship isn’t going to crumble over an argument and let it play out longer than you feel comfortable with…I had a past gf who refused to do that and fights just escalated and we did break up.

        Obviously filter this information to what applies to your personal situation – if anything at all.

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        silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 11:28 am

        Actually, that is very helpful, thank you! I think the issue is that when I do state my position/explain what I said (it’s usually a miscommunication issue, him reading WAY more into something I said than I intended, or taking something I meant as a joke seriously- this is why texting is evil :P) I want an answer RIGHT NOW. I will try to let him have more time to process in the future, without constantly barraging him for a response. I tend to explain…and then explain again…and now I’m thinking maybe this just drags out the problem longer than if I’d just explained once and taken his “ok” at face value rather than interpreting it as, “Well, ok, whatever, I don’t really believe you mean that but I don’t want to talk about it so I’m just going to say ok.”

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 11:38 am

        Yea – just don’t misconstrue a cold-shoulder for needing time to think….if he is just trying to punish you with silence, knowing it bothers you to drag it out, then that is fucked up.

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      • avatar

        savannah December 14, 2011, 12:49 pm

        I get soo frustrated when my boyfriend and I are fighting and he wants ‘time to think’ or he ‘doesn’t have anything to say’. I feel like ‘why do you need time to know how you feel about this? Why don’t you just know? how can you possibly not have any response to anything I’ve just said? Were you listening at all?’ Then I get annoyed because I feel like ‘time to think’= time to think of the right thing to say, not actually what he really thinks or feels about the issue at hand.
        I know that some people do need time to process but its really hard not to feel like this in the moment and after the fight actually.

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 12:55 pm

        It’s not just the “right thing to say” it’s how to express what you really feel in the right manner…and sometimes that’s really hard to do when you are feeling defensive or your blood pressure is going up in the heat of the moment.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom December 14, 2011, 11:22 am

        My thought is that when someone walks away they need time to be alone to calm down and so you should let them go and then talk to them when both of you are in a better state of mind. Letting them go doesn’t mean you won’t talk about it, it just means waiting until you are both able to talk about it.

        I’m trying to find the name of the author of the book but haven’t found it yet. He’s a famous researcher who can predict with over 90% accuracy whether a couple will divorce in the next few years. He does this by watching a couple argue for something like 15 to 20 minutes. I’ll be working with a psychologist this afternoon and I’ll see if she knows his name.

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        demoiselle December 14, 2011, 11:32 am

        This is probably the book/person you are thinking of: The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman:

        http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Principles-Making-Marriage-Work/dp/0609805797/?&tag=dearwecom-20&linkCode=wsw&

        My husband and I read it before getting married. It’s a good book, though the author does come across as rather smug. His perceptions of what makes a doomed relationship are excellent.

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        meaghan December 14, 2011, 11:23 am

        My husband is generally the proffer while I like to let it go for a while so I can calm down and think. In my experience having him keep talking about it and pushing the subject makes me angrier than the beginning arguement, and it all goes down. Ill. Granted, I do say that ill be fine in a bit but I need to calm down first so he knows this isn’t affecting our relationship. Id say for you that you need to be more secure in your relationship and give him his space, and later on nuetral and open ground (figuratively speaking) talk about it. That could make the world of a difference with how you two solve your disagreements. I know once he and I got each others rhythm it was a lot smoother.

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        Vathena December 14, 2011, 11:48 am

        Agreed that some people need to be left alone to process. When my husband is in a funk over something (usually work-related, sometimes some tactless comment that I’ve made), he turns inward and lives in his own head for awhile. This can result in a one-word-answers situation for a bit until the clouds clear and he is ready to let it go or have a conversation. I’ve learned to recognize the signs and I’ll just leave him be until it passes. Many people can’t articulate their frustrations in the moment. For us, it only happens a few times a year at most, thankfully! And I’ve also learned not to take it personally.

        Also, he will sometimes eat half a box of crackers while I’m/we’re making dinner. I just roll my eyes. He’s a grown man and he does still eat dinner with me. I think of it as an appetizer.

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        Morgan December 14, 2011, 12:08 pm

        I’m the walk-away-er in my relationship….depends why he’s doing it. For me, its when I know the fight has reached the “anything beyond this point is going to be just totally irrational” point. My boyfriend has apologized, and I’ve communicated what it was that made me upset. But then he wants to sit there and talk through it until I’m not upset anymore, whereas I’m like, look, upset is not a switch that magically goes off, just leave me alone until I calm down. Rather than say something dumb or have it grow into something bigger than it is, I’d rather just wait for the emotion to pass before trying to productively address anything.

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 12:30 pm

        bingo.

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        SpyGlassez December 16, 2011, 2:09 am

        This is me and my BF. When I get upset, I literally CAN’T TALK. I just close up. It drives him absolutely batshit, and he will follow me insisting that we need to “talk about things” which just makes me want to explode. We’re both getting better – we’ve been together 2 years – but I’ve had to learn that when we disagree, sometimes I have to listen because he just has to talk, and he’s had to learn that I won’t talk till I am ready, and pushing me to do so won’t make things better.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom December 14, 2011, 11:29 am

        I found the name of the researcher. He’s Dr. John Gottman who is now a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington. He’s written lots of books and I’m not sure which one this information was in but his books are excellent for helping relationships.

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        silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 11:34 am

        Thanks! I just added his newest to my wishlist 😉

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        M December 14, 2011, 4:04 pm

        The research you are referencing comes from the Seven principles of a Successful Marriage (or something like that). Apologies if this is addressed below, but the research on this point was REALLY interesting… and wasn’t just the walking away but the amount of time it took for the guy to have his heartrate return to normal versus women. They refer to it in the book as “flooding” which is basically when you reach a point where constructive discussion is impossible. I know I reach the point with my fiance and I just want to keep talking and talking but I’ve realized that stepping away and getting some space helps me think better in addition to reducing the emotional overload, and it definitely produces a better response from my fiance because he is never going to have the instant reactions that I seek – because he wants to think about it and not just react:)

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        WatersEdge December 14, 2011, 5:38 pm

        http://portlandrelationshipinstitute.com/Artcl__Emotional_Floodin.html

        This is the concept that people are referring to… Flooding, or overwhelming internal response to emotional conflict. Your boyfriend needed space, and when you confronted him again by following him, he reacted out of high stress levels. Give him space in the future. And stop treating him like a child.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom December 15, 2011, 10:58 am

        I just went to the link and read it. Definitely an interesting article and great information about it taking 20 minutes to get over emotional flooding. Thanks for posting!

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  • Budj

    Budj December 14, 2011, 9:28 am

    Sulking away in silence twice in one argument – one time after outwardly retaliating – is hilariously immature…that said…unless you are worried about him spitting up on you I don’t think you have much to worry about.

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    • avatar

      cporoski December 14, 2011, 11:48 am

      I totally disagree. When I feel like I can’t be civil anymore, I walk away. It is better to cool off then say something you regret. You can never unsay something. The fact that she keeps following him is bad. She needs to know the man that she is dealing with.

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 12:32 pm

        I do the same – see above. I was commenting on her worry of domestic violence…

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 12:33 pm

        And there is a difference between pouting and walking away – the lw gave the impression on pouting…so i catered my response that way. However, I recognize what she perceives as pouting may simply be what a lot of us seem to do in a conflict situation.

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  • avatar

    Kerrycontrary December 14, 2011, 9:30 am

    While I think that it’s always good to look for signs/warnings of physical aggression in a relationship (especially if you’re in the beginning of one), I don’t think you’re boyfriends behavior was actually violent. I’ve noticed that sometimes men forget that their girlfriends are well…women. They do and say things that are only appropriate with their buddies, but because they’re so close with their girlfriends they forget that we don’t always enjoy pranks/farting/gross pictures on the internet. If a guy was slightly annoyed with his best friend, and he sprayed him in the face with the shower head, you would think it was funny right? At least I would. Because guys do stuff like that all the time. I mean it’s not like your boyfriend pushed you or threw all your stuff down the stairs a la Ronnie of Jersey Shore. He did something to show you he was annoyed but it was in a playful way. Yes, I can see how it was annoying, I would not want to get all wet while cooking dinner either. But just tell your boyfriend you didn’t appreciate it and move on.

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 9:49 am

      I don’t know, one day you’re getting a faceful of water from a shower head and next think you know he’s sending lotion to you in a bucket at the bottom of a pit and telling you to put it on your skin and threatening you with a hose.

      For serious, though, I agree with you. This doesn’t shout “future woman batter-er” to me.

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      • avatar

        Sarah December 14, 2011, 12:07 pm

        Wait….Silence of the Lambs WASN’T a romantic comedy??

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      • rainbow

        rainbow December 14, 2011, 12:44 pm

        Oh my! then THAT’S why my friends were so freaked out when I told them about my boyfriend’s skin farm in the basement. I thought it was so charming but they went all “RUNFORYOURLIFE” like. Jesus, you can’t be quirky without someone calling the police this days.

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      • avatar

        Sarah December 14, 2011, 2:51 pm

        Right? They’re just jealous. How many men do THEY date that own their own house to have a human suit factory in, huh? Thought so. Bitches.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 2:22 pm

        I always saw it as a reimaging of Pygmalion and Galatea.

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    • avatar

      Morgan December 14, 2011, 12:11 pm

      “I am your girlfriend, not your brother.”

      Pretty much my standard line.

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  • avatar

    amber December 14, 2011, 9:33 am

    I didn’t realize it when my husband and I were dating but I had a tendency to nag about certain things (ok I did realize it to a certain extent, I might be a little type A and want things a certain way, I’m getting better though!), like when he leaves his laundry everywhere (i found two pairs of socks when i vacuumed the couch last weekend stuffed down the side). You do have to learn to communicate better and to learn to let some things go. I am more of a neat freak and he falls in to the potential slob category. But, we’ve learned to make it work. Him trying to be clean and helping more around the house and me learning to let things go that aren’t really important. I take a deep breath and remember that life is more important than a properly loaded dishwasher. Sometimes the first step like Wendy said is saying sorry I said what I did about the candy, I was so excited about the dinner I was cooking and didn’t want anything to spoil it. And learning to think before you speak/react in the future. And also like Wendy said I haven’t met many men who let a piece of candy or two ruin dinner.

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    • avatar

      Ktfran December 14, 2011, 9:40 am

      Awesome response Amber!

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    • avatar

      Rachel December 14, 2011, 1:54 pm

      Oh the socks. My boyfriend tends to keep quite the collection in and under the couch. Luckily he tends to do more of the vacuuming than I do, so it can fall on him to find them all.

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  • avatar

    Ktfran December 14, 2011, 9:37 am

    I echo what a lot of people are saying. Really LW, scolding him for eating candy before dinner? And really live-in boyfriend? Acting like a child by spraying water in someone’s face? You’re not his mom, so don’t act like one. He’s not a child, so he shouldn’t act like one.

    From this letter alone, I wouldn’t say your boyfriend is abusive. Check for other signs, but if him acting out agressively was a one-time occurance, I would say you’re ok. Do what others have said and you both need to work on your communication skills.

    A personal anecdote. I know, ugh, right? My mom always cooked our family a lovely dinner. My dad would get home from work and go directly to the sweet cabinet and grab a cookie or two. Yes, this annoyed my mom to no end. But my dad would alway eat his entire dinner and dessert! And he’s not overweight. Just on his feet all day. Anyway, it is what it is and my mom knew there was no use scolding him or being mad about it. Just a little quirk of his.

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  • avatar

    Fabelle December 14, 2011, 9:47 am

    I do understand where’s she’s coming from with the candy since my BF does that & depending on my mood, it will annoy me. But I’ll usually just joke around with him, not make a seriously scolding comment. Also, is your boyfriend hovering around the kitchen while you cook, unwrapping peice after peice of candy? Maybe he needs to just hang out elsewhere while you cook? I know I start getting snippy when my dude is in the kitchen peering into the pot of sauce I’m making, telling me where I spilled something, or whatever else (and while eating candy). So maybe you’re annoyed more at his presence and the candy thing is just extra?

    As for the water-spraying, that’s kind of unacceptable. But…how did you walk into the bathroom? Was it a big scene? Was he already in the shower? I guess I’m trying to picture if he pointed the nozzle at you with purposeful anger while you stood somewhere near the doorway, completely dry, or if you were pulling aside the shower curtain demanding he talk to you & then he got frustrated and turned the water on you.

    I agree with the others who suggested to see what comes of a mutual apology. I’m thinking it was just an instance where you each got frustrated with each other to the point of not expressing anger in the best way.

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    • avatar

      MsBorgia December 14, 2011, 9:48 am

      I agree. If all you’re getting mad about is him eating candy, then you need to find better things in life to focus your attention on.

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie December 14, 2011, 10:34 am

      Actually spraying her wasn’t a bad option given his mental state at the time. He was naked and cornered so walking away wasn’t possible and soaking wet and/or lathered isn’t the ideal state to be in for talking about it. She was pushing for dominance about the candy and a physical threat confronting him in the shower. I give the guy credits for defending himself without mayhem. If the situation was reversed she’d be calling 911 and getting a restraining order.

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      • avatar

        Fabelle December 14, 2011, 10:43 am

        Yeah, that’s why I presented the hypothetical of her pulling aside the curtain or whatever, getting in his face to talk while he was in the shower. If that was the case, I do get why he’d spray her.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow December 14, 2011, 11:11 am

        She said she just walked into the bathroom and he sprayed her before she even said anything. I pictured it more as her going in to let him know dinner was ready.

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      • avatar

        Renee December 14, 2011, 12:16 pm

        I would really take heart to what fast eddie wrote.

        I understand it wasn’t like you chased him into the bathroom, and we don’t know the tone of your being annoyed with him eating candy prior to dinner.

        I also agree with Wendy and other comment to re-evaluate any pass incidents that could compare to this on.

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    • avatar

      demoiselle December 14, 2011, 11:42 am

      I assumed from the phrasing of the letter that she walked into the bathroom to use the toilet, wash her hands or face, or some other innocuous thing and he went and sprayed her in the face.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary December 14, 2011, 2:56 pm

      haha I get more than a “snippy” when my boyfriend is bugging me in the kitchen. It’s been something I’ve had to work on, but seriously, he’ll like add salt to something when I’m not looking or totally mess up a meal I’ve been working on for an hour or more. It’s like someone trying to come in and tell you how to do your job when they’ve only worked in the office for 1 day.

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      • avatar

        LolaBeans December 14, 2011, 8:08 pm

        omg!!! My bf does this.. will turn up or down the heat on something when i’m cooking! Super annoying lol

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  • avatar

    Eden December 14, 2011, 9:49 am

    I don’t know what you guys think, but those two are really immature.

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  • avatar

    atraditionalist December 14, 2011, 9:53 am

    How long is your guys’ shower head? How did you get it all the way from the bathroom into the kitchen?

    This just seems like a childish fight between the two of you.

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    • avatar

      LTC039 December 14, 2011, 10:26 am

      She walked into the bathroom… That’d be a pretty epic shower head, though…

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      • avatar

        atraditionalist December 14, 2011, 10:38 am

        oh haha – I thought he went to the bathroom and literally dragged the shower head out just to spray her. I was gonna say he could have just used the sink spray head.

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      • avatar

        atraditionalist December 14, 2011, 10:40 am

        ALSO: LW who doesn’t snack before dinner? I even snack while I’m cooking dinner for myself. Don’t take it so personally that he was hungry

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      • avatar

        LTC039 December 14, 2011, 11:15 am

        Yeah… I think there’s some underlying issues with that. Maybe she’s controlling? I tell my boyfriend I don’t like his eating habits sometimes, but he does as he pleases. I don’t pitch a fit. However, I do tell him, whenever we move in together that’ll change cause I can actually cook for him more (he eats at fast food places 4-5 out 7 days of the week bc he never makes himself lunch)… He doesn’t seem to mind.

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    • landygirl

      Landygirl December 14, 2011, 2:50 pm

      Could have been a hand held shower head.

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  • avatar

    LTC039 December 14, 2011, 9:56 am

    Look, I’ve learned that with men, controlling them is NEVER going to work…EVER. No matter what… Him eating candy for dinner is not something that is going to affect you, it’s only going to affect him…If he eats too much & eats dinner, then HE’LL be the one with the stomach ache. Basically, choose your battles.
    I don’t agree with the whole spraying you with water. That was uncalled for & yes, a bit disturbing. You NEED to communicate this to your boyfriend. If you get nothing else from my comment, get that! Tell him while you understand his frustration, you DO NOT agree with the way he handled it & that it really disturbed you. Tell him if he is angry with you for whatever reason in the future, he needs to communicate to you what he is upset about. Even if he won’t tell you at that moment, & needs to cool off, he eventually does.
    My boyfriend’s way of expressing anger was to shut me out. He’d just stop talking to me & never tell me what bothered him. I’m the exact opposite, I need to talk about things when they go wrong. Well, after several heated arguements, & times of silence, I sat him down calmly & told him he could no longer keep quite when he was mad bc then I’d never know what is bothering him & couldn’t rectify the situation. I also had my own issues, due to anxiety disorder, where I’d completely overreact to a situation that, many times wasn’t necessary to, & begin screaming & accusing him etc…We’ve both been working on that ever since. Communication is prob. the #1 important aspect in a relationship. I can’t stress that enough…
    However, for future references, choose your battles…it’ll save you A LOT of headaches!

    P.S. I totally thought something dirty when I read the headline too ; )

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  • avatar

    Rei December 14, 2011, 10:04 am

    You definitely both are in the wrong here and both should apologize. I also don’t think your boyfriend is going to become abusive. But I think you should examine why it bothers you so much that your boyfriend (a grown man) chose to eat some candy. It doesn’t seem like he can’t have candy due to health reason or that it was a particularly large amount of candy. I mean, it doesn’t even affect you like dirty laundry on the floor or something. Do you get on to him for not doing everything exactly how you would? Please reflect on how you’ve acted and maybe you’ll understand why your boyfriend reacted in such a way.

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    • avatar

      Rei December 14, 2011, 10:15 am

      *health reasons

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom December 14, 2011, 10:15 am

    One thing that came to mind when I read this and that no one else has mentioned is that the LW seems to have a fragile ego to be that offended over a few pieces of candy. To be angry over candy you have to be feeling personally insulted and to be insulted over some candy says you have a fragile ego and are looking for insults where they probably don’t exist.

    My husband and one of my best friends both get irritable when they are hungry and both grab anything they can eat to stave off that irritability. Your boyfriend my just feel himself getting hungry and then grab something to eat just to keep a nice personality. The candy may be mood control. If your boyfriend is like this you can either ignore the candy, which you should do anyway, or keep some finger foods that he likes ready to snack on when he needs to eat. Even if you keep finger foods he likes on hand he will still probably go for the candy every so often just because it appeals to him more at that moment and that’s okay. It really has nothing to do with you or disrespect for you.

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    • avatar

      Fabelle December 14, 2011, 10:36 am

      Good call on the irritability thing– my bf is also like this! When he first told me, I thought he was just making up excuses for being snappish but it’s a real thing. It was just surprising for someone like me who doesn’t really snack, and was all like “Huh?” when my bf would buy king-size Reese’s or something on the ride home from the beach when he KNEW we were going out for dinner once we got home. For some people “almost dinnertime” means they’re legitimately starving & need something to hold them over, and for others it means “save your appetite for actual food.”

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      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 11:17 am

        I’m like your bf, and my bf is like you! He is a *total* “three meals a day” guy, and whenever I stay with him he doesn’t understand that I’m ALWAYS hungry. Then we’ll go eat out and because I’m starving I’ll stuff myself and have a stomachache all night, or if I don’t stuff myself be hungry again two hours later. It’s kind of hard to mesh those two kinds of eating habits sometimes.

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      • avatar

        slamy December 14, 2011, 2:41 pm

        I, too, get “hangry.”

        (anger/irritability caused by hunger)

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    • avatar

      LennyBee December 14, 2011, 10:49 am

      Good point. My boyfriend and I both need to snack when we’re hungry or we get irritable. Since oftentimes on weeknights dinner won’t be ready till 8:30 or 9:00pm, we usually set out some sort snack before we start cooking – olives, cheese, bread, or sometimes candy. Sometimes, you just need a snack, and it has nothing to do with how nice the dinner will be. Although maybe it does… the nicer it is, the longer it takes, and the more you need a snack first!

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  • avatar

    meg December 14, 2011, 10:22 am

    Just to go completely off topic for a moment, I would like to invite all the guys who come on here and bellyache that everyone on this site always “sides with” the women or screams MOA at every chance, to take note of this thread. No one is blindly shouting girl power here, so how ’bout dropping this irrational, insulting speculation in the future.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 8:18 pm

      Definitely a first. Finally!! 😉

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      • avatar

        meg December 14, 2011, 10:35 pm

        No. Not a first. The vast majority of people who comment on these threads are open-minded and rational. I would hope no self-respecting person would really waste so much of his time reading/commenting on a website if everyone else commenting was truly unfairly judging his entire gender. (I have personally come across a few male-oriented threads that constantly say things like, “Women are all cheating, lying bitches! They just want your money!”—I don’t waste my energy reading/commenting on these.) The fact is, 80% of the people who write in for advice on DW are women in dysfunctional relationships. The most reasonable advice to give them is often to MOA.

        But I can see both the appeal and convenience of crying “man-hater” in defense of any opinion you have that contradicts the majority.

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    • avatar

      the other guy December 14, 2011, 9:09 pm

      No but there are plenty that say both are at fault when its the LW who is 100% at fault!!

      The first thing I do when I get home is grab a handful of candy before dinner, long day, commute home, etc. I would be might annoyed if my wife complained about it.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 10:59 pm

        Exactly. Meg, see above.

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  • avatar

    Maracuya December 14, 2011, 10:26 am

    I was just thinking–usually when dinner’s not ready or it’s not quite lunch time at work, I munch on whatever I can to stop that hungry feeling. That’s probably what the LW’s boyfriend did.

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  • avatar

    John Rohan December 14, 2011, 10:27 am

    When I read the letter, I was expecting a bunch of “dump the jerk” responses, with several people claiming that it just spraying water now, but will become severe beatings later. I am pleasantly surprised that I was wrong.

    But in regard to the letter itself, I can understand the woman’s frustration. If she’s taking the time to cook for him, then why is he snacking beforehand? (particularly if he is overweight). But maybe she came across as too condescending. But holy cow, his response was totally stupid. They do need to find better ways to solve their problems or their relationship is completely doomed.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray December 14, 2011, 10:37 am

    Funny, over Thanksgiving my mom got mad at me for eating chips and salsa right before supper. She snatched the bag away from me. How rude! I’m 33! Fucking mothers! If this gives you any sort of validation, LW, I did not spray her with the shower head, but she also didn’t chase me into the bathroom. Wait, what was the question?

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 10:49 am

      Sounds like mom is due for a bucket of water dumped on her…

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 11:14 am

      My grandma actually *brought* chips and hot cheese dip to Thanksgiving 😉
      Now I’m hungry. 🙁 The holiday season is just *killing* my eating habits…

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      • avatar

        LTC039 December 14, 2011, 11:17 am

        Oh girl, you don’t even know…lol I just tell myself “It’s the holidays, calories don’t count.” I’ll resume normal eating in Jan.

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      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 11:29 am

        Yeah…my pants are uncomfortably tight right now 😛

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 11:56 am

        That’s what he said.

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      • avatar

        Splash December 14, 2011, 1:55 pm

        If you eat standing up, the calories all drop to your feet.

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    • JK

      JK December 14, 2011, 12:32 pm

      Here it´s customary (esp. on the weekends or when you have guests, etc) to have “picada” before the actual meal: cheeses, salami, leberwurst, chips, etc. So much so (at least amongst my family and friends) that when I go somewhere without picada it really feels weird.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 2:00 pm

        Can I move in with you? I don’t mind doing the dishes 😉

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      • JK

        JK December 14, 2011, 2:42 pm

        If you don´t mind relocating several thousands of miles away. 🙂
        I´m sure my daughter would be happy to have a live in friend. And I really don´t like doing the dishes. At least not 20 times a day.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray December 15, 2011, 6:59 am

        Can we both move in? I’m good with kids. I could be your nanny.

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  • avatar

    Napoleon1066 December 14, 2011, 10:37 am

    I read this, and now I want candy. I need some of those mini Snickers bars.

    As a man, when I smell food cooking, I get hungry every time. If I was hungry already, I have to have something right then and there. And I’m pretty sure I can eat it without spoiling my appetite even a little bit. I think if he’s old enough to live with you, he’s old enough to judge such matters. So I would lay off there.

    Also, why did you follow him into the bathroom? He shouldn’t have sprayed you… but why were you in there in the first place? Were you still arguing? There are some details missing here.

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray December 14, 2011, 10:42 am

      As an aside, don’t you hate it when they call the mini snickers bars “fun size”? What is so fun about a smaller-than-usual candy bar? Now I want a full-sized snickers bar. Something to dip in my coffee.

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 10:49 am

        HAHA – I wonder that too. FUN SIZE?! ARE YOU KIDDING? Bigger = fun size; smaller = kid’s size…..

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        Painted_lady December 14, 2011, 11:30 am

        Yeah, what’s so fun about having less of something so delicious?

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 10:57 am

      I don’t think it’s a guy thing. I love to cook, but I *have* to eat something while I cook. In fact, I usually snack so much while I’m cooking that by the time the food is done I don’t eat very much of it.

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      • avatar

        LolaBeans December 14, 2011, 8:15 pm

        same!!! I am alwaaaays snacking!

        I was making bruschetta the other night and every slice i didnt cut right i would dip in olive oil and basalmic… i think i ate almost half a baguette on my own. bahaha.

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  • avatar

    lk December 14, 2011, 10:51 am

    “I love to cook and have been doing it a lot more often now that I’ve moved in with my boyfriend (I cook and he agrees to do all the dishes). Recently, I was cooking dinner and he started eating candy, which irritates me to no end, and I said something about not doing that right before dinner and he got mad and sulked off to go shower while I finished dinner. As I walked into the bathroom…”

    ok…. by “I cook & he agrees to do all the dishes,” i heard: “I don’t trust him to cook & he has to do something to earn his meals” so you may want to consider if that’s what *he* thinks you mean too. i think it’s probably good to share the meal prep chores & also for you to pitch in with the clean-up.

    also, why did you walk into the bathroom after him ?

    if you walked in there, still trying to be like, “but babe, don’t be mad, you know necco wafers give you cavities & last time you ate those twix before dinner you barely touched your boiled rutabaga” i totally understand his emotions (if not his actions).

    i say apologize, apologize again, tell him his angry physicality concerned you a little, & then stop talking about it. next time you make dinner, maybe invite him to make the salad or cut the bread & help him clean up.

    no idea if that’s helpful… sorry if it’s not really what you’re saying o_0

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl December 14, 2011, 10:56 am

      “But babe, you know necco wafers give you cavities & last time you ate those twix before dinner you barely touched your boiled rutabaga.”

      I find this hilarious. 🙂

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    • Alena

      AlenaLynn December 14, 2011, 1:52 pm

      I agree with the second half of your post, but I can’t help but think you’re judging a little harshly on the “she cooks, he does dishes” thing. Pretty much any time my boyfriend and I have a home cooked meal, I do the cooking, he does the dishes, with small amounts of cross over. We’ve been discussing moving in together, and I asked if I can organize the kitchen when we do, and his response was, “Go right ahead. You can do all the cooking, too.” My response to that: “I’ll cook if you do the dishes.” He agreed that it was a deal before I could even finish talking. When I’ve explained the cooking situation to friends, I say that I cook and he does the dishes, for the sake of simplicity. Occasionally he chips in to help with prep work, and I usually end up cleaning a few things as I go, but it’s a little excessive to worry about explaining those tiny things.

      Some of us LOATH doing the dishes. Sometimes, we get lucky and end up with someone who doesn’t mind dishes but hates cooking. It’s mutually beneficial. I just think it’s a little harsh to say, ““I don’t trust him to cook & he has to do something to earn his meals” so you may want to consider if that’s what *he* thinks you mean too.”

      But, like I said, I definitely agree with your second point, and I loved the examples you gave. Hilarious.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow December 14, 2011, 10:57 am

    I actually understand the LW’s concern about the boyfriend being physically aggressive.

    And YES, I’m projecting. My abusive ex started out with small stuff – including spraying me with water when we were fighting. The last time (before the ex) I was sprayed with water was when I was a toddler throwing a tantrum and the doctor told my mom to do it. It’s a way to shut you up and humiliate you, AND it’s aggravating on top of disrespectful. It doesn’t physically harm you or hurt you, but it’s a way to control you, to a certain extent. And the LW is right: It’s a physical expression of anger.

    Given my past, *I* would be pretty disturbed by this incident. BUT you have to see it in a bigger context.

    Because this by itself doesn’t mean he’s abusive – BUT I do think it merits a conversation at the very least. Let him know your concerns, and pay attention to how he responds. Like others have said, if there’s nothing else he does or has done that’s questionable, and this was an isolated incident, then after you have that conversation and make it clear to him that you see it as unacceptable, then let it go and move on.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow December 14, 2011, 11:07 am

      Also, learn each other’s conflict styles. If you know that him walking away indicates that he needs some time to cool off, then let him do that. And if he interprets some of your actions/words as naggy or controlling, then make yourself more aware of how you come across to him and try to change it in the future.

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    • avatar

      cporoski December 14, 2011, 12:04 pm

      See. I was only in one physical altercation with one bf in high school and it didn’t start with something like that. It started with yelling and poking and verbal abuse. Then he layed me out. Trust me LW, the signs will be much more mean spirited and scary. I think it is clear that she hasn’t been close to that. I think this is the first time that she has freaked and someone stood up to her.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 12:26 pm

        Poking? I thought we weren’t supposed to take Facebook seriously guys? Which is it?
        (amiright)

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 12:27 pm

        Oh, just actually read your comment. Please disregard my inappropriate joke.

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      • avatar

        cporoski December 14, 2011, 3:09 pm

        nope, kind of a funny joke. I dig it 🙂

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    • avatar

      Painted_lady December 14, 2011, 12:52 pm

      Yeah, I agree. Even if he never does hit her, that doesn’t mean he can’t escalate to a verbally or emotionally abusive point. She needs to control her nagging, most definitely, and she also needs to remember she is an equal partner and not a parent. However, this kind of loss of temper and lashing out in the boyfriend is something he absolutely needs to get a handle on. My dad had “anger problems” when he and my mother first got married, and she let it go and decided to “pick and choose her battles” (her words) because, she thought, there were a lot worse things he could be doing. Fast forward to my high school years, and Mom was coming into our bedrooms on Sunday morning to tell us to stay out of his way and do everything he said, or the absolute most terrifying, coming in and saying that he needed to see everyone in the family room. These would inevitably culminate in my dad screaming insults at everyone, calling us names, and telling us how worthless we were. Now my mom apologizes over and over for not seeing the signs that had been there all along and that he had gaslighted her so badly she thought she was just being a hysterical woman when all her instincts were screaming “This is unacceptable.”
      It took the near-dissolution of my parents’ marriage for them to get into counseling and learn to disagree. If she had yanked his ass into anger management counseling in the first few years, a lot of hurt could have been prevented.

      LW, I think you’re in the best place to judge this. How does your boyfriend’s anger usually manifest? Is there a lot of yelling and screaming? Is there any contempt, usually? Has he ever broken something or called you names when he’s angry? Have you ever been intimidated by him?

      If not, I would still be on the watch. I think you two need to talk about how you fight – maybe a class or counseling. You are not his mother, and even if he has repeatedly lost his appetite before dinner because of snacking, you still don’t get to scold him. You can stop making dinner for him, but you do not have the right to tell him what to do. I assume a grown man knows whether he is hungry enough to eat candy AND dinner. I do it often, and I wouldn’t appreciate any equal partner talking to me as if they know better than me if I’m hungry.

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  • caitie_didnt

    caitie_didn't December 14, 2011, 11:08 am

    Really, LW? Eating candy before dinner is the biggest annoyance you have in your life? Consider yourself lucky!!

    But honestly, I think that this particular incident is just representative of an ongoing pattern where the LW nags, scolds, reprimands or otherwise treats her boyfriend like a miscreant child. Perhaps the BF just reached his breaking point over the candy and that’s why he reacted as he did? His reaction was childish and immature, but it sounds like these two are not a good match or need to just grow the eff up. I’m really curious to know how old they are.

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      LTC039 December 14, 2011, 11:22 am

      Yeah, as I mentioned above, I think she has control issues. Like she needs to be in control all the time & if she’s not she begins to nag & yell. I understand if he was doing something that was going to harm him & she was concerned about that, but it’s just candy. At worst he’ll get some diareaha & then he prob, won’t do it again.

      Sorry for the graphic sentence…lol

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 12:39 pm

        What? Who gets ill just from eating candy?

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 12:42 pm

        Never had diarrhea from too much candy….stomach pains….oh yea.

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        lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 12:45 pm

        Remember someone saying we need an open thread about pet peeves and weird quirks? Yes? Ok, good. One of mine is your red x of an avatar.
        Do I have issues? Why yes, yes I do.

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 1:57 pm

        haha – I tried to log in to gravatar and change it but it wouldn’t let me log in…oh well.

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        LTC039 December 14, 2011, 4:26 pm

        Well it’s not that big a deal, I’m just under the assumption that someone who overindulges in food eventually gets some sort of stomach ache & what not… I’m not saying he eats 3 m&m’s & gets diarrhea, just the way she made it sound was like he eats a whole bag to the face right before dinner… I WOULD get a stomach ache… Really not that big of an issue though…

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    demoiselle December 14, 2011, 11:26 am

    Get out now….

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    Calliopedork December 14, 2011, 12:10 pm

    I have a question both for my benefit and.the lw, how do you reverse the mother/child relationship after it has already begun? It seems to happen really easily when one partner is more type A and structured and the other is more type B

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      amber December 14, 2011, 12:30 pm

      time and effort. i am so type A it’s not even funny, my picture is probably in the dictionary and my husband is type B. in some ways I think that’s why we work so well, in others it’s why he can drive me UP the wall so easily. i had to learn to let go of things i mentioned above and ask myself questions like is my world going to come crumbling down if there are socks left in the living room floor or if he isn’t as ‘clean’ as i like to be. and the other person has to be willing to make some efforts too. i remember having this horrible day last year i was sick, i had something going on at work, i was pissed at a coworker, i couldn’t find the perfect shirt, etc etc and i came home and he had washed the dishes, done laundry and cooked. i’m pretty sure i cried. when he saw how happy it made me, he started doing those things more. obviously not doing everything all the time, but he makes an effort to do laundry every now and then, run the dishwasher for me, etc. and i have learned to relax, kind of, still learning 🙂

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  • landygirl

    Landygirl December 14, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I see that people are making a big deal out of the LW telling her bf not to eat candy before dinner but don’t seem to mind that he was physically agressive and extemely childish in his response. You wouldn’t put up with this if it was your child, why on earth would you allow an adult to behave this way? I would feel the same if it had been the other way around as well.

    Sorry, the LW’s actions did not deserve the response she got. If this is how he handles such a small matter what is going to happen when they have a larger confrontation? Will he throw an iron at her? There is never an excuse for physical altercations whatsoever. Both of these people are clearly immature and need to find a more effective way to communicate or they are doomed.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didn't December 14, 2011, 12:23 pm

      No, there is no excuse for allowing your anger to manifest physically like this, but I think you need to look at in the larger context, which none of us know enough about. I think Wendy’s advice regarding this is spot on- if it’s part of a larger pattern of kicking or punching walls, or throwing things, then yes…the LW should probably be concerned. But if this was the first time he’s ever done anything like this, I think it’s more likely that he’s just incredibly childish and lashed out at his bossy, nagging girlfriend.

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      • landygirl

        Landygirl December 14, 2011, 2:54 pm

        We don’t know that she nagged him, people are just assuming she did. Regardless, his response was inappropriate.

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      • caitie_didnt

        caitie_didn't December 14, 2011, 3:14 pm

        Well, for me, if someone told me, as a grown-ass adult “don’t eat that before dinner, you’ll spoil your appetite” or some variation of that, I would be really, incredibly pissed off. Because I’m an adult, and I can decide where and when I’d like to ingest calories to keep myself from getting hangry (that’s hungry + angry) and can stop myself before “spoiling my appetite”.

        What would have been rude is if the BF and pulled a frozen pizza out and stuck it in the oven because he “didn’t feel like eating” whatever the LW had prepared. Idly munching on candy while waiting for dinner to be ready? Not rude, and not your business.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow December 14, 2011, 3:55 pm

        I think his level of anger was disproportionate to the situation. And her nagging beforehand is not an excuse. In anger management, one of the things they say is, “No one can MAKE me angry.” You have to be in control of your own reactions. He can’t just hurl something at her and say “She made me do it.”

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 5:42 pm

        Well, then maybe SHE should not get angry about somebody eating fucking candy to begin with…

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow December 14, 2011, 5:50 pm

        I know. Because telling someone not to do something that irritates you is SO HORRIBLE.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow December 14, 2011, 5:56 pm

        Sorry. I see what you mean. I meant people should be able to control their reactions to the things that anger them.

        If the LW was seriously irritated by him eating candy, then her *telling* him that was within reason.

        THAT said, yes – HOW she said it does matter. And how OFTEN she says things like that to him matters as well. If she flew off the handle, then yeah, that was also unwarranted.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 6:08 pm

        Um, according you and your own logic here, she is choosing to be irritated. THAT was the point I was trying to make…

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      LTC039 December 14, 2011, 12:26 pm

      I can see your point, however, we don’t know how the LW really is with her bf. She may be the type that’s always nagging him to stop & really getting really angry over candy isn’t that big of a deal. Her bf DEFINITELY needs to apologize & I don’t think anyone here agreed with his reaction, we’re just saying that they BOTH need to evalute the situation, & yes, she DEF. needs to let him know that his behavior was not ok, & she won’t put up with it a second time…

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      demoiselle December 14, 2011, 1:35 pm

      Exactly.

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      cmarie December 14, 2011, 1:47 pm

      Landygirl, I totally agree with you. There is no circumstance where a physical expression of anger is appropriate. I don’t care how badly she was nagging him, there is no excuse. Spraying her in the face may not seem that bad but it is never okay to get physical, even if it’s just a squirt of water. Any person who was in an abusive relationship will tell you that it always starts off small before that spray of water turns into his fist. Also, I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable that she told him not to eat candy before dinner. Maternal yes, but not wrong. It’s incredibly rude and disrespectful to eat in front of the person who is finishing up making your dinner. If he’s such an adult then he can wait the 20 minutes for it to be done. I can understand snagging a piece of asparagus or a bite of the pasta she’s making but don’t sit there and munch candy while she’s putting in the effort to cook for you. And if he gets that angry at her for scolding him about candy, how is he going to react when they get into a fight about her spending habits or him staying out all night at a strip club. I do agree that she shouldn’t have followed him into the bathroom to talk (if that’s what she was doing but she also could have just needed to use the bathroom and he reacted childishly to seeing her). I also have to ask what counts as nagging? Did she actually “nag” him about eating candy or did she just say she didn’t like it when he ate before dinner and he got mad that she would dare mention it to him. If she was truly nagging him then I would say he has every right to be annoyed. However, if she just said once that didn’t appreciate him eating candy before dinner than his reaction seems a little excessive to me. My ex used to get so angry with me just for asking (not nagging) her to help me straighten up our apartment and lets just say that relationship did not end well. My advice would be to talk to him and tell him that you are sorry for nagging him (if you did) and that you’re sorry if you hurt his feeling or made him feel like a child, that wasn’t your intention. It’s also important to talk to him about how being sprayed in the face made you feel and the concerns it gives you. Pay attention to his reaction; does he get angry, does he apologize. Any sort of physical expression of anger should not just be dismissed as “heat of the moment”. He’s going to get annoyed and angry with you again and it’s important that you know he won’t react violently and it’s important the he know how his actions affected you and that you won’t put up with it if he can’t control his impulses. Last word of advice, while I understand how it would be annoying for him to eat when you’re making him dinner, sometimes you need to prioritize and pick your battles. Tell him once that it bothers you and then leave it alone. There will always be a bigger issue to tackle so don’t waste time and energy fighting over the petty ones.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 12:25 pm

    Wendy nailed this one to the wall. Treat somebody like a child, they act like a child. What are you? His girlfriend? Or his mother?

    PS — Fast Eddie brings up an interesting point… How did this even happen? Did you confront him in the shower? Or what?

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      lk December 14, 2011, 1:01 pm

      i’d get a little unhinged if someone – anyone – thought it was their business that i was eating some candy between getting home from work & having dinner. & if they followed me into the bathroom during my quiet cool-down time ??? i’d honestly freak out a little bit. & install a lock on the bathroom door.

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      • landygirl

        Landygirl December 14, 2011, 2:57 pm

        She didn’t follow him into the bathroom…”he got mad and sulked off to go shower while I finished dinner.” She may have gone in to tell him the dinner was ready.

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      Rachel December 14, 2011, 5:28 pm

      That’s what I’d like to know. Did he REALLY spray her RIGHT when she walked in without saying anything? Makes it sound like he was waiting to pounce with the shower head before she even walked through the door. Was the door open or closed? Did she knock or barge right in? Was she continuing the disagreement through the door or coming to tell him dinner was ready? I think we need more information.

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    Jubietta December 14, 2011, 12:59 pm

    What struck me is Initiation and Escalation. The boyfriend’s action of eating candy…an adult choosing to put calories in his mouth…created a conflict for the LW, it’s not the choice she wanted him to make. The LW’s choice to try to control the situation initiated a conflict between them, and then her choice to follow him into the bathroom escalated the conflict. When the boyfriend chose to escalate by spraying water it could have gone either way, the LW could have reacted in a million different ways, but it de-escalated the conflict.

    LW humiliated the boyfriend and he humiliated her back. He stood up and got her attention in a non-violent physical way. He got his point across without verbal or physical abuse and got what he needed.

    I think the real watchful position here is the escalation from both parties. If the LW is like me and has a zero-tolerance policy for physical abuse it would be in her best interest to learn not to escalate conflict unless it is a life-or-death situation requiring escalation.

    Conflict is natural when you have two different minds at work. Living together means understanding where your sphere of control ends and negotiations must begin. You, LW, have every right to decide what food goes in YOUR body, and must negotiate what food is purchased, stored, displayed, prepared and served in your home together. BUT, you have no right deciding what goes in his body…that’s his right AND his responsibility, so his decision and his control. If you disagree with his choice, that’s an internal conflict you must reolve for yourself and escalating to him is going to get you versions of what you saw. By all means, please talk about the issue with him, but make sure you OWN your problem…it’s yours, you must solve it with compassion and understanding and without putting it on anyone else.

    Good luck finding that groove that is living together happily and peacefully.

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      savannah December 14, 2011, 1:04 pm

      While I agree with the majority of commentators about the question of physical action taken by the BF this statement “it would be in her best interest to learn not to escalate conflict” is not really jiving with me. Just feels like tipping over into all the terrible advice and ‘coping skills’ women who are actually being abused get.

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    • rainbow

      rainbow December 14, 2011, 1:32 pm

      “Learn not to escalate so you don’t get abused” is no different from “Don’t dress like a slut so you don’t get raped”. People hit/rape you because they feel like it. It’s not something you did. Of course, you *could* stay really calm and soothing (and maybe offer a BJ), but it’s not your responsibility to do so. If being abused physically or not depends on your skills IN ANY WAY, then you’re in a very very bad relationship to begin with and you should get help.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow December 14, 2011, 1:34 pm

        *not different.

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        iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 2:11 pm

        Yes, thank you! Let’s not encourage victim-blaming.

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        Jubietta December 15, 2011, 1:46 am

        I did not say learn not to escalate so you don’t get abused, so the use of quotes is a false attribution to me, it’s something Rainbow, I think, inferred and then summarized. Understandable, but not my intent.

        Victim blaming? That requires a label which I find offensive an unproductive, one person’s opinion. In addition to being a label, calling someone a victim comes with an uninvestigated assumption that we as individuals have no effect on our lives and cannot contribute to the lives we want to have.

        If I have a choice, I am not a victim…that’s my belief because I choose it and because it works for me after suffering years of abuse.

        Before you jump on my comment I fully understand that awful things happen to people in ways that cannot be avoided. Sometimes we don’t have a choice…that’s why I start with *if*. There are things we absolutely cannot predict, presume, forecast or sometimes even imagine. In those cases we have no choice but to deal with the aftermath and find a new normal life in which some merely survive, some find a new normal and some seem to overcome and grow from. Being a victim sucks but doesn’t have to define someone forever.

        However some things come with red flags that provide opportunities for us to question what’s going on and what we can do to change things before anyone gets victimized. This LW is asking if we think her boyfriend’s behavior is a red flag. I have an opinion that a red flag that had not yet been commented on is escalating a small issue, as described in the letter, to the point where one party felt physical steps needed to be taken to stay safe. if you refer back to a recent guest article, there was a distinct piece of advice about how to stay safe with an abuser by making self-protective choices like not escalating if you’re worried about a bad reaction.

        My suggestion may not have been delivered in the best way, but I believe that the LW could look at the way her choices affected the situation…not caused, not drove, but contributed in some way. If her goal is to declare physical violence completely unacceptable, which is my assumption based on her letter, I believe she may be able to contribute to a violence-free life by recognizing that in this one case her choices led to escalation. Other choices could have de-escalated. Some choices might have escalated even more.

        I agree that it is wrong to put responsibility of any kind on the victim of any type of rape. Abuse is not acceptable to me either. What I’m saying is that being a victim who feels powerless to affect their situation in a way that’s in their favor also sucks, sucks, sucks. And I’m saying that knowing yourself and acknowledging the ways your choices effect your relationships can help to create the outcomes you want in cases where those red flags give early warning. In this case, if the LW recognized that following her boyfriend into the bathroom where he was showering escalated the issue, she might choose differently in cases where the stakes are less than life threatening.

        And by all means there are times when following someone to the bathroom is a good idea, because not doing it would be worse, but as described this situation didn’t feel that way to me.

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    Painted_lady December 14, 2011, 1:13 pm

    There was a study done maybe 20 years ago on couples’ arguing and what indicated the couple was about to go up in flames. They were all presented with some sort of critical thinking problem that required teamwork, and their attempt was filmed. I wish I remembered more about age ranges and time together, but the big thing I remember is there was something like a 95% chance the couple was going to split up within the next year if one of the parties displayed contempt for the other, as in, devaluing the partner as a person.

    Again, I wish I could remember more details, but it was presented in a social psych class in college and the methodology was pretty sound, I’ve just totally forgotten specifics. My point is, though, you are both displaying what is alarmingly close to contempt in these fights. I would back way off and get to some mediation or counseling or anger management or something quick, because you’re very close to making this relationship unsalvageable.

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      Jubietta December 15, 2011, 1:53 am

      I remember that one very predictive behavior was rolling of the eyes that was attributed in the study explanation as a manifestation of contempt. Ever since I saw that, I’m sensitive to the eye roll from anyone over 14 years old.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 1:13 pm

    Oh, Lord. This whole “is this abuse” angle is simply beyond tired. It’s way overplayed. I mean, you don’t see me questioning whether or not her nagging is some early warning sign of looming emotional abuse. Although, you know what? It is. It’s controlling and demeaning… Moreover, she engages in her “bad” behavior utterly unprovoked… I mean, hey, it’s not like he went in there to grab a piece of candy just to get under her skin… She on the other hand, scolded him, and as if that wasn’t enough proceeded to follow him into the shower to continue berating him about using too much shampoo or something equally important.

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      demoiselle December 14, 2011, 1:44 pm

      What in the letter indicated that she went into the bathroom to continue berating him? This is where my confusion comes in.

      I read the letter as her annoyingly scolding him about the candy, then after he left to take a shower, moving on, finishing dinner, etc. Then she goes in the bathroom (to wash her hands, to let him know dinner is ready) and he sprays her like a naughty puppy–a really mean and physical response to what sounded like an annoying, but not atypical gripe on her part. My husband and I worry over each other’s eating habits all the time–and indeed, my mother nagged me about my eating for years–but I’d never have responded by spraying her in the face with water before she even could announce why she’d shown up in the bathroom (to pee? to say I’m sorry?).

      If it was unprovoked escalation to physical retaliation/humiliation as I described above, I don’t think that the “this could be a warning of worse to come” is out of place. If something else happened–she was really going in there and gearing up to shout at him some more–then both of them had very immature responses, and his was scarier (if not as annoying) as her supposed nagging.

      Either way, this seems like a situation where one would want to keep an eye open for future issues, at the very least. To spray her like that is a violation of boundaries–obviously, more for some people than for others. I am sure the LW will read all these responses, see which ones fit her situation, and then act appropriately.

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        ele4phant December 14, 2011, 2:02 pm

        She doesn’t say exactly why she went into the bathroom, but given my experiences living with my BF, I’ve never “followed” him into the bathroom for any of your reasons – Washed my hands? There’s a sink in the kitchen. Let him know dinner is ready? He knows its coming and will be done soon. Pee, well maybe, but if my BF stalked off in anger I wouldn’t follow him until he’s ready to come back out.

        So my educated guess is her dander was up and she went in there after him.

        Anyways, yeah, he over-reacted big time but I bet she went in there to further confront him and he just lashed out inappropriately. Childish? Yes. Potentially dangerous? Without further context I can’t say definitively but if there are no other signs of abusive behavior this was probably an ill-thought out, immature reaction to being confronted when he’d made it clear he wanted alone time.

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      • landygirl

        Landygirl December 14, 2011, 2:59 pm

        Her exact words are “he got mad and sulked off to go shower while I finished dinner.” There is no indication that she went in there for any other reason than to tell him dinner was ready.

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        ele4phant December 14, 2011, 3:14 pm

        Look, nobody really knows why she went in there or how she approached him exactly without her explaining it more, but let’s speculate some more, its fun!

        If he sprayed her in the face, I would assume she was close to him, ie drawing the curtain back from the shower. If she had just poked her head into the room to say “Dinner’s ready”, she wouldn’t have been in a place to get sprayed directly in the face. Maybe its a tiny bathroom, but with my water pressure if someone tried to spray me while I was at the door it would just peter out, you couldn’t really aim it more than a foot or so.

        Whatever her intent was, she was getting into his space before he was ready. When somebody stalks away from me, I generally let them cool off and come back on their own terms. Who cares if their meal gets cold? If they are pissed off let them calm down until they feel ready to interact with me. Does her invading his space justify him acting like a baby and spraying her with water? No, not at all. It was very immature over reaction, at best. He definitely owes her an apology big time for his actions.

        However, I think they were both contributing to this situation.

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      • landygirl

        Landygirl December 14, 2011, 4:34 pm

        Hand held shower nozzles would make squirting someone in the face very easy.

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        demoiselle December 14, 2011, 4:14 pm

        My husband and I enter the bathroom all the time when the other is using it, as long as neither of us is on the toilet. There are lots of things that need to get done in a bathroom (flushing a bug you just squashed, for example) and if there is only one bathroom in an apartment, in you go… small spaces must be shared.

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        ele4phant December 14, 2011, 4:28 pm

        I guess my BF and I are different. We live in a small apartment with one bathroom, and while sharing the room at times is fine (we’ll brush our teeth together, for example), if the door is closed we take that to mean the other needs its exclusive use. No questions asked. If he were pissed off and in there, that’d go double, I’d leave him be until he was ready to come out.

        At the very least I’d knock. When you get limited privacy in such a small apartment anyways, I respect it on the few occasions he wants it.

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        demoiselle December 14, 2011, 8:39 pm

        yeah, well, if the door is closed, we don’t walk in on each other. but showering does not necessarily necessitate a closed door.

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        ele4phant December 14, 2011, 9:42 pm

        Well, yeah, showering doesn’t always necessitate a closed door, but sometimes you DO want to shower without someone coming in a banging around, hence a shut door.

        Plus, given the fact that he stormed off in anger, if it were me I would have left him alone or at the very least knocked before entering and assuming he was calmed down enough to discuss things rationally with me.

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      Painted_lady December 14, 2011, 2:04 pm

      You know, you’re right in one respect, that her bad behavior also has the potential to be abusive. I don’t think for a second either of their behaviors were abusive, but the way they handle conflict might indicate that one or both of them handles anger in a way that could indicate the potential or abuse. If she nags him in a way that is belittling or controlling, it’s a bad sign. I would love to know how a “normal” fight between them goes. If he has never threatened her or thrown things or the like, I would say let it go and just keep it in the back corner of her mind in case something similar happens again. If all she said was, “Hey, could you put down the Reese’s?” and was genuinely shocked and confused and was wondering why he ran off when she went looking for him in the bathroom, well, she still needs to start treating him like the adult he is.

      However, no abuser ever punches someone on the first date. My crazy ex didn’t call me a stupid whore our first night out. But when he told me on our first date that his ex-girlfriend had slept with half the campus after they broke up and now ran a pro-masturbation group, I should have thought, “Wait, something’s off.” I didn’t. I was young and he was sweet and charming and seemed so genuinely hurt that I thought, “Bitch be crazy.” It was only after he called me a whore that I realized the signs were there all along. And I am subsequently attuned to what constitutes “abusive nutjob” in an adult.

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      Rei December 14, 2011, 2:27 pm

      I agree with you here. It sounds like they both have around the same potential to be abusive. (Living with someone who controls everything you do IS a form of abuse. Trust me.) And the thing about the showerhead could be that for some reason he sprayed her unprovoked when she was just trying to get a towel, or she’s prone to following him in the shower to yell at him for the next two hours even when he made it clear he wants to be left alone.
      To me, she sounds way too controlling. It’s like if a guy were to berate his girlfriend for wearing a shirt that’s too “revealing.” It’s no one’s place to police someone like that. (Barring serious health problems or actually being a parent and child.)

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow December 14, 2011, 4:36 pm

      With the amount of information we’ve been given, we can’t determine if either of them could be characterized as “abusive”, or if we can call this an “abusive relationship.” Abuse, whether it’s psychological or physical or both, whether it’s perpetrated by a man or a woman, is very complicated. It’s a PATTERN of behavior, and it’s a cycle, rather than just one isolated incident (although one single incident of *physical* assault IS considered abuse). And the underlying issue is always power and control.

      In a certain context, YES, her controlling what he does or doesn’t eat and when he eats it CAN be a sign of abuse. And in a certain context, YES, him acting out the way he did – in her words, expressing his anger physically, CAN be a sign of abuse.

      We just don’t know with the information given.

      BUT the fact that she’s concerned and wondering if this is something she should watch out for? That’s common sense (unfortunately). Maybe she, or someone close to her, has already experienced abuse and they recognize this behavior as a potential warning sign. There’s something that feels “not right” to her enough that she wrote in for advice. You can’t berate her or say that concerns about abuse are “overplayed” when “◦One in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.” – that’s a statistic released today by the CDC. The early warning signs ARE usually subtle and easy to brush off, which is how abuse is perpetuated – by the time it becomes serious, the “victim” is attached, in love, and potentially isolated.

      And as an aside, it’s not JUST a women’s issue. Men are victims of intimate partner violence and/or sexual assault in alarmingly high numbers as well.

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    AKchic December 14, 2011, 1:13 pm

    *sigh*
    I see getting sprayed with water in anger as a warning sign. But, as you all know, my 1st marriage was terrible. My 1st husband did squirt my oldest boy with a water bottle for leaking urine out of his diaper, because he didn’t change him all day. Said if he was going to “piss on the floor like an animal, then he’s going to be treated like one”. You can imagine just how that went over.

    In any case, LW, your entire argument boils all down to respect. Do you respect your boyfriend and his judgement enough to allow him to make his own dietary decisions? Such as a handful of candy before dinner? You may not appreciate it, but he is an adult, not your child. When you have (if you have) children, you may dictate any rule of your choice and creation; but when it comes to adults – you don’t have that right, unless you are royalty or the sitting dictator (emphasis on DICK).
    Did he respect your henpecking, mothering, nagging and bitchy behavior in regards to his pre-dinner handful of candy? No, obviously he didn’t. So, he went to go cool off, and you interrupted him, so, he lashed out and decided to cool YOU off as well. Maybe he didn’t mean to get you in the face, but he did. You both need to apologize.

    Afterwards, you need to find out whether he thinks using water as a punishment is common. It can be a sign of future abuse. If not, then I think you just need to work on your communication. If he thinks there is nothing wrong with hosing down a woman who has “wronged” him, shamed him, etc – then cut your losses and leave. But work on your control issues as well.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 1:19 pm

      Um, that’s TOTALLY different… It’s also why I wish people were — gee, I dunno, maybe a litte bit more careful about who they fucking marry. ESPECIALLY if they already have kids… Unless, I am completely misreading this, it seems that the child in question was yours and not his….

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        savannah December 14, 2011, 1:24 pm

        So you want people to be a ‘little bit more careful about who they fucking marry’ and at the same time don’t want people questioning if their SO’s are emotionally or physically abusive ie. “This whole “is this abuse” angle is simply beyond tired. It’s way overplayed.you don’t see me questioning whether or not her nagging is some early warning sign of looming emotional abuse.” ? pray tell how does that work?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 1:26 pm

        What happened here in this letter clearly isn’t abuse. Dowsing and innocent child for something they can’t control is. I’m sorry, but I was thinking that more on here had the wisdom to tell the difference. Clearly, I was wrong.

        But actually, you missed my main point. And that was that the LW’s behavior was just as if not more so abusive than Mr. Shower…

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        savannah December 14, 2011, 1:36 pm

        In hindsight perhaps all cases are clear.I’m happy things are so clear for you but that’s just not how it works in real life. In hindsight no one would stay with their abuser, and they would get the help they need. Abuse is not some trend that comes and goes to be ‘overplayed’ and I don’t think that examining your personal relationships along the way for signs of it is an ‘angle is simply beyond tired’.

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        AKchic December 14, 2011, 1:26 pm

        Yes, mine. Not his. And I’ve explained my 1st marriage. To death it seems. A mistake that I learned from. That I was lucky enough to get out of when I did. Being young and stupid doesn’t absolve me of my mistakes.

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        lets_be_honest December 14, 2011, 1:32 pm

        I hope this gets a lot of likes.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 1:34 pm

        It’s a common mistake. So common, it almost makes me think people with kids simply shouldn’t get married (to somebody else) until their kids can actually defend themselves. A radical notion, I know. But hey, it’s in the news DAILY. Some poor, innocent little kid is beaten or even killed by their stepdad. Or as seems to be happening lately, their stepmom.

        But aside from that damn near everybody I know that ever had a step parent has a horror story about it. There are a few notable exceptions, my aunt was a great step parent. So great, that even after the marriage fizzled, the kids stayed in contact with her, and still do nearly thirty years later. Still, it frustrates me to no end. Day after day, the news is filled with people who don’t put their children first. I dunno. A friend of mine works in Child Protective Services, maybe I just hear too much…

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 1:56 pm

        I’d just say that you hear a lot more of the bad cases than good cases because “excellent step father does blah blah blah for step son/daughter/whatever” isn’t exactly headline worthy…and “step father sells step son to underground sex ring” is apparently what people want to read about…I avoid the news at all costs.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 2:02 pm

        Yeah, but that still doesn’t explain all the personal experience horror stories I hear from the wide range of people I know… I mean, other than my former cousins, I can’t think of anybody who has EVER had anything nice to say about their step parent. Moreover, some of the stories that they have told me have been simply shocking… Especially since the other parent, the REAL parent was simply “looking away…” Like my friend Jen who was always fed hotdogs while the REAL kids had steak. “I’m sorry, dearie, but steaks only come in packs of four…” A blatant lie, obviously. But even crazier is that (of course!) the dad would sit there dinner after dinner….saying…doing…nothing.

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      • Budj

        Budj December 14, 2011, 2:05 pm

        Yes – that is absolutely messed up. A lot of my cousins had split parents – I would say it was about 50/50 with good and bad. My parents policy was regardless of blood relation to treat our non-blood cousin’s the same as our blood relation cousin’s so I guess I just kind of hoped that’s how most people felt about the joining of families.

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        iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 2:17 pm

        For the record, my stepfather is wonderful and I love him very much. I despise my “real” father. And if he loves my younger brothers (his blood children) more than he loves me, I’ve never been able to tell.

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        AKchic December 14, 2011, 2:27 pm

        Perhaps you just happen to know a LOT of people with negative stories. I’ve seen both good and bad. I’ve had an okay stepfather (who died when I was 12) and a great stepfather (current). You ask my sister, and she would say that my current stepfather is an asshole because he doesn’t like my mother giving her money all the time. Doesn’t stop her, but doesn’t like it.

        My older boys complain to my 2nd ex all the time that they have to do chores. It’s unfair, they have to clean up and do “hard work” around the house. My ex flipped out, until I told him what the kids considered “hard work”. Matching socks, putting away dishes, taking out the garbage, cleaning their bedroom and making their beds. They were trying to play us off one another, so, they ended up on my friend’s goat farm for the day shoveling animal dung, doing REAL hard work. With my ex’s approval for lying.

        Again – some people are like you say. Some aren’t. But to punish all because of what some do isn’t the way to go about it.

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        AKchic December 14, 2011, 2:01 pm

        There are good and bad stepparents. Just as there are good and bad PARENTS. Just as there are good and bad choices. Everyone makes them. All we can do as individuals is learn from them. Playing armchair quarterback or lifecoach after the fact, without all of the facts doesn’t really help, especially when you try to throw one blanket over an entire group. No two people are alike, just like no two couples, no two families, and no two situations, are alike.
        This is why most of us learn from our experiences. We adapt, we change, we do things differently so we don’t repeat our own pasts, doomed to fail again.

        I do know what you mean when you reference CPS. I work with prisons, drug addicts, OCS (our version of CPS) and the court system every day. I have friends working in all of those places (my oldest son’s half-brother’s mother used to work for OCS until she burned out and left last year). Alaska has some of the highest rates of domestic violence, child abuse, child rape/incest/molestation, rape/sexual assault, etc in the country. Trust me, after my 1st marriage, I LEARNED that a full background check was a necessity before I allowed anyone to know where I lived, let alone meet my kids. And that’s just for friends.

        What I did at 16-19 and as a naive, uninformed new mother is much different than what I do now as a 28 year old mother of 4. I may have learned things the hard way, but I learned. That my kids are healthy, intelligent and well-adjusted says that I’m doing something right, in spite of my early failings, in spite of my own problems during my childhood. Some of us make it, and some of us DO learn and make a better life. Despite the horror stories.

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        cmarie December 14, 2011, 2:26 pm

        Bad guys are good at hiding who they really are. They’re good at taking advantage of people, their weaknesses and vulnerability. Of course there are horrible parents who choose to put a man/woman ahead of their child but just because someone gets into a bad relationship doesn’t mean they’re a bad parent or they’re not putting their children first. Parents are human too and they want someone to love them just like everyone else. Not everyone has a bad step-parent and even so called bad ones are usually just normal people trying to integrate into an already formed family unit. Some kids just don’t react well when they realize mommy and daddy aren’t getting back together. It’s really unfair to call someone a bad parent for not being able to see into the future and realize that his wonderful charming man will turn out to be a monster. Most parent I know realize that they have to be careful with who they bring home and would rather die themselves than let anyone hurt their child. I truly see your point that parents need to be more careful when dating but I don’t think telling parent they’re not allowed to date because they can’t put their children first is right.
        Also, stories are in the news because they’re rare and “interesting” events, and sensationalized. Of course you’re not going to hear about how little Johnny’s mom’s new boyfriend took him to the zoo and then out to ice cream and how they had such a great day, Johnny has decided that maybe the boyfriend isn’t so bad after all because that really isn’t newsworthy.

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        cmarie December 14, 2011, 2:33 pm

        *isn’t right*
        Duh, I iz spellin

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        callmehobo December 14, 2011, 2:38 pm

        BGM, I would like to remind you, that while we all enjoy your snark most of the times, Wendy has encouraged us to be kinder in our comments in regard to one another.

        I think that implying that one commenter is a poor parent is exactly the type of comment Wendy is trying to discourage.

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        AKchic December 14, 2011, 3:45 pm

        You mean, I was supposed to take offense and whine and complain and TATTLE to Wendy or the Internet Gods?

        Yeesh… I must be some sort of noob.

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        callmehobo December 14, 2011, 3:50 pm

        No, I just think thought that it was rude, that’s all. I thought it was out of line for him to imply that.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 15, 2011, 2:56 am

        I don’t take particularly kindly to people putting words in my mouth and trying to start unnecessary drama. I was merely stating (after hearing about a tale of child abuse by a new spouse, no less) that people should be very careful about whom they marry if they have children. A fact, AKchic seems to agree with.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 15, 2011, 2:03 pm

        Oh, look! Yet another story about what I was just railing about… This time the abuse happened mere DAYS after the wedding… Yeah, tell me this isn’t an epidemic.

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        SpyGlassez December 16, 2011, 2:31 am

        I read somewhere that the most dangerous person in the world for an infant or toddler is the mother’s new boyfriend. I don’t know that that carries automatically to stepparent (on either mom or dad’s side) but I would assume that some people are capable of anything.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 16, 2011, 2:51 am

        Yeah. I’ve read that, too. It’s sad. And really, it should give more people pause.

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    MKS13 December 14, 2011, 1:53 pm

    I think it’s impossible for commentators who don’t know the circumstances you or your boyfriend grew up in. As the only girl who grew up with little brothers and mostly boy cousins we would get into fights (including water fights) all the time. I distinctly remember my brother when my 9 year old brother sneaked the backyard hose through the entire house to spray me while I on the stairs in front of the doorway in retaliation to something I don’t remember.

    If you’re really concerned about his “physical expression of anger” then you should definitely talk to him about it before you begin overanalyzing his every behavior in an attempt to “watch for signs.” What may seem like a big deal for you may be something he’s already forgotten.

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    Rachel December 14, 2011, 5:35 pm

    LW, how did you and your boyfriend diffuse this argument? Did you just drop it and not talk about it or did you let him know that don’t appreciate being sprayed with water and apologize for scolding him? I think how you made up afterwards would give us some insight about this relationship. I think it’s important that you talk to him about what happened, not in an accusatory way, but to understand why he felt he had to react the way he did. So YES, talk to him. I don’t know what particular signs you need to be “looking” for, but talk to him before you try start imagining signs that may not be there.

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    LolaBeans December 14, 2011, 8:05 pm

    hmm.. i like eating sweets before dinner. or any time, really. it’s preferred.

    my bf will sometimes comment if i’m doing it before a meal he cooks, but it’s my choice in the end. and vice versa.

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    iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 10:37 pm

    I know it’s late in the day to be posting on this still, but I just reread this letter and I am really wondering about the reliability of our narrator.

    “As I walked into the bathroom he angrily sprayed me in the face with the shower head and said I was being really mean, before I had the chance to say anything. He then stormed off.”

    Setting aside the reason she went into the bathroom while he was taking a shower (I’m sorry for the potential tmi, but that’s not something my so and I worry about – I’ve had him call me in there to discuss a magazine article and vice versa) I’m just wondering: what was she doing while he was “storming off?” Cause it’s really hard to just storm off when the water is running, you’re wet, naked and probably a little cold, and there’s someone between you and the door who you’ve just sprayed in the face and is probably slightly pissed off. I don’t know, I just don’t feel she’s giving us the whole story.

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      SpyGlassez December 16, 2011, 2:32 am

      I thought there was a step missing there, too – was she getting INTO the shower or, as someone else said, pulling back the curtain to talk to him? WHAT was happening?

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    MsMisery December 15, 2011, 12:40 pm

    I just wanna say… I snack all the time after work and before dinner. Never ruins my appetite. So while the LW’s boyfriend is not excused in his childish temper tantrum, the LW also needs to loosen the reigns a little.

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