I’m having a bit of a dilemma regarding boundaries.
A couple days ago, my boyfriend and I got into a argument.
Just to briefly describe the context, I had to wear his flip-flops to let the dog out because mine had broken. When I came back in I had put them near the door. Later that day, our roomba pushed his flip flips far under a side table so that they couldn’t be seen. So, when he was looking for his flip flops, he couldn’t find them. I started looking too because I was the last person to use them. I felt like a crazy person because I couldn’t find them anywhere, and he was getting madder by the second – blaming me for misplacing them. When I finally did find them, I got really upset at him for getting so mad at me over something so stupid. I could tell he was angry. He wasn’t answering or even facing me, he was just folding clothes. Then he finally turned around and said, “well maybe if you didn’t have the brain of a goldfish, this wouldn’t have happened.”
I was dumbfounded that he would say something so insulting to me, especially when I felt like the roomba was mostly to blame. I really had an amazing 1 on 1 session talking about this, but I didn’t bring up boundaries and I’m still struggling with it. I always assumed that if I found myself in a relationship where my SO talked to me in an abusive/insulting way, that I would do myself the favor of leaving. But I’m still here….
I did tell him immediately after he made the insulting comment that, “you’re single, I’m done”, but he told me later that he didn’t believe me. He just ended up going to bed after the fight, with no apology, until I woke him up and wrenched one out of him. And long story short, we did not end off breaking up…
I am filled with soooo many negative emotions towards him over this. I’m trying to work through them, and I’m doing a pretty good job of not acting out out them. I’m trying to be very cordial and even sweet and not cause further problems while I figure out my emotions. But I’m thinking thoughts like “I HATE him” and “he should be working his ASS off to make up for that”. And at the same time, I’m filled with shame and I’m losing trust in myself because I feel like I am technically tolerating verbal abuse by staying in this relationship — based off of one comment, to be fair, but it’s always been a base assumption within me that I wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior directed at me.
It’s been bothering me. I know he feels bad for saying it. He did say sorry multiple time. He said he wished he could take it back. He said he’s been working on his anger and he slipped up. He also said he “hates himself” – presumably for saying it, but probably in general too, knowing him.
But he also said, “you can’t take criticism”, didn’t feel the need to apologize until I made him, and didn’t even believe me when I broke up with him, even though I was quite serious when I said it.
I’m worried that if I brought it up again, he’d be impatient and upset with me that I’m still thinking about it, that it would turn his mood for the worse for a long while, and that it would contribute to his self-loathing… I’m scared to bring it up almost.
Basically what I’m trying to figure out is, should I set a boundary?
I want to, but I’m scared that it would drive a rift further between us and that he would just use it as an excuse to hate himself even more. I know he feels bad about it and don’t really think he would say something so insulting to me again, but I also didn’t think he would have tried to insult my intelligence to such a degree in the first place. Is a boundary appropriate if I don’t necessarily expect the offense to happen again?
Our relationship has been improving recently, in large part due to my work in scholars… I don’t want this to be a setback for us. I guess I feel like he almost would see the boundary as a setback because it’d seem to him like I’m painting him as a villain who NEEDS a boundary.
I’ve listened to the Boundaries episode a couple times in the past, and I will listen to it again, but any advice or input would be appreciated. Thank you!