Certainly you shouldn’t wrap your entire self-esteem in your relationship. That said, how the relationship is going does certainly affect how you regard yourself. Lots of times we carry around bad relationships like an undue burden. But once we are used to the weight we often don’t notice it much any longer. The person you are with should support you, nurture you, and help you develop yourself to become a better person, what psychologists call the Michelangelo Effect. And you of course should be doing the same for them. But when faced with what a healthy relationship looks like, those in a negative relationship, one that injures their self-esteem, start to realize what a poor situation they are in. All that negative energy then can sap your confidence. So what can you do when your relationship hurts your self-esteem? Relax, take a deep breath, and take heart. There are a few steps you can take to counteract this problem. First, evaluate what the situation is. Does your significant other bring you down? Do they fail to ever compliment you? Do they chastise and make fun of you? Are you always the last thing on their mind? Do they insult you in front of others? Do they laugh at your dreams? If you said yes to any of these, this person is abusive. No wonder your self-esteem has been hurt.
Of course all relationships occasionally venture into this realm. The important part then is frequency. How often do they do these to you? It’s when negative interactions outweigh positive one’s that an issue is at hand. The next step is to see how often you take part in these self-same behaviors in reference to your significant other. Do you do these things, too? How often do you compliment versus scorn or ridicule? Why not try to change your own behavior? When one party starts in, the other begins with the negativity and then you’re both caught up in a vicious cycle. Start complimenting and supporting your significant other. See if they start doing it back. If they seem caught in the cycle but want to escape, sit down and have a talk about it with them. Let them know how you feel when all this negativity inhabits the relationship. Listen to what they have to say. Don’t start pointing fingers or else nothing will change and it will erupt into a fight. Look for the roots of the negativity. Who starts it? Why does it start? If the phenomenon occurs because your partner wants to elevate themselves by making you look bad and so making themselves look good in consequence, perhaps it’s time to seek a couple’s therapist. This is toxic behavior and must be stopped. Talk together, make plans and eliminate negativity in your relationship. But if you can’t, if all the things you try make nearly a dent, don’t be afraid to move on. For more on this topic, read Toxic Relationships: Recognize A Toxic Relationship & Learn How To Fix It Or Forget It by Sarah Goldberg.