Saturday, April 1, 2023
HomeRelationship AdviceMy boyfriend hits himself and throws things when he’s upset

My boyfriend hits himself and throws things when he’s upset

For some context, me (F25) and my boyfriend (M24) have been dating for 10 months. He is a very good person and treats me extremely well. He always shows me and tells me how much he loves me, and we rarely have big fights.

However, if we do fight and it’s specifically about something he did wrong, he begins to spiral. We got into a fight a few days ago about him accidentally liking a girls photo. I was very calm in my approach and just wanted clarification on why he liked it. He said he genuinely has no memory of liking the photo. I believed him and felt the conversation could be over at that point. He then started spiraling and saying he “ruined the best thing that’s ever happened to him” and he then deleted his entire instagram account because he said he never would allow this to happen again. I kept saying he didn’t need to do that and I didn’t want him to feel controlled in that way where he’d have to delete his social media. He continued to freak out, insisting that I wouldn’t look at him the same and that he didn’t deserve me. I kept assuring him this wasn’t true. He also said he hates himself and doesn’t deserve any happiness. He then started kicking stuff around and threw his soda can across the driveway. I have a history with violence from my childhood so in these moments I tend to freeze up and just try to calm him down. But he wouldn’t calm down, we went on a drive and he started punching himself in the head (causing him to bruise himself) and started screaming at the top of his lungs. I wasn’t scared of him hurting me but seeing him hurt himself terrified me.

It took about an hour for me to calm him down, and get him to re-install his social media. He said he would try to never do this again because he knows my history with violence but I just can’t stand when he gets like this. He’s normally such a calm person. Any advice on how to handle these types of situations would be helpful.

(Mind you this was all because of a dumb instagram like!)

TLDR: Boyfriend hits himself when he’s upset. I don’t know what to do.

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  1. >we went on a drive and he started punching himself in the head (causing him to bruise himself) and started screaming at the top of his lungs. I wasn’t scared of him hurting me but seeing him hurt himself terrified me.

    …you weren’t scared of him punching himself in the head *while in a moving vehicle*? Were you driving?

  2. Honestly this is… not normal behavior. Perhaps it could be due to some underlying mental health issue? Therapy is the only solution if that is the case.

    Beyond that, my actual advice would be to run. 24 years old with no coping or emotional regulation skills is concerning at best. Additionally, in instances such as this, it is the classic case of redirecting comfort. What happens if he does something actually bad- cheats, for example -and then spins it around to where he’s hurting himself and having a breakdown to the point where YOU are now the one feeling responsible for his reaction. The initial grievance is overshadowed by his response and now you’re comforting him even though you are the one who initially felt wronged. Does that make sense?

    Now none of this is to say that it’s not excusable, because there is a good likelihood it stems from childhood abuse (such as parents blaming kids for tragedies or verbally reprimanding/shaming them for mistakes by calling them names or assigning moral value to minor failures). If it’s a trauma response then it’s not his fault… but it’s also not your responsibility to deal with it. You say you don’t fear him hurting you, but he’s already harming your mental health through his behavior. Repeated instances of this behavior may result in you no longer bringing up issues with him because you fear him going nuclear and punishing himself.

    Again, not normal. May not be necessarily his fault, but don’t feel like you have to put up with it. A professional should be the one giving him actual tools to cope with. Definitely get him checked out on the mental health end of things. If the issue persists I’d honestly leave before it worsens.

  3. He’s 24, its time for him to step up and accept he has an untreated mental health issue that he is letting effect other people in his life i.e you.

    The guy needs to take responsibility and go get therapy to help him learn to self regulate his feelings and manage his emotional outbursts.

    This is what I would tell him if I was you.

  4. A lot of these comments about mental health are spot on and good advice, and my insight into your scenario is going to sound a little harsher but you should give it just a little bit of a thought too. Are you sure he doesn’t have ill intent?

    I dated a guy like this once. We’d get into an argument and hed explode and escalate and throw things and hit himself and cry and yell. He did it so he could win. Because once the other person is crying and threatening themselves you have to take care of them – you’re not allowed to be mad at the guy hitting himself in the face or you’re the asshole so he always wins by escalating it further than you can deal with. He doesn’t have to change his behavior or explain or anything if he can just threaten to jump into traffic and you’ll come running to hold him and pet his hair and tell him he’s the goodest most specialest boy. It’s the same way people threaten suicide when you want to leave them – by hitting himself when you get upset he conditions you to avoid telling him you’re upset because you want to avoid an episode. He can use the guilt of self harm to make you stop criticizing him or questioning bad behavior.

    I would handle it the same way I handle it when one of the toddlers is throwing a fit – he can scream and throw stuff and cry and I’ll just sit there and wait for him to stop; and once he stops we’re going to go right back to the conversation we were having about his behavior. Don’t let them get out of it by becoming too much. Stop rewarding his behavior by cuddling him and giving him kisses and telling him it’s okay. Send him to his room. Tell him he doesn’t get to blow up and then get free cuddles all night. Tell him you’re not in the mood to be romantic after he throws a tantrum and still refuses to improve his behavior.

  5. >But he wouldn’t calm down, we went on a drive and he started punching himself in the head (causing him to bruise himself) and started screaming at the top of his lungs. I wasn’t scared of him hurting me but seeing him hurt himself terrified me.

    This is nuts. And you are nuts to think someone driving a 3000 pound death machine couldn’t hurt you or someone else, while punching himself in the head and screaming at the top of his lungs, while DRIVING.


  6. Holy shitballs OP. This is unhinged behaviour and not safe to be around. Regardless if 10mph or backroad, he should NOT be behind the wheel and you should not be tiptoeing around trying to calm him down. This is unstable behaviour at best, and manipulative/abusive at worst.

  7. You seem very focused on convincing us that he is not PHYSICALLY hurting you while making it clear that he is EMOTIONALLY hurting you.

    This is not healthy behaviour for YOU to be around. Sure, maybe he needs help or whatever, but it’s not safe for you to be around while he does.

  8. I think your barometer for acceptable behavior has been broken by past abuse. This is not safe or ok. He is using his instability to manipulate and terrorize you. He is making you both manage his emotions and be afraid of doing things in the future that will set him off again. This is not a healthy relationship.

  9. >good person and treats me extremely well.

    You are blind. You cannot put this an “throws things” when upset together. Come on! He blows up when you disagree about something, so he doesn’t treat you well.

    He treats you OK as long as you do whatever he wants. That’s not being a good person or treating you well.

    You could have died because you was reckless, punching himself, while driving.

    Are you even reading what you wrote? You should talk to friends and family because you are not processing what’s going on. It could be the shock or something.

  10. So what you’re saying is he isn’t able to regulate his emotions. Aka, he has adult tantrums. You said in your comments he isn’t diagnosed with anything (like autism) that would cause this behavior. So, it sounds like you’re dealing with a man child. I’m sure there’s a reason he’s like this, whether it’s the way he was raised, trauma, etc. but it’s not an excuse. Just a reason. It’s not your job to comfort and soothe him like you’re his mommy. Personally, I wouldn’t tolerate that behavior and would exit the relationship. During this particular tantrum, he hurt himself. Whose to say during his next tantrum he won’t break your belongings or hurt you?

  11. I’ve had these episodes as well when I felt I had zero control over the issue. Abusing yourself and throwing stuff. Over simple stuff as well.

    Apparently the autistic spectrum is in my family and I’m pretty sure I’m on it as well, among ADHD. These episodes could be meltdowns. In my case I often had the feeling I really did everything wrong and my emotions are heightened a lot. These episodes don’t take too long in my experience though, and I currently rarely have these anymore now I’m a little older. Is your boyfriend on the spectrum?

    I could be wrong, and it could be some narcissistic play as well or something totally different. I wouldn’t know.

    In any case I don’t think this is the behavior you’d want around, which apparently can get quite scary for the other person involved. I would advise to get professional help for your boyfriend if you still want to continue your relationship.

    I could be wrong though, hopefully you can sort it out. In the worst case scenario, you should choose for yourself.

  12. My best guess would be mania/BPD/bipolar/something on the spectrum. I have BPD, and sometimes when I’m in a bad spiral, have gone a bit off the rails like that. He needs help, as it’s something that can be quelled (therapy and meds).

    Edit: what works for me in these situations is the other person wrapping me up in a big bear-hug, stroking my hair, soothing voice telling me things will be okay, comforting things like that. He might push you away at first but if you’re gentle and kind he will let you hold him. Ask him to talk about coping mechanisms in case it happens again?

  13. He didn’t accidentally like anything… and when you called him out he threw a big tantrum to deflect. My toddler does this all day long. Knowing your history and how you react in such situations, he manipulated you. And he’ll do it again, and again, and again. And while you post about your poor boyfriend who hits himself, he’ll cheat on you, use you, and make you the bad guy. This relationship is toxic. GET OUT.

  14. Look. There is no easy way to say this. When a grown person (usually men) hit walls, slam doors, break plates or things in a way to deal with emotions, anger, sadness. This means that this person (usually men) have 0 clues on how to understand/deal/talk about how he feels and communicate his feelings.

    For him to hit you, or trow things at you, it’s a snap away. I know this, my ex GF did this to me. It’s never a bomb and you see yourself on the ground hurt. It’s a step at a time, it just escalate until he slaps you or worse. He treats you well today, but If to do so he makes you feel unsafe, trust me it’s not worth it. It’s not just a physical thing either, usually it comes with mental abuse, I was way bigger than my ex, when it happens you just stand there not knowing what to do, lost. Stay safe, I really hope I’m wrong about this but keep one eye open, in the end, it’s not worth being abused, even if you think it is today

    Edit: grown person Instead of men (but usually they are men)

  15. I think you came here to say this because you know that this behavior isn’t good to be around. If he responds this way to something so little, what will happen if you two have a conflicting opinion and need to find a compromise? It sounds very frightening. You experienced violence in your childhood, so you’ll be a little more desensitized to these things, but this is NOT normal behavior. I suggest sitting down with him and expressing how witnessing this made you feel, and ask him to attend therapy to work on it or you’ll have to reconsider the relationship. You deserve to be in a loving environment where a simple constructive conversation isn’t so scary. You shouldn’t have to comfort someone after you’ve brought up a boundary or question. He turned the entire situation into something where you had to feel bad and worried for him, and where he scared you and even knows that your violent past would have you frightened- Take this seriously, and remind yourself what you deserve. If this was a close friend going through the same thing, what would you want for them? I hope you sit down and think about this for a long time, maybe journal your thoughts to see it all on paper. Good luck.

  16. my ex did things like this, almost word to word. screamed inches from my face, threatened to kill himself, threw things, beat himself over the head. he escalated to throwing things at me and beating me. GET OUT. IT WILL GET WORSE.

    it left me with emotional trauma, a restraining order, and guilt that i didn’t see the signs. you have several people here warning you of the signs this man is emotionally abusive. DO NOT IGNORE THEM. GET OUT NOW.

  17. Omg get out. Please. He’s made it so dramatic that you’ll never question him again. It was a tantrum. It was incredibly violent and manipulating. You confront him and he ends up the victim. You end up consoleing him and he’s just completely gotten away with any accountability. This is abuse, end of story. Do not treat him like the victim. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s reacting exactly as a child who got told that they can’t have the lollipop and the second you play along and give in, it will just get worse. He WILL take you down with him! When he says “you deserve better”, Believe him! He’s warning you himself!! At the very least, he clearly is unstable and has anger management issues. It is absolutely irrelevant if he treats you well at other times. You’ll end up “holding” onto the good times like an addiction, this is deliberately, it is a classic af abuser tactic that’s so old and predictable it’s painful. You also have a history of being exposed to violence which makes you very vulnerable because it’s not so shocking.

  18. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    My ex was like this. I spent every day for two years telling myself that he would never hurt me, that he would get better if I stayed with him, that it was better for me to tolerate the behavior because he can’t help it and he needs me.

    And then, one day. He lost control and tried to kill me.

    Please, for your safety, protect yourself and do what’s best for both of you. Leave him.

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