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Dealing with partner's relentless negativity?

(29 Posts)
BuffytheReasonableFeminist Fri 14-Mar-14 08:57:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Anniegoestotown Fri 14-Mar-14 09:02:49

Sorry but as some one who could have written your post 20 years ago all I can say is it will just get worse with age.

My stock reply is "whatever" and then I carry on what I am doing.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 14-Mar-14 09:05:58

Oh Buffy, so sorry to hear this. No sage advice, I'm afraid. Have been in similar (though obviously utterly minor by comparison) situation, when sharing a house with a friend - it is utterly draining. I hope someone has some advice you find you can work with.

ISeeYouShiverWithAntici Fri 14-Mar-14 09:10:29

This probably won't be helpful to you because I guess it's quite an extreme way to deal with it, but I tell them to either do something to change whatever it is or shut up about it, because I don't want to hear it.

I don't mean when someone actually has a problem btw, I'm not that much of a cow grin just when someone is how you describe. Constant, unrelenting, moaning about anything and everything.

It is really a selfish thing to do to someone, to pick them as the person you use to spew out all your negativity without caring that you are sucking the joy out of their day or loading them up with all the crap you want to whinge about while being totally unwilling to make any changes at all!

So now I refuse to listen. And I mean refuse to listen. As in say "I am not listening to this, I don't want to hear it." and walking away.

TheGirlFromIpanema Fri 14-Mar-14 09:12:43

I would sit down and lay out your thought clearly to him. Let him really know how draining it is for you to cope with. Obviously in a nice fluffy non-confrontational way, so that he knows you are coming from a place that has both of your best interests at heart.

What you do after that would depend on his reaction to the above.

Good luck, its not easy to live with someone who saps your positivity and I couldn't continue indefinitely tbh, even if everything else was well and good.

TheGirlFromIpanema Fri 14-Mar-14 09:13:09


CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Mar-14 09:13:41

Nothing.... to him. If he's always been this way then he's always going to be the same. When you love someone, you have to love them for who and what they are IMHO. What you can change is your reaction, of course. Not listen to the whinging, find ways to call time-out or let it wash over you rather than getting tetchy....

HotDAMNlifeisgood Fri 14-Mar-14 09:15:21

Can you inoculate yourself against his moaning? Genuinely, completely, not care or let it affect your own mood? Shut it out, just giving an absent "mm-hmm" as a response while you focus on other things?

I couldn't, btw. It is draining. And I think we can't help but be affected by a partner's moods. But the only solution here, if you want to stay together, is to find a way to detach completely from his emotional states.

I wonder if that is possible without detaching from our own feelings of love for the person, personally. But perhaps there are wise and serene souls who are able to manage it.

dreamingbohemian Fri 14-Mar-14 09:17:04

Oof that's a tough one. I completely understand why it's dragging you down.

I know it's practically a cliche to say, is he depressed, would he go to therapy -- but honestly, from my own experience, this is perfect for something like CBT, which is all about changing your mental habits.

When I was younger (and depressed) I know I was pretty negative. The tiniest thing going wrong would have me thinking: well of course it's gone wrong, why is nothing ever easy, now this is going to suck, etc etc.

What CBT did is help me stop that thinking in its tracks, I literally re-trained my brain not to leap to that line of thinking. It really changed my life.

Your DH may not be clinically depressed but it sounds like he has a depressed way of thinking. And I wonder if your response to it has now become embedded within it -- like, oh great, now Buffy's upset with me again, why is life so hard, etc. If so, then any response of yours will not really have an impact, it will just be part of the usual narrative (if that makes sense).

I think I would seriously urge him to get some CBT. In my experience people don't completely change their whole way of thinking without some help.
I think all you can do in the meantime is detach but that's obviously not good for your relationship long-term.

MooncupGoddess Fri 14-Mar-14 09:22:06

Would humour work? I have a very close friend who can be a bit like this and if it's not serious I just reply, 'Oh no! we're all going to die!' or 'I'm afraid it's probably terminal', etc. It actually works well, but it depends on whether your DH can laugh at himself at all.

Or set him a time limit - 'sorry, DH, I've listened to you moan for 10 minutes and now I really must get on with dinner'.

Make it very clear though that if it is a serious problem you'll drop everything and listen to him properly.

gamerchick Fri 14-Mar-14 09:23:20

I would ask what he's going to do about it and if nothing then tell him to shut the fuck up then.

He does not have the right to dump all his negative energy on you.. its not fair and he needs to be trained to pack it in.

AnandaTimeIn Fri 14-Mar-14 09:29:22

He does not have the right to dump all his negative energy on you.. its not fair and he needs to be trained to pack it in.

Well said.

Yes, to live with someone like that saps all your life energy. I have a friend who does nothing but complain about everything. I keep my contact with her to a minimum (out of self-preservation).

You could try and start with Louise Hay's affirmations.... tho he would probably be too cynical to even contemplate them

They would help you too....

She's well into her 80's....

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Fri 14-Mar-14 09:30:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

behindthetimes Fri 14-Mar-14 09:32:14

I agree with cogito, the only thing you can change is your reaction. My DH is very similar, basically a lovely person but can be hugely negative a make a big deal out of tiny things. Some lady gave him a dirty look when he tried to pull out of a junction the other day, he was still moaning about it an hour later! That day I made a mistake of engaging in the conversation too much, which made it worse.
I find the best thing I can do is make sympathetic noises, and then go and get on with something else. In my experience challenging him only makes him worse, so my tactic is to protect myself from the negativity. To some extent though, I accept that this is just one of those things I have to live with, and it's hard as I'm from a family of very positive people.

ScarletStar Fri 14-Mar-14 09:38:39

You're not responsible for anyone else's happiness. It's possible to love someone, care about them but not being invested in them. It sounds like you're getting there grin so well done for being honest with him.

MooncupGoddess Fri 14-Mar-14 09:42:38

Actually I think from your OP that you're probably being too nice. Just because you're married to him doesn't mean you're under any obligation to listen to him whinge repetitively for hours on end.

'Oh yes, you said' is a perfectly reasonable response if he's going on about his annoying colleague for the 99th time but clearly has no intention to trying to sort out the issue in question.

Or you could just LTB and set up a feminist commune, of course.

rainbowsmiles Fri 14-Mar-14 09:45:27

I'd go the humour route. First of all clearly communicate how bad the situation is then let him know that if he begins to moan from here on in you are going to say "you need to find your happy place" or "I'm falling from my happy cloud" in a funny voice. You do not need to listen to it if it is just negative going nowhere moans. If he is not looking for solutions then you are just encouraging negativity by indulging him. You can do it with humour though and kindness and gentleness but only if you have the big cards on the table chat first clearly outlining your approach.

We all need a good moan now and again but relentless negativity is exhausting and destructive. Especially if you are a fixer.

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Fri 14-Mar-14 09:52:50

When someone's behaviour has a negative impact on you then something has to change. You've let him know that this is causing a problem so the ball is in his court. It doesn't matter how many positive attributes he has, when you have identified an irritant then it needs to be dealt with.

Being around continuously negative people is exhausting, I've been there in the past so I do feel for you. I hope he takes your comments on board and makes a conscious effort to change.

AutumnMadness Fri 14-Mar-14 09:58:08

Oh gods in heaven, this sounds familiar. My DH is broadly similar. Moan moan moan moan moan. Ughhh. I cope by demonstratively plugging my fingers into my ears and going "la-la-la-la-la-la"! Sometimes I get pissed off and advise him to go see a shrink instead of dumping buckets of shit on me.

dreamingbohemian Fri 14-Mar-14 10:03:42

I think you're being too nice too.

"I'll think about ways to change" -- hmm. I think what would be better is "I will change." Which he would have to, if you take a zero tolerance approach.

Yes, you can detach, and focus on your own life, and find ways of coping with it. But I would worry about the effect of that long-term.

I think it's great you talked about it, but I would now really hold him to that, and cut him off the next time he goes down the negative route.

He doesn't do it to other people because he knows they won't put up with it. So you need to be given the same amount of respect.

bragmatic Fri 14-Mar-14 10:06:17

If he's generally happy, it sounds like a habit. Tough one to break, but not impossible.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Mar-14 10:09:01

"I don't want to detach, because that's pretty much starting to stop caring about someone, isn't it?"

Not so much stop caring as stop listening. It's a 'Boy Who Cried Wolf' situation. If someone whines all the time and you get into the habit of tuning it out then you risk missing the one genuine/serious grievance. I have someone like that in my family and that's happened before. Maybe that's the way to explain it to him?

behindthetimes Fri 14-Mar-14 10:57:03

His reaction to your monologue sounds encouraging! I wouldn't expect him to change enormously, but if he is aware of your feelings, and you can step back a little, you might find it more manageable. Don't see it as disengaging or not caring about him, ask yourself if your sympathy really helps him at all?!

SolidGoldBrass Fri 14-Mar-14 16:12:15

How about buying a large, noisy kitchen timer? When the whining starts - and once you have checked that it isn't anything serious - fetch the timer, set it for ten minutes and plonk it iin front of him. Say 'H, whining time starts NOW and when the bell rings, whining time STOPS'. You could also allow a maximum number of 'whining time' slots in a day. Eg two.

Because his whining is selfish, immature and inconsiderate, and he needs to be shamed and mocked out of doing it.

WorkingBling Fri 14-Mar-14 18:31:35

I totally understand how you feel. Dh and his family can be like this. But dh has got so much better. He did have therapy actually but I don't think that was the main reason. I think it was a combination of things. Me just getting bored and refusing to engage. Me getting angry and yelling either, " either do something about it or shut up!" Or "stop borrowing trouble until it actual happens!" Or, more aggressively, "if you are so unhappy, just leave".

Also, he saw his family doing it and drive him mad. Made him think.

He's amazing now. And catches himself when he finds himself doing it.

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