My partner keeps me small – what to do?
Is love the answer to all questions? Not quite. It also provides quite a few. Psychologist and couples therapist Oskar Holzberg answers them all.
What if I feel like my partner is making me small?
Then the notorious apocalyptic horsemen gallop through the relationship.
For a long time we were all very small. It took many years to grow up and have the same rights as adults, and probably longer to really grow up (and some never make it, but that’s another story).
Your needs are as important as mine
The line between small and large, i.e. between dependency and independence, is never clear and easy to draw. Especially not in our love relationships. Because there we become dependent on another person, whom we make so important that we do not want to live without him. Therefore, in love, we can feel small very quickly. If only because we love someone the way we only loved our parents before.
In a good love relationship, the partners therefore pay attention to emotional balance, fairness and justice. Your needs are as important as mine. Nobody behaves like decisive parents and thereby pushes the other into the role of children. We achieve this by treating each other with respect and awareness, empathizing with one another and being ready to question our own behavior. Of course, we don’t always succeed. But we try and apologize if we don’t succeed.
As soon as one gives up respect and mindfulness in the relationship, the other begins to feel small. As soon as there is criticism of who we are and no longer what we do, devaluation and contempt begin. Then it is no longer: “Oh, how stupid that you forgot to bring eggs!” But: “How stupid can you be to forget the eggs of all things!” Or even: “Why do you never get anything done?” Such devaluations quickly lead to us feeling like a child and defending ourselves like this: “But I have thought of all the other purchases!” or “That’s not true at all, I rarely forget anything!”
In order not to feel small, conflicts are inevitable
But we shouldn’t defend ourselves like a child who is doing sooo much right. But stay grown up and demand respect. Do not defend yourself against the allegations, but against the attitude, the condescending position that the partner or partners: takes in us: “I don’t want you to speak to me so contemptuously.” Or even: “I don’t allow myself to be talked to like that! I don’t want to be treated like that by you.”
Yes, it can be quite a conflict. But that’s inevitable if we don’t want to be belittled. It does not matter whether our counterpart simply repeats a behavior that he or she experienced as a child, or makes us small to fend off our own doubts about self-worth, or has such strong fears of being abandoned by us that he or she devalues us because of it: contempt , Constant criticism and devaluation are the apocalyptic riders in a relationship. They are the harbingers of a breakup. If we do not succeed in knocking you – our partner – off your high horse and returning to a loving togetherness on an equal footing.
“Couple adox” is the podcast with Oskar Holzberg and his wife Claudia. You speak openly about topics that keep challenging relationships. Funny, exciting and insightful! I.a. on Audio Now.
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