“Song-writing is therapy for me. I’m a very moody person, very difficult to live with. There’s a lot going on and a lot of contradictions. My life is always one step away from disaster.” — Gary Numan
It wasn’t the distance. It wasn’t the differences in what we each like to do. It wasn’t the religion or cultural uniqueness. All of those attributes were what I valued and liked about him. For me, the deciding factor in leaving a relationship I was once in was his moodiness and lack of communication.
This man was the epitome of masculinity: he was tough and liked action films, he spoke carefully with an economy of words, he did “man” things. He treated me like a lady. At the beginning, he was an angel sent to me to fit into my creative world. He had a profession that was more regimented than my flexible lifestyle and he appeared super stable and happy. He spoke honestly and made ethical decisions. He took things seriously, not wanting to waste time or energy. I was attracted to many things about his character and aura.
After knowing each other about two months, everything crumbled. Or, perhaps that’s not what happened. I had either been seeing a rosy colored view of him or this was him and the rest was also there but he was going through a very difficult period in his life.
He began to talk less, and appeared stiff and rigid when we were together. He greatly pulled away and I felt a need to come closer. I wanted to talk and address what was going on and he wanted no part of that. Instead of telling me what was bothering him or even saying he needed space, he took to stonewalling me. What an awful feeling. Have you ever been stonewalled? Have you ever been in the same room with someone who has decided not to talk to you or look at you? Trust me, it sucks. Doubts crept up and so did anxiety that I hadn’t seen in years. I thought that part of me was gone. Nope. His coldness triggered me to wonder what was wrong with me?
I started noticing moody temperaments in guys everywhere I turned. I spoke about it with women. We concluded, from our personal experience, that it’s predominately a male trait learned in childhood.
Some women are seen as crazy and guys may be creepy. However, I rarely hear of guys being castigated for their moodiness, but if a gal emotes too much, she may be labeled hysterical. Even today, lots of young boys are taught to fight back tears or swallow their lonely, frustrated, or sad feelings instead of talking about them. Girls and young women are given license to cry or emote. Many men don’t have the tools to express their frustration or moods; rather, many of them resort to anger rather without noticing the range of emotions they may be experiencing.
I attempted to define moodiness and this is where I landed: moodiness is the occurrence of unpredictable reactions, a negative mindset, a lack of openness to new ideas or people, a particularly sour or foul demeanor, depression in the form of irritation or agitation, or lingering anger or frustration that can’t be penetrated.
Moodiness may come as a result of many different feelings, and I can’t begin to speculate on all of them here. However, this is some of the common moodiness I’ve seen:
- He was overwhelmed
- He was overly tired
- He was unable to express his needs
- He was going through financial difficulties
- He was adjusting to a new job and city
- He was experiencing boredom
- He had a sour attitude
- He had a breakup
In each of these mini cases, I’ve been completely unsure how to deal with the situation. My mind has been scrambled eggs while trying to read him. Side note: reading his mind didn’t work. I was told not to take it personally but that was equally difficult.
It’s challenging for many women to date moody men. In my experience, I often think it’s my fault. I asked myself if I did something wrong. I surveyed my friends and we tried to analyze the situation. I asked each guy what was wrong and got answers like “nothing” or “it’s just been a long day.” I pondered what could possibly be bothering him enough to ignore me for days on end or to stay stuck so long? Why was he burning daylight holding this grudge? Why wouldn’t he talk to me (or someone)? I didn’t understand what was going on.
You see, relationships come down to the basic principles of trust and communication. I get how hard it is to show vulnerability, especially in a new relationship. We rarely want to appear weak or needy or have too many problems. And yet, we are human and we have shit in our lives that affects us. Everyone has bad days. I’d like to think of myself as a reasonable, loving human and can handle just about anything someone tells me, and I believe most other people carry similar traits. I don’t typically judge and would never dream of being mean when someone has come to be with a problem (it’s even what I do for work!). Moodiness often keeps people distant, and doesn’t let anyone in.
Realizing that moodiness is a factor in relationships, my work with most of my clients is around how to handle their own mood shifts and how to handle their significant others’ moodiness. We practice communication techniques as well as ways to be less affected by it.
I’m attracted to men who are clear and open communicators. Spending time with someone who is resentful, unwilling to share, or bitter is a big letdown and I end up shrinking. His moodiness often makes me quiet or worried that I’m too much. This combination is a great way to end a relationship. The antidote? Please try to communicate with each other.
After discussing the moodiness factor with some self-proclaimed moody guys, I learned that they often need a hug or physical touch, a sandwich, and a nap. But, if the moody problem persists, they keep reminding me not to take it personally. Thus, the best course of action is to keep doing my things and give him space to process. I was told not to try to fix it, but to be available if he wants to talk. Okay, but what if he never wants to talk and I need to process how his distance has pushed me away? Well, then there could be a compromise on both sides: one person may need to talk a little more candidly so the other understands and the other person may need to back off.
My advice to a moody person:
- Notice what you’re feeling. Sit with it and identify what the feeling actually is.
- Talk to someone, especially your significant other, and ask them to listen without judgment
- Try to let it go.
- Ask yourself: is holding onto this serving me? Is it making the situation rectify itself easier? If so, create a plan to right the problem. If not, let it go.
- Forgive yourself for being stuck.
- Forgive someone else who’s wronged you.
I realize this may seem oversimplified, especially if you’re in a mood right now. But trust the process. It will all work out and acting out won’t make the situation better. Instead, it pushes away people who care and love you.
Photo credit: Carlos Ayala Photography. Hurricane Sandy.