When everything is status quo, of course you’re a positive presence in your partner’s life. You boost his confidence, you motivate him; you inspire him and light up his day just by being around. But when a man is down on his luck and has lost his job, all the rules change. The truth is that there are a dozen unexpected ways you could make things worse for him. And some ways you can make things better. Learn how to navigate these sensitive waters.
Let him grieve
Some have compared the feeling a man has when he loses his job to the feeling a woman has when she discovers she can’t have children. Just as fertility represents our womanhood, a man’s career represents his manhood. If you think he’s being over dramatic, he’s not. Let him mope, wallow, grieve and throw things. He needs to go through the motions of letting that job go.
This is one of the few instances in which a man won’t jump right into “fix it” mode and might actually be in venting mode. Let him air out his complaints about the situation, his anxiety, his concern, his feelings of being cheated or humiliated. Just listen.
Expect some pent up aggression
Even the gentlest man will get pissed when he loses his job. You might notice he’s a little more temperamental than usual. Don’t worry: he hasn’t ceased to be the teddy bear you know. A little aggression is normal in this situation. Let it roll off your back.
Don’t push sex
When a man’s sense of manhood goes out the window, so too does his sex drive. His libido will probably be low for a while, and if you try to push sex on him, he will feel like even less of a man because he’s aware that he’s letting you down. Be patient between the sheets. Maybe invest in a good vibrator…the drought could last until he gets a new job.
Don’t go into canceling mode
“We can cancel dinner tomorrow and the show next week. I know those things are expensive…” Canceling every activity that costs money might seem considerate to your newly unemployed man, but it’s really emasculating. If he feels he needs to cancel, he’ll tell you. Otherwise, go along with everything as planned. And perhaps offer to pay sometimes…
But get out of planning mode
Don’t cancel previously made plans, but put making any new plans on hold for now. Even mentioning a concert that is half a year away will stress him out right now.
Know that he will “hole up” for a bit
Women cannot remove themselves from the world entirely to work, or look for work, because we run on the hormones that are produced when we’re around friends. Men are programmed differently and they can and will disappear into their office for four straight days if necessary, to apply to jobs. Don’t be afraid if he does this, and just make plans with friends for the time being.
Don’t try to cheer him up
If you’re packing him picnics and buying him presents and putting on his favorite movies every night, your man will feel like a little kid. And he’ll feel that you’re not respecting the tough emotions he is experiencing. Don’t try to cheer him up. Just coexist with him.
Learn the value of silence
He has a lot of thinking to do right now, and he may not be talking as much as he usually does. Don’t feel the need to fill up that silence: he needs it right now.
Sympathize, sympathize, sympathize
It’s the only thing that won’t annoy him right now. Suggesting how he can fix things, or how he could have done things better, or saying, “Everything will be fine” will only aggravate him. Just nod and say you understand.
You’ll lose a plus one; don’t let it get to you
He won’t want to attend all the social things he used to, and your friends will notice and probably comment. Don’t let them make you angry with your partner for skipping out on a few parties. He’s not feeling as social right now and that’s okay.
Be tactful with your parents
Your parents don’t need to know all the details of your partner’s job loss. The only thing more embarrassing than having a girlfriend see a man lose his job is having her parents see it too! Stay optimistic when updating your parents on the situation.
Be extra conscious of nitpicking
You can just take out the trash this week, even if it’s his turn—it won’t kill you. But bringing it up to him could cause a blow up. Cut him some slack in the chores/errands department for now.
Invite his friends over
Men don’t remember as often as women do that it is important to see friends during difficult times. Invite his friends over for a beer—your guy will be happy you did, even if he groans about it first.