How to deal with moody men
NOV 8, 2011 | ZENOYISE MADIKWA |
Modern-day moody male syndrome
DOWN IN THE DUMPS: Men are not as strong as they pretend.
Male stress tends to be taken out on the partners that we are in relationship with
HE GOES all quiet for no reason and doesn't say a single word to you. He just sits there and looks miserable. He is withdrawn, easily agitated and blows up minor issues out of all proportion.
When you ask him what the problem is he says it's nothing to do with you and that he's OK. His silent treatment is driving you crazy. One day he's fine and laughing and joking, the next he's not saying a word and most of the time his mood swings have no grounds whatsoever.
Psychotherapist Jed Diamond calls this problem "irritable male syndrome" (IMS), in his book Irritable Male Syndrome. He says even men fall victim to hormone fluctuations.
He says IMS can be defined as a state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress and loss of male identity.
Diamond said the biggest reason men were moody was that there were more new and deadly stresses facing men than ever before.
He said that in the past, stress came from physical sources.
"A wild animal would run into the camp or there would be physical danger. And men knew how to respond to that - the fight or flight response.
"But now stress comes from many other sources. From too much traffic, from where our country is going and the direction we're going and so on. The traditional male responses don't work. We can't fight it if we don't know what it is. As a result, male stress tends to be taken out on the partners that we are in relationship with."
Amazingly, a study at the University of British Columbia, Canada, shows that women are programmed to be attracted to moody or gloomy men.
Asiphe Ndlela, a psychologist, says this is because happy, smiling nice guys don't appear as strong, powerful or masculine as those with a bad attitude.
"Men, on the other hand, are more inclined to fancy happy, smiling women because they seem more approachable and submissive."
But is it not women who are notorious for being the moody sex?
Ndlela says we all experienced moody moments, but men and women just handled moodiness differently. The change in a man's mood could be triggered by hormone fluctuations (the same as in females) or stress.
She says men and women approached problem solving differently.
"Men can just get quiet, not say anything to anyone, keep things to themselves, because they don't want to be seen as whiners, while women talk about issues they feel unhappy about."
Ndlela says communication with a moody partner wasn't always easy.
"When your partner gets moody like that, it is important to stay calm. Understand your husband's need for space at times. Be there for him if he needs you, but let him work through his own frustrations.
"Don't get easily offended, don't get selfish. Show him some affection, but don't overdo it."
She says it is important to maintain your own good mood. There's no need for both of you to be moody. But if your partner's moodiness does not pass, it could be a sign of something more serious, such as depression.
Mpho Malatje of Masibambane Family Group in Khayelitsha said that from a young age, men were taught that showing emotions was a sign of weakness. Malatje said emotional baggage "comes out in spurts for men