In a healthy relationship, you should be able to trust that your partner loves and accepts you for who you are, flaws and all. However, there are times when you end up with someone who claims that they’re happy with this version of you, only to show subtle signs that deep down, they wish you were a bit different.
1. All they seem to do these days is criticize you.
Your partner is on your back about everything – your clothes, your laugh, how you eat. It’s a constant barrage of “helpful” suggestions. Let’s be clear — this is not about them wanting the best for you; it’s about them molding you into their ideal image. Any healthy relationship should offer support, not a fixer-upper project.
2. Their perfect vision for the future isn’t necessarily yours.
They paint pictures of the future that feel foreign – a dream job you never mentioned, living in a city you’ve no love for. When discussing what lies ahead, listen carefully. Are your desires in the frame or are they airbrushing a future that’s more “them”? If they just assume you’ll come around to their way of thinking, they likely think that’s the best way forward.
3. They undermine your interests.
You mention a new hobby, and they roll their eyes or snicker. You don’t have to have everything in common with your partner, but they do need to respect you either way. This isn’t trivial. When your partner disrespects your passions, they dismiss a part of who you are.
4. Their compliments all seem a bit backhanded.
Watch out for compliments that aren’t really compliments. “You look great when you dress up,” can be shorthand for, “You don’t dress well on the daily.” Compliments should make you feel good, not second-guess yourself. If there’s always a “but” or some other caveat when they say something nice, they’re not really being genuine, are they?
5. They’re always talking about their exes.
They mention their ex and how they did things – dropped hints about how pleased they were with certain behaviors their ex possessed. The message is clear — they’re envisioning a predecessor when they look at you. Obviously, they will have liked certain things about their previous partner to have been with them at all, but if they were that great, why aren’t they still together?
6. They use emotional blackmail.
If you’re upset and they turn it around to play the victim, that’s manipulation. Real support looks like facing the issue, not reverse engineering it to make it about their feelings. You’re entitled to your emotions without an ensuing guilt trip. If they respected you and cared about you the way they claim to, they would never use these abusive tactics.
7. They love to talk you down in public.
In public, they comment on things they wish you’d do differently, subtly or not. It’s a show, tightening the screws under the guise of social norms. Watch for whether they’re curating your image or connecting with you. They act like they’re making harmless comments but these are really targeted jibes.
8. They isolate you socially.
When they’re upset if you spend time with friends or family, consider this a red flag. They should embrace, not begrudge, your relationships. Wanting you for themselves isn’t sweet; it’s a ploy to tailor your life around them. Either they don’t approve of your social circle or they want to mold a new one for you based on elements they can control.
9. They seem to be keeping things from you a lot.
Catch them hiding things from you? They could be avoiding confrontation, but more likely, they don’t trust you with the full picture of who they are because they’re busy editing the image they want you to be. For instance, if they want you to do certain things they don’t (or vice versa), they’re not exactly going to let you know they’re not following the same rules they’re trying to set.
10. They seem disengaged.
If your presence seems to annoy or bore them following a fight, it might not be about cooling down. They could be indicating that your very essence – the way you argue or feel – is the problem. When you argue, this highlights the problem to them and they find it very hard to snap out of.
11. There’s a lot of friction between you.
Conflicts are normal, but if every disagreement has you questioning if you’re just too different, that’s a tactic of psychological warfare. Thinking each squabble is due to an inherent flaw in you is their way of subtly suggesting change. They started a relationship with you just as you are — why is it a problem now?
12. They love-bomb you.
You’re overwhelmed with affection, gifts, and promises early on. Yet, this love bomb can be a smokescreen, disguising an intention to fast-forward the relationship on their terms, shaping it – and you – as they please. Don’t fall for it!
13. The pleasure is all theirs.
They’re all about what pleases them in bed. Genuine intimacy caters to both partners. If your desires are consistently sidelined for theirs, they’re not just dissatisfied with the physical intimacy you share; they’re dissatisfied with your contributions to it. Don’t ever let anyone talk you into doing things you’re uncomfortable with (or make you feel bad for not doing them).
14. They’re extremely hot and cold.
One moment you’re a superstar, the next, you barely have a walk-on part. This temperamental validation can be a sign they wish you were someone who doesn’t make them oscillate between extremes. Of course, they’re responsible for their own behavior, not you. If they feel so off-kilter in the relationship, why are they in it?
15. They give you the silent treatment.
When they’re using silence instead of words to express their discontent, it isn’t just about being non-confrontational. It’s to make you ache for validation, leaving you to infer that changing would win back their voice.
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