Have you ever loved somebody with all your heart but they also bring you down in so many ways?
It’s like you see all the best aspects of who they are, but you can’t help but also notice that this person is tying you down in a disempowering, frustrating way.
You feel held back and wonder if there’s a way to communicate this to your partner or whether you’ll have to break up.
I’ve had this happen to me and seen it time and time again in my friends’ relationships: they’re in love and committed, but they’re also being held back from blooming.
No relationship is perfect, but if you are noticing these things happening then your partner is standing in the way of you reaching your potential…
1) Your partner downplays your dreams
If you’re with somebody who looks down on your dreams this is a clear sign they’re holding you back.
Let me be clear:
No partner owes you constant approval or cheerleading, and your dreams are your own.
But at the very least it’s important to be with someone who stands by you and respects your goals.
When you have a partner who actively disparages your dreams or focuses on their faults, it’s no wonder you feel disillusioned and limited.
The person you’re closest to is giving your future a thumbs down!
This ties into the next point…
2) Your partner disregards or argues against your career goals
Your career goals can act as a kind of North Star to orient yourself towards.
When you have a partner who tells you your career goals are unrealistic or silly it’s deeply disillusioning.
It becomes even worse when you actually delay your plans, job applications and plans for the future because of this.
Knowing that being alone would allow you to go after your career in a much more effective way is an awful feeling.
You’re torn between your love for your partner and the career goals that are also very important to you.
3) Your partner freeloads off you
Let’s be honest:
No relationship is a perfect balance.
There will always be areas where you give more or take more, and vice versa.
But having a partner who freeloads is enormously taxing and holds you back.
How are you supposed to pursue your goals and become who you can be when your partner is taking your money, time and energy without giving back?
We all have limits.
Caring for someone is no justification for freeloading off of them, in fact it’s even more reason your partner shouldn’t be leeching off you!
4) Your partner gaslights you
Gaslighting is one of the ugliest behaviors that happens in relationships.
If you have a partner who tries to mislead you about what you’re noticing or tell you it’s your fault, then I won’t mince words:
You have a partner who is holding you back.
You have a partner who has their own serious issues to deal with before they are in a relationship with anyone.
You may have strong feelings for your partner, but if they’re being dishonest with you and blaming you for noticing something’s wrong then there’s really no excuse.
5) Your partner guilts you
Guilt is another tool that’s often used by a toxic partner.
It can also be a form of gaslighting as well as trying to control you:
“If you really loved me you wouldn’t be considering moving!”
“Why do you have friends like that? They’re so weird and creepy!”
These types of typical statements from a toxic partner are all aimed at making you feel guilty for who you are, the plans you have and the people you surround yourself with.
These sorts of statements are inconsiderate and if you let them hold sway then there’s no doubt they’re holding you back.
6) Your partner surrounds you with people who are a bad influence
My closest friends have been huge influences on me in my life.
It’s the same for everyone I know.
Those in relationships are introduced to a whole new circle of people in many cases (unless they already shared mutual friends with their partner).
The results can be great! But they can also be much less than great…
When you have a partner whose friends are lazy, ignorant, hate-filled or overly negative, there’s no doubt that this can drag you down.
I’m not saying to expect perfection or rule out any people who have “bad vibes” in your partner’s friend circle.
Nothing is perfect!
But if your partner has many friends you find genuinely unlikeable and a bad influence, it’s fair to say there’s a good chance they’re holding you back.
7) Your partner disrespects your core values and beliefs
Even if your partner doesn’t share your beliefs or has different values, it’s reasonable to expect basic respect.
When you have a partner who refuses to respect what you stand for, you have a very big problem on your hands.
It’s hard to move forward in your life or accomplish very much together with somebody who thinks you’re fundamentally wrong and considers your principles either incorrect or even immoral.
It’s fine for couples to disagree, but to actively clash is another matter.
It can lead to all sorts of sparks of passion, sure, but a lasting relationship where you actually move forward in your life and achieve your goals is very unlikely in such a scenario.
8) Your partner pressures you to agree with them
Respect is a must, but being pressured to agree with your partner is something else entirely.
First off: it’s inauthentic.
It’s like an oppressive regime who forces people to adopt a certain belief:
Sure it might work to keep folks in line publicly for a time, but it’s very unlikely to be real or based on true concordance.
Secondly, it’s unjust and pushy:
Why should you be with someone who won’t accept your differences in opinion with them?
As long as there is respect, there’s no reason that you should be pressured into concurring with your partner’s views.
9) Your partner issues ultimatums and threats
Ultimatums and threats have no place in any relationship!
I really believe that.
There can be firm boundaries, clearly, such as “if you don’t stop using drugs I’m leaving you,” or “if you continue to treat me this way I am leaving.”
But threats and ultimatums used as a form of control are totally off limits.
If this is going on in your relationship then it’s definitely holding you back.
You deserve to have healthy, mature communication without being threatened.
Common ultimatums and threat phrasings include:
- “Do this or else…”
- “If you leave me I swear I’ll…”
- “It’s over if you don’t…”
- “I’m not doing X for you anymore if you don’t Y…”
10) Your partner expects you to make them happy
Making your partner happy is wonderful!
Being expected to make your partner happy or cheer them up is something else entirely:
It’s awful and it weighs you down in a totally codependent way.
Nobody should ever take on responsibility for assuming the wellbeing of somebody else.
Even our parents who help us survive and find our way in life should not do this!
In fact, helicopter parents and those who treat their kids as a golden child are famous for messing up their children by not giving them the space to make their own choices and have their own experiences in life.
You are not responsible for the happiness of your partner.
Your job is to treat them well and be a good partner, not to guarantee their happiness!
If they expect that, they’ve lost the plot.
Reaching your potential
Nobody but you can work to reach your potential!
In your career, your self-development and every other area, your life path is something that you pour your own blood, sweat and tears into.
Relationships and who we form connections with are a key part of finding our potential.
If your partner is displaying a lot of the behaviors above, it’s time to talk about it with them very directly and make your boundaries clear.
You’re being held back:
It’s either time to grow and learn together or go your separate ways.