What Can I Do if My Partner Makes Me Feel Bad? - Step To Health

What Can I Do if My Partner Makes Me Feel Bad?

Criticism, teasing, indifference, and manipulation cause great emotional damage. Find out what to do if your partner makes you feel bad in this article.
What Can I Do if My Partner Makes Me Feel Bad?

Last update: 12 January, 2022

Your relationship should be your refuge, your safe place. It should be a space where you feel loved, respected, and recognized. This is not a daydream or a reflection of overly demanding standards. It really is the minimum that should be met in any bond of affection. Therefore, when your partner constantly or repeatedly makes you feel bad, you shouldn’t resign to this. On the contrary, you have to analyze why it’s happening and look for a solution.

All relationships indeed go through ups and downs. At one time or another, we’ve all lost our temper and raised our voices or uttered a hurtful word.

However, when this becomes the general pattern in your relationship, the psychological and emotional consequences can be devastating. In this article, we encourage you to assess the seriousness of your situation and understand what you can do about it.

Your partner makes you feel bad

“Feeling bad” is a very ambiguous state, providing little information and little room for maneuver. Many people know that their partner is making them feel bad, but they often can’t identify exactly what they are feeling and why.

It’s precisely this lack of clarity that can lead them to downplay their feelings and let them pass, allowing the situation to escalate. That’s why it’s essential to have a broad emotional vocabulary.

Ask yourself for a moment: “When my partner makes me feel bad, how do I feel?” Here are some of the most common responses.

  • Invalidated: I feel that my emotions are not important, that I exaggerate, or that I have no right to express myself.
  • Humiliated: My partner makes me feel ashamed of myself. They seem to perceive me as inferior and inadequate.
  • Controlled: I find the relationship suffocating because my partner controls every area of my life and makes decisions for me.
  • Manipulated: I often end up doing things I don’t want to do so that my partner doesn’t get angry or sad.
  • Despised: I feel that my partner feels disgusted or rejected by me and doesn’t consider me a worthy and valuable person.
  • Ignored: I have to beg and plead with my partner to spend time with me or consider my needs or desires. I’m never a priority to them.
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Sometimes it’s hard to put a name to the feelings you feel in your relationship, but it’s key to do so.

In what ways does your partner make you feel bad?

These are some of the most common feelings people experience in harmful, damaging, and unhealthy relationships. Now, why do these emotions arise?

Most of the time, they don’t come out of nowhere, but stem from inappropriate behavior on your partner’s part. Let’s take a closer look.

You might find this interesting: How to Identify Red Flags in a Relationship

Complaints and criticism

Your partner may constantly criticize how you are, think, feel and act. They may identify and highlight your flaws and not appreciate your strengths. Finally, they make you think that you can’t do anything right, that you should change, and that your commitment and your way of being are never enough.

Teasing, insults, or disqualifications

Words have great power and can be very hurtful, even if spoken in a supposedly joking tone. Insults and put-downs, taunts, and sarcasm undermine self-esteem and cause great emotional damage.

Moreover, if they’re uttered in public, they create a great sense of humiliation. This type of psychological violence is one of the most common in teenage dating and a blatant sign of the prevailing lack of respect.

Blackmail and emotional manipulation

Emotional manipulation seeks to make the partner act as you want, using feelings as a bargaining chip. Thus, your partner may tell you phrases like “If you really loved me, you would do this.” However, they may also just get angry or punish you with silence.


Gaslighting makes the person who suffers it end up doubting their own judgment and perception. Then, they’re at the mercy of the partner’s abuse.

If your partner makes you feel crazy or makes you question your beliefs, if they deny the obvious, if they confuse you so that you don’t trust your instincts and emotions, don’t let this keep happening.

A lack of empathy and affective responsibility

Finally, if your partner makes you feel bad, they may lack empathy. They probably only care about themselves, and when you express your needs, emotions, or requests for change, they ignore you. They make you feel that you’re alone in the relationship.

Why does this happen?

If your partner makes you feel bad, you have to take into account that several factors may be converging:

  • Your partner’s personal characteristics: They may be selfish, self-centered, or narcissistic. They may have an insecure attachment style, lack of social skills, and/or poor emotional intelligence.
  • Relationship dynamics: These types of behaviors are common in relationships that are unbalanced or have a very strong hierarchy. Thus, your partner may adopt a superior position in which they have more privileges and you adopt an inferior position.
  • Personality traits: It’s important to note that if you stay in this type of relationship, you may also have issues to work on. You may have low self-esteem, a fear of rejection or abandonment, a need to please the other person, and a poor ability to set boundaries.
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The factors that come together in these situations are varied. Psychological work can help to unveil what’s behind an unhealthy relationship in which your partner makes you feel bad. 

What do I do if my partner makes me feel bad?

If you’ve identified with the above, you mustn’t continue to let this unhealthy behavior go on.

Start by setting boundaries. Don’t allow any of these behaviors to continue to be repeated. To do this, you must learn to communicate assertively, and you must lose the fear of leaving the relationship or losing your partner. Ultimatums are useless if we’re not willing to comply with the consequences.

If your partner can recognize their misconduct and their degree of responsibility, professional accompaniment may be of great help. Both of you should also get help individually, so that each of you acquire the relational skills that they lack, and skills together as a couple.

Whether you decide to continue with the relationship or leave it, you must work on the aspects that have led you to establish and maintain yourself in an unhealthy relationship. In both cases, healing wounds and fears and boosting self-esteem and communication skills will be essential.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that your priority is and must always be yourself. Be attentive to the signs, and in the face of any lack of respect, any abuse, or contempt, act, and don’t look for justification for your partner’s behavior.

Finally, if you don’t feel able to leave the relationship on your own, seek help.

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  • Sweet, P.L. (2019). The sociology of gaslighting. American Sociological Review. 84(5): pp. 851 – 875.
  • Castelló, J. (2000). Análisis del concepto dependencia emocional. In I Congreso Virtual de Psiquiatría (Vol. 5, No. 8).
  • Sainz, Y. E., Castro, M. G., Sandoval, A. M., & Quintana, Y. S. (2007). Violencia en el Noviazgo Adolescente. Revista Internacional De Psicología8(02), 1–34. https://doi.org/10.33670/18181023.v8i02.46