Episode 114: "What can I do if my partner always tells me I'm wrong?"Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about partners dismissing your feelings.
This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, what can I do if my partner always tells me I’m wrong?
It can be very difficult to hear a partner always tell you that you’re wrong. It can make you feel as if you’re the problem or that you need to resolve the problem or “better” yourself for your partner. It is also dismissive and it makes it hard to address concerns or disagreements in the relationship. Let’s look at some ways to talk about the situation, to deal with it, and what to do if things don’t seem to change.
Each person in a relationship is responsible for themselves and their actions only. This means you are solely responsible for how you show up to a conversation. You can’t control how your partner reacts and thinks. Before discussing an issue with your partner, check in with yourself.
By taking a moment to yourself, you can monitor your feelings and practice what you’d like to communicate in a respectful manner. You can also make sure that you feel safe and aren’t being threatened by your partner. You can also reflect on if the statement “you’re always wrong” is a control tactic that’s being used against you. Healthy relationships do not rely on control tactics. Instead, each partner takes ownership of themselves and their actions.
One way to take responsibility is by using “I” statements. It can be helpful to set time aside for a discussion and inform your partner how you’ve been feeling. You can do this by saying something like, “I’d like to have a discussion with you. I’ve been feeling like I always end up being wrong in our recent conversations. When can we talk about this?”
In that example, you are taking responsibility for your feelings and actions. You are also communicating from a place of curiosity, without judgement or pointing the finger. This can potentially spark an intentional conversation on how both parties have been feeling and ways to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, though this may not always be the case. So let’s look at what happens when a partner uses blame as a way to control you.
Abusive relationships occur when a partner gains and keeps power and control over the other person. This can happen when they use tactics like blaming and gaslighting. That’s a form of emotional abuse that makes someone question their own reality. By convincing someone that they’re always wrong, a partner is attempting to change how the other acts.
This allows the abusive partner to regain control. It also forces the target of the gaslighting to bend to the needs of the abusive partner. That’s not equal. This situation can feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Although different situations and issues arise in every relationship, it does not justify exercising control over the other person.
Let’s say you are having this conversation and your partner says, “Well, that’s just stupid. You are wrong most of the time anyway.” This is not a very supportive or open response. It’s important to review your partner’s reactions, both in this conversation and previous ones. Has your partner made you feel guilty before, even about things you should be enjoying? Has your partner convinced you what you think, or feel is wrong, with the intention of changing your mind?
Has your partner made you responsible for what they are feeling? Here’s an example: when a partner says, “It’s your fault that I’m angry.” If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, your partner is attempting to gain power and control over you and the relationship. This is never okay. It’s not your fault, no matter what your partner says.
If you are always being told that you are wrong in your relationship, it may be an area you’d like to explore with your partner, but only if you feel safe to do so. Healthy relationships allow for two people to communicate their thoughts and feelings, even when they are different. Approaching your partner with “I” statements and a place of honesty may lead to positive changes.
If you’re being told that you are wrong, and it’s controlling you, the conversation may leave you feeling unheard, confused, and possibly unsafe. And that’s not your fault. You are deserving of a relationship where you can communicate your feelings, be validated, and not manipulated. There is support and hope available if you feel trapped in this relationship, and you’d like more information on the difference between gaslighting and a genuine relationship concern.
To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.