For three years I stayed in a relationship where my boyfriend was ashamed of me, and it had a massive impact on my confidence and self-esteem.
Surprisingly, it was only after we broke up that I realized just how ashamed he was of me, but the signs were there all along, loud and clear.
From not wanting to introduce me to his family to criticizing every choice I made, he made it obvious — I just wish I had realized sooner what the issue was.
To say it’s a hurtful experience is an understatement, you think you’re falling in love and that you’re a partnership, but he’s got different ideas.
If you feel like you’re going through something similar, you probably want to know all the signs before you get hurt even more, after all, a relationship is supposed to boost your confidence, not kill it.
But first, let’s look into why he feels this way in the first place:
Why does your boyfriend feel ashamed of you?
When it comes to shame, there’s no easy answer.
But the most important thing to remember is that his embarrassment has absolutely nothing to do with you.
I’ll repeat that – it has nothing to do with you.
Whether he’s ashamed of your personality or the way you look, the problem is his, not yours.
So now we’ve got that out of the way, why does he feel like this?
Well, feeling ashamed of you comes down to his expectations and idea of what is considered “acceptable” and “normal”.
Let me give you an example:
If he has a deeply rooted belief that to fit in with society you must be skinny, then any woman who’s not stick-thin will be a cause for embarrassment or shame.
Or, if he’s been raised to think that people should act a certain way in public, anything outside those behaviors could make him feel embarrassed.
It’s completely messed up, but it’s something internal that he has to work on and there’s very little you can do to change his perception of what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Because ultimately, we should all be free to look, speak, and act how we want, without feeling constrained or limited, especially by someone we’re in a relationship with.
And within shame, there’s also the element of him feeling judged by other people when you’re seen together – it’s not enough that he feels ashamed of you, but he also worries what others will think.
The bottom line is:
Don’t diet because he’s mentioned your weight, don’t buy new clothes because he called your dress sense boring.
And certainly don’t try to change your personality to fit his idea of perfection, because, like me, you’ll come to realize that you’re worth way more than just his opinion.
But I get it, it still hurts and it will take time before you fully accept that his embarrassment won’t go away – it’ll only continue to cause you misery.
So let’s get straight into those important signs, and after I’ll be sharing some advice on what to do next.
Signs your boyfriend is ashamed of you
1) He never posts pictures of you on social media
You’re not Facebook official yet and he never puts pictures of you on his Instagram.
Yet whenever you ask him about it he says he doesn’t use social media much (yet he manages to post pictures with friends regularly enough).
Not wanting to show you off online is a massive telltale sign that he’s ashamed of you.
Granted, some people prefer to keep their personal lives private, and you’ll know if he’s being honest with you if his profiles are all consistent with what he says.
But if he shares every other detail of his life online, from his dinner to his gym routine, but never makes mention of you?
There’s a problem here, and it points to being ashamed.
2) He avoids introducing you to his family or friends
Now here’s the real proof that he’s ashamed of you – he never finds time to introduce you to his loved ones.
I went through the same thing in my relationship, constant excuses, and reasons why we couldn’t go round to his parents.
Or why he preferred to see his friends without me.
At the time I thought that he must have valid reasons, and I didn’t want to push him on the subject.
But it was only after we broke up and I looked back at the entire relationship that I realized he was embarrassed by me and he didn’t want them to meet me.
Maybe he thought they wouldn’t like me, or they’d judge him for dating someone so clearly different from their social circle.
But here’s the important thing to remember:
Whilst it’s normal for some guys to be hesitant about introducing you to their family or friends straight away, if you’ve been together for a while it shouldn’t be an issue.
Unless there’s something he finds fundamentally embarrassing about you and it’s putting him off bringing you around his loved ones — then he’ll make up every excuse in the book.
3) He makes comments about your appearance or behavior
Does your boyfriend ever make snarky or sarcastic remarks to you?
For example, “Are you really going out in that dress?”
“Do you have to laugh so loudly? The whole street can hear you”, (even though you were quietly giggling without disturbing anyone).
When these comments come up, it can make your heart sink.
The person who you care about and want to impress constantly finds things wrong with you, even parts of your appearance that can’t be changed.
Instead of trying to help you overcome your insecurities, if your boyfriend is ashamed of you he’ll play on them and make you feel even worse.
It’s pretty disgusting.
And what’s worse is that because you value his opinion, you’ll take on board his comments and start putting yourself down too.
I’m ashamed to admit how much time I spent on my appearance with my ex, constantly trying to look better to gain his approval.
I downplayed my personality to try and be the “sophisticated” woman to suit his expectations, but all I did was lose myself in the process.
And let me tell you now, nothing you do will make him less ashamed of you.
Because the problem is his — it has nothing to do with you, so no matter how much you try to reach his unrealistic standards, you’ll always fall short.
4) He puts you down in front of other people
And to take it a step further, your boyfriend might even make these remarks in front of other people.
Whether you’re out with your friends, or he has introduced you to people he knows, pay close attention to how he speaks to you.
And here’s the thing:
It’s not okay to be belittled by someone, in private or in public, and whilst he may not even realize he’s doing it, his frustration at being ashamed of you isn’t your problem.
In a healthy relationship, he would proudly introduce you to people he knows, includes you in conversation, and certainly not put you down in front of others.
5) He never wants to talk about the future
Whether you’re only a few months in or a year or two down the line in your relationship, talks of the future are inevitable.
And if your partner avoids these conversations, there’s a big probability that he doesn’t see you guys being together long-term.
Now, this could be for several reasons, but if the other points I mention all resonate with you then there’s a likelihood that this is linked to being ashamed of you too.
For whatever reason, he doesn’t think you’re a worthy partner and therefore there’s no point in fantasizing or planning the future.
6) Most of your dates are spent at home
In the beginning, you might have thought that he just prefers to chill at home rather than go out on dates.
But as time goes on, you get that niggly feeling that he only wants to stay home with you, he’s more than happy to be out otherwise.
The brutal truth is:
He doesn’t want to be seen out with you because he’s embarrassed by what other people will think if they see you together.
And if you do go out together, you might notice him avoiding his usual hangout places in case he runs into friends.
7) He always criticizes your decisions
Here’s the thing, if someone is ashamed of you, they’re ashamed of everything about you.
From your career choice to the food you eat, and what you do in your free time.
I know from experience.
As a trainee teacher at the time, he told me it wasn’t a high-paying enough job.
Even when I tried to eat healthily, I wasn’t choosing the right vegetables (and seriously, who can be bothered to get annoyed over vegetables).
It can feel like you never make a good decision because he puts down everything you do.
But the truth is, you’re not doing anything wrong in the first place.
He has a deep-rooted issue, and this makes him put a negative, critical spin on everything about you, even if it’s something that he once encouraged you to do.
Talk about a no-win situation.
8) He feels emotionally detached
Do you ever feel like your boyfriend doesn’t respond to your feelings?
Maybe you try to make him see how his comments hurt you, but he always brushes your feelings to one side?
If you do feel like he’s detached emotionally, it could be that he was never invested in the first place.
For one reason or another, he’s keeping you around even though he doesn’t fully accept you as you are.
And this can be extremely draining and tiring for you, especially if you’re balancing your emotions whilst still trying to please him.
9) You’re always the first one to initiate sex
And another clear sign that he’s not feeling it because he’s ashamed of you is if he never makes the first move.
To him, it’s a kind of “whatever” situation – he’ll happily take pleasure in having sex with you if you initiate it, but he doesn’t feel passion or lust enough to do it himself.
This can make you feel like you’ve got to try even harder, to be sexy, or to turn him on.
Instead, you should be focussing your efforts on someone who sees your natural beauty and doesn’t need convincing, especially when it comes to intimacy.
10) He doesn’t make eye contact often
Eye contact is essential for building bonds and relationships.
Staring into your partner’s eyes makes you feel connected and loved, and it’s the ultimate form of body language that tells you that someone has your full attention.
So what does it mean if he never meets your eyes when you talk?
Well, it’s certainly a sign that he lacks respect for you, and this can stem from the fact that he feels ashamed of you.
Or, he’s aware that he’s embarrassed by you and this makes him feel ashamed to even look you in the eye.
Either way, it’s not a good sign.
11) He acts cold if you run into each other in public
If you’ve ever accidentally bumped into your boyfriend at the supermarket or in the shopping mall, and he looks super uncomfortable, it’s because he is uncomfortable.
And you’re the reason why — it’s a sad but clear sign that he’s ashamed to be seen in public with you.
Instead of happily running down the aisle to hug you, he might act cool and distant, and you’ll notice that he’s in a rush to say goodbye and part ways.
He might try to avoid you by pretending he hasn’t seen you or changing direction.
If this happens, there are no excuses for his disrespectful behavior.
You’re meant to be in a relationship, and just the sight of you should make him excited and happy, not nervous and uncomfortable.
12) There’s never any PDA
PDA – public displays of affection.
This is for all of you who do go out with your boyfriend, but he never holds your hand or wants to kiss you in public.
Even something small like putting his arm around you when you’re cold is an issue…
This will be a big indicator, and one that’s hard to miss.
After all, who doesn’t enjoy cuddling up to their partner as you take a walk on a cold day?
And if he constantly rejects this or moves away uncomfortably, you’ll soon start to pick up on it.
The bottom line is:
It’s just another outlet for his embarrassment.
He feels ashamed and therefore he doesn’t want to draw attention to the fact that you are together by holding your hand or kissing goodbye when you’re outside.
He’s ashamed of you — what can you do about it?
So by now, you’ve probably worked out whether he’s ashamed of you or not from the signs above.
It can feel like a punch to the stomach.
I’ve been there, and the realization that someone I cared for and loved could be ashamed of me made me feel physically sick.
And it took a long time to recover from it.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel — if you think your partner is ashamed of you, it’s worth having an honest conversation about it.
They may have been holding onto guilt or shame that was projected onto them when they were young, and now they’re passing it onto you.
Even if they never admit it but your gut feeling tells you that they are, you need to think long and hard about whether this is someone you want to invest your emotions and time into.
Ultimately, a relationship should bring out the best in you, and a loving, respectful partner should be proud of you, not embarrassed or ashamed.
And the sad truth is, he may be dealing with his insecurities, or pressures from his own family to be a certain way, and he projects this onto you, too.
Instead of standing up and being proud to be with you, he’ll try his best to hide you away and treat you like you are inferior — which no one should ever have to experience.
And the psychological and emotional impact that this can have on you certainly isn’t worth sticking around for — trust me on that one.
I wish I could say that I realized all of this and ended the relationship I was in with my head held high, but the reality was far from it.
We broke up for other reasons, and I spent months distraught.
But it wasn’t until I reflected on the reasons we had broken up that I realized they all stemmed from one place:
And more specifically, being ashamed of me.
It was then that I realized I was done. No more people-pleasing. No more trying to impress others. And no more trying to change who I am to fit someone else’s expectations.
And remember the light at the end of the tunnel I mentioned?
That comes from building your self-esteem and confidence and not needing validation from anyone else – especially from someone who doesn’t value or respect you for being yourself.
And when you have that, you’ll attract the right type of partner, one who will celebrate you for all your quirky personality traits and who’ll love you and show you off to the world.
Someone who’ll never put you down or make you feel uncomfortable for being who you are, who’ll appreciate your wacky habits or funky style and be thankful that they met you.
Ultimately that’s what you deserve, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.