Cool Down Styles

by Reid on February 26, 2013

Middle of a fight

“Take a Chill-Pill” has a whole new meaning (and use)!

When you are upset, what do you naturally do to calm down? What does your partner do when they’re upset?

When you’re aware how you operate best in relationships, and understand how your loved ones function best, you have a huge leg up on having a deeply satisfying and powerful relationship.

One of these areas of awareness is what I call cool down styles.

What the Heck Is a Cool Down Style And Why Does Knowing Mine Make Me a Better Partner?

Your cool down style is, basically, how you get “un-upset.” It’s not just noticing how you calm down after having been excited, upset, triggered. Your cool down style also consists of understanding the dynamics for you that, when in place, help you calm down and ground more powerfully and more quickly.

And the way you calm down and ground may be completely different than the way your loved ones do.

Understanding other people’s cool down styles is super useful because it allows you to not take it personally when yours and theirs differ. When we don’t “get” the other person’s style, we can feel more abandoned, more smothered or more pissed off, which keeps us from finding our grounding. Because no one modeled understanding cool down styles for us growing up, because there was never a kindergarten class where they taught you different styles of cooling off after a fight, and how to choose what worked best for you… It’s easy to assume that if the other person does it a different way than you do, they’re “wrong!” We get locked into blaming them and making them wrong rather than calming down and reconnecting. When our partners take our cool down style personally as well, then the fight just keeps lingering on!

Sound familiar?

That’s the irony of it…
If you don’t understand cool down styles, the very thing you do to calm down from a fight might be escalating emotions on both sides!

Example: In a relationship I was in, when we would fight, my partner would get in her car and drive off. This freaked me out because the way I was raised to show you care is that you do not leave. You stick it out through a fight to show your commitment to the other person. It’s almost like being a Marine. We left no one behind.

So when she would get the car and drive away, I was bereft. I was wrecked because she was showing me symbolically that she did not care.

When we figured out our cool down styles, everything changed for me. In her family, the way that you showed respect was that you calmed yourself down and then came back to the conversation. It was disrespectful to remain upset because her family saw it as counterproductive.

Our cool down styles were opposites! Mine was showing that you cared by staying put. In that very stubborn, New England way (I grew up in New Hampshire), you never abandoned ship. And hers was to cool off and come back from a calm, collected place. I felt abandoned by her cool down style, she felt disrespected by mine. It could have been a recipe for disaster!

Once we realized that we had different cool down styles, I didn’t take it personally that she needed to go drive around the block to cool down. I could actually see that’s how she showed she cared. I was able to communicate with her what I needed to aid me in my cool down style… I needed to know that she was coming back.

I realized, if we’re fighting and she’s walking out and getting in her car, I could remind her to tell me, “Honey, I’m coming back. I just need to cool down.”

I asked her to remind me about her cool down style. We implemented that and it changed everything! If we had an argument, as she was getting in the car, she’d say, “Hey, I’m coming back. I just need to calm down so I can have a better conversation with you.”

That’s all I needed to hear, and I was able to be more relaxed and calm myself when she left. Plus, my asking her to remind me that she was coming back changed how I occurred to her. Rather than appearing clingy when I chased her out to her car, to continue a fight and not respecting her needs, she now recognized that I cared. She saw me as someone who would never give up on her no matter how bad it got. I was able to occur to her in a more powerful empowered way.

What Are Your Cool Down Styles?

Pay some attention to how you guys cool down. Get to know what helps you feel calm and ready to resolve things?Making Up

  • Do you need time to think over what happened before you discuss things more?
  • Do you like to work out hard and burn off energy?
  • Do you want to verbally slug it out and process it out loud to feel complete?
  • Is your preference to go vent to a trusted friend and get clear before you dive back in?
  • Is crying a good way to vent your feelings or does that seem manipulative to you?

And get to know your partners and see how they cool down as well.

  • What are you telling yourself about your partner’s style? Are they “weak,” “selfish,” “a bully,” when they cool down?
  • Ask them to share their cool down style and how it occurs to them. (For one person, crying might be controlling and manipulative, and for another a deep sign of trust and vulnerability)
  • Once you understand where you’re both coming from, determine what you need to be reminded of.

Reminding your partner that tears are a powerful release for you, and you trust them enough to be open with them can transform how they are seen.

Once you’ve gone through this process, take a few minutes to appreciate (in each other’s love language) the understanding and compassion you’re developing for your partner and notice how much easier and stronger it makes your relationship!


What do you think? Leave in your comments on the Facebook comment box below, or check out the R10x Facebook group:

And if you want to learn lots more like this… join me in Relationship10x!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Emily September 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I’d be intereste to hear more cool down styles or examples of cool down styles. I think examples are helpful to the conversation of understanding here you sit within yourself


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