How to Deal with the Man Who Has Irritable Male Syndrome

Does your S.O have Irritable Male Syndrome?

We learned as little girls that our intimate relationships should be filled with mutual love, fulfillment, and joy. To this end, many of us learned to excel at nurturing, convinced we would reap the rewards in our future two-some’s. Nowhere did we learn the script on how to behave should our counterparts not be on the same page.  If you find that you’re giving more than you’re getting in terms of emotional intimacy and connection, then you may be in a relationship with a man who has Irritable Male Syndrome and at a loss on how to proceed.


Of course, nobody exhibits negative traits all the time. However, if you feel you are walking on eggshells, poking the bear or sidestepping verbal backlashes at least half the time you’re with your significant other, then your significant other may have Irritable Male Syndrome. It can be excruciatingly painful to accommodate another person’s negative moods consistently.  And trying to cope with these irritable moods often leads to escalated pain in terms of exhausting arguments, lonely nights apart or fear of physical attacks. The truth that the love of your life has a dark side controlling your every move can be hard to face.


Sometimes your significant other may simply be going through a difficult time at work or with a family member, and the irritability will pass in time. However, it could be a sign that they have a more persistent irritability problem, which has become known as Irritable Male Syndrome. Either way, you’ve probably already realized you can’t change your significant other’s, (or anyone’s!) personality.  The good news is there are different ways you can learn to cope with Irritable Male Syndrome effectively. 


1- Get Used to being on a Separate Page.  

If you’ve been overly-invested in cheering up your irritable man- stop!  It is not your job to change anyone. Your false perkiness is probably more of an annoyance than help because you are essentially conveying the message: you need to change.  No adult likes to feel they have to change to please someone. So learn to live with being on separate pages. You’re independent people, after all. So, most of the time, your moods aren’t going to match.

Similarly, there is nothing wrong with having a different mood than your S.O. If you’re in a good mood and he’s in a bad mood, carry on doing things that make you happy and let him ride out the storm alone.  You can do something with him when his mood lifts.  


2- Set Boundaries

If you’ve gotten comfortable with being on a separate page, but his dark mood crosses into your space, then it’s time for a boundary. This intrusion might take the form of verbal or physical abuse, criticizing or giving demands. The first boundary to set should be verbal in the “I feel x when you do y because of z” template.  An example is: I feel afraid when you yell at me because I think it might escalate to physical violence. An appropriate response would be to apologize and give you some space. If he continues the behavior or argues with any part of your statement, then it’s time for a physical boundary.


An example is: I see you aren’t respecting my boundary, so I’m going to go to my sister’s for a couple of hours, and I’ll check back with you at dinnertime. Make sure you follow through with leaving and checking back with him; otherwise, your behavior could be misconstrued as punishment instead of boundary setting.  If you check back in and he has calmed down, then great. If not, then another boundary is in order. The idea is to continue the verbal/physical boundary setting until he has control of himself.


3- Add a Post-Mortem Discussion to your Routine

A post-mortem discussion is a talk you have with someone once they’ve calmed down. While it’s understandable that you don’t want to disturb the rare good moods by bringing up a negative topic, it’s a big mistake to let the inappropriate or negative mood pass without a full exploration.  You need to understand what caused his bad mood. He needs to understand how it is negatively impacting your relationship. Doing this while everyone is calm is more conducive to a productive discussion. Your trying to do this when someone is upset escalates the problem. Post-mortem discussions are how negative feelings get resolved and not just go underground to fester and come out sideways later. 


4- Be Prepared to Leave

If you implement the above strategies and find your S.O. is still more irritable than not, has increased irritability/aggression such as threatening or carrying out physical abuse, or has become more and more controlling; then it’s time to consider getting out.  So many women use the “good times” as an excuse to ignore the dangerous red flags, but what they end up with is more severe problems. Your life and happiness are not worth sacrificing. You can find someone who has all the good traits of your S.O. with none of the red flags.  Someone who can share and work with you to form that dream relationship. 


The bottom line is, your feelings are not tied to anyone. If your S.O. is in a bad mood, it does not make you a bad guy to let him be.  It makes you empathic because trying to change his mood makes you controlling. Further, if you put up consistent boundaries to any intrusive behavior on his part. Then you are leaving his bad behavior squarely on him and not enabling it.  That should lead to less acting up behavior. And if all this fails, then you are dealing with a red-flag person. And it’s best to get out now because the red-flag sign means there is no chance of change anytime soon.  


If you need further help with Irritable Male Syndrome, setting boundaries, spotting red flags, or leaving a toxic relationship, please call and speak with one of Dr. Laura Dabney’s trusted team members for immediate assistance.  757-340-8800. 

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