Have you ever tried opening up to your boyfriend about something that’s bothering you or making you feel sad, only to have him get angry or get defensive in response? If so, you’re not alone. Trying to talk about your feelings with your partner can sometimes feel like navigating a minefield.
While it’s completely normal and healthy to want to confide in your boyfriend when you’re going through hard times, his anger when you do can leave you feeling confused, hurt, and unable to truly connect.
But there may be more going on under the surface than you realize. With understanding and good communication skills, it is possible to get to the root of why your boyfriend gets angry when you talk about your feelings and learn to have meaningful talks about emotions calmly.
In this article, I’ll explore some common reasons guys get mad when you express feelings, along with tips to improve these conversations. My goal is that after reading this, you’ll have hope for better communication and feel equipped with strategies to try next time you need to open up.
Reasons Your Boyfriend May Get Angry When You Share Your Feelings
When your boyfriend gets angry or defensive when you try to talk about your feelings, it can feel very personal. Here are some common reasons your boyfriend may get angry when you express your feelings.
1) He Feels Attacked
One common reason your boyfriend may get angry when you talk about your feelings is that he feels attacked or accused even if that’s not your intention.
Statements that start with “you” like “You never listen” or “You don’t seem to care about my problems” immediately put someone on the defensive. The automatic instinct is to protect oneself and strike back.
Even though you are simply trying to share your emotions, your boyfriend may interpret it as criticism or blame directed at him. This triggers a fight-or-flight response, making anger more likely.
It’s important to avoid using generalizations like “you always” or “you never” when expressing feelings, as those exaggerations can also contribute to feeling unfairly attacked.
Focusing on your own emotions using “I feel…” statements can help sidestep this knee-jerk defensiveness. For example, “I feel alone when you don’t ask about my day” comes across less critically than “You don’t care about my life.”
2) He’s Avoiding the Conversation
Some men are deeply uncomfortable with emotional talks or consider them pointless. When you start expressing feelings, it makes your boyfriend want to shut down the discussion entirely.
Getting angry or defensive is an easy way to abruptly end a conversation before it gets deeper. If he stonewalls you or changes the subject, that may be an indication he is intentionally blocking emotional intimacy.
Rather than try to force your boyfriend to open up when he’s not ready, set aside a scheduled time where you can warn him in advance you want to talk feelings. Make the time limit short, like 20-30 minutes.
Knowing when to expect an emotional talk ahead of time and keeping it brief can make it feel safer for someone who avoids that intimacy.
3) He Feels Overwhelmed
He may be going through personal struggles he hasn’t told you about. Or something you said may have triggered upsetting memories or insecurities for him.
If your boyfriend is already dealing with heavy emotions internally, bringing up more feelings could tip him over the edge. His anger could be his overwhelmed mind saying “I can’t handle more right now!”
Be careful not to dump all your emotions on him at once. Share feelings with friends or a counselor sometimes too.
Check in on how he’s doing overall before emotional talks. That gives him a chance to say if it’s not a good time.
4) He Lacks Emotional Intelligence
Some people are simply not skilled when it comes to identifying, understanding, and communicating emotions productively. This ability is known as emotional intelligence.
If your boyfriend did not grow up in a home where feelings were discussed openly, or if he has always been discouraged from expressing vulnerability, he may have low emotional intelligence.
Not being able to recognize and verbalize emotions makes it very difficult to have meaningful talks about them. When you try to discuss feelings, your boyfriend’s lack of emotional intelligence leaves him frustrated and at a loss for how to respond. Anger is the easiest fallback.
The good news is emotional intelligence can be improved through practice and education. There are great books and online resources providing communication tips tailored to people who struggle with identifying and talking about feelings.
5) Societal Expectations
One significant influence on how comfortable your boyfriend is with emotional expression is societal attitudes about masculinity.
Traditional gender norms dictate that men should be strong, stoic, and avoid vulnerability. Showing emotion and discussing feelings are often seen as feminine under these norms.
If your boyfriend has adopted or feels pressure to conform to these conventional masculine ideals, he may resist talking about emotions in order to appear more “manly.”
Of course, suppressing feelings is unhealthy, and these gender roles are ultimately harmful. However, unlearning the messaging boys receive from a young age about masculine norms takes time.
When your boyfriend gets angry at emotional talks, don’t shame or criticize him. Recognize this reaction likely stems from systemic expectations, not anything personal against you.
How to Have Productive Conversations
Even once you understand where your boyfriend’s anger is coming from, talking about feelings can still feel risky. Here are some tips to help the conversations go smoothly.
- Pick the Right Time: Don’t start an emotional talk when he’s busy or already in a bad mood. Wait for a relaxed moment when you both have time and energy.
- Use “I” Statements: Say “I feel hurt when…” rather than “You never listen.” Take ownership of your emotions using “I” to avoid blame.
- Listen Without Judgement: Let him share too without criticism. The goal is understanding each other’s experiences, not deciding who is right or wrong.
- Consider Counseling: If all else fails, a therapist can help give you tools to communicate calmly, safely, and effectively. Don’t be afraid to get professional help.
With effort and practice, you and your boyfriend can get more comfortable being vulnerable with each other.
Expressing your feelings to your boyfriend should bring you closer together, not drive you apart. But his anger when you open up can leave you feeling hurt, rejected, and unable to truly share yourself with someone you love.
While painful, try not to take his reactions personally. In many cases, there are understandable reasons why he may get upset when you need to talk about emotions.
With empathy for where your boyfriend is coming from, and employing better communication tactics on your end, you can cultivate a relationship where both of you feel safe being vulnerable. Don’t give up hope. In time, you can learn to discuss feelings without him getting mad when you try to share your feelings.