Question: When a good friend is in a bad mood, what do you do? Ask what’s wrong and try to help? Or, steer clear until she busts out of her funk?
I have to admit, I usually go with option two.
I ask because I’ve recently encountered a number of generally jolly friends who have seemed out of sorts. Normally they’re laughing, but now they’re sulking. I honestly believe it might be the weather—it’s mid-April and here in Chicago it’s still in the low 40s. The never-ending cold is enough to make anyone a little pissy. But whatever the reason, it’s out there. An across-the-board grumpiness.
In these scenarios, when I can feel a frosty chill emanating from a friend’s very being, my MO is to back off and let her have her space. My only goal is to not piss her off even further, and to keep anything and anyone that might push her over the edge as far away as possible. If the door seems open, I’ll say “You okay?” but that’s the most I’ll pry uninvited. This is my attempt at helping, because when I’m in a bad mood myself I go right to my people-avoidance place. My bad moods are usually accompanied by a strong desire not to talk to anyone, because I’m not in the right mindspace for socializing and also because I worry I might snap at some poor innocent soul for merely talking to me.
I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is.
If a moody friend tells me she has had a bad day or is annoyed about something that she doesn’t want to talk about, my response is “OK. Changing the subject then…”
However, I know this isn’t everyone’s course of action, and it might not be the right one. I treat moody friends as my moody self would want to be treated. The problem, of course, is that not everyone wants the same treatment. Some people sulk just so someone—or multiple someones—will ask what’s wrong, allowing said sulker to open the floodgates of rage.
With some of my friends, I know their preference and cater to it. I am always happy to be the sounding board for a BFF’s mood if that what she needs.
But I’m talking about new friends. The ones whose needs you haven’t yet mastered.
I’ve seen plenty of women take a different approach than I. They’ll say “Is everything okay? What’s wrong? What can I do? Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” and either really annoy or really support the bad mood bear.
The point is, I often try to honor what someone says. If a friend says “I want to be left alone,” I buy it. I leave her alone. But I now I’m worried I come off as uncaring.
Sigh. Drama. Sometimes you can’t win.
What do you guys think?