YOU ARE THE ADVICE COLUMNIST: I Constantly Guilt-Trip My Boyfriend

How do I become less passive aggressive and more constructive?
Publish date:
May 12, 2014
relationships, You Are The Advice Columnist, guilt

I've realized that I've been playing guilt trips on my boyfriend, and feel terrible about it. When I do this, it's over things he's done that have genuinely hurt me, but they are always fairly minor snafus (for example, if he double books our date with a work commitment) and it's usually AFTER he's already apologized for what he's done. He always owns up to his mistakes and tries to make them right, and deserves more credit for that than I give him. I think I need a more constructive way to express hurt or frustration when it comes up instead of directed it at him in a passive-aggressive way. Or, maybe I'm projecting another deeper issue of mine, like not feeling seen enough or insecurity - things that, at the end of the day, are not his fault in the slightest. I didn't even realize how much I'd been doing this until he pointed it out to me, and then when I looked back on our interactions of the past few weeks it became so very obvious how frequently I'd been emotionally "punishing" him for a snippy comment he'd already apologized for or for seeing his friends on a night I'd rather he be hanging out with me. On some level I'm very aware when I'm doing it, but on the other hand, it's become so habitual that I hardly think twice about my guilt-tripping behaviors until after the fact.

My father was a master of the guilt trip, so much so that once I realized his manipulative game about 17 years in, I practically cut him out of my life. I am so ashamed and sick to my stomach that I've resorted to his tactics. However, I know we are not our parents, and I can change this habit while I'm still young if I'm self-aware and have humility about doing some not-so-pretty emotional digging. I am mildly obsessed with self-help gurus and improvement advice, but whenever I search the web or go through my favorite books, all I come across is how to handle being the victim of a guilt trip. What I need to know is how to break the cycle when you're the one doing the guilt tripping. So, XOJaners, I turn to you. How do I stop this? How do I catch myself in the process? We have a very loving, thriving relationship, and so far this problem hasn't gotten so out of control that it's majorly threatened our happiness, but if I don't get a handle on this, it eventually will.

Do you have any advice for how to break the guilt-trip cycle? Let them know in the comments.

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