3 Things to Do When You Snap at Your Partner and Feel Like a Jerk

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Herzog’s go-to self-regulation tips: Go for a walk, splash your face with cold water, squeeze ice cubes in your hands until they’ve melted, take at least 10 deep breaths, or lie down and listen to relaxing music. These grounding activities stimulate the nervous system in a way that makes you feel calmer, she says.

Some people may only need 15 minutes or so to chill out and regulate their emotions, whereas others could require a day or two to feel like themselves again—it varies from person to person and situation to situation, according to Herzog. Take as much time as you need, because you’ll want to feel relaxed and centered as you go through the next steps.

Reflect on what the hell just happened.

Next, Herzog recommends reviewing (in your head or on paper) what, exactly, went down. There’s usually something that festered and caused you to get worked up, she says, and pinpointing the source(s) of your blow-up can help you move forward.

Ask yourself what was really going on beneath the surface. Identify the specific emotions you felt—maybe anger, fear, or sadness. Think about what triggered those feelings: Maybe your partner recently said something that stung and you’ve been holding a grudge about it, or you’re tired of having the same argument over and over again.

Dig deep. This is your opportunity to reflect and “get perspective on why you did what you did so that you can move into repairing and then not repeating” this behavior, Herzog says.

Apologize—and get specific.

Once you understand why you reacted the way you did, it’s time to take accountability and say you’re sorry. Research shows that people are way more likely to forgive their loved ones if they— wait for it—directly apologize for their wrongdoings. Invite your partner to chat by saying something like, “Are you open to talking about what just happened?” Don’t assume they want to talk to you right away though, Herzog says. They may need their own time and space to calm down and reflect.

When you both feel up to it, start by letting them know you realize that you reacted poorly, Herzog recommends, and tell them you’re sorry your behavior was hurtful and that lashing out is not how you want to show up in the relationship. Explain why you lost your cool—again, maybe you’re sick of fighting about, say, how you divvy up childcare or cleaning responsibilities, or you’ve just been in a MOOD all day because you got a crappy night’s sleep.

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