How to Deal with Him when He’s Stressed Out

How to Deal with Him when He's Stressed OutYou already know that guys and girls handle stress differently. You’ve seen that reality in action.

Think about the last time your guy had a really chaotic day. Maybe things went sideways on him at work, or his car broke down, or there was some kind of family drama. How did he handle it?

If he’s like most guys, he went into problem-solving mode. That’s what guys do. And it often involves being short or ignoring you.

By contrast, women tend to seek empathy and relational connection when they’re stressed. That’s why you feel compelled to talk to a trusted friend on bad days.

But the difference goes even deeper.

When guys are stressed, they get very pragmatic. Emotions get in the way of problem-solving. So, he’ll repress his feelings to give himself the mental space to find a solution. [i]

Which technique is better? Neither. They’re just different. But the difference is crucial.

How crucial? I’ll put it this way. If you don’t have a strategy for dealing with him when he’s stressed, the two of you could end up butting heads when he needs your support the most.

So how do you handle a stressed out guy?

There are three easy things you can do to play the perfect support role when he’s overloaded.

First, recognize that he handles stress differently without criticizing his approach.

Unfortunately, some women mistake the average guy’s instinct to repress feelings in the midst of stress as a form of immaturity. In reality, it’s more of a tactical move. In fact, in emergency situations, it can be extremely useful.

Granted, his response to a stressful day at the office may not make emotional sense to you. It’s not how you would handle the same kind of day. That’s okay.

BOTH of your strategies are valid.

Of course, even if you accept that his approach is valid, it can still be tempting to try to get him to adopt your coping mechanisms. Which brings us to my second piece of advice: don’t do that.

Here’s what I mean. He tells you he’s stressed. You would want to talk through how you feel, but he clams up. You can tell the wheels are turning, but he doesn’t share what’s going on in his head.

Don’t push him to talk!

He’s working through the problem, trying to find a solution. Let him tackle stress the way he’s naturally inclined to. Don’t try to get him to share simply because that’s what you’d want to do.

Which brings me to my final tip. Instead of trying to get him to open up, roll with his strategy. Give him a bit of mental space, so he can think through whatever has him stressed.

Sometimes that means talking about something else. Sometimes it means jumping into a fun distraction with him. And sometimes it means giving him literal space.

He’ll most likely let you know which he needs. And if he doesn’t, you can always ask.

Just know that by supporting his preferred mode of stress management, you’re supporting HIM.

Men and women are alike in a ton of ways, but how we handle stress is one area where we’re noticeably different. Neither gender does stress “the right way.” Instead, we choose two different but perfectly functional roads.

When he’s stressed, he needs your support. The best way to give it to him is to accept and validate his stress management.

In those moments, give him the mental space he needs to be the problem-solver he is.

[i] Gross, Dr. Gail. “How Men Handle Stress Differently.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 June 2013. Web. 16 June 2016.


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7 thoughts on “How to Deal with Him when He’s Stressed Out

  1. Brandie Callahan said:

    Taurus’s are really bull headed ,stubborn men. How do I get around a real stubborn man that does take no for an answer

  2. Helen said:

    I wish this was true – I’d love to let men do the problem solving and be alone as long as they need! Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be case with the men I have dated over last years (3 of them). I tend to be very pragmatic and a problem solver myself and hate if someone is trying to push me talking about things when I haven’t figured out yet myself what I want to do. I also tend to attract sensitive type of guys who like talking.

    When these guys have a problem, instead of looking at it logically and trying to solve the problem, they start dwelling on it, creating a lot of drama from smallest things and if I say one word wrong, they suddenly drop to a level of a 6 year old little boy and scream “you don’t understand me” and create even more unnecessary drama. I hate it and I can’t deal with it, so what I do is I leave them to do the drama king thing by themselves. I then talk with them once they have calmed down, but often it again goes on the over-analysing and rolling on the sh*t.

    My strategy is not working out very well (actually 2 of the relationships ended because I was sick of their drama), any advise?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Helen. You might find relationships more rewarding if you redefine what “drama” means.

      No one likes drama, but it’s rare to find someone who admits to creating drama on purpose. And that’s because when we are creating it, it doesn’t seem like we’re creating drama just for the sake of drama. Rather, we are feeling something (something that matters to us because of a belief or perception operating in our mind at the time).

      You might benefit from discussing the drama that comes up in relationships with close friends or a well-trained therapist or relationship coach. They might reveal insights that surprise you and help you to build more satisfying relationships in the future. Your cool head and analytical abilities are a real strength. But I would hate to see them block you from connecting with others in a way that gives you the power to influence their emotions at a deeper level.

  3. Leslie said:

    So simple. Stuff we know but forget. Acknowledgment not fix.

    • James Bauer said:

      Right. I wish men would understand this as quickly and easily as women do. For men it takes a lot more than a blog article.

      James

  4. Songly said:

    I have boyfriend who had in 3 years relationship. Now he pulled away. And he told me. He does not want to continue this relationshhip anymore. Every plans we had not going smooth together. And I found out by new girlfriend picture posted on facebooke that he dated with an other woman. One day when he came to my house and I asked him about that pic. He told it was just a group lunch picture when he had a trip to Canada. I trusted him and I asked him to return for our relationship. But he refused. And recently I saw the same women posted her pic his profile. Right now I can only have him to come down to help on my house project that he committed to finished only. And i have asked him for return twice. But the answers still nagative. I loved him so much. I did not realize his supports till he pulled away. What can I do at this points to hold him back in this relationshhip? I am so struggling right now. I hope u can give me the best advice or best training. And hope to hear from u soon.
    Sincerely,
    Songly

    • J said:

      Get rid of him to clear the space for one that will treat you ilke you truly deserve and not like a spare tire !

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