How To Tell If Your Partner Doesn’t See You As Their Equal
Balance is important in a relationship, and you never want to feel inferior or disrespected by your partner. When you first start dating someone, you can get an idea of how they treat you, and it can be useful to watch out for some early signs that your partner doesn't see you as equal. Although some parts of your relationship will require communication and compromise, it's important that your partner doesn't come in to the relationship with some unhealthy attitudes at the get-go.
"When I work with couples in therapy, I often hear that there were early signs pointing to a lack of respect," couples and family therapist Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, tells Bustle. "However, when you’re wrapped up in the excitement of a new relationship, it’s easy to ignore or push aside those early signs. In my experience people reveal a lot about themselves very early in a relationship. The question is whether or not you see the signs and pay attention to them."
Every relationship is different, but if you are starting to feel like you're voice doesn't matter or your feelings aren't being taken into consideration, your partner might feel as if they are better than you. Here are seven early signs your partner doesn't see you as equal, according to experts.
1. They Dismiss Your Feelings
"If your thoughts, feelings, concerns, or complaints are dismissed or minimized by your partner, that’s a red flag that your partner doesn’t see you as an equal," psychotherapist Margena Carter, tells Bustle. "It’s because [they] do not find validity in what you have to say. In fact, [to them] what you have to say is not deemed as important, and it’s not as valued or insightful as your partner’s forms of expression."
In a situation where you feel your partner dismisses your feelings, let them know you don't feel valued. "Don’t push aside the little things because the problem will become larger and more intense if you don’t nip it in the bud the first time around," Carter says. "If you see that your partner does not intend on considering your thoughts, walk away."
2. They Diminish Your Accomplishments
Watch out if your partner is constantly comparing your accolades or accomplishments to theirs. "Your significant other [may be] secretly competing with you," says Carter. On the flip side, they may not think your goals or dreams are good enough, and they might be pushing you to "do better" in ways that feel harmful to your self-esteem. "They may feel you’re not trying hard enough," Carter says.
You can tell if someone is being motivational or demeaning by the way it makes you feel. "Think about it: motivation is constructive, feels good, and creates a lasting impression on you," Carter says. "If it’s demeaning, then, it’s deconstructive, feels bad and may create long-lasting damages."
3. They Push You To Change Who You Are
"If you feel like you’re losing yourself to be with the one you love, that’s another red flag that your partner doesn’t see you as an equal," Carter says. "If your partner doesn’t accept you for who you are, or if your partner tries to change you, it’s because [they don't] feel like you’re good enough for them. In any relationship, it’s always important to be yourself. Be happy about who you are and know your self-worth. Embrace your flaws and love yourself." And if your partner can't seem to appreciate that, it may be time to rethink the relationship.
4. They Don't Value Your Input
A partner who sees you as equal will trust your judgment and want to hear your input. Someone who doesn't see you as their equal will make you feel like everything you say or do is subject to their approval. "If you feel like you cannot make minor decisions without your partner’s input, then your significant other may not be confident in your judgment or discernment," Carter says. "[They] may feel like they are the more important, sensible, mature, and responsible partner." If you feel your input is not being considered, express the importance of feeling included and being valued.
5. They Don't Respect Your Schedule
Someone who doesn't see you as their equal may want to get together when it suits them and expect you to be available at those times. "There isn’t a give and take around that," says Ross. "If you find yourself constantly rearranging your schedule to meet their needs this could be a sign they expect you to go along with what they want to do. They don't take into consideration what your preferences are, and they make plans without consulting you."
If this is happening, Ross suggests pointing it out, not as a criticism but as a clear communication of your needs. "In this scenario, I would also advise the person to work on their own self development and to pursue things that will give them more self-esteem and encourage exploration of areas of potential growth," she says.
6. They Don't Express Interest In Your Life
It's not a good sign if the person you are dating doesn't ask questions about you or doesn't seem truly curious about your life. "They may be unreliable or inconsistent in their interest in you," says Ross. "This is conveyed through inconsistent time commitment, lack of considering your needs, and a lack of interest in your life and stresses."
If your partner isn’t a curious person, it's worth figuring out the root of their disinterest. "Maybe they just aren’t interested and if that’s the case do you really want to be with this person?" says Ross. "Practice asking your partner about their world and really listening to the answers and see if you get the same in return."
7. You Always Have To Be The One To Compromise
When your partner feels superior to you, they will insist that you make all the compromises. "Perhaps you take the blame for arguments even if your partner is in the wrong," Carter says. "It’s always on you to make it right. You think you’re taking the high road, but actually, you’re compromising yourself."
If you start to sense these patterns in your relationship, it's possible your partner doesn't see you as equal. Bring up these issues, but if they're not receptive, it may be time to walk away.