How to tell if he's being an asshole because he's just an asshole … or if he's suffering from the male counterpart to female menstruation: Irritable Male Syndrome.
Chicks are lucky. Whenever a bout of extreme bitch-hood befalls them and lasers start shooting out of their eyes and blowing up gas stations and animal hospitals, they can easily blame it on their periods. Once a month, women are given full reign to express the gamut of negative emotions that build up during the month, and when the chaos and mayhem is over, they feel much better. There is catharsis; a calm after the storm.
Men, on the other hand, were dealt the short end of the evolutionary stick. Whereas women have an excuse for rage and tearful cheeseburger eating, men have none. Instead, if a man wants to express his anxiety, anger, depression or general negativity, he's labeled a "natural fuck-face" and an "ass butt." Worse yet, when men chose to express these emotions, they're instantly compared to their female counterparts and ridiculed for their feminine burst of feels.
"What, are you on your period or something?" groups of brain-dead jocks are known to ask their temperamental buddies during times of emotional duress.
"Ha ha, you have feelings!"
Of course, this kind of questioning and non-acceptance of male moodiness has lead to the belief that men have periods of their own. Could men go through the same emotional mood swings as women?
It can be tempting to stick men's douchebag moods and episodes of divine, uncontrollable pissiness on some sort of male equivalent to female menstruation, but the truth … is there is no male period.
Men don't have PMS. Men have IMS.
Or, as it's more adorably called, Irritable Male Syndrome.
Out of nowhere, victims of IMS can become consumed by hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, anger and depression, all of which appear to have no logical cause. In this sense, IMS is nearly idential to PMS; in both cases, people feel overcome by negative moods and aren't sure why. And, in both, positive feedback loops can occur where the person knows they're being a little emo bitch, but that knowledge just makes them more distraught and the only thing that'll help is many, many burritos.
IMS can be attributed to men experiencing a drop in testosterone, the hormone that gives them their "mojo." This can happen literally any time, as testosterone levels fluctuate constantly during the day, month and year. This rapidly changing testosterone situation makes predicting when IMS will strike difficult, but we do know a few things about testosterone levels that can help us guess whether a man might be experiencing a drop in his hormone levels.
According to an interview psychotherapist Jed Diamond gave to Medicine Net:
1) Men's testosterone goes up and down four or five times an hour.
2) There are daily cycles with testosterone being higher in the morning and lower at night … so IMS is more likely to happen at night.
3) Men have a monthly hormonal cycle that is unique to each man, but men can actually track their moods and recognize they are related to hormonal changes through the month.
4) We know that there are seasonal cycles with testosterone higher in November and lower in April, meaning there's more IMS in the Spring than the Fall.
5) There are hormonal changes in men going through IMS, that are most often related to stress in a man's life.
Pissy Man Disease, as we prefer to call it, has many causes which range from stress to poor diet, to weight gain to medications to …. fuck, basically anything. Testosterone levels are fickle as hell.
So, what should you do if you suspect you or someone you know is in the throes of an IMS attack?
Stay the fuck out of their way. During an episode, they're a slave to their own hormones, meaning any sort of rational or sympathetic thought on their part is out of the question. You can also visit Dr. Diamond's website, www.theirritablemale.com to figure out what the fuck is going on.
You can also try to get him to do things that'll increase his testosterone levels, such as have sex with him, chase him around the block to get his heart rate up, sleep, or increase his Vitamin D levels by taking him outside like a good boy.
But, the aching question still remains: how can you differentiate IMS from straight-up asshole behavior? The biggest giveaway for IMS is that it comes from butt-fuck nowhere.
You're at the bar. Bartender says they're out of his favorite beer. He breaks down and starts questioning his career choices and whether he's biologically related to his own parents.
He's laughing, he's laughing, he's laughing, everything is fine, everything is good, everything is fine and then … This:
You ask him "Sup?" and he replies:
… Anything like that, where his meltdowns come from nowhere, is probably IMS.
However, if he just got dumped, or he grew up in a broken home in which his father forced him to eat eel meat for protein, or his brother is a serial killer called "The Stranglehold" … those are all perfectly good reasons for him to be an asshole and there's nothing you can do to change it.
Men are emotional beasts. But the best way to deal with their circus of feelings is to identify where the feelings are coming from. If they're from IMS, you'd better have 12 perfectly grilled steaks with garlic-herb butter, a treadmill, a pile of boobs and a cozy bed ready, because he's got some stuff he's gotta work out.
And remember, softly stroking his hair while singing traditional country lullabies will not help. Stop it.