Unstable Relationships Exposed: The Dark Side of Emotional Swings

Emotional Swings

In this post, we’ll examine what emotional swings are and how they impact a person’s relationships and mood. We’ll explore the dangers of emotional swings and, more importantly, how to safeguard oneself against them.

What is an emotional swing?

What first comes to mind when you see the phrase “emotional swing”? Crazy mood swings, or maybe a game of “closer-further” with a partner? Indeed, both situations fit this definition. Moreover, they have one main similarity: both are destructive.

Emotional Swings

Emotional Swing For One

Emotional swings are cyclical ups and downs in mood. Today you fall in love with yourself, feel an incredible surge of joy, and get ready to conquer the world, but tomorrow, for some reason, you won’t want to look in the mirror, and you will only have the strength to scroll the feed on your favorite social network.

The main difference between emotional swings and simple mood swings is:

  • Cyclic: mood swings every day or maybe every week
  • Emotional polarity: fluctuates from “I am very sad” to “I feel incredibly energized.”
  • Lack of specific causes: when we are depressed, it’s not because we watched a sad movie or experienced a friend moving to another country, but “simply because.”

All this leads to negative consequences: it affects our relationships, self-esteem, productivity at work, and satisfaction with life in general. Agreed, it’s not very pleasant when the mood fluctuates back and forth, but it’s impossible to control it.

What Reasons?

There is no single answer to this question; there are several different options:

  1. psychological or hormonal restructuring. If the psyche undergoes active changes or the hormonal background changes, we will not be able to ignore this; this will somehow affect the mood. For example, frequent mood swings can be observed in adolescents, and then the emotional state stabilizes.
  1. Stress, trauma. Our psyche is adaptive to stressful events. But in some situations, it is difficult for the psyche to cope alone; for example, when stressful situations drag on for a long time or events occur that are too hard to digest. Most often, in such cases, literally all the resources are spent on processing what happened, and there is no strength left for anything else, even the usual routine things. We react to stress according to our characteristics. There are people who have a more sensitive psyche and can perceive events quite vividly. Emotional swings are also one of the possible reactions of our psyche to an event that excites or greatly alarms us.
  1. Mental disorders, for example, bipolar affective disorder  or borderline personality disorder (BPD), With BPD, a person is characterized by a rapid change in idealization and devaluation of himself or a partner: today he is the best person and you are made for each other, and tomorrow your relationship is a big mistake. With bipolar disorder, the periods of rise and fall are more cyclical; this is biologically determined and does not depend on external events. A depressive episode is characterized by a breakdown, a feeling of apathy, and depression. A manic episode is characterized by extreme strength and mood and the desire to do everything, everywhere, and all at once. With bipolar disorder, a depressive period can last for months and then change to a manic one, but it happens that the episodes change quite quickly.

emotional swings

How do you deal with your emotional swings?

Consider Your Benefits

In the case of factors that cannot be changed (for example, psychological adjustment or mental breakdown), the best thing to do is adapt. A psychologist can help you get acquainted with the peculiarities of your psyche and adapt to them. No less useful are self-help tools, one of which is a mood diary. In the diary, you can record your emotions and observe how often they change. Knowing the “schedule” of emotional swings, it will be much more convenient to make your plans: you can take a walk with a friend during the upswing period and save the series or monotonous work for the downturn. In the case of mental disorders, contacting a specialist and well-chosen medications also help to normalize the condition.

Accept your condition.

If emotional swings are a reaction to stress, then adaptation and acceptance of your condition will be no less appropriate. Angry at yourself for making a common error that leads to mood swings and decreased productivity. But it is the realization that this is a natural reaction and a caring attitude toward yourself that will help you recover faster. Ignoring the warning signs and doing your business through force will only make things worse.

Approaching emotions consciously

It’s helpful to track down where an emotion is directed that doesn’t seem to have a cause. Sometimes the cause of anger, anxiety, or depression is not so obvious; we can get angry at a spoon that has fallen and then realize that the real anger is directed at the current working conditions. Finding the root cause will allow you to gain greater control over your emotional state.

Two-Person Emotional Seesaw

The emotional swing in a relationship is a manipulative technique that alternates intimacy and alienation. It really looks like a swing: the partner either treats with warmth or does not show attention; then he is near, then disappears from the radar for a week.

Why does it work?

Imagine a situation: you meet a person with whom you have a lot in common, you show interest in him, and it turns out that this interest is mutual. Your communication improves, and you’re now going on dates and communicating at night; you’re overjoyed at his involvement… and then he vanishes.What would you experience? Perhaps bewilderment, anxiety, and sadness are accompanied by the question, “What went wrong?” What did I do or not do right? “What was my mistake?” The situation can hurt one’s self-esteem and increase feelings of uncertainty. And then the manipulator returns, ready for intimacy, showing tenderness, showing interest, and pretending that nothing special happened.

It turns out to be an explosive mixture of extremely polar emotions—anxiety, the search for a problem in oneself, and sadness—that are replaced by a feeling of happiness, euphoria, and relief. As a result, time after time, this swinging of emotions back and forth makes the feeling of happiness brighter; joy after a period of anxiety and doubt seems to take on more weight. And it is this cycle that creates addiction, driving a person into a trap: it hurts so much when a partner turns away, and it is so pleasant when he returns again.

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How easy it is to get hooked on an emotional swing is also determined by the personal characteristics of a person. For example, if a person has low self-esteem, then during periods of distance, he or she can take the blame for the fact that the other person has cooled off. “I don’t understand what’s going on” is easily replaced by “It’s my fault,” “I did something wrong,” or “I ruin everything.” In addition, ingrained past experiences can be a risk factor. For example, for a person, what happens seems normal because the parents acted exactly the same way. All this can also be fueled by a partner who can put pressure on feelings of guilt, give false hopes, or confirm fears.

It is this cycle that creates addiction, driving a person into a trap: it hurts so much when a partner turns away, and it is so pleasant when he returns again.

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Why Put A Partner On The Emotional Swing?

To summarize, the reasons for such behavior are either the destructive attitudes of a person, emotional immaturity, or mental disorders.

Personal Emotional Swing Emotional Swings

are not always used purposefully. Sometimes one partner swings on his own, thereby involuntarily lifting the other. Imagine: you are either depressed, on the rise, or angry for no apparent reason. If you have a relationship at the same time, then their dynamics will directly depend on how you feel and behave. Let’s also remember BPD or BAR: a person is first confident in himself and his partner and then falls into apathy, wants to hide away from everyone, or devalues a loved one. This cannot help but affect the partner, who either receives a large dose of attention or feels rejected.

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Emotional Swings

Desire For Close Relationships Combined With Fear Of Being Abandoned

This combo often has its roots in a family where the parent may be distant or unpredictable, rarely showing affection. This can reinforce the person’s fear of being abandoned, coupled with a desire for intimacy that has always been so scarce. This behavior is also common in people with BPD. A person can impulsively enter into a relationship, close their eyes to all the shortcomings of a partner, show warmth and intimacy, and then abruptly move away, devalue him, and doubt the relationship—all this was provoked by the fear of a serious relationship.


Sometimes emotional swings in a relationship are used as manipulation, the result of which is addiction. It is pleasant for the manipulator to first move away and then observe what strong joy the partner experiences in the next period of intimacy. The suffering of a person during periods of distance does not excite the manipulator so much; he is “on the other side” and may not understand what harm is being done.

Why Isn’t It As Much Fun As A Playground?

Relationships between people are always interdependent. With interdependence, the partner is really important to us; we worry about him, and sometimes we need his support. At the same time, our comfort, desires, and interests are not depreciated, and we have the opportunity to tell our partner if something does not suit us.

Healthy attachment ends where manipulative behavior begins, including putting a partner on an emotional swing. As we mentioned above, emotional swings are dangerous precisely because they can cause addiction in a partner who is already toxic.

Addiction, as opposed to healthy attachment:

  • contributes to the destruction of identity. Your goals, ambitions, and plans lose their significance. It becomes more important to please your partner, not to make a mistake in a relationship, to keep your partner, and to satisfy all his needs.
  • It has a negative impact on one’s emotional state and even one’s health. When life turns into a rollercoaster, it stops being fun pretty quickly. Lack of calmness and stability causes chronic stress and loss of control over life; there will be no strength left for yourself, your health, or your friends. Being in this state for a long time is extremely harmful.
  • has nothing to do with healthy relationships. Healthy relationships imply confidence in a partner, development, mutual assistance, and support. The undermining of self-confidence, self-doubt, anxiety, and the inability to invest in significant areas of life are signs of abuse.

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How Can You Protect Yourself From Such An Attraction?

  1. Please take notice and understand. The sooner you realize that relationships do not give you support and security but only increase anxiety and self-doubt, the easier it will be to break the endless emotional cycle.
  2. Answer the question, “What kind of relationship would you like?” Setting values helps you realize whether you are in the right relationship right now.
  3. Be sincere. If the relationship provokes you to hush up problems so that the partner does not run away again, this is a red flag. In a healthy relationship, rights are equal and the needs of both partners are equally important.
  4. Take care of yourself. Competently building your boundaries, normalizing self-esteem, and working out your own attitudes and fears together with a psychologist will help you track where the discord in relationships is really justified and requires the contribution of both partners and where the behavior of the second person is manipulation.
  5. Discuss the issue directly with your partner. If he is ready for open communication and to work on himself, the situation can be changed. If a person does not make contact or contradicts promises, the best option is to get out of the relationship. This is a difficult step, but it will entail peace, stability, and the opportunity to find a partner who will care and show love.

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Whether it’s working with your swing or trying to get off it in a relationship, the most important thing is to take care of yourself. It is this that allows you to hear yourself and rest when your body and psyche tell you to, as well as not taking a ticket to an emotional attraction with another person because you know that such attractions are far from as enjoyable as those at an amusement park.

Passionate mental health advocate providing resources to those in need. Enjoys learning through reading and documentaries. Aiming to promote mental well-being.
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