11 Subtle Signs Your Partner Is Shaming You Without You Even Realizing It

Your boyfriend or girlfriend is supposed to be your number one fan. They’re supposed to inspire and uplift you to be the best version of yourself you can be. You might think that if your partner was shaming you or putting you down, you’d see it immediately. But sometimes it can be more sinister. Here are signs that it’s happening to you.

  1. They compare you to other women. If your partner compares you to their exes or other women in their life, it can make you feel like you’re left having to chase some ideal they have in their head. It’s toxic. Even if it’s done in a subtle, benign way, like with your partner saying something like, “My ex was great at sussing out people right away” when you explain you’re not, that’s not cool.
  2. They don’t really support you. You feel angry/sad/frustrated. What does your partner do? Do they listen to you and give you support, or do they say something like, “Don’t be such a baby” or “Toughen up”? If it’s the latter, that’s really not cool. This is guaranteed to make you feel like you’re completely alone in the relationship.
  3. They want the old you back. Has your partner ever said to you, “Where’s the fun girl gone?” or “Where’s the cool girl I used to date, the one who loved breaking the rules?” It sucks because it makes you feel like they’re in love with who you used to be instead of seeing you – the real you – right now.
  4. They stomp all over your dreams. When you express your passion for writing or your new business idea, does your partner say something like, “That will never work” or “You need to think more practically”? Right. Who said you wanted their advice? And, who asked for a bucket of cold water to throw over your dreams?
  5. Their body language is off. When you speak about something important or something that’s upsetting you to your partner, do they give you body language cues that show they’re minimizing your reaction or concerns? They might roll their eyes or look bored, or even have an amused look on their faces. All of these can make you feel like you’re being torn down.
  6. They “tease” you in public. It’s never acceptable for your partner to make fun of you in private or public, even if he or she claims to be joking around. This can make you feel small or ridiculed, and it could be a way for your partner to bring you down or feel more in control.
  7. They write you off. When you and your partner are coming up with ideas to solve a problem, do they completely ignore yours or tell you that your ideas are crummy or stupid? You want to feel valuable in your relationship and like you contribute, but if they’re always putting down your thoughts and creative ideas, that’s sure to make you feel rejected and worthless. Over time, this will seriously hurt your self-esteem.
  8. You feel hesitant to open up to them. If you’re feeling ashamed or embarrassed, this could make you want to avoid opening up about your feelings and thoughts. So, if you notice that you hesitate before telling your partner what you feel, or you prefer opening up to friends instead, then that could be because they’re shaming you.
  9. They bring up your past. While it’s healthy to talk about previous relationships with your partner, if they keep bringing yours up or they make you feel guilty for previous romantic choices you made, they could be shaming you. You don’t deserve this treatment.
  10. They interrupt you. While you might think that when your partner keeps interrupting you to have their say they’re a selfish communicator or could do with some communication skills, they actually could be shaming you. They could be cutting you off because they think your opinions are invalid. The bottom line is that they’re not appreciating you or making you feel heard.
  11. They body-shame you. Your partner’s shaming could take the form of insults or under-appreciation, but shame could also be a physical thing. For example, your partner might ask, “Are you really going to wear that?” or “Are you eating all of that meal?” This is toxic, plain and simple, and you should not put up with it.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.