How To Deal With An Emotionally Unstable Man?

My Questions and Answers | | Expert Author , Psychotherapist
Updated On: March 29, 2024
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No, you don’t need to bolt at the thought of emotionally unstable men. While it is indeed important that in a relationship both partners are equally emotionally invested, it is possible that over time one may develop or start revealing mental health issues, resulting in emotional instability. In today’s day and age, that is hardly a new phenomenon. With the kind of stressors, triggers and issues that are around all of us, anyone can slip into a depressive state or feel emotionally unstable at one point or the other in their lives.

Just because one partner is going through something difficult does not mean that you should leave or walk away from them. Love is about staying with someone through trying times. The only time you should consider walking out on them is when your own mental peace is being compromised and the other person refuses to change for the better. As it is rightly said, there are some people you just can’t save. If it gets to that point, prioritize yourself and do what you think is best for you. But before that, try to give it your all if you do truly love them. And here’s how you can do that.

Psychotherapist Snigdha Mishra, founder and director of LIFE SURFERS and founding member of Bharatiya Counselling Psychology Association (BCPA), who is an experienced psychologist and mental wellness and behavior trainer. She answers an important query for us today regarding the same.

How To Navigate Being With An Emotionally Unstable Boyfriend?

Q. My partner and I have been together for about ten months now. We are madly in love and yet we are not able to stay together. He is emotionally unstable (he agrees with me on this) and just has a hard time handling his emotions. He has had a rough childhood and feels that emotions make him weak and pathetic… and hence tries to cut them out or suppress them. That doesn’t help much either, as it makes him very emotionally inconsistent. On the other hand, he does love me a lot and I do truly believe that. We want to make it work despite him being an emotionally unstable boyfriend. We just don’t know how.

From the expert:

Ans: Hi! I can see that both of you are aware and insightful about your issues and that you wish to work on your relationship. That itself is a great start. I would suggest you both sit together and discuss the following questions:

1. What are the two of you willing to bring to this relationship?

2. What are you ready to let go of (personal traits etc.) as a way of putting effort into the relationship? Especially the unstable partner?

3. How and where do you see yourself in the relationship five years from now?

Also, it would be of help to seek couples counseling and/or counseling for emotional regulation for your partner for ensuring emotional stability in a relationship. Look for a trained therapist and s/he’ll be able to guide you further. Now ask yourselves the first two questions again and reassess them. This should enable you to center and ground yourselves in your partnership and gain the perspective that you need. All the very best!

Related Reading: Empath Vs Narcissist – The Toxic Relationship Between An Empath And A Narcissist

Signs Of Emotionally Unstable Men

If you read the above question and felt it ring some bells in your mind about your own relationship, hold your horses before you start making any wild assumptions. Just because he gets a little anxious every now and then or is a jealous boyfriend does not necessarily mean he’s a completely unstable partner.

Even if you think your girlfriend is emotionally unstable, you can check the below signs to assess the same. An unstable partner brings a lot of red flags to the equation. Here’s what emotionally unstable men (and even women) look like in a relationship:

emotionally unstable men
Your unstable partner is dealing with a turmoil of emotions internally

1. They swing in extremes

One moment, he can’t stop showering you with all types of kisses and affectionate gestures. And the next, he suddenly remembers you two running into your ex at a party a couple of weeks ago and he’s now picking a fight about how you should not have hugged him. The whole fight is sudden, irrelevant and probably exaggerated.

It’s possible that you meant nothing by that hug but an unstable partner will ruminate on it and let their own insecurities mar their judgment. This will lead to hot and cold behavior toward you because your partner is just having such a hard time navigating and understanding their own feelings about the whole issue. This will eventually start feeling like you are in a toxic relationship if you don’t get help at the right time.

2. They don’t take criticism too well

A great sense of insecurity already looms over them in all their actions, all that they do and just their very being. If you do anything to trigger their insecurities, you two will find yourself in an endless loop of relationship arguments. When there is emotional stability in a relationship, one partner can easily take the criticisms and feedback from the other without letting it get to them.

They know that their partner means well and the person himself is genuinely looking for ways to improve themselves. But if you have an emotionally unstable boyfriend or are convinced that your girlfriend is emotionally unstable, then you will definitely notice this sign in them.

Related Reading: Emotional Intelligence In Relationships: Make Love Last Forever

3. Your fights are never rational, they are always trying to blame you

This is one of the most important and the most obvious signs of emotionally unstable men. In most cases, they will never admit that they’re wrong, which is why having logical relationship arguments is just completely out of the question. Fair fighting rules? There’s no such thing in an unstable relationship.

Every time you bring up one of their shortcomings, they will try to one-up you by bringing up one of yours. Not only does this get exhausting but it is also a conversation that leads to nowhere. Unless the person in question is trying to understand what they did wrong and make amends, you two will always be running around in circles finding reasons to blame one another.

4. They never really try to see your point of view

Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is the best way to understand how you might have done them wrong. But an emotionally unstable person is incapable of doing that. They live by the detrimental philosophy of ‘my way or the highway’. Whoever said that clearly never understood the importance of having to compromise in a relationship.

mental illness

5. They invest and retract too quickly

Now this one is a little more general. Whether it is a relationship, a friendship or even a job offer, if your girlfriend is emotionally unstable or your boyfriend lacks emotional stability, you will notice how flippant they are in their decision-making skills. They don’t possess the clarity or patience to be able to reflect upon things. You’ll notice how they rush into things that offer instant gratification and then also quickly retract if they don’t serve them anymore.

This can have many reasons. They might be an anxious person, you may be dealing with a depressed boyfriend or girlfriend, or you are just dating someone who needs to get a grip on their impulses. It will take a lot of empathy to deal with this kind of thing, no doubt about that.

Related Reading: How Do You Set Emotional Boundaries In Relationships?

6. Their responses are usually very immature

Being emotionally inconsistent can make a person confused about how they should respond to others. For example, you’re upset because you’ve had a long day at work, your car broke down after and now you don’t have enough groceries to cook dinner. A helpful and caring partner would hear you out and try to find a quick fix to your problem in order to make you feel better.

But emotionally unstable men and women are also very, very immature so do not expect that from them. Not only will they not even try to understand what you’re going through, but they might also make you feel worse with an insensitive comment or ignore you completely. As cold as that is, a person who can barely deal with their own emotions just does not have the bandwidth to deal with somebody else’s.

7. They contradict their own statements all the time

Because they never thought it through in the first place! They don’t think before they speak, they just seem to ramble it all out on most days. This can eventually become confusing for you because the argument will start running in different directions and you won’t know which one to pick. One day, your partner is upset with you because you didn’t join them on a fun double date that they had planned. Another day, they couldn’t care less about the other couple they wanted to go out with because they feel left out in their company.

If the above signs of emotionally unstable men are reminding you of someone in your own life, it’s time to do something about it. Talk to them, make them see the problem and definitely consider therapy for them. Lucky for you, Bonobology’s panel of skilled therapists is only a click away!


1. How do you know if a guy is emotionally unstable?

You’ll see him displaying extreme mood swings and fighting with you over the smallest issues. He will be awkward in his responses to you, how he carries himself and will often contradict his own statements.

2. How do you break up with someone who is emotionally unstable?

Very gently. Since their feelings are already all over the place, you want to leave them with utmost empathy and kindness. Tell them that you care about them but just can’t do this anymore. Also, add that you’d be happy to be there for them whenever they need you.

3. What causes emotional instability?

General stressors in life, inability to deal with them and a sense of zero control can start to make a person emotionally unstable.

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