How Invalidating Your Partner’s Feelings Hurts Them -- And Your Relationship, Too

By Robert Porter

Updated November 29, 2019

Reviewer Dawn Brown

When you're in a romantic relationship, it's important to try to build your partner up. If you start invalidating your partner's feelings, then it's going to hurt them in many ways. In fact, invalidating someone's feelings can even be seen as a form of psychological abuse. This can cause someone a lot of emotional trauma, and you should try your best to be the supportive partner that your significant other needs. Take a look at some of the following ways that invalidating someone's feelings can hurt a relationship.


What Invalidating Someone's Feelings Means To Them

Firstly, you should take a look at what invalidating someone's feelings really means to them. When you invalidate the way that your partner feels about something, you're telling them that they're wrong for having those feelings. It might make them feel as if you're telling them that they're stupid or that their feelings don't matter. Sadly, people often invalidate the feelings of others unintentionally.

Have you ever told someone, "well, it could be worse," or "I'm sorry that you feel that way?" Phrases like this are among the most commonly used by people who are invalidating the feelings of others. You might not mean to hurt your partner's feelings by saying those words, but the phrases attempt to take away the validity of someone's personal feelings on a matter. You need to be able to speak to someone in a more productive way that doesn't cause them emotional harm.

Don't Tell Someone Else How They Should Feel

You should never try to tell someone else how they should feel about something. It isn't up to you to decide whether or not their feelings are accurate or if they deserve to feel a certain way. Emotionally abusive individuals will invalidate someone's feelings when they find those feelings to be a nuisance. For example, a wife might try to express that she feels unloved or lonely to her husband. If her husband tells her that her feelings are stupid because he just took her out to dinner, then that is emotional invalidation.

It's fine to disagree with the way that someone feels. You can't tell them that their feelings are wrong. If you're in a relationship with someone and they express that they're sad or that they feel like you aren't showing them enough love, then hearing that might hurt you. You might think that your partner is wrong, but that doesn't change the way that he or she feels. Instead of invalidating those feelings, you should try to initiate a dialogue.

Figuring out what's wrong while trying to reassure your partner is fine. Tell your significant other something like "I love you, so I hope I can make you feel better" is much better than attacking the feelings that they have. Instead of making someone feel small for feeling a certain way, you can embrace those feelings and work to fix any issues that might be present. You're not alone in having a hard time navigating these waters. Even so, it's important to take the time to treat the feelings of others with respect, especially when you love them.

Never Dismiss Someone's Feelings

Dismissing someone's feelings is another form of invalidation. You don't have to tell someone outright that they're wrong to invalidate their feelings. Ignoring their attempts to try to express those feelings is another form of invalidation. If you want your relationship with your partner to last, then you need to build a strong bond. If you can't even acknowledge how your girlfriend or boyfriend feels, then how can you expect them to want to stay with you in the long run?

When someone expresses their feelings to you, they aren't necessarily trying to make you feel bad. Sometimes these feelings will make you uncomfortable. They might even be a sign that something needs to change. Many people like to avoid change and who want to keep things going the same all the time. This isn't conducive to cultivating a healthy relationship. Recognize your partner's feelings and allow yourself to express your feelings freely, too.


The Blame Game

Have you been guilty of playing the blame game with your significant other? When your partner expresses anger or sadness, you might tend to start blaming those feelings on them instead. You might feel awkward about being put in a position where you're meant to assume guilt. Your partner might be feeling angry about something, but you could try to shift that blame by saying that your partner is just overly sensitive. This type of invalidation hurts your relationship, and it makes you look childish.

Don't blame negative feelings on other people or try to pass the buck in some other way. If your partner is mad at you, then try to have a calm conversation about it. You'll never figure out how to move forward together if you can't communicate. Your partner's feelings of sadness or anger might put you in an uncomfortable situation, but shouldn't you want them to feel better? Do your best to be a good partner and avoid trying to make your partner's feelings out to be their fault.

Bottled Up Feelings Lead To Issues

When someone continually invalidates the feelings of their partner, they might start bottling up those feelings. Once it becomes clear that communicating feelings is not seen as acceptable, they might start to ignore how they're feeling simply. This can lead to many different problems. Someone might wind up becoming depressed due to not being able to address the sadness or loneliness that they're feeling. You might even find that your partner will become anxious due to not wanting to anger you with their feelings.

It should be easy to tell that this is not healthy behavior. Feelings should never be seen as something that should be hidden. If you try to force your romantic partner to hide aspects of themselves or the ways that they feel about certain things, then you are doing them a disservice. This is the opposite of being a good partner, and your relationship might not be able to last unless you're willing to change. Embrace your partner's emotions and don't make them feel as if they need to hide things from you.

Learn To Do Better

If you're guilty of invalidating your partner's feelings, then you might feel bad about it. Some people indeed do these things without really knowing the type of emotional harm that it can cause. You might have inadvertently invalidated your partner's feelings in the past. Now that you have been informed of this, it's going to be possible to learn to do better.

You don't have to keep doing the same things that you have in the past. One of the first things that you can do is apologize to your partner for how you have been acting. If you feel bad about invalidating their feelings in the past, then letting them know that you feel sorry is a good start. You can then work on learning how to discuss feelings in healthier ways. This doesn't come naturally to everyone, but you can choose to seek out professional help.

Many people fear to express their feelings, and they would find it to be more comfortable to be able to dismiss feelings that they feel as problematic. Now that you know that these actions can hurt your partner, you'll understand that you should avoid doing this in the future. Consider spending time working on your communication skills with a couples counselor. It can improve the overall health of your relationship, and you'll be able to become a better romantic partner.


Spend Time Talking

Spend more time talking with your partner about issues. Once you become more comfortable with the idea of talking about feelings, it won't be so hard to avoid invalidating the feelings of others. You'll often find that people wind up invalidating someone's feelings due to being afraid of those feelings or being offended by them. You have to let those issues go so that you can get to the bottom of the situation.

There will always be a reason why someone feels the way that they do. Your partner needs to be able to express what they feel in their heart. If you love your partner deeply, then you should always want to be able to reassure him or her instead of wanting to put their feelings inside of a box. Spending more time talking about things will prepare you to do better, and you'll be able to work on fixing issues in your relationship. Don't be afraid of feelings and choose to embrace them instead.

Online Counseling Is Very Helpful

Consider signing up for online couples counseling today. This is going to make it much easier to get through your problems, and you'll be able to work on expressing your feelings better. You can learn to communicate properly so that expressing feelings will be a natural and honest process. The online couples counselors will also be able to help you with any other issues that you might be experiencing.


This is a very simple and cost-effective way to get help. Your relationship can improve, and you can start being a better partner. You don't have to face this situation alone. Just reach out to an online counselor to begin the process of healing today.

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