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How do I respond to my partner's negativity?

Community Member

My partner has depression and anxiety and I just want some advice on how I should respond when he messages me and it is negative. The negativity is not necessarily directed at me but it's almost as if he can't seem to find joy or happiness in anything at the moment. He goes through periods of highs and lows I have noticed. At the moment he's in the low mood where he speaks about the whole world being place where no-one cares for anyone else, everyone just wants what they want and they don't care about any one else, no-one wants to work or sacrifice but he does. He speaks sometimes as if he is some sort of supreme God where he does nothing wrong and is just the best and everyone else is crap. I feel like I'm never good enough, I don't answer the way he wants me to when he asks questions, he always thinks I'm trying to do things to stuff him around mentally. As if everything is a personal attack on him. He acts like he is so hard done by and that he is the only person in the world that anything is hard for and if everyone in the world is doing things just to make him angry or upset. It's so frustrating. I don't know how to respond to the constant negativity. He will counter argue anything positive I try to say with something negative. I can't win no matter what I do or how I act. I feel like everything with him is a test. I feel like I'm always failing. It's as if he loves to tell me how much he sacrifices for me and my children every day by working so hard, we are all ungrateful etc etc. Should I argue back at him or should I let it all just go? I feel like he would argue with me to get his point across and I would not argue just so I can have peace. I'm at such a loss as to how to respond to him in just every day conversations these days. It's not ok for him to be nasty or mean or hurtful. I'm not anyones emotional punching bag. I had an emotionally abusive ex husband. I don't need an emotionally abuse partner now!

10 Replies 10

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi moocow#1,

From personal experience, I know that can be extremely exhausting to always be the one to have to cheer people up, while all they do is suck energy from you. My mother was like this a lot and so is my partner. I have found that each afternoon my partner calls me to ask me how my day was and I’d always answer “good” in a sunny way and then I’d ask him and it was always “shit” and then he’d bitch about work, yell at people in traffic etc. I ended up shifting things so that “I’m making an effort to be less negative” which then gave me a reason to say to him “enough of that, we’re not doing this anymore” and it has actually worked for the most part. It’s a constant battle but I think you can retrain people to see the positive in things, provided they want to.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi moocow,

Welcome to the forum. Thanks for taking the time to write your post so honestly.

It is very difficult living and communicating with a partner who is depressed and it is difficult being depressed and hearing ones negative thoughts in ones head all day and having depression suck out any little joy in ones life.

You are aware what he is doing but even so you know it can wear you down. Nobody wants to feel like a an emotional punching bag.

I can only speak for myself but I know when I was depressed I would be so negative and say things that were seen as being mean. For me all the loathing I had was for myself but it meant I had trouble communicating with others as I found it hard to speak and find the words to express my emotions.

It can be hard to distinguishing between the person and the illness. Alas depression is an overwhelming and tricky illness that can be deceptive.

I wonder if your partner would go with you to see a doctor or a counsellor or is he already seeing one.

I think arguing back can be counter productive but you can be assertive and supportive. You will support him but you will not allow him to put you down. When one is very depressed it can be hard to see the positive as everything looks grey.

Before your partner was depressed, I wonder was he very positive and wonder how did he treat you and your family?


Thank you for your response. This morning my partner and I were having a whatsapp message exchange like we do every morning ( he works away from home 4 nights a week). I got the feeling that the messaging was taking on a some what negative light so I simply ended my message by saying to him, "I'll let you get some sleep. Chat later, Love you". To which he sent me absolutely no reply back. I didn't feel like sitting through a forced amount of messaging where I could feel his negativity. I think what I did was ok for me and for him.

Before he was depressed he would never be so negative or if he was it would only be for a short amount of time and he'd be ok again.

He has told me that I am the reason he is depressed because of a series of "things" he believes in his unlogical part of his brain happened (that in reality never did). I'm very sorry to anyone who has depression but I am not the reason for his depression. I find this totally unfair to put the blame on me. I walk around on eggshells every day hoping I don't piss him off. I don't have depression and never have but I have empathy for any human being going through any mental illness.

I certainly share your frustration. I never know what will set my wife off. Even now when she is trying to prove how much our marriage means to her she can’t help but let her spite show through. I think it helps to try not to react emotionally but let them know how you are feeling when they take their frustration out on you.


Thanks for your reply.

Of course his depression is not your fault. The trouble his depression is affecting his thinking.

Has he seen a dr or a counsellor or could you go together.

You need support and maybe talk to a counsellor if he doesn't want to go. You are very kind and I as I said you need to look after yourself .

The fact that his depression maybe causing him to say some hurtful things to you does not make them any less hurtful. You need to find a way to protect yourself and get support.


We went to couples counselling a few months ago and it lasted a few sessions. I really liked the counsellor and thought he was great. My partner didn't like him and I knew he didn't, the moment the counsellor didn't and wouldn't validate all the thoughts and actions my partner was having. One counselling session he stormed out like a child and I was so embarrassed. He believed that the counsellor was telling him one thing in private and us something different as a couple in counselling. The counsellor told me in a one on one session that he thought my partner sounded incredibly narcissistic and I had thought this myself but he just validated my feelings about this. My partner has an almost grandiose way of thinking. His way is the correct way and his opinion is the right one. I wonder why he takes his stuff out on me yet around close friends he is so sweet. I don't deserve to be the one copping all the shit stuff. It's really unfair.

Whenever I tell him how I feel about anything or how he may have made me feel, there is never a sorry ever! Hell would freeze over before he would ever say he was sorry or admit anything he has said or done is not ok.

Hi moocow. Your partner sounds a lot like a guy I dated for a while who I suspected was a covert narcissist: very negative, nothing ever his fault, very self-absorbed, everyone out to get him, blaming people for everything (eg, he claimed his breakup with a previous girlfriend was his sister's fault rather than accepting responsibility), would not apologise for anything and if I ever raised an issue with the relationship he would turn it around so that it was somehow my fault.

If you search for articles on covert narcissism there is a lot of advice on how to protect yourself if you are in a relationship with someone with this.

Thank you for the tip. I will definitely do a little researching.

Community Member

Hi @Moocow, I definitely hear you. My partner has just been diagnosed with depression a couple of weeks ago, and he is doing the same thing. He accuses and blames me for everything and can be quite nasty because he turns what I say to him into something I did not say or mean at all. I am lucky in that I have been getting a lot of support from friends, family and my therapist and they have all told me that whilst I cannot take the abuse and I'm to tell him it is unacceptable, I am to let him talk and try to take on a more active listening role if he is willing to talk nicely and respectfully. You deserve this as well. Our partners are hurting, we understand this, but they can't be blaming us for things that are not our fault or may not even have anything to do with us. I completely understand what you are going through and I am a very emotional person. It's taking everything I have not to react and yell and scream at him etc, but I know that doing this will just make things worse for both of us. Please make sure you are taking care of yourself and you have people around you who love you and will remind you that you don't deserve to be treated in a nasty manner.