Why does my partner "sulk" on the drop of a dime?

On the couch with Psychotherapist/Family Counsellor Zoe Stravopodi – Gianno

One wrong word and our partner barricades themselves behind a long, deafening silence. For some, this scenario is a temporary experience and nothing but the result of an indiscriminate or improper observation, made by mistake. For others, however, it is the daily motif of their relationship. A large portion of people are confronted with a partner who “sulks” given the chance, daily.

“Sulking” does not always imply a serious occasion. Often, it is something miniscule in the behavior of the other party that will trigger it and this happens because people who sulk usually have pent up anger within them. The truth is that these people are so used to keeping their anger boiling within that they cannot even remember the reason behind it, in the end. This results, often enough, for the recipient of the “sulk” to feel accountable, many times without knowing what they are to blame for.

“Sulking”, as innocent as they might look, is a seriously problematic behavior which can lead to severe impairment.

If your partner “sulks” regularly, it is important to know that people who sulk want to express their anger without having a confrontation. This tactic is usual among women, and this is because anger and aggression are concepts inconsistent with femininity and a woman’s role in society, which calls for sweet and condescending females. All in all, sulking is a passive aggressive manner and an attempt on the “offended” person’s part to postpone confrontation for later, or never.

Remember that the primary goal of the person sulking is to bring you closer, to make you care. It is an adult behavior which corresponds to a child’s way of “Hide to see if they will care or if they will come looking”.

Although one barricades themselves in this way, and they seem to silently scream “leave me alone”, what they really want is for others to approach them and express their love. This behavior is a mechanism designed to “bring us together”, but unfortunately it usually brings about a different result. It accumulates unresolved disagreements and unexpressed feelings, gradually burdening the relationship.

It should be reminded that it is very important to not give in to emotional blackmail with anger, but also to not apologize. Try to encourage your partner to express his or her innermost thoughts, providing them with emotional security and the reassurance that they will be treated respectfully. Only your love and acceptance will make the other person trust you and understand that anger is not something that will endanger or destroy your relationship.


Zoe Stravopodi – Gianno

Psychotherapist – Family Counsellor