My boyfriend (39M) asks me (30F) for an apology whenever we argue

TL;DR: Whenever we get into an argument, my boyfriend asks/tells me to apologise. He says the aim of an apology is to make the other party feel better, but I find it very hard to apologise when I don't think I've done anything wrong. I need to understand why he needs it so badly, and how can we find a middle ground?The latest incident was when I moved my cat into his house. The cat scratched the couch in front of us and I immediately shooed him off and reprimanded him. But I joked that the couch is hideous anyway so we could get a better one. (This was also a joke I shared with his sister but he wasn't there when it happened). That was strike one, but I didn't get any indication that he was unhappy with my comment.Strike two was when he discovered the cat ripped something up in the room we put the cat up in. It was a hentai pillow a friend gave him which he said was the worst present he has ever gotten. And for context, my boyfriend is a hoarder. He has tonnes of stuff lying around the house, getting in the way of walking around, and won't throw away anything, even expired food. The pillow has been lying on the ground for years gathering dust. I jokingly said that it's okay since he doesn't like the pillow anyway.He snapped and told me not to "take that tone" with him. This is his house and I should never speak to him like that ever again. I was extremely taken aback and said ok and we stayed in separate parts of the house for a couple of hours. After some reflection I realised that I shouldn't have taken it lightly that my cat was scratching up his stuff, regardless of whether he liked or wanted the stuff or not. But I was really hurt by the way he snapped at me. So to make amends I tried clearing up the room a bit but the mess was so great I didn't know where to start. And I was crying in the middle of all this - classy. I found a sorry greeting card which I then slipped under his room door and I went downstairs to continue dealing with my feelings (also context: I have depression and am sort of emotionally unstable).After a while he came downstairs, acting as if nothing happened and asked me why did I slip a sorry card under the door and hadn't written anything in it (I was afraid he wanted to use it eventually so I didn't want to ruin it by using it). He sensed something was off and asked me if I'm upset about what happened. So everything came out. I admitted that I could have responded better about the cat scratching his things but he could also have reacted in a better way, less "attacky". And he said no, he responded in the most appropriate way he could have and he couldn't have done it better. So things went downhill from there. He brought up the apology thing. Why is it so hard for me to apologise? I said I was hurt, so the best I could do in my own way was help clear the mess and give him the sorry card. And the reason why I find it hard to apologise (and I don't have this issue with anyone else) is because he always asks me to apologise before I can get to it myself, IF I do think it's something I should apologise for.I think an apology should be sincere, but when I feel cornered and expected to say it, it's no longer sincere and it's even harder for me to say it. Whereas he thinks the function of an apology is to make the other person feel better. So sometimes I end up saying it very resentfully, which makes me feel a bit sick cos I'm lying. He says he hopes that one day we will be in a stage where I can apologise freely, because now it is now "killing us".I'm just really confused by this intense need for an apology and the dynamics between us has been twisted in such a way that now I'm trying to predict if he wants an apology and I try to summon up as much willingness and sincerity as possible to apologise. But it's killing me too.I was so frustrated and angry last night I tried distracting myself by watching Netflix etc but I couldn't stop bawling my eyes out. And the feeling of needing to self-harm because I can't deal with emotions started creeping in. (I have been clean of self-harm for about 4 months now.).I can't go back to that dark place. I ended up hurting myself a bit to get some relief. But I can't go back there. I also don't want him to feel like he can't criticise me (constructively or not) without it turning into an emotional shitshow. But I just felt so belittled and humiliated by the way he snapped at me. (More context: My therapist said that my relationship dynamics with my boyfriend is very similar to me and my mum as she is constantly criticising me in an untactful manner, which leaves me feeling small and disgusted with myself.)What can I do to improve this situation? He wants to talk tonight but I'm so scared of things going out of control. via /r/relationships

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