You likely have a ton of different thoughts about your partner depending on the week, day, hour, or even minute. If you're spending the day together, having a great time, your thoughts might be loving and positive. If you're frustrated with something they forgot or the way they're handling a certain situation, the thoughts might not be quite as happy. Still, those thoughts, generally, probably aren't anything you need to worry much about. No one gets along all the time. People get annoyed and frustrated. It's normal. But there are some thoughts about your partner that you should never ignore, according to experts, that, if you have them, might be something about which you should be a little bit more concerned. Though some thoughts can be difficult to control (everyone thinks things that are unrealistic or are an over-exaggeration sometimes), if your thoughts are overly negative, you definitely need to take notice.
"Every couple should be aware of the negative thoughts that are created about their partner," Dr. LaWanda N. Evans, EdD, LPC, NCC, a licensed professional counselor, tells Romper by email. "Couples should identify the factors that contribute to the thoughts, and identify healthy ways to deal with the negative thoughts. How you feel about each other is created by the thoughts you have about each other; and keep in mind, negative thoughts lead to assumptions, and creates your perception about your mate, which are all caused by little-to-no communication in the relationship."
If you have these thoughts about your partner, paying attention to them and dealing with them, rather than just brushing them aside, can help you determine whether they're true — and a problem in your relationship — or whether they're based on your feelings in the moment.
1. "They're Not Nice To Waitstaff, But They're Always Nice To Me"
You've probably heard it before, but the way that they treat people like waitstaff, baristas, housekeeping, or others performing a service can tell you a lot about how they really are, regardless of how they typically treat you.
"People show their true colors when not on guard," Sheina Schochet, MA, NCC, a New York City-based therapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "A new beau will be on [their] best behavior when [they're] interacting with you, conscious of [their] every move. But, when something unexpected happens (cue the messed up order), [they're] thrown off and reverts to [their] default behavior. That way [they're] talking to the innocent waitress — that's how [they're] likely to talk to you when things don't go according to plan further on into your relationship."
2. "I Shouldn't Tell Them About My Big Promotion"
You should be able to tell your partner about the great things that happen in your life without worrying that they won't react well. "Your partner should celebrate your accomplishments and be your cheerleader (and you should reciprocate in a similar manner)," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells Romper via email. "Research shows that successful couples prop one another up and realize that one’s gains benefit both parties. If you feel you need to sacrifice in order to build up your partner, you may want to reconsider."
You shouldn't have to minimize your own successes and achievements in order to make sure that your partner feels better about themselves.
3. "They've Changed A Lot Since We Started Dating"
Sure, people can change as they grow up. They might change their ideas and opinions, career, priorities, and more. As time changes, so do people. But people typically don't change things that are an important part of who they are. Evans says that, oftentimes, if you're having this kind of thought, it's an indication of a breakdown in communication in your relationship. If you're communicating effectively and committed to one another, you shouldn't wake up one day surprised that the person that you're in a relationship is a totally different person than they ever were before.
4. "Since They Don't Like My Best Friend, I'll Just Have To Keep Them Apart"
Friends, partners, family members, and coworkers don't always hit it off right away. But if you're thinking that things between your best friend and partner (or family and partner) are so bad that you need to keep them apart, that's likely not a good sign.
"Someone who cares about you will make an effort to care for, or at least get along with, the people who are most important to you, Schochet says. "Unless your [friend or family member] is a toxic force in your life (that your partner is trying to protect you from), a partner that tries to cut you off from your family is bad news. It's a classic tactic of abusive partners — they want you to be completely reliant and dependent on them, with no one else to turn to, so that they can control you fully. It's your prerogative to decide who is important to you and who you want in your life."
5. "They Don't Understand Me"
Evans says that this thought, too, is a warning sign that you and your partner might not be communicating effectively anymore.
"One of the biggest issues in relationships is communication, the lack thereof, or no communication," she explains. "When you're able to communicate with each other and you have the right tools to do so, the thoughts will decrease and your relationship will improve."
6. "I Don't Deserve Them"
"If you think you’re undeserving of your partner, you might also want to examine the basis of your relationship," O'Reilly says. "Do they make you feel unworthy? Or do you not feel worthy of love for some other reason? Either way, you need to consider how to replace this mindset so that you feel worth of love and respect."
Many people will say things to the effect of 'I'm so lucky,' 'they're better than I deserve,' and more, but if you sincerely believe that you don't deserve someone like your partner, you might want to take notice of that.
7. "That Comment About My Appearance Was Harsh, But Maybe They're Right"
Criticisms about your appearance really aren't cool. And even if you (or they) think that their intentions are good, this kind of comment should still make you think. Because, ultimately, being mean and making you feel bad is not OK, but if it's something that helps you make a change you've been wanting to make or do something that you needed a little bit of motivation to actually do, then there might be a tiny shred of good in it.
"Our partners are supposed to love us for who we are at our core, not for how we look on the outside — that's just a bonus," Schochet says. "While it's OK for a partner to suggest healthier choices, especially if they know it's important to you, it's never OK for them to be insulting, degrading, or mean. Our partners should be the ones who support us, build us up, and make us feel better when others rain on our parade, they shouldn't be the one we need shielding from."
When you have these kinds of thoughts about your partner, the first thing to do is reflect on them, figure out where the thought might be coming from, and determine if what they're saying is really how it is or if your thought is influenced by your perception of what's going on, Evans says. Being aware that these thoughts might indicate something's not quite right can help you determine how best to handle things moving forward.