When you first enter a relationship, it’s easy to feel like the world is your oyster. You spend time with each other almost every day, go on dates, and have fun exploring new activities as a couple. However, things get more challenging when you move in together or become exclusive. The small habits that once seemed insignificant now stand out because they represent what type of person your partner really is. The little things begin to weigh on you more than they should–dirty dishes in the sink, leaving towels on the floor, forgetting to close the bathroom door, etc. These irritations begin to grow larger because, instead of being honest about them from the beginning, you try to ignore them. Over time, these annoyances become trust issues and red flags that signal deeper problems within your relationship.
Easy decision: How to respond when your partner overreacts
Before you can help your partner calm down, you must first understand how you should respond when they overreact to something you say or do. There are two types of overreactions: legitimate and malicious. First, you must determine whether their reaction was legitimate. If they’re blowing something out of proportion, it’s up to you to help them calm down and focus on the facts. Don’t blame or shame them for overreacting; this will only make things worse. Instead, try to understand why they’re upset. This will help you recognize when you’re overreacting, too.
Don’t shame or blame them for overreacting.
As we already mentioned, shaming or blaming your partner for overreacting will only exacerbate the situation. It will cause them to feel embarrassed and ashamed for being who they are. Instead, try to understand why your partner is so upset. Ask them questions about their current feelings and the incident that led to their overreaction. This will help them work through their emotions so they can refocus on the facts of the situation.
Schedule time to talk about the issue together.
If something that has been simmering for a while caused the overreaction, try to schedule some time to talk about it when both of you are calm. Ask your partner if there’s anything you can do to help them feel more at ease. If they don’t know how to express their feelings, try to be empathetic and ask them if there’s anything that has been bothering them.
Ask them what’s going on and what you can do to help.
After you’ve asked them a few questions and they’ve calmed down and gathered their thoughts, ask them what’s going on in their life that might cause them to feel stressed or insecure. Ask them what you can do to help lighten their load, or offer them your support. Your partner’s insecurities are not your fault, but you can be there for them when they need it most.
Recognize that their reaction reflects their insecurities, not yours.
Your partner’s overreaction reflects their insecurities, not a judgment about you or your actions. They are reacting to fear inside of them–sometimes this fear is valid and sometimes it isn’t. Either way, you do not have to be responsible for their fears or concerns. You can, however, be supportive as your partner works through them.
Be a little more selfish.
Sometimes, you need to take a step back and evaluate your own needs. If you’re feeling overworked or stressed out, try to recognize that your partner’s overreactions are likely the result of them taking on your issues, too. Be sure to set healthy boundaries with your partner so they can support you, too. This will help you both feel less overwhelmed and like you have more support in your relationship. When you recognize the signs of an overreaction, try to respond in a way that keeps the conversation constructive and empathetic. Remember, it’s not always easy to calm down when you’re angry. If you know you become irritable and impulsive when you’re upset, try to let your partner know how you’d like them to respond when you need some space.
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