4 Ways To Respond When Your Partner Puts You Down

You deserve to co-create the kind of loving and close relationship you want.

Putting a stop to the put downs Peopleimages.com - YuriArcurs | Canva

Nobody likes to be criticized. Most of us overload ourselves with negative judgments a lot of the time and don't need any help from a partner in that department! 

When your partner regularly lumps on their put-downs, and “advice” for how you might do things better, it can be a heavy and crippling load to carry. The combination of your criticisms with your partner's put-downs can cause your self-esteem to dip even lower and intensify the conflict between the two of you.


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Here are 4 things to do when your partner puts you down a lot.

1. Look at whether you're putting yourself down, too 

Yes, this is uncomfortable and it might not be easy to see either. Nonetheless, it's so important for you to acknowledge the role you play in this destructive dynamic.

Do you have a habit of diminishing your achievements or highlighting the one thing “wrong” about yourself or a project you've done? 

Man put down one thumb and one thumb up Asier Romero


Take an honest look at your habits and see how they might trigger or fuel this relationship dynamic. Do this with as much kindness and love as you can. With this learning, you can start to change your habits that co-create an environment of criticism in your relationship.

2. Are you participating in put-downs and negative interactions, too?

Do you have a history of putting down your partner? Are you being negative with them? Is at least some of what your partner is saying about you or your behavior true? Are you taking responsibility for your mistakes

If you have reliable information about why your partner might be so critical, such as their childhood experiences or own insecurities, acknowledge that as well. Make sure you are not exploiting your partner's history or weaknesses. 

Be sure that you are also looking at your tendencies too. What part is from your own childhood experiences or insecurities, if any? 


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3. Set boundaries

We urge you to keep your habits in mind and to take ownership of your role in the dynamic. We also encourage you to stop the criticisms when they start. Setting boundaries may be necessary.

Pause and make careful choices about what you are about to say. If a put-down about your partner or yourself is about to come out of your mouth, stop! Remember, you are the one who sets the example of how you want to be treated. Treat yourself with respect and appreciation and this will be a powerful demonstration for your mate.


If your partner goes ahead and criticizes you or something you've done, we also advise you to pause. Before accusing them of putting you down, try to get clear. Could you be misunderstanding what was being said? Do they have a valid point?

If it's a pretty clear criticism and you did not ask for your partner's opinion, then it's time to set a boundary. Ask your partner to stop. Let them know that you didn't ask for criticism, advice, or a “friendly reminder.” You can use words like this, “I love you and I will ask for your opinion about this when I want it. Right now and in this situation, it is important to me to rely on my judgment.”

If your partner's words feel like an unfair put-down, you could say, “Can you please re-phrase what you just said in a way that I can hear and understand? The words you chose feel hurtful and inaccurate to me.”

Feel into yourself for words that are a good fit for what's going on in your life and relationship at the moment. Choose how you set a boundary carefully. You don't have to put your partner down or push him or her away as you are honest and firm.


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4. Ask yourself the tough question

“Is staying in this relationship healthy and wise for me?”

@sheisfila Here’s how to know when its time to walk away from a relationship… are you feeling conflicted or confused? Are you wondering if you should stay or leave your relationship? These 3 signs will show you where you stand and tell you if its time to let go, walk away & leave your relationship. #breakup #breakups #whentoleave #walkaway #relationshipadviceforwomen #relationshiptipsforwomen #relationshipadvice #relationshipcoachfila #lifecoachfila ♬ original sound - Fila | Relationship Coach

If your partner's put-downs feel abusive and there doesn't seem to be any hint of improvement (or a genuine intention for a change), then it could be time to decide whether it's in your best interests to stay in or leave the relationship.


As we said, nobody likes to be criticized. Nobody deserves to be continually put down and disrespected either. You don't and your partner doesn't either.

Perhaps you've already tried to stop your partner's put-downs. Maybe you've become defensive and explained why you made certain decisions or maybe you've gone on the offensive and attacked your mate for their habits. You may have tried to tell your partner how much it annoys or hurts you to be criticized and none of this worked!

In your eyes, your partner continues to find fault in whatever you do (or don't do). It feels like you can't do anything right, on time, or in the way you “should” do it. This is a recipe for big problems in your relationship!


While it may seem that your partner's put-downs are what's driving you two apart and making you feel horrible about yourself, it's usually more complicated than that. Relationships are all about dynamics. In the vast majority of cases, two people are contributing to the conflict and disconnection. This is good news because it means that you aren't helpless in the situation.

You deserve to co-create the kind of loving and close relationship you want. Be honest with yourself about whether or not this seems possible with your partner and make the best decision for you.

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Susie and Otto Collins are Certified Transformative Coaches who help awaken love and possibilities in your life.