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15 Red Flags That Could Mean Your Partner Is Trying to Destroy Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem and self-confidence are different things according to psychologists. We can be highly self-confident and yet can have profoundly low self-esteem, like for example many celebrities, who can perform before an audience of thousands but then damage themselves with an unhealthy lifestyle. In a relationship, our self-esteem may be influenced by our partner, and they can have a hand in both destroying it and increasing it for us.

Here at Bright Side, we were surprised to find out that even our partners’ best intentions can cause trouble in our relationship. Let’s take a more detailed look at these situations.

1. Takes too much initiative in making decisions.

Even if you are a partner who doesn’t like to make decisions, sometimes you may feel it’s important that both of you take part in choosing something. If your partner decides on their own, they may be sending you a message that it’s not worth it to ask you, because you don’t know enough about the subject or they feel like your opinion is not important. This can range from choosing new curtains for your apartment to deciding where to go on vacation: they’ll always choose on their own.

2. Chooses photos to post on social media without asking if you like them.

It’s cute when your partner says they love the way you look when you’re tired, or sick, or in your sweatpants. But social media is commonly a public thing and sometimes you simply wouldn’t want someone else to see the photos of you that you don’t think are that nice. When your partner doesn’t ask you before posting these photos, you may interpret it as their wish to show you in a worse light and themselves in a better light, and this can be an explosive blow to your self-esteem. Even if they meant nothing but the best for you, it’s always better to arrive to a decision about pictures together.

3. Interrupts you while you’re talking.

Interrupting is rude. Sometimes they don’t mean anything by it — they’re just too excited or they’re afraid they’ll forget what they had to say. But mostly, interrupting someone makes that person feel like you weren’t listening, and that what they are trying to say is not important. Is there anything worse than the moment when you realize that no one really cares about what you are trying to say? If it happens often, you’ll start to feel like you should just stop talking at all, because what’s the point?

4. Questioning your decisions.

Sometimes they object to the smallest things. Like they may think they’re being helpful by always questioning whether your outfit is weather-appropriate: “Are you sure you don’t need warmer boots?” Sometimes it’s even more persistent: “Babe, you definitely don’t want to change your job. It’s cool and I think a lot of people would love to work there.”

On the surface, it may look sweet and they totally mean well, but after the millionth time, it’s like, “Does he think I am a child and cannot make good decisions?” Because of their constant doubts, they make you think you’re not capable of acting independently and may be “killing” your ability to make decisions by yourself.

5. Through negative body language (like rolling their eyes).

Body language is a strong weapon. Often, it speaks volumes when it comes to warm and private communication. Rolling their eyes may send the message: “What you’ve just said is ridiculous” and you may interpret it as: “You’re stupid and I despise you in my thoughts.” If we are talking about body language, a crossing of the arms, looking at a phone screen when a partner is talking, or generally looking distracted are also ways they could be signaling to you “I don’t care,” “stop talking,” or even worse.

6. Being lazy about things that mean a lot to you.

Maybe you are an amateur singer or an artist, and you really want your partner to come support you at your performance. Or you just want them to take part in some common domestic routines, or go for a walk together. But they hate art and would prefer to stay at home rather than go outside, so even their body language is telling you: “I’d rather die than do your thing.”

In a relationship, partners sometimes need to suck it up and make an effort to be supportive. Otherwise, you take their message as them not caring about things that are important to you, and maybe that your happiness isn’t enough of a priority for them. Being ignored can hurt your confidence.

7. Providing constant suggestions.

We often think that constant suggestions are a sign that we are paying attention, that we care about what is happening, and that we’re helpful. In reality, your partner may be so persistent in suggesting that you do other things, rather than the things you’ve chosen, that one day you may feel like you never get anything right. Good intentions, negative results. On the contrary, if they wait until you specifically ask for a suggestion, this is a good sign that they trust your choices.

8. Talks down to you like you’re a kid.

It’s not that pleasant when one adult talks down to the other like they’re a small child. You may feel over-embarrassed and belittled when your partner acts like this in public or even in private. This attitude makes people feel demeaned and worthless. If your partner speaks to you in this way, they aren’t showing you the respect that you deserve.

9. Your partner says “no” to the majority of ideas that you have.

Saying no is cool, and psychologists believe people should do it more. But if your partner says “no” to every idea that you have, they’re not actually being encouraging or supportive, and that can absolutely crash your self-esteem. When you hear “no” every time you suggest something or think about doing something cool, it is hard to feel like you have good idea. You end up feeling like you have no freedom to seek your own happiness and comfort.

10. They re-check or re-do the things that you’ve already done.

If you follow your partner and re-check or re-do everything they just did, you’re literally telling them that they don’t even cope with things correctly. Sure, it’s nice to double-check things from time to time, especially if they’re related to safety issues, but mostly, if the job is done in a good way, you shouldn’t diminish your partner’s efforts. And if you just can’t help yourself, at least re-wash a dish or re-make the bed when they aren’t around and don’t see this.

11. They always leave you guessing because their words and actions don’t match.

Your partner may suggest going out to see a cool movie together or buying new furniture for your apartment, and you are happy that you’ll have a nice time or do something for your house together. Then they change their mind all of a sudden and suggest that you shift the date or cancel your plans without even giving you a reason. This makes you constantly feel like you are to blame for this sudden change. Maybe you said something wrong that made them change their mind? This behavior greatly undermines your self-value.

12. They give you too much advice or offer too much help.

If you succeed at something, your partner may feel competitive and may hold you back because they’re jealous of your successes. This kind of attitude devours all of your self-confidence. They may constantly offer their help or always give you unwanted advice just to show that they may know better and can do better. With this interference, you simply can’t pursue your dreams or achieve success, because you’re always hesitant. You start feeling like you need their advice all the time because your own knowledge and skills are simply not enough.

13. They refuse to argue.

It’s pretty logical that if your partner refuses to fight, it means they don’t think something is worth fighting for. If they always close the debate or say things like, “I don’t even want to argue about this with you” they’re sending the message that they think they’re always right, or that they simply don’t care about what you have to say. This can fuel a sense of worthlessness in you. They don’t have to fight, literally, but they should let you have your say too.

14. Misplacing your feelings.

Your partner may be stressed from life, upset about their work, or worried about something. But it’s not right to take it out on you. When they’re always sad, unhappy, or impatient, they make you feel like it’s your fault. You may just accept it as them not liking you that much, or that you simply can’t make them happy. But their happiness isn’t your responsibility and they, of course, need to express their feelings. But this always has to be communicated properly to avoid a situation where you take everything personally, just because you lack information.

15. They express conditional love.

If you constantly need to earn your partner’s love and approval, it can make you feel as if you are not good enough for them. You wake up every morning trying to always do the right things. This behavior is not a sign of a healthy relationship. Your partner doesn’t act like a loving person toward you. You should not get involved in a relationship where you constantly need to perform to be loved. You deserve love for who you are, not what you can do.

What is something other people say or do that makes you feel less confident?