Everyone has experienced it: the subtle or obvious mocking, the condescending remarks or backhanded compliments, the reactions that make you feel small or inferior. A partner who constantly puts you down or belittles you can make a relationship incredibly draining and discouraging. But, in order to break the cycle of negativity, there are a few steps one can take to tackle this situation headon.
First, understand that you are not the problem. You should never let someone else’s behavior cause you to doubt your selfworth and potential. Acknowledge the challenging feelings their words induce, but focus on identifying what positive aspects make you strong. When they are actively putting you down, verbalize the hurt it causes - “I feel like you’re insulting my work when you say that” - in order to gain an understanding of their perspective as well.
It is also essential to set clear boundaries with your partner. Remind them that they are not allowed to bring you down, and respect should always be present. Explain that their criticism should remain constructive and supportive in order to keep the emotional atmosphere healthy. Digging into negative emotions and anger will only worsen the scenario. Taking a step back for some personal space to allow for a calmer resolution is beneficial.
Start by configuring an honest dialogue, rather than engaging in a power struggle or heated argument. Constructive conversations hinge on open communication, kindness, and understanding. Try to avoid using attacking statements and rather, focus on expressing how you feel. For example, if your partner interrupts you or dismisses your opinion, firmly address the situation - “When you do that it makes me feel undermined, could you please listen to what I am saying?”. If you find it difficult to express yourself, try writing your thoughts down beforehand.
It may be helpful to communicate incidents to a trusted friend or health professional to gain another perspective and seek support. Consider communicating with a counselor who specializes in relationships and learning tools to build positive interactions.
By focusing on both sides of the equation and learning to confront issues respectfully and responsibly, you can work toward creating a healthier, more joyful dynamic with your partner.
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