Why did my boyfriend hit himself in the face during an argument?

When I got home, my boyfriend and I got into an argument. He got upset and he started hitting his face. That is the first time he has ever done that, but I would be lying if I said that didn't scare me. I locked myself in the room.

Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Sounds scary to watch.  I agree with you!

Maybe he felt so overwhelmed by anger, hurt and frustration that he went back to an old behavior from his past in which someone hit him for having strong emotions.

Now that the incident is past, bring up the topic to him so the two of you can discuss it.

Just the fact of you having empathy and caring what he was feeling at the time, may be restorative to him.

At the very least, you may find out exactly what the answer is to your question as to why he did this in the first place!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Gayle Weill
Gayle Weill
Specializing in relationships and parenting - additional certifications in Child-parent psychotherapy, Circle of Security-Parenting program, adoption competency, hypnosis, and EMDR

Seeing your boyfriend hitting his face sounds very scary! Sometimes when people are experiencing strong emotions the emotional pain becomes so overwhelming that they try to relieve the emotional pain by causing themselves physical pain. It is a dysfunctional way of calming themselves down. I don’t know your boyfriend or your boyfriend’s history so I can’t know for sure if that was what was happening, but I am certainly glad that he does not do that on a regular basis. When you are both feeling calm, and if you feel comfortable, talk to him about what happened. It is difficult to be in a relationship when you are scared and don’t understand why the other person engaged in a frightening behavior. If you feel safe enough and do not worry about his reaction, I would talk to him about your feelings regarding what happened. If you don’t feel safe enough and are worried about his reaction or that he might hurt you, talk to someone who knows you or a therapist who you could feel comfortable confiding in so that they could guide you on how to move forward.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Crystal Robinson
Crystal Robinson
It's okay not to be okay!

That definitely sounds scary and I'm sorry you had to experience that. I'm not familiar with your boyfriend or his history however I will say that when others get angry to the point they want to hurt/hit themselves most likely they haven't learned healthy ways of expressing their anger and they cope in a way that has been working for them which may not always be the best. Once he calms down and if you both are feeling up to it maybe talk about what happened and share some insight on ways that you know how to manage anger it can be as simple as learning how to problem solve and cope when things doesn't go a certain way. Being angry is a normal emotion and it's okay to feel what you feel we just have to learn healthy ways to manage and cope. I'm glad you were able to get away from the situation and hopefully he would be willing to seek some help for anger management and learn how to express and  release his anger.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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