Relationships are tricky. There's a lot to manage when two or more people are trying to coexist happily and healthily. When reflecting upon your relationship, do you ever wonder if you dismiss your partner without knowing it? It may not seem like the biggest affront in the world — and you might not even realize you're being dismissive — but built up over time, it can have a big impact on your relationship.
In fact, relationship coach Kyra Asatryan says that being dismissive of your partner is a way of "antagonizing" them. Yikes. Of course, as she points out, dismissing your partner is generally done with the best of intentions: You want to neutralize conflict. You want to tamp things down before tempers rise. You don't want to ruin your good time by delving into a heavy topic, so you try your best to placate the situation.
In the moment, dismissing your partner's concerns or feelings can seem like such a good idea, it can even become a habit. Worried about a bad day at work? Tell them it's going to be better tomorrow. They're stressed about the results of an upcoming exam? Reassure them it's out of their hands. They ask you what's wrong after you've had a long day? Tell them you'll feel better in the morning and not to worry about it. Sound familiar? Personally, I think everyone does this at one point or another, but these responses can definitely come across as like you're being dismissive of your partner, even if you don't have that intention.
So, what are some of the signs you're being dismissive of your partner? Here are some key points to look for:
1. You Tell Your Partner to "Get Over It" On the Regular
Yeah, this one is a pretty big offender. What's so wrong with telling your loved one to just "get over" something? While you may intend it to be encouraging and hopeful, it can come across to your partner like you simply don't want to hear what they have to say. This message can make people feel like you aren't taking their emotions seriously, or aren't willing to hear the full extent of what's on their mind. Communication is key in relationships, of course, including the hard and stressful things.
2. You Tell Your Partner to "Move On"
Similar to telling your partner to just "get over it," telling them to "move on" also comes across like you're being dismissive of their feelings. In my opinion, I feel like "move on" is advice usually given when someone wants to end an argument or a hard conversation. Sure, it's a good mission to stop the fight, or to quiet a fight before it escalates, but telling your partner to "move on" from a legitimate relationship issue or concern is only going to make things worse down the road. Resolving issues in a clear and honest way is important in the moment, as well as later on.
3. You Are Always On Your Phone When They're Speaking
This one is not as obvious as the first two, but I think it's still a big one. Of course, in our culture, people are on their phones all of the time. Between keeping up with social media, texting, responding to work emails... People feel like a lot of their lives exist in their phones. And that's OK! But it's not OK when your partner is communicating with you. Even if you think you are actively engaged in the conversation, but you're on your phone the entire time, it can come across like your partner is not as important as whatever is loading on your screen.
4. You Are Vague
This one seems a little strange, but hear me out. If your partner asks for your opinion, feedback, or just a general response from you, and you're constantly vague, that can come across as dismissive. Why? Because relationships are a two-way street. Your partner is reaching out to you because they value your insight and perspective. If you provide vague or non-committal answers, it sends the message that either you don't care enough to form a response or that you weren't listening closely to the conversation. Either way, this comes comes across as disrespectful.
5. You Are Avoidant
This is another one that is a little more subtle. If you're avoidant, it doesn't mean you're avoiding your partner (though if you are, that's probably a sign of a bigger problem), but that you're prone to avoiding conflicts and issues. If you constantly avoid talking about the heavy stuff in your relationship, it can come across like you're dismissing your relationship as a whole. If something is important to you, you have to be willing to face issues and work on them. Avoiding things only lets things brew, and can send the message to your partner that you don't value the union.
Now, if you're reading these signs and feel like they apply to you (or to your partner) don't freak out! Seriously, it's just time to assess your behavior and work on being more active and engaged in your relationship. Communication can be hard, but it should only strengthen your bond... Same goes for working through issues and talking about things that cause you stress or concern. Relationships are about a lot of fun things, but also about support and openness. Dismissing your partner may seem harmless (or even helpful) in the moment, but in the long term, it can cause more harm than good.
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