It’s inevitable: if you are in a relationship, at some point, you are going to need to console your upset significant other.
It’s just a fact of life. People – yes, even boys – have emotions. We get our feelings hurt. We have bad days. We have mood swings. And most of the time, we like to share these feelings with others in order to lift our cranky spirits.
So it totally sucks when your partner is epically terrible at cheering you up. I mean, come on, it shouldn’t be that hard to get a smile out of me, right?
As it turns out, consoling upset significant others proves to be a surprisingly difficult challenge in a lot of relationships. We say too much, we say too little, we completely botch what we do say…it can actually become a nightmare and make our significant other’s mood even worse.
Greaaaaaaaaaaat. Just what we wanted!
So here are some easy do’s and dont’s about how to console an upset significant other. Pay close attention, and may these tips and tricks rescue a bad mood and make your day a thousand times easier!
1. Do not pick feelings apart.
When your SO comes to you venting, bitching, moaning, crying, or anything else in that same vein – it’s not your job to play detective. It’s not your job to point out the many ways they probably don’t feel as bad as they really feel. And it’s definitely not your job to find flaws in their line of thinking.
Your job is to listen, soothe, and listen more. You aren’t your SO’s therapist (Thank goodness amiright?), you aren’t their fixer, and you aren’t their professor. You’re their support system, their safe space, and their comfort zone. And that’s all you gotta be.
I know not pointing out the obvious flaws in someone else’s thinking feels like letting someone lecture you on hygiene while they have a piece of broccoli wedged between their teeth – but you have to let it go. Because, guess what? Emotions aren’t supposed to be philosophically sound. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Let emotions be emotions.
Emotions are subjective. This means that they don’t need facts or data or logic to substantiate them. Ever.
This doesn’t mean that emotions are an excuse to act a fool. We still need to be respectful and kind when experiencing emotions. You can’t start name calling or breaking things or going crazy because HELL, you feel ANGRY and Kali said that’s reason enough!
But you can still feel emotional at any given time without much of a reason at all. Emotions are rational. They are primal. They are real. There is no appropriate time or inappropriate time to feel a certain way. There is no standard to which negative emotions must be held to. It doesn’t work that way.
So when your SO is upset, sad, angry, or frustrated – they have a right to be, EVEN if you don’t agree with their reasoning. This isn’t up for debate. They are sad. That is a fact. And now it’s up to you on how to respond.
3. Take a cue from Parks & Rec.
First, if you haven’t seen Parks & Rec, I really don’t know what to say to you.
One of my all time absolute FAVORITE episodes on Parks & Recreation (other than the one with Snakejuice/Snorkjuice) is episode 12 in season six – “Farmers Market.” Donna, Tom, and Larry (Jerry or Gary or Terry?) hold their “Whine and Cheese” club meeting as Ron sits in with headphones drowning out the sound. I love Ron. So. Much. Anyway the meeting is just as amazing as it sounds. They drink wine, eat cheese, and complain about anything and everything. It is a serious goal of mine to be invited to a club like this at some point in my life.
But, halfway through the meeting, a very pregnant Ann Perkins takes over. She’s having difficulty complaining to her beyond positive SO, Chris Traeger. (He is LITERALLY the most annoying and amazing person ever.) It goes like this: every time Ann complains about something, Chris tries to fix it or diminish it. So instead of being able to let off steam about her swollen feet or unhealthy cravings to Chris, she lets it all out on the Whine and Cheese Club.
And she’s a total buzz kill.
So, crafty Tom teaches Chris Traeger the two most important words he will ever learn in his life:
That’s all he has to say. Now when Ann complains, he uses his new nifty phrase, and wha la!, Ann feels understood. He doesn’t ignore her feelings or pick apart her feelings or dismiss her feelings – he VALIDATES them. By just using two words! Utterly brilliant.
We can *all* benefit from this lesson. Validation and empathy are your sugar and cream to sweetening your SO’s day. Just make them feel heard. That’s all they’re looking for.
That, and a few “that suuuuucks!”
4. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
When emotions turn negative, it’s easy to blow things out of proportion or get a little dramatic. I do it. You do it. We all do it. So give your poor unhappy SO a break. They aren’t thinking as sharply as usual because they are probably emotionally flooded. This means that their emotions have actually flooded their mind. Logic is turned down just a notch, and feelings have taken the driver’s seat.
Note: this does not mean that they are being “illogical” or “unreasonable.” This is a very normal state of mind that happens from time to time.
Anywho, it’s good to let them get it out in the open without judgment. It’s good not to take things personally. It’s good to just give people a break. And it’s good for the both of you if you could sit in the suckiness together as one. You two are a unit. Be there for each other, and remember that we all have bad days.