'When I'm upset, he just makes it worse!' How couples can communicate better and without all the drama.

Lauren Gray

Dear Lauren,
I don't feel comfortable talking to my boyfriend when I feel sad, because what's the point? He doesn't give me his full attention. And he gets really disturbed that I get angrier the longer he “listens.” It just seems like he doesn't know what to do or what to say. He's stuck in fix it mode.
I don't want our relationship to end, but it bothers him when I'm upset and can't talk about it. I’ve given up and don’t talk anymore.
Hi Liz,
This is a very common scenario in a relationship. The reason he is so wildly uncomfortable with your upset is because he can’t relate to it in the way you’re doing it: You look crazy to him.

The TRUTH behind the “She’s Crazy!” attitude.
Under moderate stress, women have 8 times more blood flow to the emotional center of their brains than men do. So, a tiny problem can yield a bigger upset reaction in a woman than in a man. His brain can get equally fired up but it only does so for the big emergencies.
So when a woman is talking about her day and expressing herself, a man sees this upset and assumes it’s in reaction to a proportionally disastrous problem. Because you’re upset around him, he takes it personally and believes this huge problem is his fault.
This misinterpretation leads him in a few directions: He minimizes the problem and tells you you’re “over-reacting,” he interrupts with advice, or he feels unjustly blamed and gets defensive. 
All these reactions are well-meaning AND just make things worse!
A man in love doesn’t want to make things worse; He wants to make things better. So today we’re going to learn how men and women can communicate more effectively around a woman’s upset.
The stakes are higher than you think.
Women often need to process things verbally to move through negative feelings and move on to more positive ones. So it’s important not to ignore or devalue a woman’s instinct to “talk things out;” it’s a vital ingredient to being a healthy, happy, feel-good woman.
When a woman stops sharing her inner most thoughts and feelings in a relationship, it’s not something a man should celebrate. It doesn’t mean she’s finally happy or she’s “not crazy” anymore. It means that she has shut off from her desire for and trust in her partner.
Not only will a couple’s sex life dry up but all those negative feelings she’s not sharing and expressing, fester into resentment for her partner. (Click here to learn how men and women can get rid of resentment)
Your relationship may be great today but resentment will be your undoing. If you want to experience lasting love, intimacy and fulfillment, learning how to communicate better around a woman’s upset needs to be a priority for you both.
Talking and sharing is the lifeline of your relationship.
The step-by-step manual: How men and women can communicate without all the drama.
We need to find a way that a woman can share her negative thoughts and feelings with her partner so that he can listen without going into Mr. Fix it mode or getting defensive.
With the gender insights you’ve learned today, you’re already ahead of the game. Simply understanding how men and women react to stress differently can go a long way to improving communication.
However, I also have a step-by-step manual. In this scenario, each partner contributes to the success of the interaction. The woman takes these 5 simple communication steps. The man responds.
The truth is: You can’t change your partner. You can only change your approach so that they respond in a different way. With this approach, a man responds by listening in a more supportive way.


Step 1: Ask him for his full attention for 10 minutes. That’s all. 

When a man has a goal in sight and he can see the finish line, it’s easier for him to listen.

Step 2: Let him know that you would like to share your feelings with him because it makes you feel close to him and ultimately, it’ll make you feel better. 

When a man has your direction for how to make you feel better, it gives him the confidence and patience he needs to just sit and listen. A man in love wants to help you feel better.

Step 3: Tell him you don’t want any solutions to your problems because him listening is a solution in itself! 

When a man listens, it allows a woman to feel that she is not facing her problems alone which triggers calming hormones in the body and makes her feel better. Science!

Step 4: Teach him this magic phrase that he can use at the 10 minute mark:

"You do so much for so many people. Is there anything I can do for you?"  

Step 5: At the end, thank him for listening. 

This gratitude moment brings the two of you together after your intimate sharing. This positive feedback also communicates to him that he did a good job. If a man knows he’s good at his job, he’ll be more enthusiastic about doing it again.
In the mean time...
In the meantime, as a man learns to listen better and a woman learns to communicate her needs better, there needs to be room for mistakes and disappointment.
For Liz and other women reading this, if your partner is not capable of meeting your needs as a listener right away then you need to look elsewhere. Look to your friends for that particular kind of support and intimacy. But never stop talking and expressing yourself because it will be the death of your relationship and of your bright light in this world.
Women gotta talk.
With love,
Now I’d love to hear from you!
Can you relate? Which insight today was a big takeaway for you? Leave a comment.
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