General Question

girlofscience's avatar

How unacceptable is it to take out your frustration on innocent people?

Asked by girlofscience (7550points) November 14th, 2008

We are all guilty of this at some point; it’s human nature, I suppose. Just how reprehensible is it?

Let’s say, you’re running late for work to begin with, and then you realize you left your headlights on last night, so your car doesn’t start. [It’s completely your fault, but it’s certainly a frustrating situation.]

You then scream at your girlfriend and blame everything on her (even though it’s not her fault at all), and you keep screaming at her until she cries.

You get to work later (just on time!), you sit down, relax, start working, and everything’s ok. You then realize how awful you were for taking your frustration out on your girlfriend, and you call her to apologize.

Is this sequence of events acceptable, reprehensible, or somewhere in between?

Apology accepted, or not?

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43 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

Your girlfriend might understand and forgive you, but it doesn’t make it right. I think people are extremely rude and selfish these days. We (and I am guilty of this at times as well) only think about ourselves, and do not take into account the experiences and feelings of others. It’s certainly not acceptable, but reprehensible might be a little excessive; however, if someone continues to behave in such a manner, it’s probably a good idea to keep this person at arms length. Whenever I am feeling very frustrated and/or have a lot of anxiety, I try to keep to myself, and if that is not possible, I inform those around me that I am feeling frazzled. Most times people will give you some space.

wundayatta's avatar

I try not to do it. Sometimes I’ll get mean to my wife or my kids when I’m upset, but as soon as I figure it out, I apologize, especially to my kid. I’m trying not to mess him up like I was.

In order to do this, I have a sort of semi-permanent moratorium on anger. I don’t do anger—at least, to people I care about. I turn it back on myself, which has other consequences, but those are better than hurting someone else.

I do have a two exceptions to my no anger rule. I’m allowed to get angry at customer service people who are idiots, especialy if they work for a credit card company.

I’m also allowed to get strategically angry. In this case, I’m not actually angry. I just look it, because I think it might be useful in getting through to someone.

But yeah, I think that it is unacceptable to take out your anger on innocent people.

cookieman's avatar

It is definitely unacceptable – but we all do it from time to time.

If you are aware that you do it, keep it to a minimum, and make good after you do it – then you are human.

If you’re not aware you do it, have no control over it, and couldn’t apologize if your life depended on it – then you are my mother.

asmonet's avatar

Very. Everyone gets upset, not everyone resorts to verbal or mental abuse.

If it’s a pattern of behavior – apology not accepted.

cak's avatar

Yes, we all do it – it’s not ok. The person taking these actions…taking their anger out on others, yeah…they need to apologize and start to figure out ways to redirect that anger.

It’s an emotion…it happens. Learning how to maturely deal with it, is the trick.

girlofscience's avatar

@everyone: Ok, thank you for your opinions.

So, where do I go from here? I thanked my boyfriend for his apology and further explained why I was offended by his behavior this morning.

When we get home from work tonight, should I be loving and move forward? Or continue to express why I am upset? Or something else?

cak's avatar

GoS – is this a repeated and regular behavior? If so, then you need to let him know that it’s not good that it continues to happen.

If this is just an isolated incident or just a rare thing, then accept it for what it is, he was being human. Move on and don’t continue to hold it against him. We all make mistakes.

greylady's avatar

Maybe your talk this evening should be focused on making a plan for what will be done the next time. It is hard to change a behavior if you don’t make a decision to do so, and a specific way you intend to do it.

hammer43's avatar

I feel if your boyfriend, husband or what ever screams at you to the point you cry, has a problem!!! That is not showing he loves you, he is like beating you down to to ease his frustration and that’s not right…

Weather you are guilty or not he shouldn’t take it that far….so an apology is a start, but what can he do so this doesn’t happen again….and again weather you are guilty or not.

cookieman's avatar

@girlofscience: Speaking as a boyfriend/husband who has done that to my girlfriend/wife in the past (probably channeling my mother): Do not let him off the hook. Particularly if this is not the first incident.

As his S.O. you do him no favors by supporting/enabling inappropriate/hurtful behavior. Explain calmly that that behavior is unacceptable, how you expect him to treat you in a similar future situation, and that you will end the relationship if he cannot control this. You’ll have to decide how many more chances he gets to correct this.

My girlfriend was more important to me than my ability to unleash my anger like a five-year-old – so I went to talk to someone and worked really hard at handling stress more productively. Made me a better person.

Two major points he needs to agree on IMHO:
– Your relationship has no future if he doesn’t address this properly.
– It is your job as his S.O. to help him be a better person (and vice versa).

Good luck and I’m sorry he made you cry.

cwilbur's avatar

It depends on how far it goes.

If you’re cranky because the car wouldn’t start, and you snap at your girlfriend, that’s understandable. We can’t always be in good moods, and one of the things that makes for healthy relationships is not getting too upset at one’s partner’s bad mood.

But screaming at her until she cries and blaming everything on her is not understandable—that’s emotional abuse.

If I were the girlfriend in that case, I would say, “I’m not accepting that apology until I see you doing something to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Apologies are meaningless unless there’s a serious amendment to the attitude or behavior so that it won’t happen again.

girlofscience's avatar

@cprevite: That was a great answer and extremely helpful; thank you.

We have been emailing over the course of our workday, and he has decided to begin going to a therapist in order to more effectively channel his frustration in the future.

mea05key's avatar

Yeah it does happen. Nobody it perfect. When it comes to tight situation , people will need someone to blame. Unfortunately, we don’t like to blame ourselves. Try to change its the only think you can advise yourself. Remember to apologise to your pal. Probably explain why you react that way. She will understand.

girlofscience's avatar

@mea05key: lol. I am she.

mea05key's avatar

wat? sry im having a terrible mental block. brain juice are seeping away from my hair pores

mjoyce's avatar

@girlofscience that is a truly despicable situation that should never happen to anyone. There are very few situations where the scenario you described is a forgivable offense, especially if it is a repeatable demeanor that your SO has.

Apology or not, some people are set off by little things and take it out on the ones closest to them. Having been in the receiving end of that situation multiple times in a past relationship – it is no fun. In my case my SO didn’t change. The circumstances and exact nature of the situation changed, but the symptom didn’t. Upset at X and taking it out on other people. Nobody deserves to have that in their life.

:(

girlofscience's avatar

@mea05key: ???

What don’t you understand? Everyone else seemed to get it, no problem.

girlofscience's avatar

@mjoyce: I do not think we can compare J to G.

cookieman's avatar

@girlofscience: You’re welcome. Glad I could help.

Best of luck.

laureth's avatar

When I worked in retail, customers vented their frustration with life on the innocent staff every day. The employees hated it, but the management and the customers both thought it was perfectly acceptable, so we lost 2–1 in that vote.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Learning that it’s okay to be imperfect and flawed, is the most important thing that you can learn, which is really what the described sequence is all about. It’s okay to make “mistakes” that are non-impactful, like leaving your lights on and having your car not start. Stuff like that happens to everyone. Parents teach their kids to be hard on themselves by expecting them to be perfect, get A’s, score the winning goal, not spill when they pour liquids. The reality is, it’s more important to learn to clean up the spill, correct the C paper to understand why you made mistakes, and to be a consistent team contributor rather than being the star. Learning comes when you correct the mistake.

Would it make you feel better to yell at your friend, or get jumper cables out of the trunk, know how to jump a car, and leave for work? Why wouldn’t you choose the later?

cookieman's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock: Very good point.

Unfortunately, while choice B may make you feel better, choice A is always easier (and almost primal). And if you are raised to be perfect (get it right the first time), you don’t even think that choice B exists once you’ve screwed something up.

Took me years to learn how wrong that behavior is.

cdwccrn's avatar

most unacceptable. But, we all do it occassionally, I’m afraid.

russellsouza's avatar

If you have to take your frustration out on anyone just make sure it isn’t a service worker or someone who is trying to help you and isn’t allowed to argue with you. Venting one’s frustration always runs the risk of being messy but at least with family and friends you can apologize after the fact, and they’re more likely to let your bad mood slide because they know you.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I would have to think airport workers must have it the worst. Travel is so frustrating, with cancelled flights, overbookings, etc.

amurican's avatar

By any chance you dont work at customer service for Microsoft do yah?

shadling21's avatar

In a perfect world, it doesn’t happen. As Alfreda said, we need to recognize that we all make mistakes.

I sometimes take things too personally when I shouldn’t, and getting snapped at for no reason bothers me to no end. I’ve been hurt be such comments on a couple of occasions. As long as the person realizes the offense and apologizes, I am able to forgive and forget.

I tend to take out my own frustration on physical objects rather than people (I talk to things that are around me if I’m mad – for example, if I’m at work, I growl at the coffee I’m brewing). It’s better than hurting others.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Most people cannot adequately articulate their feelings, and we don’t do a good job of teaching kids how to do this. “I’m angry” often really I’m tired or I’m hungry or I’m frustrated or I’m stressed. When young kids have meltdowns, getting at the root of the meltdown enables a parent to fix the situation, and is much more effective than “stop crying.” and the ramifications far more reaching.

In the case of the car not starting, being able to articulate “I’m so stressed because I don’t want to be late for work because of meetings/I’ve already been late twice this week” or “I feel so helpless because I have to wait for a tow truck and I have so much to do at work” or “If I had just bought those jumper cables, I could take care of this myself and be on my way” would have been so much more effective, because everyone has these feelings.

dynamicduo's avatar

I’m sorry this happened to you. His behaviour was totally unacceptable. It is never right to blame others for your problems. People are not punching bags, physically/verbally/mentally. That said, people are not perfect all the time. So while this event was very uncool, what matters more is if it was a one time thing, or if it has happened/happens again. If he continues to become angry at you for his problems, it might escalate from verbal anger to physical anger, or increase in frequency. I would consider this to be creating a hostile environment and would seriously reconsider my relationship with this person. If it happened only once and he sincerely apologized and begins to change his behaviour, this shows commitment and true understanding of the needs in a relationship.

Spargett's avatar

No one is innocent.

onesecondregrets's avatar

It’s head versus heart in reality. You’re thinking with your emotions before you’re thinking with your head. You said it yourself- post-flip out on innocent-folkage you realize how absurd you acted. It is human nature, and inevitable..some people have their emotions on lock where they don’t lash out when it isn’t other people’s fault..but others not so much. It is life.

kevinhardy's avatar

only if its necessary

houseofknightsandladies's avatar

no but nothing wrong giving a bully a slight taste of his own medicine

ratboy's avatar

Of course it’s unacceptable, that’s why there are dogs.

mea05key's avatar

Its wrong ! Apologise immediately !

boingboingsplat's avatar

Just be glad you’re not dumb enough to “vent” on some poor, perfect stranger. You never know what woes others are going through. Your yelling at them might send them over the edge and next thing you know, you’re in a morgue. It’s just not right to take your frustrations out on ANYONE. You wouldn’t like it if someone did that to YOU. When we put ourselves in other’s shoes, we find it a lot easier to be kinder to others; for when we are kind to others, we are returning the kindness to ourselves.

trailsillustrated's avatar

it’s totally unacceptable but understandable. It’s like a giant fart that everyone else has to smell.

wondersluug's avatar

No. The screaming part is out of control and unless you’re children (i.e. under 18) it’s completely unacceptable. This is some serious kick the cat syndrome. It’s normal to become frustrated and let it leak out a bit, but to call the person you profess to LOVE up so you can hurt them until you feel better is abuse.

If this is a one time in a long relationship thing, maybe it was a fluke, but if this a short relationship and he’s already treating you this way, or if he gets like this with you or other people RUN! This person has bigger issues than just kick the cat syndrome. Flying into a rage against someone who has done nothing wrong, who is not capable of being as scary back, is absolute cowardice bordering on a gladiatorial mindset.

Get out, find a nicer guy, and let some other girl handle this problem for the rest of her life.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It’s never acceptable to act that way. I have more or less taught myself to respond to such situations with a grim silence. Others can easily tell that I am angry but at least I have said nothing that needs apologizing for.

chamelopotamus's avatar

Its a completely unnecessary waste of emotional energy, and an unseen permanent inflicting of emotional damage that never needed to happen, given the scenario. Just pay attention, be aware of your responsibilities, and prepare ahead of time. Then you dont sabotage yourself, blame others, and escape the problem, cause there is no problem and nothing to escape from. And in the case where you did mess up like 3 times in a row in one day, thats unfortunate, and can get you fired, but thats how the world works, and you have to deal with that stress alone, without abusing someone else. Prepare ahead of time and you wont have to deal with that stress. And if you do have to deal with it, deal with it yourself, dont hurt someone else.

Pandora's avatar

For me very unacceptable. Just yesterday morning I was simply cranky and moody to my husband in the moring and called him later and appologized. He did nothing wrong. I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. He said no big deal. He said everyone has a bad day now and then.
I told him it still doesn’t excuse it. I should have better control than I showed.

bartenderles's avatar

If this happens all the time, of course it’s unacceptable especially since it was not her fault at all.

Coloma's avatar

This is one area I am intolerant of.

I do not take my moods out on others and do not accept that treatment as okay.

I go with the 3 strikes your out mantra, and I hold true to it, with everyone.

Once..I forgive and forget

Twice…Not looking good, I’m watching you closely now.

Three times….don’t let the door hit ya in the ass on the way out!

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