How to Handle Your Partner's Bad Moods

Like all moods, a bad one is contagious. If you find your partner's almost always in a bad mood, what can you do about it?
How to Handle Your Partner's Bad Moods

Last update: 07 February, 2022

When you connect emotionally with another person you’re taking on a challenge. That’s because you don’t only receive affection, validation, and support, you also run the risk that their feelings, acts, or words might harm you. However, when a friend or family member is in a bad mood you’re usually able to listen to them without getting too involved in their emotions. On the other hand, managing your partner’s bad moods isn’t so easy.

As a matter of fact, when your partner is irritated, angry, sensitive, or intense, it awakens uncontrollable reactions in you. After all, they’re the person you spend most of your time with and the great emotional closeness between the two of you can mean you’re unable to think clearly. Therefore, we want to show you some tips to help you deal with these kinds of moments in the best way.

How do your partner’s bad moods affect you?

Perhaps you’ve never even stopped to think about it, but your partner’s mood usually has a tremendous influence on your own. Your reactions will be dependent on your own personal situation, but it’s common for the following to occur:

Moods are contagious

It’s undeniable that moods are contagious and human beings tend to mimic the emotions of their environment. Consequently, sharing your time with a frustrated, angry, or apathetic person will make you experience the same feelings.

It doesn’t matter how good your day was or how hopeful and inspired you felt before meeting your partner. Their mood can totally transform your emotions. This doesn’t only affect your well-being, but often leads to conflicts and arguments with your partner. Naturally, they only make the situation worse.

They create great discomfort

You may not even be aware of it, but you probably can’t bear being around someone who’s in a bad mood. That’s because it makes you feel so uncomfortable. In fact, you don’t really know how to react and you just want their mood to change to a  positive one. This isn’t just due to your concern for them but also to get rid of your irritation.

You’re not being selfish. It’s a perfectly natural reaction. Usually, it’s because you haven’t been taught how to deal with feelings of sadness or anger and to accept them.

You feel responsible

Although there’s no logical or rational basis for this, sometimes you can’t help but feel responsible for your partner’s bad mood. It doesn’t matter if you know perfectly well why they’re angry and it’s nothing to do with you. It doesn’t matter how many times they tell you that you have nothing to do with it. Somehow, you still tend to believe that you’re the cause of their irritability, or at least that you’re guilty of not being able to fix it.

How to handle your partner’s bad moods

The above reactions are the most common. However, you can do something about them. In fact, you can work to better support your partner while, at the same time, protecting and nurturing your own emotions. To do this, you can implement the following guidelines.

Take charge of yourself

You must become aware that you can’t allow your own moods to depend on your partner. That’s because, if you do, they’ll no longer belong to you. While it’s extremely easy to let yourself be kidnapped by your partner’s anger, you have to give yourself space to reflect and rationalize. Ask yourself if there’s something wrong with you. Do you really have a reason for feeling irritated or touchy? Or, are you simply mimicking your partner?

If you detect this kind of pattern, try to stop it and replace it. Watch and pay attention to your automatic thoughts and to your internal dialogue. Your interpretation will dictate how you feel and behave.

For instance, if you think “I’m not to blame for what happens to them” or “They shouldn’t be talking to me like that when we’re having dinner” your anger will inevitably escalate. On the contrary, if you reflect: “It’s understandable that they’re irritable, it’s nothing personal against me”, you’ll be able to stay balanced.

Validate your partner’s emotions

Try to be empathic and think about what your partner needs and not what you need. Your main impulse will be, as we mentioned earlier, to try and eliminate their bad mood. To do this, you can try to offer solutions, minimize the problem, or change the subject. Nevertheless, in reality, this only aggravates the situation and makes your partner feel misunderstood. In effect, all that’s required is compassionate listening.

Try to resist your temptation to fix their life or tell them how they should have acted. Instead, just listen, connect, and be a safe space where your partner can express themselves freely without fear of being judged or interrupted.

Practice empathy

Ecpathy is a complementary concept to empathy. It’s essential to avoid being overwhelmed by the emotions of others. If you want to be of help and, at the same time, not end up harmed by your partner’s mood, you must learn to distance yourself. This doesn’t imply abandoning them or leaving them alone with their problems. What it does mean is prioritizing your own mental health and not letting yourself be dragged along by their bad mood.

To do this, listen to your partner but keep in mind that they may see things in a different way. Try to stay relaxed and neutral and remember that it’s not your job to regulate their emotions or solve their situations.

This is simple to say but often difficult to practice. It may require some conscientious work on your part. Take a deep breath and try to find moments and spaces of solitude so you’re able to re-balance yourself after interacting with your partner.

Seek professional help

Most people only have to deal with their partner’s bad moods sporadically. Nevertheless, even if this is the case, you’ll find the previous strategies helpful to avoid reproaches, conflicts, and greater discomfort. However, others face this reality almost daily.

As a matter of fact, anger and frustration can creep into a person’s life relatively easily if they haven’t learned to regulate their emotions. In addition, this apparent anger can often hide depression. In these cases, seeking professional help is essential.

Your partner may not have realized that their bad mood has become almost constant. An honest and assertive conversation with them will help them to become aware and make the decision to seek help. It’s also possible that they’re in denial and will downplay their irritability. If so, perhaps you should seek professional guidance in order to know how to deal with these circumstances without being affected yourself.

In some cases, it may be that the healthiest option for you in order to preserve your own well-being is to distance yourself from your partner and end the relationship. Of course, both members of a couple must always listen and support each other. However, if you find that the emotional state of your partner has begun to affect your mental health, and they don’t want to take action, you must protect yourself.

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  • González, J. L. (2005). Empatía y ecpatía. Avances en Salud Mental Relacional4(2), 1.
  • Painuly, N., Sharan, P., & Mattoo, S. K. (2005). Relación de la ira y los ataques de ira con la depresión. RET: Revista de Toxicomanías45, 11-18.