Anger is a part of life. Neither you nor your partner will be happy all the time. It can also be healthy to be angry sometimes and there are healthy ways in which you can express your anger. However, you might also notice some concerning things about your partner's anger that you likely do not want to ignore. The signs your partner's anger is actually a rage disorder are important to recognize because you may need to take steps to make sure that you can protect yourself and stay safe. Anger will likely be, to a certain extent, part of any relationship, at least from time to time, but handling it in a healthy way is vital — and rage or anger disorders are something very different than run-of-the-mill anger.
"You have to be really careful when you approach people about these things that you’re not accusatory, that you’re not shaming, and that you’re really just talking to them about how it affects you and what you need out of the relationship," Dr. Suzanne Wallach, PsyD, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper. "So I guess an example of that would be, ‘when you get angry, it makes me feel scared. I’m wondering if you would be willing to talk to me or talk to someone else about this.’"
Wallach says that if you're approaching your partner about their rage at all, which she doesn't recommend if you're worried they'll get violent, you should try to recruit a therapist to help you. Whether or not you're going to try to talk to your partner about their rage, if you notice these signs that their anger is something more serious, it's important for you to reach out for help.
1They Can't Control When They Get Angry
When people who have healthy anger get upset, they're typically able to keep those emotions in check if need be. But if your partner's anger is something more serious, they might not be able to manage when they get angry. Wallach says that "unmanageability" is one of the main things that sets a rage or anger disorder apart from healthy anger.
2They Feel Guilty After They Express Their Anger
If your partner is unable to control their outbursts, it's possible that they'd feel a bit guilty or ashamed after saying or doing what they say or do in a state of rage. Dr. Bernard Golden, PhD, a psychologist and the founder of Anger Management Education in Chicago, tells Romper by email that feelings of guilt or shame after an outburst of rage or anger can be a sign of a condition called Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
3Their Anger Is Expressed In An Unhealthy Way
Wallach says that when it's rage, rather than healthy anger, they might not express their anger with healthy behaviors, instead resorting to channeling their anger into unhealthy pursuits. No matter which exact unhealthy behavior they choose, that's a sign that things might not be completely under control — their anger might be more serious than you thought.
4They're Generally Frustrated All The Time
A low-level of frustration at all times is another potential sign of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Golden says. If your partner just seems to be generally frustrated, even when the situation might not call for that, that could mean that it's something other than just healthy anger.
5Their Expression Changes
If you can visibly see your partner's anger coming on, that too might be a sign that there's something else going on. "People will talk about people’s expressions changing and their eyes going blank," Wallach says. If that's a sort of tell, it might be a rage disorder. If you feel comfortable talking to your partner about it, make sure to follow Wallach's tips, including focusing on how it affects you rather than accusing them of doing something wrong or bad.
6They Don't Remember The Things That They Said While In A State Of Rage
"Oftentimes people will black out in rages and they won’t remember things they said or did," Wallach says. If your partner regularly forgets or insists that they don't remember some of what happened while they were angry, that could certainly be a sign that there's more going on than just typical, healthy anger. If that's something that concerns you or them (or both), enlisting a professional can help you get to the bottom of things.
7They Get Physically Violent
Physical violence between partners is never OK. If your partner gets violent when they get angry, that's another sign that it's something bigger than you might have thought, Wallach says. In this case, you definitely need to reach out to qualified professionals to help you determine the best way to keep yourself safe.
If you notice signs that your partner's anger might be a rage disorder instead of healthy anger, there are things that can be done to help both of you. If you're scared of your partner, Wallach advises turning to a professional on your own, but if this is something that the two of you are going to work on together, couples counseling might be able to help. At the very least, you'll have someone on your side who can help you figure out the best way to move forward safely, either with your partner or without.