Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Good Way to Make Someone Feel Smaller

One of the things that I try to do in my blog is to highlight some of the most common pitfalls I see people facing in their relationships. With respect to romantic relationships, in particular, a lot of people fall prey to dishing out verbal hits below the belt in a heated moment or a full-blown argument.

One of the most harmful things you can do in a romantic relationship is to verbally compare your partner to someone else. For example, in a frustrated moment, you might point out that all of your friends manage to get promoted at work and ask “so why is it so hard for you?!” Other common examples involve comparing how friends’ of yours have partners who do this-and-that for them “but you never once do that for me.”

Comparing your partner to someone else is a sure-fire way of making your partner feel small and, ultimately, of building resentment in him or her. In fact, repeatedly comparing your partner to someone else often has the reverse effect of what you’re intending to do – it often causes them to do nothing. In the back of their minds, they’re thinking ‘well, I can never be that person, so why bother trying?’ Sometimes, the partners who get compared to others end up feeling low and depressed, and stop trying altogether. It should go without saying that comparing your partner to an ex in an argument is absolutely off-limits!

Instead of comparing your partner to someone else when you get frustrated, keep others out of the equation and explain to your partner how you feel. For example, say “when you don’t do x, y or z, it makes me feel like you don’t care.” This is a lot less harmful to your relationship in the end and a lot more effective in inciting change in your relationship dynamic.

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