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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone you were scared of?


A friend of mine is having a problem with her husband where she is afraid of him. Not that he would every physically harm her, it's just really aweful being on the receivng end of his wrath if she does something wrong. He's a good guy and I know he loves her but he can be really mean and cold. He has this way of making her feel hated if she disappoints him too much. I hate seeing her hurting and I don't know how to help her.

What I want above all is for her to be confident and to see them have a relationship where they can communicate better so she doesn't have to be afraid of him and he doesn't get so angry with her.

She's my best friend and a wonderful person but I don't know what I can say or do to help her. Any ideas? Have any of you been in a relationship where you were scared of the guy?
Aug 02, 2008 @ 06:13 pm

7 Replies



Sounds a lot like the couple need some real help. Like some sort of counseling. Cause I am not an expert in marriage counseling, I won't comment about her situation. But one thing I do know is that, if they don't get some real help, the relationship will just get worse and if it turns violent, it can have a tragic ending.
Aug 02, 2008 @ 06:40 pm
Feisty Redhead


My last relationship was with someone who was normally pretty laid back, but boy his temper! I was scared of saying or doing something wrong because when he was angry it was just too much for me. I always had to be so careful of what I said and did, because I knew one little slip would mean a HUGE fight, even if it was something silly or ultimately unimportant. Eventually his temper (among other things) led to the relationship ending; I was tired of feeling so restricted and afraid and not good enough. Even if he never physically hurts her though - there's a lot of mental and emotional abuse going on when one person is saying (or doing) things that make the other feel hated or not good enough etc. It may not be intentional, but it's there regardless.

In addition to my personal experience I've had a couple friends in similar relationships and it seems those relationships are usually doomed to end eventually. But it's also equally possible to save the relationship if steps are taken before things get too bad to improve the lines of communication and resolve any other problems that might exist. There's really no way to know - but I do agree with Hunter that perhaps some professional counseling could help a lot.
Aug 02, 2008 @ 07:36 pm


Been there, done that. Got out as soon as I could. It is physically and emotionally draining being on tiptoe all the time so as not to anger them. He made me feel I wasn't deserving, and when he got physical I ran. They can be very loving and wonderful, but if their partner is not strong enough to stand up to them and fight fire with fire then she will always be afraid. Couples counseling may help, but it sounds like he may need anger management classes on his own.

Your friend needs to be honest with him. He may not know that she is afraid, and may be appalled to learn this is how his behavior makes her feel, and that everyone else can see it. If she is afraid to confront him then perhaps a friend or family member can sit down with the couple.

I also know from experience that some people bring out the worst in others. I had a boyfriend that let me walk all over him, and as a result I was mean and hurtful to him, where I have never been like that with other boyfriends before (I am usually very nice and sweet!). He brought that out in me and it upset me and we had to end things. Behavior for both parties need to change, she needs to be stronger/more confident and he needs to be more sensitive and work through his anger issues.

Best of luck to you and your friend, it's hard to feel like a good friend in these situations...
Aug 05, 2008 @ 11:06 am

self-esteem issues?

In addition to the above advice, she should look at what is within herself that she allows him to treat her like this. She might have deeper self-worth issues that she need to deal with. It isn't love if it makes you feel like shit - love is an action.
Aug 23, 2008 @ 11:10 pm


I am currently in this situation (not married but 2 yrs into the
relationship and living together). I definitely tip toe around not to upset him when I try
to let me know how I'm feeling (as he is ,well both of us really, very
sensitive!) and shut down when he begins to raise his voice. It is
really draining to be in a relationship where you feel you cannot
freely and openly express your true feelings - only gets angrier when I tell him this is how I feel?!!! - who knows if these things are fixable.

Since they are married, counseling would probably be a great idea for
them. But be careful not to accidentally influence her to do anything
hasty... it should be her decision at the end of the day.
Nov 09, 2008 @ 09:32 pm

def' been there done that

When a 'nice guy' goes mean, its even more hurtful than when an obvious jerk is jerkish. When a nice guy goes mean it really plays with your head, you start thinking you deserve it, he's such a nice guy! everyone says he's nice so he must be nice... and tip toeing around someone because you don't want to get screamed at - yup i can totally understand that - what your friend is getting from her husband is called emotional abuse. Although physical abuse is devestating, in my opinion emotional abuse can be more so, because you have no proof of what you're going through. You can't even justify to yourself that you're the victim here, you're always second guessing yourself because there's no physical in your face evidence that he's being abusive. You really have to be strong to help yourself when you're in an emotional abusive relationship.

since they're married, they should get counselling. From my experience i don't recommend having someone else talk to him, because as you say he's a nice guy - i'm sure he's a "nice guy" to others too, and he knows it, so he be the nice guy to the outsider that talks to him, and there'll be all hell to pay when he's alone with your friend - because how dare she ruin his image, how dare she air dirty laundry. Even if she didn't ask you anything and you understood her situation on your own, he'll never see that.

Depending on the situation i would suggest she go away maybe to a friends house or parents house, and call him from there and tell him that she doesnt' appreciate his behaviour and she's giving him time to think through whether he "loves" her enough to change his abusive behaviour. she can tell him that she's taking time away for herself and giving him time to think about it. I've never been to a counsellor so no idea if they're really any good, but assuming they are, she should ask that they attend couples counselling to remedy the situation. If he gets angry at her, she doesn't have to face that anger, she can simply hang up the phone. If she's important enough to him he will rant and rave on his own for a bit and then realize that she means business and he'll come around.

i know how hard this can be so best of luck to your friend and lucky her to have a friend like you in this situation :)

Nov 19, 2008 @ 03:12 pm

Flip the Script

Some of its trained behavoir. If she left him the first time he got loud with her it would have taught him to tone it down. Instead she got scared when he yelled, he got his way and he learned that when "i scream and yell like a big old baby i get my way". If you allow a dog to pee on the rug guess what its going to do..

Once this pattern begins its often very hard to change it. Sometimes it never goes beyond the selfish childlike stage where they cry and complain and try to make you feel bad. But sometimes it gets worse in a hurry. Sounds like your friend is already in the scarey stages of it. If she starts standing up for herself now he will be confused when he yells and she doesnt cower and this can sometimes lead to confrontation and in severe cases even physical violence.

Its not that the guy is evil or wants to beat her its that he has been allowed to be a grouchy baby all this time and now all of a sudden you want to change things? And once that first mean, over the line word comes out of their mouth or god forbid they hit you.. things will never be the same.

My advice is for her to stand up for herself and be consistent and make a choice to be willing to leave vs. stay there and become someones abused cliche of a housewife. Its 2008..almost 2009 and there is no excuse for allowing yourself to be in that position. And dont you dare ever even think about bringing children into a home where someone is always angry and someone else is always scared.

The guy obviously has some issues and he has a choice of how he is going to deal with it. If he chooses to be a grouchy abusive monster then she needs to choose to leave him and let him do it alone.

Nov 21, 2008 @ 11:25 am

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