A competitive partner has the power to make you feel inferior.
Have you ever had your partner tell you that you are doing something wrong when you know that you are just doing it differently? Do they ever undercut you and tell you to just let them handle a situation? If so, they might be the reason why your self-esteem has significantly dropped. Being with a competitive partner is difficult as they can make you feel like a loser – without even realizing it. Sometimes, they might genuinely be trying to help you out by giving advice and suggestions; however, to those who already doubt their abilities, this may reinforce their feelings and make them feel even more incapable.
Jemma Hart et al. found that feeling inadequate can ‘form the root of a social comparison process’.
According to Hart et al., ‘the “social rank” theory of depression […] proposes that people develop this disorder when they fear rejection or exclusion due to their own inferiority. As they submit to the person who seems to hold an advantage over them, they sink further into feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy’. When these feelings of inadequacy become even stronger, one begins to doubt their ability to accomplish even the most basic of tasks.
A competitive partner can destroy your mental health if you are already critical of yourself.
If you are already highly critical of yourself, your partner’s competitive nature may make things worse. If you already think that you are not good enough, their unwanted comments and suggestions will inevitably trigger you. Thus, without even realizing that they do so, they will lower your confidence and make you feel more inadequate. Hart et al.’s study explains that an important factor to consider is that of shame. Taking this further, they note that people who feel high levels of shame may think the following way:
The more critical I am of myself the more I may project this into the minds of others and assume others will be critical of me too if I open up… In addition, the more anxious I am of being rejected, the more I need to strive and so the more I am frightened of rejection—the greater the fear, the more angry with myself I become, if I fail.
Try to confide in your partner and express how you feel.
When you try to prove your competence to yourself and your partner undermines you, your feelings of inadequacy and shame can come rushing back. Moreover, your shame can hinder you from seeking understanding and telling your partner how you feel. This can be harmful to both your mental health and your relationship. Ultimately, if your partner was just genuinely trying to help, it is best to confide in them as they will likely offer compassion and understanding.