Your Partner Makes You Feel Bad: What Can You Do?
“My partner makes me feel really bad/completely useless“. Many people in relationships experience these kinds of feelings. In fact, at any given moment, a relationship can suddenly turn into one characterized by criticism, humiliation, or even mistreatment.
The most striking thing about these situations is that, as a rule, we’re far more tolerant of emotional abuse than we think. After all, undervaluing, ridiculing, or insulting leaves no physical scars and we often tend to give in, telling ourselves they’ve just had a bad day or we need to make an effort to treat them better. However, this doesn’t work and our feelings of discomfort persist.
Obviously, these kinds of situations need discussing. In fact, according to studies, such as the one conducted by Case Western University in Cleveland (United States), between 50 and 80 percent of people may experience emotional abuse at some point in their lives. Moreover, these types of situations are especially common in younger couples.
If you find yourself feeling bad in your relationship or that you’re undervalued, you mustn’t let it go. That’s because those wounds will only get bigger so you must face them as soon as possible.
What should you do if your partner makes you feel bad and why does it happen?
It’d be great to be able to choose how you feel regardless of what others do or don’t do. However, within a relationship, it’s extremely difficult to remain indifferent. That’s because relationships contain love, commitment, expectations, and more. How can you act as if nothing has happened when the person you love criticizes you, makes you feel invisible, or makes fun of you in front of other people?
It’s not only impossible but also devastating. As a matter of fact, if your partner frequently makes you feel bad, you’re facing a situation of psychological abuse. Of course, you might sometimes inadvertently upset them. After all, we all make mistakes. However, when the situation involves emotional or psychological abuse, it’s completely different.
If you mistakenly hurt the one you love, you want to make amends and learn from your mistakes. On the other hand, an abusive person will ask for forgiveness and then do it again.
Let’s take a look at the most common situations in which your partner might make you feel bad.
They make judgments about you without trying to understand you
This is a fairly common situation. Sometimes, your partner can judge you and tell you that “You’re far too naive”, or ” You’re so obsessive. You always take things in the worst possible way”. When they start to label you and make rushed judgments about what you say or do without understanding your position, you suffer.
What can you do? Well, you can start by not allowing anyone to make snap judgments about you, least of all your partner. Demand respect, speak to them assertively, and make your position clear.
Whoever judges you without understanding you shows not only a lack of empathy but also a lack of respect. Indeed, it’s a way of devaluing your beliefs, opinions, values, and, in essence, everything that you are.
“I don’t have any problem, it’s you who doesn’t understand me”
Your partner might make you feel bad because things aren’t going so well for them. Yet instead of admitting it or taking responsibility for it, they project their guilt onto you. In fact, they insist that you’re the one who doesn’t understand them and you’re the one who’s neglecting your relationship.
When this happens, they’re using the strategy of projecting their guilt onto you. What they’re really seeking is to evade their own responsibility and, in turn, hurt you. They want to make you feel bad, to invalidate you, and thus recover their power.
Don’t play this game with them. If you do, you’ll have fallen into the trap of psychological manipulation. Tell them exactly what aspects are failing in your relationship. Clarify what you expect, what you need, and what the relationship needs to improve. Make it clear what your limits are and what you won’t tolerate.
They tell you what you should and shouldn’t do
In abusive relationships based, above all, on emotional manipulation, it’s extremely common for one of the two to seek to exercise absolute control. In other words, they tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. They might also use blackmail by reminding you that if you weren’t the way you are, they’d be happier.
The answer to these situations is clear: never give in. You mustn’t dilute yourself to the point of losing your identity, dignity, and self-concept. Maintaining a relationship should be synonymous with growth and emotional enrichment. If someone imposes on you how you should be and how you should act, you lose yourself. Don’t give in.
A study conducted by the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) claimed that this type of situation can be extremely dangerous for individuals with low self-esteem. In fact, they end up making great sacrifices that they later regret.
They make hurtful comments
Making use of hurtful irony and contempt undermines your dignity. Seeing how your partner ridicules you in public and launches sharp attacks at you to hurt you can cause you devastating suffering. In the same way, hurtful behaviors such as yelling, anger, and insults are just as bad.
Why would they want to make you feel bad?
Everyone has a bad day from time to time and we all occasionally behave badly. However, this can’t be the regular tone of a relationship. If it is, there may be several reasons:
- Your partner has a problematic character. It could be selfishness, narcissism, insecure attachment, poor emotional intelligence, bad character, etc.
- Your relationship has a toxic dynamic. This usually happens right from the start in unbalanced relationships. If you’re in this situation, your partner has probably adopted a superior position in which they enjoy more privileges.
- You have problems to solve within yourself. For example, low self-esteem, fear of rejection or abandonment, the need to please, or the lack of ability to set boundaries.
There’s no worse response than doing nothing, telling yourself that they’ll change, that perhaps if you make an effort to ‘be more accommodating’ things will improve. You must be clear. If your partner makes you feel bad today, in the here and now, you must tell them. If they repeat their behavior you must demand change and a willingness in them to put things right.
Finally, if the dynamics of hidden aggression and emotional attack persist, you need to make a decision. Remember that love is the most nourishing and healing emotion in existence. There’s no room in it for suffering, tears, and even less fear. Bear that in mind and you’ll soon know what to do.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Francesca Righetti, Mariko Visserman. I Gave Too Much. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2017; 194855061770701 DOI: 10.1177/1948550617707019
- Karakurt, G., & Silver, K. E. (2013). Emotional abuse in intimate relationships: The role of gender and age. Violence and victims, 28(5), 804-821.
- Righetti, F., & Visserman, M. (2018). I gave too much: Low self-esteem and the regret of sacrifices. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9(4), 453-460.