If your partner is hot and cold, seeming happy one moment and angry with the world the next, you are probably wondering how to deal with mood swings in a relationship. Severe mood swings may even make it difficult to be around your partner without feeling blamed.
Mood swings in relationships can be challenging, but there are ways to manage them. First, it may be helpful to learn the causes of mood swings, and then you can determine how to cope with them.
What are mood swings?
Mood swings occur when a person’s emotions rapidly change. For example, they may be happy one moment and then sad, angry, or irritable the next.
The meaning of mood swings captures within it elements of unpredictability. Sometimes, it can happen with little to no warning.
Everyone experiences mood swings from time to time, but when a person has frequent and severe mood swings, their partner is likely to want to know how to deal with mood swings in a relationship.
What causes mood swings?
Sometimes, mood swings are just a natural part of life, but sudden mood swings and irritable behavior in relationships can result from an underlying issue. Some causes of mood swings include mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, and other mood disorders.
Personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder, can also result in mood swings. This personality disorder is characterized by intense mood swings, with moods lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Someone with this personality disorder may also experience extreme anger, and relationships with others tend to be unstable due to this and other symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
Mood swings can also occur with drug addiction. For example, when a person is under the influence of a substance, they may appear happy and upbeat, but when they come down from the high, they may seem depressed, irritable, or angry as they begin to withdraw from drugs.
Sometimes, mood swings are temporary and the result of a stressful situation, such as challenges at work, the death or illness of a loved one, or financial difficulties.
Physical health conditions
Physical health problems like diabetes or thyroid conditions can also trigger mood swings because of changes in the body’s hormones and the stress and anxiety associated with having a health problem.
Difference in mood swings between men and women
Mood swings are fluctuations in mood that can involve changes in emotional state, energy levels, and overall outlook. It’s important to note that mood swings are a natural part of human emotions and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, environmental triggers, stress, sleep patterns, and more.
While there can be general tendencies, it’s crucial to avoid overgeneralizing or making broad statements about mood swings based solely on gender, as individual experiences vary widely.
That being said, there are some hormonal and biological differences between men and women that can potentially contribute to differences in mood regulation:
1. Hormonal fluctuations
Women experience significant hormonal fluctuations throughout their menstrual cycles due to changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormonal changes can contribute to a shift of moods in relationships, with some women experiencing more pronounced mood swings during their premenstrual phase (PMS) or menstruation.
2. Pregnancy and postpartum
Pregnancy and the postpartum period involve significant hormonal changes, which can lead to mood swings in women. Conditions like postpartum depression can also occur, impacting mood and emotions.
Menopause is another major hormonal transition for women. The hormonal changes during menopause can lead to mood swings, irritability, and changes in emotional well-being.
4. Androgens and testosterone
While testosterone is often associated with male physiology, both men and women have varying levels of this hormone. Fluctuations in testosterone levels can potentially influence mood and energy levels in both genders.
5. Social and cultural factors
Societal expectations, cultural norms, and gender roles can influence how men and women express their emotions. Men might be more conditioned to suppress emotional expression, which could affect how their mood swings are perceived or acknowledged.
6. Stress response
Men and women may have different stress response mechanisms due to hormonal differences. This can impact how they cope with and manage mood swings in response to stressors.
It’s important to emphasize that while there are potential hormonal and biological influences on mood swings, individual experiences can vary widely, and other factors such as genetics, personality traits, life circumstances, and mental health history also play significant roles.
The idea that women are inherently more prone to mood swings than men is a stereotype that doesn’t account for the complexity of human emotions and individual differences. It’s always best to approach this topic with sensitivity and an understanding of the diverse experiences of both men and women.
If mood swings are causing significant distress or impairment in daily functioning, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or mental health expert.
How mood swings affect relationships: 5 ways
Mood swings can have a significant impact on relationships, as they can affect communication, emotional connection, and overall dynamics between individuals. Here are five ways in which mood swings can influence relationships:
1. Communication breakdown
Mood swings can lead to difficulties in effective communication.
When one person is experiencing intense mood swings, they might struggle to express themselves clearly or listen to the other person’s perspective. This breakdown in communication can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and conflict within the relationship.
2. Emotional distance
If mood swings are frequent and severe, they can create emotional distance between partners or individuals in a relationship. The person experiencing mood swings might withdraw or isolate themselves, making it challenging for their partner or loved ones to provide support.
3. Lack of predictability
Mood swings can make it difficult for others to predict how someone will react or behave in a given situation. This lack of predictability can lead to a sense of unease and uncertainty within the relationship, as others may not know how to respond appropriately.
4. Strain on patience
Frequent and intense mood swings can test the patience of partners, friends, and family members. The constant need to navigate these mood shifts can be emotionally draining and lead to feelings of frustration or resentment.
5. Impact on emotional intimacy
Emotional intimacy requires a level of vulnerability and shared emotional experiences. Being in a relationship with a moody person can disrupt this in a significant way.
Mood swings can disrupt this intimacy, as the person experiencing the mood swings might struggle to open up about their feelings or might push others away due to their emotional state.
10 ways to deal with mood swings
Mood swings symptoms and irrational behavior in relationships can lead both partners to become unhappy, so it is essential to learn how to deal with mood swings in a relationship. If your partner’s moodiness has become a problem, consider the following ten coping strategies:
1. Talk to them
Have a conversation with your partner about how the mood swings affect you. Maybe your partner is not aware of their rapidly shifting moods and how they are harming you. Sit down and have a discussion, but remain calm and non-confrontational. Give your partner specific examples of their mood swings.
For instance, you may state, “In the mornings, you are usually cheerful, but sometimes, with no warning, you become outraged, and I feel as if I am to blame, which makes me anxious for the rest of the day.”
Approach the topic openly and honestly, and give your partner a chance to talk about what might be going on that is causing the moodiness on their part.
2. Validate their feelings
Validate their emotions by acknowledging that what they’re feeling is real and understandable, even if you don’t fully grasp the cause.
Validating shows empathy and helps create a safe space for them to express themselves. This can strengthen trust and communication in the relationship, fostering a supportive environment even during challenging moments.
3. Remain empathetic and understanding
It can be helpful to approach the topic of relationship mood swings by coming from a place of care and concern. Express to your partner that you are worried for them because of their sadness and irritability.
Ask what might be going on and whether there is something you can do to help. Truly listen to their response and try to be understanding of their situation.
4. Offer to help
If your partner’s mood swings are due to stress or a problem in the family, offer your help. If they are working exceptionally long hours and don’t have time for themselves, you may help by taking on extra responsibilities at home.
Ask what you can do to take some of the stress off their plate. Sometimes, having someone step in and lessen the load can reduce the tension that leads to severe mood swings.
5. Learn how to control mood swings naturally
If mood swings occur in the context of a mental health problem like anxiety, there are ways to help your partner naturally control the moodiness.
For example, if mood swings are due to a mental health condition, getting some physical exercise may be beneficial. Taking an evening walk with your partner or trying a new exercise class together may be a way of dealing with mood swings.
6. Don’t take it personally
Ultimately, we are all responsible for our behavior, so remember that if your partner is moody and takes their anger or irritability out on you, it is not your fault.
If your partner has a mental health condition like depression, it can be helpful to remind yourself that the mood swings are because of this condition and not because of any flaws on your part.
7. Learn your partner’s triggers
If your partner is moody in response to specific stressors, such as financial difficulties, you may begin to pick up on this and take steps to avoid creating additional tension.
For instance, you may learn that your partner needs alone time at the end of the month when bills come due, or you may notice that your partner is irritable soon after coming home from work and needs time to unwind.
When you pick up on these patterns, you may learn that at certain times, it is best not to ask your partner to do a chore or hit them with bad news.
8. Control your own emotions
It can be difficult not to become angry or upset when your partner takes out their mood swings on you, but becoming emotional and lashing out will probably only worsen the situation.
The importance of learning how to not let your partner’s mood affect you cannot be overstated. It can give you the chance to handle the situation more positively and build resilience.
Keep in mind that you can only control your behavior and manage your anger. When your partner is moody, take a deep breath and try to remain calm, as becoming moody yourself will likely only worsen your partner’s mood.
9. Listen to your partner
Actively listening means giving your full attention to what your partner is saying without interrupting or judging. When learning how to deal with a moody partner, active listening allows you to understand their feelings and perspectives, showing them that you care and value their emotions.
By validating their feelings through attentive listening, you create a supportive environment that can help alleviate the impact of their mood swings on your relationship.
10. Confide in a friend
Social support is essential, and if you are dealing with guilt or anxiety surrounding your partner’s mood swings, confiding in a trusted friend can be helpful.
Talk to them about what you are experiencing and how you are feeling. They may be able to offer advice if they have been through a similar situation. If not, having someone listen to you can relieve some of the stress surrounding mood swing symptoms in your relationship.
11. Practice and encourage self-care
Living with a partner with severe mood swings can take its toll on you, so it is essential to take care of yourself. Take time to do things you enjoy, such as reading your favorite book, going for a bike ride, or enjoying a relaxing afternoon at the pool.
It can be exhausting to cope with relationship mood problems, but practicing self-care can rejuvenate you to be more prepared to be the best version of yourself for your partner.
Also, encourage your partner’s self-care during mood swings. Suggest activities they enjoy, like walking or reading, to reduce stress and enhance their mood. Self-care promotes emotional well-being, offering a constructive way for them to manage their emotions and fostering a sense of support in the relationship.
12. Take some time away from your partner
It is normal and healthy to have time apart from your partner in a long-term relationship. Be sure to pursue your hobbies and friendships and spend time doing things you enjoy, even if your partner isn’t always along for the ride, to distance yourself from the mood swings.
13. Get professional help
Seeking professional help if mood swings are frequent, severe, or distressing. Professional intervention, such as therapy or counseling, can provide effective strategies for managing emotions and enhancing coping skills. It’s a proactive step towards improving emotional well-being and maintaining a healthier relationship dynamic.
When should you seek help for mood swings?
If your partner’s mood swings negatively affect you and you cannot get past feelings of guilt and anxiety, you may benefit from seeking therapy yourself to learn healthier ways of thinking and coping. Suppose your partner simply cannot control severe mood swings, and it continues to harm the relationship.
You may suggest that they seek counseling, especially if you know they have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. Suppose your partner has persistent mood swings that aren’t due to a temporary stressor, such as starting a new job, and you don’t know the apparent cause of the mood swings.
In that case, it may be time for them to see a doctor to determine if there is an underlying mental or physical health condition contributing to moodiness.
Commonly asked questions
Navigating the complexities of relationships in the face of mood swings can be challenging. Open communication, empathy, and understanding are essential in maintaining a healthy connection. I
In the following responses, we’ll explore how to address the impact of mood swings on intimacy and whether to confront a partner during such moments.
What if mood swings are affecting intimacy in the relationship?
When mood swings impact intimacy in a relationship, it’s crucial to address the issue with sensitivity and open communication. Begin by acknowledging the challenges and expressing your commitment to finding solutions together.
Initiate a calm and private conversation to discuss how both of you can adapt to these fluctuations. By sharing feelings, exploring potential triggers, and considering professional guidance if needed, you can work towards reestablishing emotional and physical closeness.
Should I confront my partner when they’re experiencing mood swings?
Confronting your partner during mood swings requires a delicate approach. Choose a time when they are receptive, and emotions are calmer.
Express your concern for their well-being and your desire to understand and support them. Use “I” statements to share how their mood swings impact you while avoiding blame. Offer your presence and encourage open dialogue about how to navigate these situations together.
Remember, your goal is to communicate, connect, and find collaborative solutions rather than exacerbate the situation.
In a nutshell
We all experience mood swings occasionally, especially when we are dealing with significant stress or life changes. But if your partner’s mood swings are so severe that they are starting to negatively impact the relationship and your well-being, it is time to do something about it.
Try having a conversation and being supportive while practicing self-care and helping your partner implement strategies for managing their moods. If these strategies aren’t successful, it may be time for your partner to see a doctor to determine what is causing the mood swings.
A doctor may diagnose a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety, prescribe medications, and recommend counseling to help with mood swings. During the consultation with a doctor, you may also determine that mood swings are due to a physical health condition, which can be treated to alleviate mood swings.
If your partner isn’t willing to take any steps to address the effects of mood swings in a relationship, it may be time to reconsider the partnership. You certainly empathize and want the best for your partner.
But suppose their mood swings rise to the level of emotional abuse or are causing you such significant distress that you have difficulty functioning. In that case, it can be harmful to you to stay in the relationship, especially if it seems like your partner makes no effort to address the problem.