Do You Feel Like You're Walking On Eggshells? How To Work On Your Relationship

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated June 22, 2022

Do you feel as if you have to walk on eggshells when you're around your partner? If so, it's important to learn how to work on your romantic relationship to maintain your mental health.

Walking on Eggshells With Your Partner Can Be Difficult

What Does Walking On Eggshells Mean?

Think for a minute about if you were to be walking on actual eggshells. Chances are you wouldn't just be stomping around. Instead, you would tread lightly. You would be trying not to break the eggshells or at least trying not to hurt your feet by walking on the eggshells.

That feeling of dread or hesitation to interact with someone in your life- that's walking on a bunch of eggshells. Being in a long-term relationship with this person can be draining because walking on these metaphorical eggshells keeps increasing your stress level. You feel clueless about what they want, how they want it, and what they do per time. Things can change at just the drop of a hat, and a seemingly innocent situation can, in an instant, switch to something toxic or a conflict situation.

Walk On Eggshells: This Is Emotional Abuse

Let's get right to the point and call this what it is. If you have to walk on eggshells around your partner, it's emotional abuse. Suppose the fragility, like eggshells, of your partner's mood scares you. In that case, you constantly feel like you are on unstable ground, and you always have to go out of your way to maintain peace in your romantic relationship, even when it is detrimental to you. You need to recognize that you are in an unhealthy situation. We often let people abuse us because we use different names and terms instead of calling them.  Recognize this for what it is- an emotionally abusive relationship. Stop walking on the eggshells because this can affect you and your mental health in so many ways.

What does walking on eggshells mean? You may think of it as treading lightly or walking on eggshells, but it's nothing short of abuse. A common side effect of being a victim of emotional abuse is self-doubt as you try to avoid upsetting the other person. Your abuser's behavior has led you to be unsure about the situation. While in some moments you know that what they're doing is not right and that it's not a healthy relationship, there are other moments when you feel the complete opposite. This is also a form of gaslighting, which is also emotional abuse. It's hard to build a solid romantic relationship, form secure attachment, and bond with your partner completely where it's an abusive situation or insecurity is prevalent. If you are in an abuse situation, please do not hesitate to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit them online at https://www.thehotline.org/.

Some other signs of an emotionally unstable or abusive relationship are:

  • Tension: You are always tense, and on edge when you are around your partner, emotions are always running high, or they have difficulty controlling their emotions. Or you find it difficult to relax and be your natural self around them and their "eggshells".
  • Non-Verbal Cues: Your partner continually gives you non-verbal cues like glaring looks, silent treatments, evasiveness and avoidance, hand gestures, or throwing objects and handling objects aggressively to communicate displeasure and anger. Expressing displeasure isn't wrong, but when it is done in a bad, violent or aggressive manner, then there is a problem.
  • Self-Monitoring: You find yourself constantly monitoring and adapting your actions and words all the time in a bid to prevent setting off your partner. You second-guess yourself every time and in every situation, and you are anxious about their possible reaction all the time and can't stop walking on eggshells whenever you're around them.
  • Humiliating And Sarcastic Words Or Acts: If your partner's words or actions constantly leave you feeling humiliated or put down, they make remarks that suggest that you are a lesser person or not equal to their standard abusive relationship.

Eggshells Causes

If you're walking on eggshells in your romantic relationship, it's because you're afraid of the response that your partner is going to have in situations. They are unstable in their moods and behavior, similar to how eggshells are fragile and unpredictable. You cannot predict how they are going to respond, so you choose to continue walking carefully instead.

Some days, or some moments, they may take things in stride and not get upset. But, there are other times when they have a reaction blown completely out of proportion for the situation. This makes you suspicious of telling them bad news or admitting when you've done something wrong to avoid shattering the "eggshells" and entering such situations. It could be common for people who feel like their relationship works this way to lie to cover up small things to avoid the outbursts they will receive from their partner by being honest.

Why Does My Partner Do This?

There are many different reasons why your partner may behave the way that they do or create the eggshells that you're walking around. It could be that they have a mental health disorder that they're dealing with that affects their behavior and leads you to feeling like you're walking on the eggshells all the time.

Another reason why people may have unpredictable responses is that they could be experiencing low self-esteem. When they feel bad about themselves or insecure, it can cause reactions that don't match the situation. For example, asking them to handle situations that they aren't confident they can handle can cause them to react angrily.

Steps To Improve Your Relationship

Switch Your Focus To Yourself

You may not control what anybody else does, but you can take steps to control your behavior. This often takes work but can lead to more empowerment. If your partner is unwilling to work on your relationship, you can still improve it by working on yourself. To stop walking on these eggshells, the process can begin with you. You can start by building your self-esteem and examining any areas in your relationship that you could attempt to improve yourself.

Appreciate Your Differences

Understanding that people are different is another thing that can help you stop walking on the eggshells in your romantic relationships. Eggshells relationships can improve when people understand that their way isn't always the only right way, or their take is always the only right take. This can be one of the easy ways to build solid relationships and stop walking on these eggshells. It can help you understand people better and know why they act the way they do, and develop more empathy towards people, including loved ones.

Work On Your Communication

Walking on Eggshells With Your Partner Can Be Difficult

Lack of good communication skills can cause a lot of problems in intimate relationships. If you are not communicating properly with your partner, it can cause you both to feel like you're walking on eggshells. When interacting with people, watch your tone of voice; communicate how you feel to your partner without nagging or beating down their esteem. This will help you stop walking on eggshells around your partner and instead focus on sorting the issue at hand. When you notice something going on with your partner, try to tackle it head-on instead of tiptoeing around one another or walking on the eggshells. Learn to ask straight questions- "Are you upset with me?" "Is there a problem?" "Are you okay?" "Did I do something wrong?" Asking these questions is allowed and encouraged and is one of the easy ways to avoid eggshells, especially if you desire a high-functioning relationship.

Work On Boundaries 

If you are tired of walking on the eggshells in your relationship, it may be time to set boundaries in your eggshells relationship. It will help determine what you are willing to tolerate and what you aren't and find ways to detach in a situation when you know what happened isn't your fault. You don't always have to be the one to take the blame for someone else's mistakes or inconsistencies. It is important to know your limits and set boundaries for yourself and the other person if you want to enjoy your relationship. If this is something you aren't used to doing, it can be difficult for you to do, and it might not go over well with your partner. However, boundaries help to create healthy relationships and overcome the stress of walking on eggshells. If you need help with this step, talk to a therapist who can guide you through the process of addressing the eggshells you're walking above.

Be Supportive

If you're walking on the eggshells, there is behavior in your partner that needs to change, and this takes work. If they accept this and are willing to make changes, it may take the help of a professional to guide them through the process. You can be a part of this by encouraging them and supporting them in getting help. Make sure to build them up and acknowledge them when you see them working to change their behavior for the better.

Establish New Rules For Your Relationship Together

When it is easy to communicate with your partner about how their actions have affected you, and you both realize that it was just a misunderstanding, this part can be easy. The affected person gets a better understanding of the situation, and they can stop walking on eggshells afterward. But if you both discover and agree that there is a problem, you both need to collaborate and work on changing the way that the person walking above the eggshells feels.

The Importance Of Mutual Effort

If your partner can see that their behavior is wrong and needs to change, it will go a long way in improving the relationship. If this is the situation that you're in, then work together to establish new rules for your relationship. Offer support to one another and collaborate; this way, it is easy to stop walking on eggshells and improve your relationship as there is no room for guessing or failed attempts at mind reading. Agree to give clear directions on what works and respect each other's needs and opinions- this gives clarity.

Build Positive New Memories Together 

As your relationship moves from unhealthy to healthy, the two of you must build good memories together. Take time to go on dates and spend time together reconnecting. This will help you remember why you wanted to be with the person in the first place and help you both move past the bad times and stop walking on eggshells.

Work On: Identifying Triggers

See if you can identify any triggers that your partner seems to struggle with the most. It could be financial conversations, control issues, or stress over a job. You may not be able to spot the triggers, but if you can, it can help you move forward if your partner is willing to acknowledge the problem. If your partner is unwilling to make changes and stay in the relationship, knowing the triggers can help you be aware and predict their response better.

Breaking Up

If you are the only person willing to work on your relationship, it may be in your best interest to completely end the toxic relationship. One partner often must take the first step. Staying in an emotionally abusive, not healthy relationship will take its toll on you over time. Your self-esteem and your self-confidence could diminish. While it can be hard to think about ending the relationship, it's also important that you protect yourself, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.

You need to love yourself and put yourself first in a healthy relationship. Stop walking on eggshells- it is a poor way to get your exercise done! Instead, focus on walking for yourself! Why allow yourself to endure an unhealthy relationship when you stop walking on eggshells and enjoy quality, healthy relationships? 

Couples Counseling

If your partner is willing to go to couples counseling, it can be a great way to improve your relationship, and ReGain is an affordable option to consider. When you're both able to get a perspective from someone outside of your relationship, it can help to take away the game of who's on whose side. A therapist is going to stay impartial and will not choose sides between the two of you. However, professional help will allow you both to realize the behaviors you have that are hurting your relationship and learn strategies that you can use to improve it.

Couples counseling is something that you can do in person with a therapist or with an online therapist. You must find a therapist that both you and your partner are comfortable with. If you're not able to be open and share with the counselor, they're not going to help you very well.

Walking on eggshells is not a way to go forward in a healthy relationship. If this is how you live, you must get help and take steps to improve your situation.

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