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Dear Caroline,

For the past six months, I’ve been seeing a great guy. He’s a successful freelance graphic designer. He’s intelligent, handsome and romantic. Based on our conversations, we want the same things in life. The only problem is his temper. From time to time, the littlest thing can make him explode. If he’s driving and a car cuts in front of him, he goes into a rage with his foot on the gas pedal. Yesterday, he was late, couldn’t find his keys and got so mad that he started cursing and put his fist through the wall. He has never hurt or threatened me, but these blowups make me nervous. After he calms down, he always apologizes, and I know he’s truly sorry.

Am I overthinking things? I love him and don’t know what to do.

…Somewhat Intrepid

Dear Intrepid,

I can tell you’re in love, so you may not like my answer, but here it is:

No matter how great this guy is, his volatile temper is a huge red flag. In most cases, when relationships end badly — even in divorce after decades of marriage. The problems that cause the breakup are the same ones that were visible very early on.

Don’t get into the habit of collecting red flags!

If you give the man an ultimatum about his temper, he may control it for a short time. But if his only tool is willpower, sooner or later, he’ll revert to his old explosive ways.

Angry people usually carry deep wounds and hidden scars. The best you can be is a Band-Aid, and that’s not enough. He needs to get to the root of this problem with the help of a therapist.

A fist through the wall today may be aimed at you tomorrow. Even if it isn’t, you’ll never have peace of mind. If you marry this man and have children, you’ll constantly be on edge for their wellbeing too.

Based on your letter, you have already collected your share of red flags with this man. There is no reason to collect any more of them.

Tell him why you’re leaving, encourage him to get professional help, pray for him and move on while it’s still relatively uncomplicated to do so.

There are plenty of fish in the sea.


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