9 Sneakily Harmful Things Your Partner Does That Can Impact Your Self-Esteem


Since you spend so much time together, it only makes sense that your partner could have an impact on the way you perceive yourself. You can have a positive affect on each other, by being supportive and understanding. But certain habits may have quite the opposite effect.

The thing is, if your partner has a few hurtful habits, they might not even be aware of them. That's why it's so important to talk often, and let them know "how their habits have contributed to your sense of self," Dr. Candice Cooper-Lovett, PhD, LMFT, a sex therapist, lead therapist, and owner of A New Creation Psychotherapy Services, tells Bustle.

Talking about the side effects of their habits can be a good first step in finding ways to make slight adjustments, so you can both feel good within the relationship. "It's also important to help your partner understand what your needs are and teach them how to treat you," Cooper-Lovett says.

Of course, it's not necessary to change each other, and you'll definitely want to accept each's quirks, while also assessing why certain habits make you feel bad. That said, being in a relationship means being accountable and considerate of each other, Cooper-Lovett says, and making an effort to listen, understand, and make adjustments along the way. Many of the habits listed below are ones that can take the biggest toll, according to experts, and impact how you feel about yourself.


They Talk Over You


"If your partner constantly interrupts you during a conversation with each other or with a group of friends, it could be a sign that they don’t truly value what you have to say," Jeannie Assimos, relationship expert and chief of advice at eharmony, tells Bustle. Or, at the very least, it can certainly make you feel that way.

It's forgivable if they occasionally blurt something out in excitement, or don't realize you weren't finished talking. If it becomes a habit, though, point it out. Let your partner know exactly how this habit makes you feel, so they have a chance to change.


They Tease You Excessively

It's totally and completely fine to have the type of relationship where you're sarcastic, or pick on each other for fun. But if your partner goes overboard, or makes you feel bad in the process, you may want to speak up.

"It could become a red flag for your self perception if your partner’s teasing becomes excessive because it may lead you to uncover and psychoanalyze your own imperfections or flaws," Assimos says. This is particularly true if they hit on sore topics, or bring up things you're insecure about.

Again, it'll be important to let your partner know. "They don’t have to become an entirely different person, but they will need to put their best foot forward in foregoing certain habits that are damaging to the relationship," Assimos says. At the end of the day, compromise is what keeps a relationship alive because no two people are alike in the way they feel."


They Don't Share What They're Thinking

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Everyone is different in terms of how big their emotions are, and how they react in various situations. But even if you can understand that logically, a partner's lack of emotional response can still have a negative impact.

"For someone who needs affirmation and verbal affection from their partner, they may internalize this experience and it can take a toll on their self-esteem," Cooper-Lovett says. That's one reason to chat about your "love languages," so you know what the other needs in order to feel good — such as words of affirmation.

While you can't expect your partner to change their personality, talking about these habits can be a big help.


They Invalidate Your Feelings

If your partner is in the habit of automatically disagreeing with you, or saying you're overreacting, it's only natural to feel bad afterward. "When we share how we feel about something and someone tells us that our feelings are unreasonable [...] it makes us feel rejected or ignored," Saba Harouni Lurie, LMFT, ATR-BC, therapist and founder of Take Root Therapy, tells Bustle.

Over time, this habit can even contribute to low self-esteem, Lurie says, so you'll want to chat about ways to communicate without judgment, and without trying to change each other's feelings.


They Talk About Other People's Appearances


Whether they talk about other people's appearance in a positive or negative way, both can have a surprisingly big impact on how you feel.

"If they're disparaging other people's appearance, it makes our partner seem critical, and it could make us wonder if they are judging us just as harshly," Lurie says. "If they are doing the opposite by frequently mentioning how attractive other people are, it could prompt us to feel unsure of their attraction to us."

Whatever the case may be, bring it up and let them know how it makes you feel. At the very least, they may be able to find something else to talk about.


They Focus On The Negative

Without even realizing it, your partner might be saying critical things on a regular basis, leaving you feeling as if they can't see the positive, much less any of the good things you do. And the negative effects can quickly add up.

It can help to remember, though, that "if someone is very critical that says more about them than about you," mental health consultant Judith Belmont, MS, LPC, tells Bustle. "They are showing the way they look at the world — through a negative lens."

It's a habit your partner will need to work on for themselves, but may be something they'll make a priority if it means improving your relationship.


They Need Lots Of Time Alone


While it's fine to spend time alone, "too much solitude can be isolating for the other person in the relationship and make them feel that they are not wanted or needed in that person's life," Cooper-Lovett says. So before it takes a toll, talk about how much time you'd like to spend together, and whether or not you'd like to spend some time apart. Your partner's desire for solitude doesn't have to be negative if it's something you've agreed on.


They're Hyper-Critical

"If they are judgmental or critical of you (and often of themselves, too), this can cause you to over-analyze or strive for perfection, two things that can be detrimental to your self-esteem," Heidi McBain, licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in women’s mental wellness, tells Bustle.

They might make off-hand comments, or say rude things under their breath. But even if it's engrained, it's still a habit they can replace. "If you’re both willing to work on this issue together, through conversations together or speaking with a therapist, then this can have a positive impact on your relationship as a whole," McBain says.


They Work Long Hours


While it's obviously great for your partner to have goals, check in with yourself if you start to question your own work ethic in comparison, Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle, as this can be a slippery slope.

This isn't something your partner is doing wrong, but instead a sign you have different ways of reaching your goals. If your partner does that by working late every night, remember that's their thing. It doesn't mean you have to work late in order to "keep up." Instead, focus on your own goals, and find your own way of reaching them.

Interacting every single day means it's necessary to be careful about the impact you're having on each other, including habits like these that can have a negative effect on your self perception, and the way you both feel in the relationship.