6 subtle signs your partner is bringing out the worst in you, according to psychology

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Relationships are tough, right? 

They all have their ups and downs, and it’s normal for every couple to face challenges that might bring out the not-so-great sides of each other occasionally. 

But what if it feels like this is happening more often than it should?

Maybe you’re trying to figure out if it’s normal relationship stress or something more serious. 

It’s not always easy to tell, but when you know what to look out for, it clarifies things.

Today, we’re exploring 6 subtle signs, backed by the experts that your partner might be bringing out the worst in you. 

How many of these signs sound familiar to you? Let’s find out.

1) You’re losing touch with your friends

Ever feel like you used to see your friends all the time and now, not so much? 

It’s pretty common to hang out less with your besties once you’re in a serious relationship. Balancing time between your partner and friends isn’t always easy.

But there’s a big difference between catching up less frequently and barely knowing what’s going on in each other’s lives anymore. 

Friends are more than just fun, they’re a crucial part of life. 

Research shows that having strong friendships can make you happier, and healthier, and may even help you live longer. 

Drifting away from your friends is not just about having less time, it might be a sign that your partner is bringing out a bad side of you.

2) You’re having more emotional outbursts than usual

Have you been getting angry quickly, feeling upset easily, or crying more often than usual?

If this sounds like you and you’re having lots of emotional outbursts, your relationship might be having a bigger impact on you than you think.

Emotions are like little signals that something needs your attention. It’s important to listen to these signals and express your feelings. 

As therapist, Jason N. Linder PsyD puts it, “Working through [emotions] and expressing them helps us feel better and improves our relationships.”

Sometimes, if your relationship is really stressful and you have pent-up frustration, you might not have the chance to deal with your emotions properly. 

This can lead to being at your worst with emotions coming out suddenly and unexpectedly. And it’s often a sign you’ve got some things you need to deal with.

3) You feel worse about yourself since being in the relationship 

Relationships are supposed to be fun, supportive, and uplifting, right? 

When someone you’re into chooses you, it should feel great. They find you attractive and enjoy your company; that’s a definite boost to your self-esteem and confidence.

But what if the opposite is happening? 

One of the signs that your partner is bringing out the worst in you is if you’re feeling worse about yourself since being in the relationship. 

This can happen for many different reasons such as unhealthy communication, difficulty resolving conflict, or lack of emotional support. 

For example, one study has found that how couples perceive and handle conflict can negatively impact both partners’ self-esteem. 

Regardless of what’s causing it though, protecting your self-esteem is crucial in any relationship.

If you’re feeling worse about yourself since being in the relationship, something has to change, and fast. 

4) You criticize your partner and show them contempt

Be honest: are you spending more time criticizing and nagging your partner than laughing and having fun with them? 

Maybe when you notice something undone around the house, like the dishes or mowing the lawn, you quickly get upset and start scolding.

And it doesn’t stop there. 

During arguments, you might find yourself using sarcasm, rolling your eyes, or mocking your partner. This behavior is known as contempt.

This isn’t usually how you act, but lately, you’re so frustrated and out of patience that you’re seeing this negative side of yourself more and more.

It’s a clear sign that your partner might be bringing out the worst in you. Constant criticism and contempt are serious problems. 

Psychologist and researcher Dr. John Gottman even identifies these behaviors as major predictors of relationship failure.

Being in a relationship that’s full of sarcasm, disrespect, and criticism, is not healthy for anyone. It might be time to find out what’s driving this.

5) You feel anxious and uneasy when your partner’s not around

Do you start to feel anxious or uneasy when your partner isn’t around?

Think back to before you were together: were you more independent, handling your days and activities with confidence? 

If you’re feeling more restless or nervous being solo these days, that’s a shift worth noticing.

Relying too much on your partner to feel secure or happy usually means you’ve slipped into an insecure attachment style.

As pointed out by experts, these unhealthy attachment styles “can often lead to relationships that cause you great anxiety, distress, or emotional pain.”

If you can’t seem to function well without your partner, it could be a sign you’ve got an unhealthy attachment style and they’re bringing out the worst in you.

But don’t worry, with some time and effort it’s possible to develop a healthier attachment style with your partner. 

6) You’re hesitant to express your thoughts and opinions

Falling in love is often painted as a magical experience, but the reality isn’t always so picture-perfect.

The truth is: getting into a relationship can sometimes mean experiencing negative things like losing your sense of self

It’s something that happens slowly, over time making it hard to spot, but one clear sign that you might be losing yourself is if you find yourself hesitant to speak up to your partner.

Does this sound familiar? Do you often find yourself holding back your true thoughts and feelings to please your partner?

Samara Quintero, LMFT, CHT, a licensed marriage and family therapist says “Some people may lose their sense of individuality in a relationship easily if they have a tendency to seek their sense of worth from the external world”.

If you’re constantly putting your partner’s happiness above your own and losing your sense of identity in the process, it’s a big sign that this relationship is bringing out the worst in you and something needs to change. 

Final thoughts

If a couple of these signs ring a bell, don’t worry too much: it’s normal for relationships to hit bumpy patches where we might not be our best selves. 

However, if you’re nodding along to most of these signs and they’re a regular occurrence, it might be time to take a step back and reassess your situation. 

Remember, everyone deserves a relationship that brings out their best, not one that dims their shine.

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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