What can you do when your partner keeps putting you down? After all, they are the one who is supposed to love and support you, no matter what.
First of all, you need to take a step back and assess what’s going on. Are the put-downs a pattern of behaviour that has been established for some time? Do they seem to be designed to damage your self-esteem? How do you respond to them, and what effect does all this have on your relationship dynamic?
In some cases, relentless put-downs can be part of an abusive relationship, in which one partner systematically works to reduce the other’s self-esteem and establish dominance over them. The abused partner may come to believe in the negative feedback they are hearing about themselves, which can lead to severe emotional distress.
In other cases, especially if the behaviour is relatively recent and not part of a concerted display of unpleasant behaviour, it might come from underlying feelings of inadequacy on the part of the person engaging it. However, this is unacceptable and less than helpful approach to their own feelings. Trying to feel more capable by making someone else look less so is not a winning technique, and they will need help in finding a more useful approach to their own negative emotions; one that doesn’t hurt you.
If you find yourself being the butt of constant put-downs, you need to take action. Assert yourself, and make it clear that this is not something you are prepared to accept. If the behaviour is entrenched, but you feel that the relationship is worth saving, couples counseling could be a good way to explore your relationship dynamic, and work on ways to support each other. If, when you’ve tried everything, the behaviour is ongoing, you may need to find a way to end the relationship.
Who can I speak to about a partner that keeps putting me down?
If you need help setting some effective life goals you can contact one of our therapists at the Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat.