sad woman looking away from her partner
Subtle Ways You May Not Even Notice You're Belittling Your Partner
Constant Criticism
Criticism, a common way for people to find an explanation for their own negative feelings, is a toxic belittling behavior that erodes a healthy relationship. Keeping a track of your partner's mistakes and finding fault with them in order to align their behavior with your expectations can be truly disparaging for them.
Mean-Spirited Jokes
While a healthy sense of humor is often great for relationships, if your teasing becomes a way for you to say something negative, or tends to snowball into an argument, it may be hurting your partner. When you tease or make jokes, do so in a way that compliments your partner, and never use humor to attack them or point out their flaws.
Trivializing Remarks
Trivializing is a form of belittling behavior that minimizes your partner's accomplishments, experiences, or feelings, and can often look like mockery, putting down your partner's dreams, or gaslighting. Engaging in such behavior can cause your partner to lose their own sense of identity and negatively impact their mental health.
Manipulating Them
Using manipulative tactics like silent treatment or withholding affection to force your partner to do something you want or accept blame for something they don't need to can really disparage them. Manipulation can cause the connection in your relationship to wither, force a lack of trust and safety, and lead to discontentment.
Over-Correcting Them
While it may be necessary to address a particular behavior of your partner's at times, constantly correcting your partner so they do things exactly how you’d, can cause them to feel defensive and create unproductive conflict. Instead, try to do what Gottman Clinical Director Dr. Don Cole calls “attuning” for open and honest communication.