Relationships between romantic partners is one that has ups and downs. That is because there are two different individuals forming an alliance. When there is a lack of alliance, a lack of congruity in the relationship, it is uncomfortable. When one partner is mad at the other or if your boyfriend is mad at you, there are often layers associated with the emotion.
It is important to realize that affection, or love is one of those layers. In the absence of love or investment in a relationship, individuals are not generally moved to anger.
It is important to identify the source of anger when a loved one is angry with us or if your boyfriend is mad at you. We have to accurately determine if we are the source, or the target. There is a significant difference between being the reason for someone's anger, or the whipping post. If you are unclear about this, then there is a breakdown in communication. This itself could be the source of the anger, and in situations like this the source and the target may be, at least in the mind of the angry person, one and the same. Generally when one romantic partner is upset with the other it is because a need has not been meet. The hierarchy of needs in a relationship are not unlike Maslow's hierarchy of needs ("Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Learning Theories," n.d.) for the individual.
Safety needs are the basic needs of food, water, sleep, sex, and protection from the environment. When our safety needs are unmet we feel threatened, and frightened, and it places us in a state of fight or flight, when our basic needs are unmet, we digress to basic urges, or primal urges to get them met. As most of these are socially unacceptable, we act out in anger and even aggression.
A sense of belonging is important to all human beings, even those who lack the ability to express themselves. When we feel on the outside of our family, or the group to which we most closely identify, our sense of self is threatened. We may seek that sense from other sources such as social media, activity groups, gaming, work, or affairs.
When we have our basic safety and belonging needs met, when we feel safe and loved, this lends itself to a healthy self-esteem. We feel good about ourselves, our relationships flourish. When the basic needs are unmet, we experience ill health. We are vulnerable to eating disorders, sleeping disorders, and sexual dysfunction or sexual acting out. We may develop compulsions such as hoarding, or storing up for some catastrophic event, or overspending on unnecessary items. When our sense of self is threatened, we may lash out at others, for we depend upon them to build us up, and feel let down when they do not.
Self-actualization for individuals is like the Holy Grail. This is having attained that level when we are comfortable with who we are and our choices in life. We have achieved what it is we have set out to achieve, and we have accepted our losses by creating new gains. People who are in their 50s and 60s at the top of their fields are often seen as self-actualized. In relationships, this would be the couple that has been married for over 40 years, still holds hands, and is able to anticipate the needs of the other without words.
The Road to Couple Actualization
Actualization may be a level most never reach as a couple, because they have yet to achieve it as individuals. Maslow believed that if one of the rungs on the hierarchy had been compromised, then the entire course will be derailed (Neher, 1991). Others argue that resilient individuals can overcome compromised safety and belonging needs from early childhood and teen years, and even use them to further their journey onto actualization (Frame, 1996), and even the level left unpublished after his death, transcendence (Neher, 1991). They do this through realization and the decision to change their script and rewrite their narrative.
Relationships that have a rocky start, that have been derailed may also have an opportunity for actualization - to achieve the Golden Years of a relationship or marriage - if the two individuals are resilient and if they make a decision to persevere from a point of sudden realization and change their narrative.
It is okay to be angry. It is not okay to allow anger to go unresolved due to unmet needs. This compromises both our individual health and happiness, and that of our relationship. Sometimes we need help in these areas due to faulty thinking and self-sabotaging behaviors. Reaching out to one of the qualified, licensed therapists at BetterHelp.com can be the first step toward changing your narrative if your boyfriend is mad at you often, and even that of your relationship. With BetterHelp.com there is both individual as well as couple's therapy. Click here, start today, and reroute your road to Better.
Frame, D. (1996). Maslow's hierarchy of needs revisited. Interchange, 27(1), 13-22. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01807482
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Learning Theories. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2017, from https://www.learning-theories.com/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs.html
Neher, A. (1991). Maslow's Theory of Motivation: A Critique. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 31(3), 89-112. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167891313010