Let's say you've been looking forward to seeing your partner all day, you finally finish work, you meet up with them — and they're in the worst mood ever. So how should you deal with your partner's bad moods? It can feel like a real nightmare situation to have such an experience — you were hyped to have a fun night together, only to find that your partner is definitely not on the same level as you are. But the fact of the matter is that your partner's foul moods have nothing to do with you almost 100 percent of the time, and it's best to take a step back in such a time and evaluate.
There are many things you could do while in evaluation mode, but I spoke with some love and relationship experts to find out what they would suggest you do when your partner winds up in a rotten mood, and their advice was all really smart and helpful. Read on to discover 11 ways to deal with your partner's bad moods without escalating them, adding fuel to the already raging fire, or dragging yourself into a sitch you'd be happiest sitting out.
1. Don't Take Them On
"The best way to handle a partner's bad moods is by not taking them on," Gestalt life coach Nina Rubin tells Bustle. "It's tough to give yourself space and not think it is your fault." But you're not responsible for your partner's moods — bad or good — and you need to remove yourself from any thoughts of fault or blame.
"Remind your partner that you're available to talk and miss them," Rubin says. From there, do your own thing and try not to get sucked into their bad moods.
2. With Boundaries
"Patience, grace — and boundaries," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "Everyone has bad moods and you can't expect your partner to be immune to them." You're allowed to have negative outlooks from time to time — or even drop into a funk for a while — and so are they.
"It's OK if they slip and aren't super nice some of the time," she says. "But make sure to maintain your boundaries by addressing [your boundaries] if they are being violated during these bad moods." Bad moods are one thing — but hurt feelings are another.
"Just because someone is moody doesn't mean they get to call you names, attack your character, or [violate] any other non-negotiable you have ideally set in the first place." If this happens, call them out — and if it happens repeatedly, you may want to consider seeking outside help or ending the relationship.
3. Don’t Take It Personally
"Don’t take it personally," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. "Everyone’s allowed to be in a bad mood, so be careful not to think you did something wrong or they’re upset with you." This can only escalate your partner's mindset. "
If your partner's bad moods happen often enough where it negatively impacts the relationship, then you have to have a talk about what they need or how to buffer your relationship from negativity." Don't pull an ostrich and sink your head into the sand: See what's happening for what it is and address it right away.
4. Dig Deeper
"Learn what brings on the bad moods," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "If your partner gets cranky when hungry or fatigued, you’ll be able to see those emotional storms coming and offer a granola bar or a nap. You can plan meals to avoid hunger, and avoid over-scheduling your lives together to avoid fatigue. If your partner gets into a bad mood whenever their parents visit or your parents visit, make those visits shorter, or do something to change the nature of the visit, like invite other people over to dilute the contract you all have."
Honestly, this is some of the best relationship advice I've ever heard. Though some might argue that it's codependent to foresee a partner's crash and make every attempt to mitigate it, I think true partnership is about listening and understanding each other's needs and faults and trying to help where possible, at least in part.
5. Don't Do Anything
The best way to handle your partner's bad moods? "Don't," zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. "Everyone has moods and always will — congratulations, you're not partnered with a zombie!" Accept the ebb and flow, and take a chill pill.
"Let your partner address their own mood," she says. "If you feel that their mood results in your happiness, take a step back." Truth is, no one else's mood can be responsible for your own joy — and if such a phenomenon is happening, it might be time to go within and figure out what's going on with yourself.
"Keep the boundaries and be supportive without sponging and soaking up their attitudes," Paiva says. But don't completely shut down. "Ask" about what's going on with them, she adds — kindly, gently, nicely. "They may have troubles weighing on them."
6. Open The Lines Of Communication
"Empathizing and validating is generally the best response when someone is expressing an difficult emotion, like sadness," Boston-based clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner tells Bustle. "But when someone is chronically in a bad mood, the best response is to empathize — 'I get you feel really sad' — and express how it makes you feel — 'I'm sad too, when you often talk about how hard life is.'" From there, you open up the lines of communication, and you can transform the situation.
7. Tell Your Parter How Their Behavior Affects You
"It is your partner’s responsibility alone to manage his or her moods," marriage counselor Jessica Wade tells Bustle. "If you do not like his or her mood, tell your partner how his or her behavior actually affects you." Honesty is, as always, the best policy. "This should give a caring partner a reason to continue working to manage bad moods," she says.
One caveat: It's wise to bring up your partner's moods when they are not actually in a mood at the time. Bringing up a serious issue mid–foul mood will likely only bring more problems upon you. Once you've had the conversation — at a calm, neutral time — see what happens next, and evaluate from there. "If you see no improvement in your partner’s behavior after you’ve communicated how it affects you, then suggest that your partner consult with a licensed counselor to help him or her manage his or her mood better," Wade says. Above all, stay out of their mood if at all humanly possible.
8. Be Patient
If their bad moods don't happen too often, be patient, Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "Ask if you can help, then give your partner space to figure himself or herself out." It's a dance: Talk, listen; let it go, give them space; repeat.
"Later, when it's all OK again, ask what your partner would like you to do in those situations," Tessina says. "Some people like to be left alone to work it out, some like to talk, some just want silent company." Talk it out and see what happens.
9. Offer Love
"It depends upon what kind of [bad] mood" they're in, psi counselor Laurel Clark tells Bustle. "If he or she is depressed, offering love is great. Offer a massage, to make his or her favorite meal and perhaps sit in silence with them. If he or she is angry, often giving your partner space is the best thing to do."
That said, if that mood turns sour, pay attention. Clark says, if the anger gives rise to violence, it's time to move on.
10. Give Them Time And Space
"It all depends on how your partner handles their moods and what they need during these times," psychologist Nicole Martinez, who is the author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships , tells Bustle. "Some people need time and space, and if they do, let them have it, no matter how badly you want to help."
Again, it's best to have a convo about what your partner needs the most in such times when they are not actually in a rotten mood. "If they are someone that needs you to initiate a conversation, do so," Martinez says — and find out if they're this type of person when they're in a good mood.
"This way, they can openly talk about their feelings, and you can either be there to support them, or the two of you can come resolutions together," she says. "All of these ways are giving your partner what they need, and respecting how they process their moods and emotions."
11. Prepare To Meet Some Denial
"Communication is the best way to resolve the things that may be bothering you in a relationship," executive editor and founder of Cupid's Pulse Lori Bizzoco tells Bustle. "Explain to your significant other the specific situation that got you upset, or where you noticed a swing in their behavior."
Your partner might not even know they're in a crap mood, though. "Be ready to meet this with denial, as oftentimes partners who are in a bad mood don't even realize they are acting out or taking it out on their loved one," she says.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (11)