Ask The SEXpert: Moving through Paralyzing Upset


As a relationship-focused coach myself, I have my own opinions on what I’m dealing with, but I’d like to get your opinion.

My girlfriend and I get along fantastically. We rarely fight, and when we do we look at it as a chance to figure out how to be better partners. However, sometimes she’ll say something to me that really sets me off. I get angry and hurt and I feel like I lose control of my choices. For better or worse, this loss of control translates in me wanting to shut down and take some space until I feel back to something closer to equilibrium, but that often leaves my girlfriend feeling bummed.

My ideal would be to be able to move through that paralyzing upset more quickly so I can appropriately ask for what I need and apologize for my mistakes faster, so I don’t have to leave my girlfriend feeling hurt for a much longer period of time than necessary. I always get there eventually–usually a couple hours–but I’m so annoyed that in the midst of the anger these thoughts run through my head and won’t leave my mouth. It’s truly bizarre. Any thoughts?


Thanks for writing in especially because this is an issue that is pretty near and dear to my heart.

What I hear is the fear of upsetting her is actually causing the exact thing you don’t want. And this fear of upsetting her is actually your fear of being upset. You not wanting to be ‘upset’ or showing her your upset is what I feel to be the actual ‘problem’.

The reason it takes you a while, to get “closer to equilibrium”, is because you are fighting the fact that you are angry or upset.

Make sense? You are afraid of your anger and what you will potentially say or do as a result of it. Most of the time what we envision in our heads as to what ‘could happen’ is way worse than what actually would happen.

Not sure if you were asking for this as well but I have some thoughts as to what you could do to work through that. One of them being as simple as literally saying “I’m feeling really freaking pissed off right now.” And let yourself be angry in the moment.

Maybe she will get curious and want to know why. Maybe she will suggest you having some space. Whatever happens after that is not as important. What I hear you wanting is for her not to be upset.

You including her on how you are feeling and giving her an opportunity to be a part of the process or solution is what will make the difference. Maybe she can help you get to the bottom of why you were triggered?

Essentially you being vulnerable as to how you are really feeling and allowing her to witness that is you two working it out together. Allow her to be there for you as well.

Hope this helps. 😉

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