Relationship Fitness

S10: Anger E3: Aggressive Anger Play

In “Relationship Workout for Men” Season 10 Episode 3 titled “Aggressive Anger Play,” Vince explores the destructive nature of aggressive anger within relationships. He defines aggressive anger as behaviors aimed at dominating or winning at the other person’s expense, which can manifest as yelling, threatening, or even physical aggression. Vince categorizes these behaviors into two main types: “Forceful Power Plays,” focused on overpowering the other person, and “My Way is the Right Way” plays, where one insists their perspective is the only valid one. Through this episode, Vince aims to illuminate the harmful cycle aggressive anger can create, encouraging listeners to recognize and address these behaviors to foster healthier, more respectful relationships.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 10, Episode 3: Aggressive Anger Play

In the next four episodes, we’ll discuss the weak anger plays, starting with aggressive anger.

So, what is Aggressive Anger?

Said in a simplistic way, Aggressive Anger is all about a person trying to get his or her own way, typically at the expense of the other. Aggressive anger can manifest in various behaviors, ranging from verbal outbursts to physical actions. Here are twelve common ways a person might behave when experiencing aggressive anger:

1. Yelling or Shouting: Raising their voice excessively during a conversation or argument.

2. Using Threatening Language: Making threats or using intimidating language.

3. Physical Aggression: This could include hitting, pushing, throwing objects, or any form of physical violence.

4. Sarcastic or Cutting Remarks: Using sarcasm or making cutting remarks to belittle or intimidate others.

5. Destroying Property: Damaging or breaking objects during an angry outburst.

6. Hostile Gestures: Displaying aggressive or threatening body language, such as clenching fists, finger-pointing, or invading personal space.

7. Verbal Abuse: Insulting, name-calling, or using abusive language.

8. Bullying Behavior: Intimidating, harassing, or dominating others.

9. Reckless Driving: Expressing anger through aggressive or careless driving.

10. Blaming Others: Consistently placing blame on others instead of taking personal responsibility.

11. Controlling or Coercive Behavior: Trying to control or manipulate others’ actions or decisions through anger.

12. Provoking Confrontations: Deliberately instigating arguments or physical confrontations.

In addition, as the fight continues, these strategies are often expressed with an ever-louder voice.

Another way to think about aggressive anger plays is to segment them into one of two broad categories: 

  • Forceful “Power Plays,” which are about winning one’s way through aggression, and 
  • Inflexible “My Way is the Right Way” plays, which are about one inflexibly asserting that his or her way is the right and only way.

For instance, Power Plays can include:

  • Yelling, Rage, Intimidation: This person is going to beat the other into submission and surrender.
  • Blaming: This person goes on the offensive and attacks with accusations.
  • And Threats: Ever hear “no more sex until you give me what I want!” Yeah, you know a threat when you hear one.

While My Way Is the Right Way Plays can include:

  • Bickering: This person probably has a history of bickering matches with family members and past relationships.
  • Criticism: This person can’t help but point out when the other is “wrong.”
  • Sarcasm: Ouch that one hurt!
  • And Nagging: Nag, nag, nag. 

It can also be helpful to note that weak anger plays like Aggressive anger tend to fall into continuous cycles. For instance, the Aggressive Anger Play can become a never-ending 6-stage cycle of controlling the other person to keep the aggressive person’s story and comfort zone intact. This cycle can look something this:

  • Stage 1: The person has to have his or her way to maintain their comfort zone.
  • Stage 2: Yet there will always be imperfections in any relationship, as there will always be differences of needs between any two people.
  • Stage 3: This person struggles emotionally with these differences.
  • Stage 4: In response, this person tries to remove these differences by forcing his or her partner to agree, and thus get his or her way.
  • Stage 5: Consequently, the couple experiences fighting, since hardly anyone can (or is willing to) change to meet the other person’s needs completely.
  • Stage 6: The cycle continues because any relationship will continue to spawn new differences over time as new circumstances present themselves.

And then we’re back at the beginning of the feedback loop cycle where the person has to have his or her way to maintain their comfort zone, starting another loop around the aggressive anger cycle.

It may also be helpful to understand that a person who chooses Aggressive Anger Plays can have a unique profile. A few to many of these may apply to a person who frequently makes aggressive anger plays:

  • Is controlled by ego and believes he or she is always right.
  • Often gives advice, even when it’s not asked for.
  • Is often insensitive to other people’s needs and viewpoints, especially when they conflict with the person’s own needs and viewpoints.
  • Is often quick to say “no” before considering what the other person just said.
  • Can be stubborn with a high need to stay in control.
  • Thinks a difference in opinion or need is best resolved through direct and aggressive negotiation with the goal of winning (versus finding a solution to the difference that works for both people).

Aggressive Anger may or may not be intentional, as a person who has lost it can be completely unaware of how he or she is acting. 

When the person finally does calm down, and has had some time to think about things, he or she may feel differently and regret what was said or done. Other times, however, the person may be well aware of his or her behavior. This person, for instance, may know that eventually you’ll just cave in if you get beaten down long and hard enough.

Taking a Deeper Look at Aggressive Anger and looking a bit Under the hood of why you or your partner might choose to make an Aggressive Anger Play, we find two basic things: selfishness and insecurity.

One, Selfish, All About Me

In this case, you’re stuck in your own world because of a need to have it your way. You can’t accept emotionally that there will be differences in a relationship and be okay with these differences while maintaining emotional composure (i.e., not losing it). Therefore, you can’t help but try to force your partner to fit your idea of what is right, instead of accepting that we all have limits. And, in fact, different and opposing opinions aren’t necessarily bad opinions.

And the second thing is insecurities.

In this case, you’re stuck in your own world because it’s just too scary to do things outside your comfort zone. You feel an urgency to communicate your needs but do so by placing inflexible demands on your relationship. Your happiness appears dependent on your own (inflexible) demands being met, thus maintaining your comfort zone.

It’s important to note that while anger is a normal emotion, aggressive anger behaviors can be harmful both to the person displaying them and to those around them. If such behaviors are frequent or severe, you might consider seeking help from a mental health professional to learn healthier ways of managing anger.

If you think aggressive anger plays may be contributing to drama in your relationship, you can complete the Relationship Workout program at to self-identify if this may be the case. And if it’s discovered aggressive anger is contributing to drama between you two, the Relationship Workout AI Coach will suggest ways to help you change this behavior.

So, this wraps up our summarized discussion on aggressive anger, next we turn our attention to the weak anger plays: passive and passive-aggressive anger — the topic of our next episode.

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