One of my pet hates is sulking and sulkers. This didn’t, however, stop me from sulking, as Phil will attest. But he was a terrible sulker before we both educated ourselves.
Sulkers want you to know that you have upset them, but they don’t have the self-confidence to tell you exactly what it is that you have done wrong. They expect you to just know! So now you’re supposed to be able to read their mind.
Well, the chances are, if your partner is sulking, you won’t know what it is you have done because all the things you said to them made perfect sense in your head, and seemed perfectly fair at the time.
So how do we put a stop to sulking?
We can ensure we don’t sulk ourselves, by being honest with our partner and having confidence to tell them when we are upset and why (without blaming though, remember!)
To stop your partner sulking is really quite easy. You don’t ask them or tell them to stop sulking. You do something much more clever.
As soon as you discover they are sulking, you must sincerely ask; “Have I done something to upset you?”
If they say “Yes” and explain what – great! But quite often they will lie and say “No” if they still don’t feel confident enough to tackle the problem.
In which case you must say “Oh, that’s OK then. I just thought I’d upset you because your breathing (or whatever) sounded like you were angry”.
If they still don’t want to tackle the problem, in most cases, they will feel they have to stop sulking, as they would now appear to be a liar if they continued. Your honesty and courtesy might even persuade them to be honest with you in return. Result!
But if they still continue sulking, don’t give them eye contact at all, and only give short, polite responses to them. Don’t ignore them completely, because then you are being as silly as they are. Remain civilized but make it clear you don’t tolerate them sulking.
To ensure you don’t appear too ignorant, you must busy yourself with something totally unrelated. Unless they are not very bright, they will know that you are doing this deliberately. But in fairness, you did give them the opportunity to sort things out; they can’t blame you for not tolerating sulking after being so reasonable.
If you use this tactic and avoid a conversation without being honest with them first, however, they will get angry and start slamming doors because they will think you have not noticed they are sulking! This will just make things worse. You must be upfront first.
Sulking is very childish behavior, and is the result of being emotionally immature. I guarantee you won’t need to do the above exercise more than twice for the message to sink in. Once you behave in a mature and reasonable way in response to sulking, your partner will stop being The Incredible Sulk!
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