Emotions are important. They don’t have to steer every decision you make, and they don’t have to completely take over your life. But, they deserve to be felt and validated, no matter what. 

Emotions also demand to be felt. While some people might try to push them down for a while in difficult situations, they will always eventually be brought to the surface. So, it’s important to put yourself in environments where your emotions are understood, heard, and validated by the people closest to you—including your partner. 

Unfortunately, when you have an emotionally invalidating partner, that doesn’t happen. 

Emotional invalidation can make you feel small. It can cause you to question your self-worth, shatter your confidence, and even put you at risk of emotional abuse. 

Recognizing the signs of an emotionally invalidating partner is important, so you can take the steps necessary to bring the issues to light, or to get out of the relationship. Let’s take a look at some of those signs. 

They Dismiss Your Emotions

Again, emotions demand to be felt. They’re often out of our control, and you’re not “mustering” them up somehow. So, for someone you care about to dismiss them as unimportant or even for them to suggest that you shouldn’t feel a certain way isn’t okay. 

If your partner is always trying to downplay your emotions or they dismiss them entirely, they aren’t validating you in the way you deserve. 

Additionally, if they tell you that you shouldn’t feel those emotions, you might start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you. 

They Accuse You of Wanting Attention

couple sitting on bench who are upset with one anotherSometimes, emotional invalidation can come with a side of guilt. Your partner might suggest you’re trying to make a scene if you’re sad or overwhelmed. They might criticize you for the way you feel or suggest you’re trying to get people’s attention or sympathy. 

They might even make you feel worse by suggesting that what you’re dealing with or going through isn’t as bad as someone else’s situation. 

Not all emotional invalidation is intentional. Some emotionally invalidating partners might not realize the true impact of what they’re saying and doing. But, if you’re with someone who doesn’t ever want to take the time to get to the root of what you’re feeling and instead tries to suggest your emotions aren’t even real, consider it a red flag. 

Guilt and Gaslighting

Your partner might try to make you feel worse (either intentionally or unintentionally) by asking why you can’t just be happy. Or, they might question why you’re always so negative, or take things to extremes. 

These questions can quickly make you feel guilty about your own emotions and cause you to wonder whether what you’re feeling is actually appropriate or not. 

They can also take a different route and try to gaslight your feelings. They might suggest that you misunderstand things, or that you’ve been under a lot of stress and that’s why you feel a certain way. Unfortunately, gaslighting can also lead to narcissistic or abusive behaviors. They can try to keep you from loved ones by suggesting no one wants to see or hear your emotions. 

What Can You Do?

If any of these signs of an emotionally invalidating partner sound familiar, the best thing you can do is address them quickly. Sometimes, people can be invalidating without realizing it. They might not know how to communicate effectively, and they’re tearing down your emotions as a result. 

If your partner’s actions are intentional, however, address them with sincerity. If they aren’t willing to change, it may be best to end the relationship to protect your mental health and well-being. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support through couples therapy or relationship counseling for individuals.