13 signs you’re emotionally draining your partner (and don’t even realize it)

Consider this: Do you leave your partner feeling excited, inspired, and motivated? 

Or do you often find them exhausted whenever you’re together?

The sad reality is, we can sometimes drain the energy out of people we love. Intentionally or unintentionally, we fail to respect our partner’s boundaries.

And the worst part? This toxic behavior can spiral out of control and ruin a strong bond.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the signs that you might be emotionally draining your partner without realizing it.

I’ll also share some tips on how you can turn things around — before it’s too late.

Let’s get started.

1) Unresolved conflicts

Bickering with your partner from time to time is not unusual. But if you and your partner have the same fights over and over, that’s a sign of more significant problems down the road.

It gets worse when you don’t stay on topic when you argue. Repeatedly bringing up past issues leads to resentment — which can leave your partner feeling emotionally drained.

If you can’t navigate conflicts with your partner in healthier and more productive ways, the relationship may become emotionally distressing.

This leads me to my next point….

2) Resorting to the silent treatment

Are you the type to give your partner that cold shoulder — refusing to communicate with them for hours, even days, after an argument?

This is called stonewalling, one of four problematic communication habits that psychologist Dr. John Gottman says can destroy relationships

Instead of dealing with the issues directly, you choose to ignore them and ignore your partner. 

You may think that it’s a harmless tactic but it actually leaves your partner feeling confused, hurt, rejected, and hopeless. 

3) Lack of affection 

You may deny it at first, but when you feel that there’s a distance and disconnect between you and your partner, that’s a sign of a lack of emotional intimacy.

When one or both of you get lazy about touching — which means you don’t hold hands, kiss, or cuddle — it puts a strain on the relationship.

If you and your partner are having less sex, it’s also a sign that you may be emotionally draining your partner without you knowing it.

4) Ignoring your partner’s needs

Be honest: Do you tend to prioritize your own needs above all else? Do you feel like you often neglect to give your partner the attention and appreciation they deserve?

Your partner may feel emotionally exhausted when their needs and wants are unmet.

Simply put, you take your partner for granted. It can be frustrating for them to always have to communicate their desires to someone who’s consistently inattentive.

If your partner starts to question the significance of the role they play in your life, that’s also a sign that they may be emotionally drained. 

5) Being overly critical

Nothing can erode a person’s self-esteem more than having a partner who’s always finding faults in everything they do

Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to correct your partner’s behavior from time to time. 

But when you do it through harsh comments or sweeping statements like “You always” or “You never,” you can seriously hurt your partner’s feelings. 

You create a toxic environment when you attack your partner’s character and make them feel like they’re never good enough for you. 

6) Unrealistic expectations

Do you expect your partner to….

  • Spend most of their time with you?
  • Always agree with you?
  • Be available every time you’re feeling down?
  • Know what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way?

If you said yes to all, then it’s highly likely that you’re asking too much of your partner. 

Unrealistic expectations often lead to increased conflict within a relationship, and this vicious cycle can be emotionally damaging for both partners involved. 

These unrealistically high expectations can be a constant source of pressure and frustration that drains your partner’s emotional energies

7) Too much negativity

There’s no easy way to go about it: A drama-filled relationship can suffocate.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. But if you consistently focus on the negatives and your partner often feels caught up in your drama, it may lead to tensions that are hard to bear. 

Case in point: Consistent nagging. You pressure your partner too much if you’re always nitpicking, demanding, or complaining. 

8) Self-obsession

What can be more draining than having a partner who thinks that everything revolves around them?

This can get tricky because you may be unaware that you’re becoming self-centered. Sure, you may go through periods of behaving selfishly in your relationship.

However, if this inconsiderate, self-centered behavior is the norm for you, it can have dire emotional consequences for your partner.

But of course, I’m not saying that focusing on your well-being is the same as being self-obsessed. There’s a fine line between self-care and self-obsession. 

One way to walk this line responsibly is to work on self-improvement. One effective way to start addressing your emotional health is to practice meditation.

For instance, you could start with this Self-Healing Meditation to better understand your actions and their impact on your partner. It’s a free and quick way to give yourself a fresh perspective on how you might be impacting your partner.

Click here to access the free meditation.

9) Taking more than you give

In a healthy relationship, both partners put in the effort to keep the love alive. 

If your partner is investing way more than they’re getting, they’ll feel depleted and unfulfilled in the long run. 

Is your partner carrying all the weight in the relationship? Are they always initiating contact, suggesting activities, or fixing things to make the relationship better?

As they say, it takes two to tango. Without a healthy give-and-take dynamic, the relationship will only feel one-sided.

10) Being too needy and dependent

Genuine emotional intimacy in a relationship is all about giving each other a safe space and having someone you can turn to for support during the toughest of times.

But if you make your partner endure endless emotional roller coasters and expect them to take on your pains and struggles every single time, it can leave them feeling drained and on edge.

The thing is, you can’t rely solely on your partner for reassurance, validation, and support. 

It’s also unfair (and unrealistic) for you to demand your partner to always be available for you but you rarely return the favor. 

11) Excessive control and manipulation

If you resort to manipulating your partner to get your way, that’s a red flag of emotional abuse.

This happens when you make your partner feel guilty for prioritizing their well-being or for wanting to spend time away from you. 

You also drain their energy when you make them feel like they must fulfill all your needs at the expense of their own. 

When you limit your partner’s freedom or take control of decision-making processes in the relationship, that’s also an indication of manipulation

12) Refusing to take responsibility for mistakes

It’s a bad sign if you tend to blame your partner instead of accepting responsibility for your issues and mistakes.

Healthy relationships require both partners to take ownership of their roles and admit wrongdoing or bad behavior.

If you make your partner feel that everything that goes wrong in the relationship is their fault, it can leave them emotionally exhausted. 

Other signs of toxic deflecting behavior include consistently making excuses and refusing to apologize for mistakes.

13) Violating boundaries

Setting clear and strong boundaries is key to maintaining healthy relationships. 

If you repeatedly break your partner’s boundaries even though they’ve explained them too many times, that’s a sign that you may be emotionally draining them.

And it doesn’t stop there: You disrespect your partner when you constantly make them defend and justify the reasons for their boundaries. It may damage their sense of safety, trust, and autonomy.

How to prevent relationship burnout

Don’t beat yourself up if you find that your behavior is draining your partner. Here are some steps you can take to change things and keep yourself from destroying your relationship.

1) Be more mindful of how your behavior affects your partner. Be emotionally honest and find out what motivates you to engage in these draining behaviors.

Ask yourself: What triggers me to act this way? How can I avoid those triggers? How can I become more aware of when I fall into this bad attitude or behavior?

2) Get in tune with yourself. Sometimes we’re not aware of our actions because we’re out of touch with ourselves. This free Self-Healing Meditation can help you regain focus and understand how your actions impact those around you. Trust me, I did and I couldn’t feel more emotionally balanced.

Here’s link to the free meditation again.

3) Ask for help. Have a conversation with your partner about how you want to move forward and make positive changes. Ask them if they feel drained by a particular behavior and seriously consider their suggestions about how you can improve. Show your appreciation and love for your partner as often as you can. 

4) Be kind to yourself. Take it one step at a time and be compassionate with yourself along the way. You may fall short of your goals and make mistakes, but this isn’t a reason to give up. Keep going and trust the process. Your partner will appreciate the positive changes you make to keep the relationship healthy and thriving. 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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