So you’ve finally found The One (or at least The One For The Foreseeable Future) and you’ve committed to a serious relationship. Now what? In our weekly column, Life After Dating, women discuss the unique joys and challenges of coupledom.
When you’re alone, a bad mood is like an angry wave that takes you down. No matter how awful it feels in the moment, the damage it can do is limited because, for most part, you’re the only person in its path. When there’s another person around, a bad mood has the potential to pull both of you under water, and anyone who’s ever been sucked into a spiral of grumpiness with their partner knows that once you’ve been caught in the riptide, it’s nearly impossible to make your way back to shore. Luckily, there are some effective ways to deal with your partner’s moods. Hopefully, these emotional life rafts will let you maintain your sunny disposition, no matter how crabby your partner may be. In ideal cases, you might even be able to cheer them up. But don’t count on it — sometimes people just want to be mad, and that’s OK. As long as it’s only sometimes…
1. Leave your emotional switch in the off position. It might be hard not to take it personally when your partner is behaving like a dick, but it’s essential that you try not to. The vast majority of the time, someone else’s bad mood has nothing to do with you (our favorite acronym for this situation? INP). Remaining calm and neutral while your other half is in shitsville will save whatever wisps of a good mood you have left.
2. Set your needs aside for the time being. If your emotional switch is in the off position, then you should be able to understand that your partner might prefer sulking to making you breakfast and cuddling. Try not to be disappointed or punish them for withdrawing into their foul mood cave. Don’t make it about you. Remember that once they have their state under control, they’ll be there for you once again. And next time you’re in a crappy mood, you’ll expect the same from them.
3. Ask what’s wrong. Ask and listen, but avoid giving advice or trying to fix their mood. They’ll be especially resistant to advice if they’re deep in the throes of a pity party you’re intent on avoiding. Show caring and compassion, but don’t get sucked in too deep.
4. Do something else. A good rule of thumb for life, and for your partner’s rank mood, is Don’t Poke The Mad Dog. Leave the mad dog alone to stew in their own negative vibes while you go to the gym, read a book or make plans with a friend. Anything that gives you a bit of physical space is ideal. Get out of the house for a bit to shake off the bad energy stewing inside.
5. Try to bring positive vibes. Without being annoyingly chipper, remind your partner what’s important in life and how much they have to be grateful for. If this kind of positivity is making your partner recoil, encourage them to do something that you know makes them happy. Like, sit them down at the computer and force them to watch cute animal videos or ask them to go on a hike. Warning: there’s a good chance your efforts will fall flat. But hey, it’s worth a try.
6. Own up to your own mood. Take responsibility for the mood you’re in and any way you might have contributed to your partner’s state. This will help you keep your own feelings separate and stop a mutual bad mood spiral from starting.
7. If all else fails, go to sleep. Naps and nights are healing balms for bad moods, which are magnified by fatigue. Sometimes the best thing to do is sleep it off. Chances are everyone will be back to their normal selves when they wake up.
[Photo from Shutterstock]