Relationships should bring out the best you, and can provide wonderful nourishment and support. But they can also go the other way, and a bad relationship can be really damaging. It's true that relationships affect your self-esteem, and it's sort of a viscous cycle, because those with low self-esteem have been found to be more likely to stay in bad relationships. So if your relationship is lowering your self-esteem, unfortunately it seems you may be more likely to stay in it, even though it's making you feel bad about yourself.
Even worse, not only do you stay in the relationship, but you don't confront the things in your relationship that are upsetting you. Psychology Today points to new research that has indicated "that the partner with diminished self-esteem tends to avoid confronting problems or conflicts. That avoidance often reflects feelings of insecurity about the partner’s feelings for them, and leads to hunkering down and withdrawing from conflict that might be resolved through more open, transparent communication."
It's obviously a horrible cycle to be caught up in. So how can you avoid it? Well, here are some signs that your relationship is bad for your self-esteem. If this sounds like you, it's time to think about whether or not you're in the right relationship.
1. You're Losing Your Sense Of Self
Have you stopped going to your favorite yoga class? Don't listen to Motown anymore even though "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" is scientifically the best song ever? In a relationship where the power dynamic is off and you start to lose your self-esteem, you may start noticing you stop doing the things you love to do.
2. Your Partner Is Controlling
If your partner is controlling lots of aspects of your life, you've lost some important relationship boundaries. Psychotherapist Wendy Behary tells Cosmopolitan that "if someone's being overly aggressive or selfish, and you have a sturdy sense of yourself, say, 'This conversation is over, you can't talk to me like that.'"
3. You Find Yourself Testing Your Relationship
A sign that you've lost some self-esteem is that you've started doubting the relationship itself. While you may have been confident at first, Psychology Today says that your low self-esteem means "You can’t believe you could be truly loved and so you test your partner every chance you get so that he can demonstrate his value (which you don’t believe or trust anyway)."
4. Your Needs Have Stopped Mattering
It might not happen all at once, but slowly you realize you're only hanging out with his friends or going to her favorite restaurants. Maybe you find that their plans or needs always take priority. Maybe without ever directly saying it, this minimize your importance in the relationship, which inevitably eats away at your self esteem. Make sure you're finding a balance.
5. You Assume All Fights And Incompatibilities Are Your Fault
Some fights are natural, and healthy, but if you're always to blame for things going wrong, whether by your partner or yourself, something is up. Everyone messes up, and you shouldn't always be assuming the blame. In fact, Dr. Tom Jordan, a clinical psychologist and owner of the Love-Life Learning Center, "asserts that chronically being blamed for an act that you did not actually commit is like taking a verbal beating." It's another cycle, where the blame lowers your self esteem— making you more likely to assume blame the next time.
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