Updated: Jan 22, 2022
No matter if you’re dating, in a relationship, engaged, or have been married for years, you know that how you’re feeling impacts your relationship. Whether you feel flirty, calm, critical, or snippy, your partner is going to respond. Without saying a word, your energy and body language can be read and felt… and even though they can sense if you’re feeling good or bad, they still can’t read your mind as to WHY you feel that way.
Your hormones are messengers that influence many functions in your body, including your energy and emotions. Whether your estrogen is rising and activating your serotonin and dopamine to increase your happiness or your cortisol is spiking and causing stress, while you’re interacting in your world, hormones are right behind you backing your attitude up.
Recently I asked women to anonymously tell me how PMS impacts their relationships, mood, and self-esteem. Here are some of the responses I got: “I get very emotional, cry a lot, and pretty consistently feel like I’m not good enough.” “ I withdraw to the point that I don’t answer texts or phone calls. Also, I had never heard of imposter syndrome until you mentioned it.. I have dealt with that my entire life. I thought I was the only one” “I nitpick everything my partner does and actually say it out loud.” “I feel like my partner thinks he would be better off single... until my period comes.”
“I don’t want to be around people, but then I force myself to socialize and it ends up blowing up in my face. I’ve never told anyone that.”
When responding to the question “what would it mean for you if you experienced these PMS symptoms less or not at all?” the answers were resounding:
They would feel relieved, confident, and secure.
They would have less bickering and conflict in their lives.
Some even said “it would mean EVERYTHING” to them!
It’s worth noting that every mood-related symptom was checked off by multiple women. All the women who bravely shared their stories through my questionnaire had something in common with each other, yet for many, this was the only place they were really talking about it. If you deal with these lesser-talked-about psychological symptoms of PMS, you’re not alone…. And you also don’t have to accept this as your fate or your new narrative. PMS (or PMDD, where the symptoms last longer and come on stronger, like PMS on steroids) are signs of imbalance. Your hormones (which impact both your body and mind) are trying to get you to pay attention to something that is out of alignment-- that can be something internal that is causing an imbalance, something external that’s impacting your hormones, or a combination of both.
By tracking your cycle and learning your mood and energy patterns, you can begin to communicate about your cycle with your partner! In my High-Performance Women’s Health Program, I have a full guide on this called Aligned Together, which includes tips and scripts (examples of what to actually say so that you can communicate in a productive way!) for talking to your significant other about what to expect from you this week, what your needs and desires are, and how they can support you. We also work on addressing the underlying cause of their PMS, so we can take their luteal phase (phase before their period) from a time of distress to a time when they feel cool, calm, and collected. Here are some key takeaways from Aligned Together that you can start practicing today:
Normalize the conversation: You aren’t going to magically master your hormones overnight and neither is your main squeeze! Give yourself (and them!) grace and don’t put too much pressure on the first conversation about it… Instead, just practice talking about it weekly and know that it will continue to get easier.
Start with the highlights: If you start feeling happy or motivated a few days after your period, tell your boo! Let them know that your hormones are rising and that you’d like to go out on a date or start a project together you’ve been looking forward to. Also, include how you like to receive affection. During luteal phase (after ovulation and before your period), you probably won’t be game for a quickie, but you might really appreciate a back rub, extra hugs, and lots of foreplay. Especially with men, if you let them know what to expect out of sexy time in advance, it will lead to a lot less frustration for both of you.
Learn Your Love Languages: Knowing your cycle is it's own love language! Think about how you like to receive love when your mood is high and you're feeling social, then think about how you like to receive love if you're feeling more introverted or trying to avoid stress. Maybe you like physical touch during follicular and ovulation phase, but during luteal phase (before your period), you want words of affirmation. Maybe you like quality time during follicular and ovulation, but acts of service during luteal and menstrual phase.
Take advantage of that Ovi charm!: During ovulation phase, your communication skills are fine-tuned thanks to the way estrogen and testosterone are influencing your brain chemistry! You're also likely to be in a great mood! You’ll feel extra flirty and social, feel more attracted to your partner, and you’ll be able to communicate really well-- use this time for important conversations, date nights, and to delegate tasks that will feel overwhelming before your period.
Your hormones do not have to feel like a mystery to your partner (or to you)! With time and practice, these conversations can help you feel more connected and able to receive the support you need all month long!