How to Support Your Partner When She’s in a Mood

I was getting dinner started when I heard my partner come in.

It had been such an emotionally exhausting day and I was completely drained. Work had been picking up for weeks now and was keeping me really busy but on top of that, I had a challenging interaction with my boss that day. 

I was on the verge of tears as I was putting dinner together. 

My partner came in, and from what I assume had to have seen me upset but all he did was give me a kiss and go do his thing. I has hoped that we would ask what was wrong. There was something in me that was blocking me from just naming that I was upset and would love to talk it through. 

What felt like being ignored by him in this vulnerable moment can actually be explained by science. See men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. We process emotions and pick up on facial expressions in completely different ways than the other.

If you’re a woman reading and have felt misunderstood in emotional moments, or if you’re a man reading and have felt confused and overwhelmed about how to handle your partner in the midst of her emotions, then this article is for you.

*Please note these are just generalizations and if they don’t fit to you and your relationship, use this article as inspiration for points for discussion on how to best support each other. Also note that one’s attachment style (anxious verse dismissive) can also influence how they prefer to process their emotions and the kind of support they want. 

In this article you are going to learn:

  • How to best support your woman when she’s upset.
  • Important do’s and don’ts when she’s upset.
  • The why behind her behavior.

Observe + Notice

As women, when something is going on for us we have the desire to be seen and noticed. Usually, we want to be paid attention to and for interest to be shown to hear about what’s going on. 

It’s important for women to understand that men have fewer circuits in their brain to pick up on non-verbal cues; thus, they don’t pick up on other people’s emotional states as easily as women.

When men see a woman upset they don’t intuitively think to inquire about it because that’s not how their brain is wired and they’d prefer to be left alone.

Women on the other hand are wired to recognize distressing cues in others and pick up on subtle signs, almost always wanting to know what’s going on and name the problem.

Men, you may not instantly pick up on her emotions or think to ask what’s going on if you suspect that something is off. Just know that it’s important to lean in when you sense your partner is emotional. Be courageous and ask about what’s going on, instead of pretending like you didn’t notice. 

Women, it’s important to understand that your partner isn’t wired to pick up on and notice when something is going on for you. Expressing that something is going on and making a request for the kind of support you would like will help teach your partner how to best be there for you in such moments. 

Check In with Her

As mentioned above, when in a mood, men prefer alone time. If something is bothering them, they often want to work it out on their own, instead of talking it through when they are in the heat of it.

Talking through feelings raises oxytocin and estrogen levels and this isn’t helpful for men when they are stressed.  What they need in those moments is more testosterone. One of the ways testosterone is replenished is through alone time. Because this is how they operate, their natural inclination is to not call attention to someone’s mood. They think they are being considerate, because this is what they would like.

Another reason that I see men holding back from checking in with their partner, is because of the possibility that they might be responsible for her being upset and not wanting to open themselves up to be on the receiving end of complaints, criticisms and blame.

So men, once you’ve noticed that she’s upset, and you’ve spoken to it, now it’s time to get curious and listen. Simply asking if she wants to talk about what’s going on and share about what happened will open the space for her to express what’s on her mind and start to process her emotions. Some of the things you can ask to help her flush out what’s bothering her are:

  • How did that make you feel?
  • Then what happened?
  • Tell me more.

Men, the best thing you can do for your partner is to acknowledge and name that you feel something is off with her. That simple act alone will already start the release of oxytocin in her and make her feel seen in your presence, and when her oxytocin goes up it brings her cortisol levels down.

Women, when you are upset, ask your partner if he is available to listen to you share about what’s going on for you. Let him know that he just needs to listen and doesn’t have to solve the problem. If you are not upset with him, let him know what you are upset about so that he let’s go of the possible assumption that he is in trouble.

You can learn more about how to best explain to him about the support you need and why you need it here.

What Not to Do When She's Upset

Now to highlight what not to do when she’s emotional. As outlined above, don’t ignore her when you notice she’s upset and be mindful of any automatic assumptions that it is because of you. Instead, check in with her. 

Don’t assume she doesn’t want to talk about it. Ask her about what’s going on. When you inquire, it’s best to  approach by asking something along the lines of: “Are you okay?” I highly recommend to not say something like: “Are you in a mood?” or ‘Are you on your period?”

When she starts to share about what is bothering her, do not go into problem solving mode. She needs you to listen, more than she needs your solutions. Remember this is what gets the oxytocin going and brings down her cortisol levels. 

If you’ve got a time constraint, make sure to let her know by saying “I’ve only got about 5 minutes, do you want to share what’s going on?” That way she can decide if she wants to get into it with you or wait until later when you have more time. If she doesn’t want to share you can always embrace her with a hug and that will also help lower her oxytocin levels. If you have time later in the day, let her know. Anticipating her needs getting met later on and knowing that you care, will also help to produce oxytocin.

Be careful not to create the space for her to share for a couple of minutes and then tell her you need to go, she will feel dropped and left hanging.

Curiosity is key

How your partner needs to be supported isn’t necessarily how you do, so meet yourself and each other with patience and kindness as you navigate and work to meet each other’s needs best.

Men, remember to use your attention, observe and really notice if your partner isn’t acting like their normal self. Be courageous enough to acknowledge and name what you see; they’ll appreciate you all the more for it. And lastly, offer to be a safe space for them to really open and share what’s got them unsettled.

Women, let your partner know when you’re upset and make a clear request on what kind of support you would like to receive. And when he’s in a mood, give him space in a loving and kind way and let him come share with you when he’s ready if he wants to talk about it. 

*If the woman has some dismissive avoidant patterns, she might prefer space and not talking when emotions are alive inside of her. And if the man has anxious attached tendencies, he may prefer talking over having his own space. 

Whichever partner you are reading this article, it’s so important to understand that the support that one needs is likely to not be the same as the other.  If you want some tips to go deeper into supporting each other when you are upset, get my free guide below. 

To learn more about how men and women are different check out my 3 month online group programs: Adored (for women) and Lead Your Love (for men). When you sign up for the waitlist you will receive access to interviews filled with tips and tools on how to improve your relationship.  

Approach each other with curiosity and with the desire to help the other win and succeed in the relationship.

Do you want a free guide with tips on how to discuss with your partner the best ways you can support each other?

Sign up below for questions and prompts that you can use in a discussion with your partner.

Justine Baruch

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