When I’m Upset, He Gets Nasty. Is it a Bad Sign?

Dr. Wendy Walsh Dr. Wendy Walsh • 9/25/14

Reader Question:

I am a young 69-year-old who two years ago ended a 46-year marriage. Ten months ago, I started a relationship with a 74-year-old man. When he feels any slight indication I may be upset about something he says or does, he bolts and gets a little nasty. He writes notes that we need to apart but he still would like to see me once in a while or maybe we could be friends.

Is it a bad sign?

-Judith (Florida)

Dr. Wendy Walsh’s Answer:

Dear Judith,

Bad sign? This is a neon sign that reads, “I’m too insecure to have a healthy relationship!”

As you know, having lived through a 46-year relationship, having good conflict resolution skills is crucial to love. And to be really close and intimate, we have to be able to tolerate that our partner can see the flaws in us.

I suspect he can’t tolerate seeing his own flaws and when he fears you might see them first, he deals with it through abandonment and then defensive anger.

I’m not sure this guy can give the care you need at this juncture of your life. He may abandon you at a critical moment of need because you said the wrong thing.

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