When you belittle your partner, you might think you are helping. The reality is, however, that expressing negativity in your relationship can have far-reaching psychological and emotional effects on both of you.
Many people do this without even realizing. The result can be an erosion of trust and a breaking down of your partner’s confidence to the point where honest, constructive communication is difficult.
There are many ways this can manifest in a relationship. Being able to recognize these tendencies may help you avoid raining a lot of hurt down on the one you love. Ultimately, a healthy relationship grows and thrives through love, understanding, support, and caring – a true understanding of who your partner is and an acceptance of them for all that they are.
How we hurt the ones we love
These are some of the more common ways we hurt the ones we love:
You’ve had a bad day
The truth is, if you aren’t feeling great about yourself, it’s easy to be negative towards your partner. They are the closest person to you and you want them to know how crappy you feel.
Solution: it’s okay to communicate your feelings and frustration. You just need to do so in a healthy way. Don’t shut them down or shut them out. Tell them you’ve had a bad day, tell them how you feel, but don’t use your bad mood to justify bad behavior
You question their choices
Whether it’s a comment on the clothes they are wearing or the food they are eating, when you question your partner’s choices you are giving them the impression that they can’t make these decisions on their own.
Solution: Trust your partner to make their own adult decisions. As long as they are not hurting themselves or others, support their choices to reduce tension and bad feelings.
You are constantly giving them advice
Are you always offering advice to your partner on everything from the streets they choose when driving home to how they should be setting the table or loading the dishwasher? You may feel like you are being helpful, but when you constantly have a “better way” of doing things, they will soon feel like they can’t do anything right.
Solution: Realize that your way may not always be the best way. We are all adults, each with our own free will. Allow them to choose how to go about their business in the same way you would expect them to do for you. Letting go of this habit will have the additional upshot of absolving you of responsibility for “overseeing” these matters. The result? Peace and love. That is all.
You discount their opinions
If you ask your partner a question and then disregard their response or tell them their opinion is “wrong”, you will cause them to feel ignored, belittled, marginalized, undervalued. The result is that they won’t likely seek you out as a sounding board in the future. Communication will break down as trust dissolves.
Solution: Even if you disagree with your partner’s ideas, approaches or responses, if you are seeking true partnership, you need to see the situation from their standpoint. Empathize with what they are going through and do your best not to judge.
Build them up, don’t break them down
It’s important to build your partner up in a relationship instead of beating him or her down with negative words and criticism.
Learning to communicate your feelings, your frustration in a healthy way will go a long way to improving your relationship in every respect. None of us are perfect and we shouldn’t try to impose our will on others, especially those we are closest to.
I’ve been there before, many years ago. I thought that by sharing my thoughts about what I thought was my partner’s potential would help him grow. I was constantly nagging him to be a better man, telling him in so many words that who he was wasn’t good enough.
It was all clear enough to me because I liked the idea of who I wanted him to become, which was in sharp contrast to the person that he was at that time. In reality, this was my problem, not his.
Be fully present and conscious of your words—and your motivations—when you speak to your partner. How you choose to share a message is just as important as the message itself.
How healthy is your relationship?
If you catch yourself finding fault with too many things your partner does and says, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship in general. If you can’t see the good in who they are at the core, the person they are right now, then you have to ask yourself if you yourself have made the best decision. Often, the shortcomings we recognize in others are simply a reflection of what we lack within ourselves.