Moods and emotions are more contagious than we often realize. Being around negative people can make us more negative, while positive people can encourage positive thinking.
It’s a challenge to stay positive when you’re immersed in negativity. And the interesting thing is that it is so much harder to stay positive when you’re drowning in negativity than the other way around.
A negative person will pull a positive person down long before that positive person really off-sets the negative person. Of course, that doesn’t mean it always happens. Still, it happens so often that a common piece of advice to protect your mood is limiting your time around negative people.
And that doesn’t just apply to friendships or relationships either. It’s also applicable to mental illness and support groups. Speaking as someone with Bipolar-depression who’s been in and out of support groups and the system, once you start balancing off, it can get difficult to be around those who are struggling because they can destabilize you.
The question is: how do I protect my own moods from my partner’s mood? The following article will give you some informal advice, but do understand that it is equally applicable to any relationship where the other person’s moods can negatively affect you.
Protecting your own mental space is imperative in this high-stress world.
Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you deal with your partner’s chronic bad moods. You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.
1. Understand that other peoples’ emotions are rarely a reflection of you.
We tend to view emotions as an action to a reaction. For example, if someone slights us, we get angry, and we feel justified because of the poor way we are treated. If someone is rude to us, then we get defensive, and we know that we are justified in being defensive because “Why is that person being a jerk?”
The truth of the matter is that a person’s emotional responses and moods are more a reflection of what’s going on inside of them than it necessarily is about what you do.
Is it reasonable to be angry or sad about being treated poorly or rudely?
But it’s also reasonable to just shrug and move on with your life. Why bother getting angry? What purpose does it serve?
Most of the time, you just get embroiled in a pointless argument that goes nowhere. Not always, of course. But most of the time. Far too many people think that their anger makes them right or require anger to get anything done. “I went out and did this because I was angry!” Okay. You could have also done the same thing while not being angry. So, what’s the point?
And the same thing is true in relationships. If you find that your partner is in a bad mood, you should ask why they are in a bad mood. “Hey. You seem like you’re having an off day. Is everything okay?”
Maybe they’re irritated at something you did. Maybe they had a bad day at work and they haven’t shaken it off yet. Maybe they are stressed about the news, life, or whatever else is disturbing their peace. Or maybe there isn’t a reason. Sometimes we just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and have a garbage day. It happens.
Don’t waste your time trying to guess what’s wrong or psychoanalyze your partner. Just ask. You’ll save tons of time and frustration in your life.
Now, this may also point to a potential red flag. You may be thinking to yourself, “I can’t ask my partner that. They will fly off the handle!” That’s a bad sign. Suppose you feel like you can’t ask your partner a simple question like that, or you feel you need to walk on eggshells to not invoke their wrath. In that case, that’s a situation you should discuss with a counselor.
Emotional abuse often sounds like “I have to walk on eggshells around my partner.”
2. Look at it as an “us” problem, not a “you” problem.
Far too many relationships are adversarial in nature. Your romantic partner is someone that you’re supposed to find some refuge in when navigating this difficult life. But that doesn’t appear to be an attitude that many people have, especially people who aren’t in or tolerate unhealthy relationships.
So, let’s say your partner is in a bad mood. You ask them why they are in a bad mood, and they tell you it’s because of something you did. Alright, now you really have two choices. You can either get mad about it, or you can ask yourself, “What can I do to make this situation better?” Of course, you can also ask your partner that too, though they will often appreciate it if you take the initiative to figure it out on your own.
“I feel like I’m overworked and doing so much housework.” Okay, so pick some housework to do regularly. Now, sometimes the standards of cleanliness are different between partners. Some people like an extremely clean environment, but others don’t care as much. So if you are the type of person who doesn’t really see clutter, or you’re fine with letting things stack up a bit before diving into it, consider just making it part of your schedule so you don’t have to rely on “noticing.”
As an example, Sunday is laundry day. It doesn’t matter how much laundry there is. It can be a huge pile or a handful of clothes, just do the laundry on Sunday, and you don’t have to worry about noticing it. Clean the bathroom on the first weekend of every month. Vacuum every Saturday. You can put these things in your regular calendar and take some of that weight off their shoulders.
Listen to what your partner is telling you and look at it as the two of you as partners trying to figure out the solution. In doing that, you can avoid taking on their anger, sadness, or whatever bad mood they might be having because you’re focused on a solution instead of dwelling in the negativity.
3. Take some time for yourself to decompress.
Sometimes life deals us a rough hand that can affect our peace of mind and happiness over an extended period. A chronic illness can be heavy and difficult to deal with. Losing a loved one is not something from which a person will immediately bounce back. Mental illness or substance abuse may also be an issue. These are all things that can dramatically affect you or your partner.
The key to getting through that negativity is to create space for yourself to seek some reprieve. That’s not an excuse to just bounce out for a week and be like, “SEE YA!” No, suppose you want to be there for your partner and keep your own mental health from tanking. In that case, you’ll want to take some regular breaks, like diving into a hobby, taking walks, reading a book, or whatever you can do to take your mind off the situation for a while. And really, your partner should do similar things. It’s not good to just dwell in that negativity. It makes things much harder to get out of.
Now, if you are someone who’s gone through some terrible things, there’s a pretty good chance you may be thinking something like, “It’s not my fault X terrible thing happened! Why should I be punished for it!? I don’t get a break from it!”
You’re absolutely right. It’s not your fault X terrible thing happened. But, no, you shouldn’t be punished for it. And yes, I know you don’t get a break from it. Even a little escape once in a while doesn’t last long. I get it. I’ve been there.
But I’ve also been in a position to watch a lot of so-called “loved ones” bail when times got hard. Chronic illness? Mental illness? Accidents? “You’re just not the same since your friend/relative/mom/dad/sibling died. I need to be happy.”
And that’s just the shallow people. Even the people who want to be there for you need to take breaks from it once in a while to keep their own mental health intact, otherwise they just burn out.
This is especially a problem in the mental health community, where socially inexperienced people often beat the drum on having a “support network.” Well, a support network is great to lean on temporarily, but it’s not something that will stay intact long-term. Every time you dip into that network, you are withdrawing water from a well, and once that well is dry, the network breaks, and you’re out of luck.
That’s why it’s so important to have professional help and additional support outside of a personal network. Sooner or later, you look around, and no one’s there anymore. You’re alone. Other people can help, but they can’t carry the load for us. That load is yours to carry as best as you can. Other people can only help you along the way.
4. Don’t rely on your partner for peace of mind or happiness.
One of the great mistakes that people make is to rely on their partner as their source of happiness. This is something you see a lot with lonely or depressed people. “I found such a wonderful person! And now that they are here, I am so happy!” And what happens if that person disappears?
You see, your partner can’t be your source of peace of mind or happiness. That is putting way too much on their shoulders. What happens if their life takes a turn for the worse? Do they lose someone they love? Do they fall into a pit with their own problems? What happens when they don’t have the energy to prop up their partner’s lack of happiness?
I’ll tell you what happens. The whole thing implodes spectacularly.
Now, suppose you aren’t relying on your partner for your happiness. In that case, you have a great deal of autonomy in deciding how you feel concerning their feelings. If they are angry or sad, you can let them be angry or sad, be compassionate and understanding, and not take on their negative feelings. You’re not being saddled with the additional work of trying to make or keep someone happy.
In a perfect world, a healthy relationship should mostly add happiness to both people’s lives. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where death, tragedy, mental illness, physical illness, job losses, bankruptcy, addiction, and many other terrible things happen regularly.
Things aren’t always going to be happy. Your partner isn’t always going to be happy or doing well. The more resilient you can make yourself to the flow of life, the easier it is to protect your own mental health and well-being. And it’s also much easier to be there for someone when you have your own mental health in order.
5. Don’t take your partner’s moods personally.
How do you not take your partner’s moods personally? Well, the key is to identify where that mood is actually coming from. And if you can identify that, you can do something to keep a healthy boundary and help your partner through it.
For example, let’s say that your partner is under a lot of stress at work. So they bring that stress home in the form of arguments and conflict. Now, is it right that they do that? No, not really. But they may not understand that their stress is bleeding over into their personal life. And suppose you can avoid being pulled into arguments. In that case, you can better field suggestions that they find a way to decompress and blow off some of that stress in some way that doesn’t affect your home.
Try to ask yourself, “Is my partner upset with me or something else?” It helps to be direct and just ask your partner what is upsetting them, but sometimes they’re not going to know. Sometimes they will need some outside perspective to better understand what’s going on with them. On the other hand, they may also be the kind of person who doesn’t want to talk about it and just work through it themselves. In that situation, it may be better to just give them some time to themselves to cool off.
Your partner having a hard time or experiencing some negativity will happen. In most cases, the two of you can work through it in a way that makes sense for you. Every relationship has hiccups like that.
What you want to be aware of is when that starts reaching extremes. For example, suppose you are afraid for yourself or your partner. In that case, you should talk to a certified mental health professional about the situation. If you feel like you need to walk on eggshells to keep your partner from blowing up on you, that’s a big red flag that you should discuss with a professional. These situations may not be safe and can easily escalate.
Always remember that despite being part of a couple in what might be a serious and committed relationship, you are in fact two separate people. You don’t have to absorb their bad moods and live with them in that unhappy place. In fact, by maintaining your own more upbeat mood, you may find your partner’s dark thoughts and feelings ease more quickly.
Still not sure how to avoid taking on your partner’s bad moods?
Speak to an experienced relationship expert about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.
Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a certified relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.
While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix. And if it is affecting your relationship and mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through in their relationships without ever being able to resolve the issues that affect them. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.
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- 12 Tips For Dealing With A Stressed Partner And Helping Them Relax
- 5 Reasons Why Your Husband Is Always Angry Or Irritable With You
- 8 Reasons You’re Happier When Your Husband Is Gone