Guys, I’ve been there. I’ve dated two women who suffered from PMS. The first time around I had no idea what was happening. None. Nada. And it was bad. Out of nowhere, my girlfriend would suddenly become angry and violent, totally irrational and unpredictable, the exact opposite of who she was the rest of the time.
Deep down she was in terrible pain – and I didn’t see it. Emotional pain that went back to her childhood, but I didn’t know. I didn’t see the triggers, either. In hindsight, of course, it’s all so clear. But at the time I was young and just didn’t understand. And women with PMS don’t come with warning labels – though that’s not a half-bad idea.
The second time, I knew what was going on – PMS – frankly before my girlfriend did. But even with this knowledge and experience, I didn’t play it that well at the start. It’s tough because PMS strikes so unexpectedly, and with a fierceness that really throws you for a loop.
But I did make the decision to stay, which was a biggie. I also learned from my mistakes, and through a process of trial and error and communication was better prepared to deal with the PMS as subsequent attacks occurred.
I was lucky, too. My girlfriend was brave and open and committed to ridding herself of her PMS and the root causes of it – the deep emotional scars that took a great deal of soul-searching and strength to find and face. She also realized the harm it would likely do to our relationship if this went unaddressed, and she valued what we had.
Through it all, it helped that she had a partner. And in many ways I think we guys can be a big part of the process to help cure women of their PMS. So read on for a few quick dos and don’ts that I’ve learned over time…
1) DON’T ARGUE.
When your PMS-ing girlfriend or wife is taken over by her Mr. Hyde side, don’t take the bait and argue with her, because you’ll just be pouring gas on the flames. When in the grip of PMS, women are compelled to argue, angrily, about nearly anything. They can’t help it. When this happens, our natural reaction is to defend ourselves and tell them they’re behaving like a freaking lunatic. But if you do, it’s like pulling the pin on a hand grenade and forgetting to throw it…
Everything will explode.
PMS preys on women’s insecurities and fills their heads with hyper-emotional, irrational thoughts, which they just can’t see – part of the insidiousness of PMS. Despite the brutal storm you’ve got to stay calm, though. And if you can’t hold back, it’s imperative you stay in control.
Don’t lose it and rise to their level of rage, because this will only make things much worse. Trust me. Take the punches and do whatever you can to gently deescalate the situation and cool things down. It’s easier if you can remember that what they’re experiencing is not their fault. They have no control over what’s happening, and they’re in pain and suffering, too.
2) DON’T USE THE “C” WORD.
And by that, I mean “crazy.” In a way, when in the grip of a PMS attack, women are crazy and out of control, but don’t throw this back at them. Again, it’ll just make things worse.
3) DON’T RUN.
Hey, it’s our first survival instinct: When the shit starts flying, run as fast as you can. And it’s the easiest thing to do. But if you really care about this person, stay and take the heat. Because when the fire does wind down – and it will – they’ll remember this.
They’ll know they put you through hell, and will love you all the more for loving them when the going was tough. This shows strength and commitment. It matters. And frankly, if you do run, it just adds one more stick of dynamite for the next explosion – and there will be a next explosion.
4) DON’T THROW THE WORD “PMS” AT HER.
Once again, it’s easy, and probably accurate, but in this explosive, emotional and irrational frame of mind, she’s just not going to hear it – at least not the right way. All it will do is give her one more thing to be combative about. PMS is also not a word you toss around with your friends or hers until you’ve had the chance to explore this together in a healthy, helpful, considerate and compassionate way – which we’ll get to this a little later.
If you bring up PMS and apply the label before you’re both ready, this can be hurtful and a bitter resentment that will only add another layer of fiery fuel to the source of the PMS. Do this and you’ll both hurt your wife or girlfriend, and pay a price for it in the end. And as in all things, payback is a bitch.
5) DON’T IGNORE IT.
Ignoring PMS is one of the worst sins. It means your relationship is probably doomed and you’re just adding hours, days and weeks of unnecessary pain and suffering. You’re also leaving your loved one in a very helpless place. PMS is one of those things that’s nearly impossible to deal with alone. Your woman needs your perspective and patience and love. Ignoring it just adds to the misery – yours and hers. So show some balls. Suck it up and face the fire. It’ll be worth it in the end.
1) TAKE THE HEAT.
That’s right, face the fire, take the blows. Make no mistake, being on the receiving end of a PMS attack can be brutal and its effects can stay with you for a while. But staying there, taking it without fighting back and adding more fuel to the fire will, in the long run, pay off.
Firstly, it shows her you really care. Secondly, it gives you insights as to how best to dial down the heat. Every woman who has PMS experiences and expresses it a little differently. They also respond to different techniques to calm them down. So this gives you a chance to experiment with various things, to see what works and what doesn’t.
2) LEARN ABOUT THE BEAST.
Do your research, get to know PMS. Really know your shit. Learn how and why PMS manifests itself. Learn about lifestyle factors and triggers, etc., things to arm yourself with – both for your own edification and defense, but also as a potential resource for your girlfriend or wife.
Showing you’ve invested the time again shows her you care, shows her you’re committed to helping, shows her she’s not alone, and helps her realize that effectively fighting PMS is a team sport. It’s also great to have a place to refer her to, like CycleHarmony.com, where other women just like her are facing the challenges of PMS.
3) PAMPER HER.
Despite the fact that pampering her is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re living a scene out of The Exorcist, this is just the kind of thing that cools the rage of a PMS-ing woman. Chocolate and flowers are frigging Holy Water. Running her a warm relaxing bath is the act of a saint. Whatever she loves the most – go get it or do it. Or just wrap your arms around her and hold her until the storm passes.
Affection, thoughtful romantic gestures and compassion are all effective ways to disconnect the scorching emotions raging through her system.
This is important for any successful relationship, but it’s even more crucial when one of the obstacles to that success is PMS. Maybe not in the middle of a meltdown, but talk to her about how and what she’s feeling, and listen. Really listen. Get to know her symptoms, her cycles, and her triggers – even the issues from her past that may be at the root of all these powerful and irrational emotions.
Find out what she needs and what she wants. Tell her what it’s like to be on the receiving end, too, because PMS is not victimless. You can’t blame her for this of course, but she needs to know the cost of her not facing her issues. And one of those costs could very well be your relationship.
Talk frankly and honestly about PMS. And if she is defensive and in denial, keep at it. It’s too important not to. And after all the talk, privately take great solace in the fact that when God was passing out genders, you were blessed with that Y-chromosome. Thank the Almighty that you’re a guy.
5) BE PERSISTENT.
Yeah, curing PMS is not easy, but neither is living with it. And there will be times when you’ll want to surrender. But if she’s worth it, you can’t. Curing PMS takes time because there is no one-size-fits-all methodology. There isn’t a simple pill to take. A lot of factors can come into play, and every woman is different. It’s a lot of trial and error. It takes patience, resilience, tenacity, commitment, and a lot of love…
All the best things do.
This article was written by my then boyfriend, and now husband, Dean. I wouldn’t have been able to conquer PMS without his strength, compassion and support. Please help share his story with guys whose wives and girlfriends suffer from PMS, because as women we cannot do it alone. We need the loving support from the men in our lives. Thank you! ~ Jing