12 Signs Your Boyfriend’s Slowly Chipping Away At Your Self-Esteem

Not every bad guy is going to make it obvious that he’s an a-hole who’s bringing you down. Sometimes guys are much subtler in how they break you. If he’s doing any of these 12 things, he’s chipping away at your self-esteem little by little and you need to get out of the relationship before things get worse.

  1. You feel self-conscious about expressing your opinions. Is it down to your own issues, or do you only feel this lack of confidence when talking to your boyfriend specifically? If it’s the latter, then maybe he makes you feel that you’re not important and your thoughts/opinions/feelings don’t matter. 
  2. You always do what he wants to do. When last did you go for dinner to your favorite restaurant or see a movie that you were interested in checking out? If you’re always doing things your partner chooses or loves to do, it’s basically his way of saying that he matters more than you so he takes priority.
  3. You’re always first to apologize. You might say this behavior comes down to how you want to keep the peace, but are you sure it’s not because your partner won’t reach out and apologize, maybe because he always thinks he’s right and you’re wrong? You might’ve been brainwashed into thinking this.
  4. You’re the one who compliments him. Genuine compliments are important between people who are dating. They show that you’re still noticing and appreciating your partner. If you’re the one who’s always dishing him compliments but he never returns the behavior, it might start to make you feel unworthy in his eyes.
  5. You’re afraid to share things with him. Excited about a new portrait you painted or a business idea that you can’t wait to pursue? You should feel comfortable to share these with your partner, who’s meant to support you. But your boyfriend doesn’t. Instead, he makes you feel that the ideas are stupid or your creative endeavors aren’t good enough. It might be done in a subtle way, like by asking you tough questions or even just giving you an eye-roll, but it’s enough to dent your self-confidence.
  6. You’re feeling ugly. If you look in the mirror and hate what you see, it could be that you’re insecure or going through a rough patch. But maybe your boyfriend has something to do with it. If he flirts with other women or finds ways to “joke” about your appearance, for example, you could be internalizing his thoughts and opinions.
  7. You don’t ask for what you want. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable to tell your boyfriend what you need from the relationship, and that’s a problem. The more you deny your needs, the less confident you’ll feel.
  8. You ignore it. Your boyfriend makes a hurtful comment, and you just try to ignore it. Over time, this will damage your self-esteem. You’ll start to believe that you don’t deserve respect and kindness from him, which is total bullshit. This is even more likely to happen if you confront him about how his comments make you feel and he tells you you’re too sensitive or uptight.
  9. You hide your bad days. You don’t feel comfortable with showing your partner your deepest vulnerabilities and feelings, so when you’re having a bad day, you hide it from view. Not only does this suck because it means you’re carrying the emotional burden on your own, but it also means he’s doing something to make you feel it’s not safe to be who you are around him.
  10. You aren’t having fun. Look at how often you feel optimistic and that you’re enjoying yourself in your relationship. If this doesn’t happen regularly – instead, you feel depressed and like nothing’s going right, or perhaps even that you’re to blame for the sad state of your relationship – then something’s wrong. Your relationship dissatisfaction is starting to weigh you down.
  11. Your boyfriend pre-empts your decisions. Before you decide to start a business, your boyfriend mansplains about the things you should do. When you drive, your boyfriend acts like a driving instructor, always telling you what to do or not do. These things might be coated in so-called care for you, but honestly, even though they’re small things they can really make you feel like he thinks you’re unable to think for yourself or that you can’t trust yourself.
  12. Your boyfriend doesn’t really believe you. You tell him something you saw or felt or thought, and he’s quick to express how he doesn’t agree with you or that maybe you imagined it. You might write it off to how you see things differently, but dig a little deeper and you could see that he’s trying to show you he doesn’t believe in, or trust, you. The danger of staying with someone like this is that over time it can start to make you believe him and stop trusting yourself.
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.