Have you ever felt annoyed, frustrated or resentful of women?
I’ve spoken to many women who regularly receive angry texts or online messages whilst dating. A common one is for the guy to send an abusive or rude message if he doesn’t receive a response:
- Him: Hi there.
- Her: (no reply)
- Him (2 days later): What’s the point in matching with me if you’re not going to talk? You’re not even that attractive.
The outburst above is just one expression of anger. But there are other ways it can manifest itself, for anger does not always involve foot-stomping and shouting.
What is anger?
Anger is a natural human feeling that everyone experiences often and that needs to be expressed to maintain psychological health. Anger is the feeling that says No to opposition, injury, or injustice. It is a signal something I value is in jeopardy. (How To Be An Adult, David Richo)
David Richo’s opening paragraph in the chapter titled Anger: Challenge To Adulthood II in his book How To Be An Adult (purchase from Amazon) captures the essence of anger. It’s okay to express anger, he says, and even encouraged.
Anger arises in us when our fight or flight mechanism is triggered by a real or imagined threat. Anger can arise legitimately even if it is based on something irrational. You feel it, and that therefore legitimises it.
Again, nothing here is bad.
But how you express your anger, and how you let it affect you does need to be addressed.
Expressions of anger
Anger can take a number of forms.
- Unexpressed anger. Resentment. The anger is held back and repressed, growing inside us. Normally due to fear of what will happen if shown (e.g. will our friends and relatives still love us?).
- Not expressed openly. Being passive aggressive. The angry is not expressed openly or admitted to oneself. It manifests as gossip, silence, tardiness, rejection, absence, or refusal to co-operate.
- Strong non-expressed anger. Hate. When anger is felt strongly but not expressed it results in hate.
- Expressed actively. Shown directly. Angry facial expressions, body language, increase in voice volume. Actively showing displeasure.
- Strongly expressed. Rage. Uncontrolled outbursts. Throwing objects and losing all control.
The first three and last are not adult ways of dealing with anger. Any time anger is hidden we are doing ourselves a disservice and not helping our psychological well-being.
Examples of unresolved anger towards women
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘I don’t have any anger issues about women!’ glance through the list below. Your ego may vehemently resist the idea that you harbour any such feelings, because admitting you do is admitting to yourself you are not perfect, and the ego doesn’t like that.
- You complain to your friends about how easy it is for women to pick up a guy at a bar (resentment)
- You gossip at work about a female colleague’s outfit you deem inappropriate (passive aggressive)
- You send hurtful messages to a women when she says she doesn’t want to see you again (rage)
- You cut all contact with a woman you’re dating because she does something you don’t like (passive aggressive)
- The woman you’re exclusively dating tells you she is going to meet a guy for drinks, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, but you say nothing (resentment)
- You post nasty comments on women’s Facebook photos (hate)
- You comment in agreement on internet forums or posts where men belittle women for acting a certain way (passive aggressive)
- The woman you are dating says you can’t go out with your friends and you do it anyway without any discussion, knowing she’ll find out (passive aggressive)
- You become annoyed when women tell you how many men they’ve slept with, and it’s higher than you’d like (resentment)
Again, let me repeat that actively expressed anger in a controlled way is HELPFUL, even if other people believe your anger to be unreasonable. It’s the withholding, non-expression of anger, that causes problems.
For example, you’ve been looking forward to a date all week, and the woman cancels 30 minutes before you are due to meet. If one of your values is being on time, and being conscious of other people’s’ time, this has been violated, causing anger to arise in your body. Even if your date or friends see no reason for you to be angry (‘Don’t worry about it, happens all the time’), you have every right to actively express this anger.
You may send them a message saying ‘I felt annoyed you cancelled at such short notice. I would have liked a bit more time to organise something else to do‘.
What is not adult is to let the anger manifest itself as resentment, hate, rage or passive aggressiveness. Don’t blame her for your anger. You are responsible for your feelings.
Don’t hate her for cancelling. Don’t send her a message saying ‘fine‘ and then ignore her for a few days. And don’t play the victim with a message such as ‘I can’t believe you cancelled on me at such short notice. How dare you!‘
True anger communicates how you are feeling to the other person but does not blame them for it or expect a response.
Expressing anger in the early stages of dating
In the example above a text message expresses anger to the woman who was late. However, I do NOT recommend expressing your anger to your date if you are in the very early stages of dating.
If a woman is late to your first date, it would be perfectly acceptable for you to tell her you are angry (if it makes you feel that way), but chances are she won’t want to go on a second date with you.
I understand this is contradictory. Above I’ve said it is important to express anger openly in a controlled way, and yet now I am saying don’t express it on the date.
The reason is because you don’t know the person well enough yet – she may have a genuine excuse or she may always be late. If it’s the former you don’t want to blow your chances by expressing your anger. And if it’s the latter you need a few more dates to tell.
Instead I would encourage you to understand why your anger is triggered by a seemingly insignificant behaviour (using the exercise below). Once you understand yourself, you can work to reduce the anger you feel, so it doesn’t happen in future similar situations. You’ll also be able to make a more enlightened decision about whether to continue seeing her.
Why do I act like this?
Why do we sometimes fail to express anger in a mature way? If it is better for us psychologically to express it openly, why do so many of us not do so?
Ultimately, it comes down to the belief that expressing anger to someone will drive them away (it might, but as adults we cope with that). As a child, unable to survive alone in the world without assistance, the fear of an open expression of anger leading to our parents abandoning us is important to our survival.
As adults we learned to stand on our own two feet. We are capable of surviving on our own. Therefore expressing anger is something to be embraced rather than shied away from.
Many of us are still stuck in the past, and our fears of abandonment and not being loved are so ingrained we are still unconsciously hesitant about expressing anger.
How to deal with anger issues
Although expressing anger when you feel it is acceptable, a healthy adult continually seeks to understand what is causing the anger to arise, and working on their psychological health in order to reduce or even eliminate it in particular situations.
Who wouldn’t want to never feel the surge of anger arise in themselves no matter how we were treated or what was said to us? Can you imagine how much better your dating and relationships would be if you had this skill?
That’s what the exercise below will do. Again, full credit to David Richo and his book How To Be An Adult (purchase from Amazon), where I found this exercise. If any of this article strongly resonates with you I highly recommend buying the book and reading it in full.
Step 1: Take responsibility for the anger
Understand anger is a feeling that arises in you when one or more beliefs you have about yourself are challenged. You are responsible for creating the anger, nobody else. Another person’s actions may APPEAR to make you angry, but in reality it is your own interpretation of the action that caused it.
Imagine two people stuck in a traffic jam in different cars. One may become enraged because the car isn’t moving and express his anger by honking the horn and yelling. The other doesn’t feel any anger and is able to sit calmly.
Why does anger arise for person A but not person B, despite them being in the same situation? Because person A’s interpretation of the event is different to person B’s.
Going back to David Richo’s opening remark on what anger is:
Anger is the feeling that says No to opposition, injury, or injustice
Person A feels aggrieved by the situation, resulting in anger. Person B does not.
Anger can be said to arise when:
- A. An Actions occurs (What happened)
- B. We filter and interpret that action through our own belief system (What I believe)
- C. A feeling arises based on the belief (What I feel)
Without step B there can be no step C. Therefore, to reduce anger whenever action A occurs you must work to uncover which of your beliefs was violated by it.
Step 2: Uncover your beliefs
I once attended a house party and got chatting to a girl. About an hour later I was making out with her in the hallway. This was the first time I had ever kissed a girl at a house party and I was elated.
We separated and went back to join the revellers.
A little while later I noticed the same girl kissing another guy in the garden.
I became upset, angry and left the party immediately, unable to process this or know what to do. I felt resentment (unexpressed anger) towards the girl I barely knew.
Using this scenario as an example, let’s work through it. I encourage you to do the same exercise with your own situation in order to help process and minimise the anger your feel in future situations.
- A. I saw her kissing another guy
- C. I felt angry
What beliefs did I have (B) that were being violated, opposed or threatened by her actions?
- I believed she was somehow now ‘mine’ or owed me something
- I expected her not to kiss anybody else that night, especially in front of me
- I believed the guy must have been better than me in some way
List out all the beliefs you held that caused you to become angry. Be honest with yourself. Even if you don’t think it is entirely related, if it comes to mind, write it down.
Come up with a single word that describes each of the beliefs you’ve noted. Mine are possession, expectation and self-worth.
Step 3: When have you experienced similar distress?
Think back to times in the past, including childhood, where you experienced issues related to your words.
- Possession: When did you become possessive or feel something important was taken away from you? Did you ever feel separated from your parents?
- Self-worth: When was your self-worth challenged? When did you not feel good enough? When were you put down?
- Expectation: When did you feel let down by your parents? When did you expect something but never given it? Were you weighed down by the expectation to perform or achieve by your parents?
Let questions arise in your own mind. They will be the correct ones for you.
Doing this exercise helps reveal which parts of you need work, and where there may be issues from your past that have not been dealt with. Once uncovered you can proceed to work through them.
Possession for example, is a belief that things or people rightly belong to you. I can now begin to integrate a more adult approach to this feeling by telling myself possessions and people come and go. People are free to act as they wish and although I can ask for them to be loyal or remain with me, I must accept their freedom to choose otherwise.
And I can’t expect anything from anyone if I haven’t discussed it with them, otherwise how do they know what I want? A more adult approach is to reach a mutual agreement on what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable to one another.
Now when I am faced with a similar situation in the future, because I have down-played or even eliminated those beliefs, the action simply cannot result in anger, for there is no path from A to C without B.
I strongly encourage you to take ten minutes to work through this exercise for yourself. Go back to the list of things which may cause you to become angry (whatever form that takes) towards women and choose one that resonates with you. Uncover the beliefs you hold which are causing the anger, and take steps to resolve or alter them to serve you in a more adult way.
Test your progress by re-imagining the action which used to result in anger, and assess whether you feel the anger as strongly.
A note on Anger vs Drama
Although expressions of anger are good, drama is not. The two are often mistaken for one another. Anger is brief. It flares and is naturally dissipated when expressed. Drama is caused when anger is unexpressed or held on to. Drama feeds on itself and does not dissipate.
True anger is about communicating to another person or yourself, and does not need a response. Drama is about proving that you are right and the other person is wrong. Anger accepts that the feelings are yours alone and you take responsibility for them. Drama demands a response or apology from the person who you feel caused your anger. Drama is controlling, aggressive and even violent. Anger is controlled and safe.
In a relationship you must accept anger from your partner. But you do not have to accept drama.
For a more expansive explanation of the difference between the two, pick up How To Be An Adult.
Anger towards women will harm your dating and relationship success. Although it is healthy to express anger in a controlled manner, it is unhealthy to keep it contained or allow it to explode.
It’s also important that you accept anger arises due to your own internal beliefs about how the world and people should treat you. If these beliefs have come about due to childhood trauma and have not been resolved, you can complete the exercise above to minimise the chances of you feeling anger in the future.
This article is based on the excellent advice offered in David Richo’s book ‘How To Be An Adult’, available from Amazon.