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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who is just plain mean to you? You might be wondering what you’re doing wrong and if there’s anything that can be done to fix the situation.
When we’re in love, we often accept the bad along with the good - thinking that the bad is just a phase that our partner is going through. Or, you might even interpret them as part of love’s rough patches. 1 But if your partner regularly makes you feel bad about yourself, puts you down, or makes you feel like you’re not good enough, then it’s time to reassess the relationship. No one deserves to be in a constant state of anxiety, stress, and self-doubt.
There are many possible reasons why your girlfriend might be mean to you. It could be that she’s going through a tough time in her life and is taking it out on you. Or, she might have low self-esteem and is trying to bring you down to her level. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that you deserve to be treated with respect. If your girlfriend can’t give you that, then it’s time to move on.
Want to learn how to have successful relationships? Check out this relationship guide for navigating everything from dating to breakups.
1. She has low self-esteem
Your girlfriend might not like herself and take it out on you. She might be jealous of your success or other positive qualities that she doesn’t have. This can cause her to be mean to you because she feels threatened. She is afraid that you will realize how much better you are without her and leave.
Because she has low self-esteem, she might even think her affection means nothing to you. 2 So she might withdraw her love as a way to get attention or punish you.
This doesn’t excuse her behavior, but it’s important to acknowledge these feelings within yourself as well. You need to feel confident enough in yourself so that this won’t affect your relationship with your girlfriend. If you feel like you can’t handle her criticism, take a step back and readjust your relationship so that you two are on the same playing field.
If she has low self-esteem, this might just be a phase. She might feel better about herself over time, but until then, it’s important to communicate how her behavior is affecting you and the relationship. With time, she might get better at being a supportive partner to you instead of a mean one.
2. She wants control over the relationship
Controlling behavior is no new phenomenon in romantic relationships, and it can be just as damaging as physical abuse. 3 Perhaps your girlfriend might be insecure about her own personality and feel that if she can’t change something about you, then she won’t have any control over the relationship. The best way to deal with this is to ask yourself whether or not you’re willing to change something about yourself because she asked you to. If the answer is no, then it’s time to consider if your relationship should end. You need someone who will respect your boundaries and recognize your individuality.
If you are willing to change something about yourself for her, then the best thing to do is talk with your girlfriend. Tell her how you feel and why you aren’t happy with some of the things she’s doing. If she respects your opinions on the matter, this might be a step forward in repairing both of your feelings.
3. She’s insecure about the relationship
It’s possible that she might be acting mean to you because she wants to push your buttons. This is a sign of insecurity and fear, and it means that she doesn’t think you want or love her anymore.
This might be because of her attachment style. 4 If she’s insecurely attached, then she might have trouble trusting you. As a result, she might constantly try to test your love and see if you’ll still be there for her. She does this by pushing your buttons and seeing how you react.
It might also be that she’s afraid of getting hurt. She might have been in a previous relationship where she was betrayed or abandoned, and now she’s projecting those fears onto you.
The best way to deal with this is to talk to her about how she’s feeling. Let her know that you are there for her and that you want to help her through whatever it is she’s going through. Reassure her that you’re not going anywhere and that she can trust you.
4. She doesn’t know how to communicate
Your girlfriend might not know how to express her feelings to you, and that’s why she is acting mean. She doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable or weak by you, so instead of telling you what’s wrong, she will try and change the situation by being rude.
This is a common issue in relationships where there is a power dynamic. If she’s the only one working or the only one with money, then she might feel like you don’t respect her or listen to her concerns. The best thing for you to do is open up communication with her and explain your side of things. Ask what you can do to help improve the relationship so that everyone feels respected and heard.
If your girlfriend is mean to you, it could be because of not knowing how to communicate her feelings. Teach her constructive ways of communicating, so that she can feel more comfortable and secure clearly expressing her needs to you. 5 Or, refer her to a professional who could help her with this issue.
5. She’s been cheated on in the past
Some people have a really hard time getting over being cheated on in a relationship, particularly if they were cheated on by previous partners. If your girlfriend is being mean to you, it might be because she has had bad experiences with her previous relationships and doesn’t want to let anyone in. Cheating can be extremely damaging to a person’s mental health, so it’s understandable why she might be feeling this way. 7
If she’s had bad experiences in the past with guys or relationships because of being cheated on, it could be hard for you to change her mind about trust. You should try to show that she has reason to trust you, and you aren’t just saying words. By being dependable and trustworthy, she might open up to you more and start giving you a chance again.
6. Hormonal shifts
It’s no secret that a woman is more inclined to be a bit grumpier when she’s on her period, which can rub off on her partner. If your girlfriend is being mean to you, it could simply be her body releasing hormones because of her period.
It might not make sense why she’s being mean to you, but once her period ends, the hormone levels in her body will return back to normal, and she’ll be in a much better mood. 7 This is just one reason why it might be beneficial for you to give your girlfriend space during this time. It could also help if you could offer some support or words of encouragement at this time because she might be feeling emotionally low.
7. You’re in a toxic relationship
It can be hard to admit when you are in a toxic relationship. But if you are the one being abused or mistreated, then it might be time to end things with your girlfriend. You deserve to feel loved and respected by your partner, not treated badly.
If you suspect that your relationship is toxic, there are some signs you should look out for. Does she try and control you or put you down in front of your friends? Does she make you feel bad? Is she judgmental or negative for no reason? Does she have trouble controlling her anger?
If this is happening to you, then your girlfriend might be a toxic person who doesn’t know how to love and care for someone else. 8 This is a sign that you should get out of the relationship before it’s too late and things get worse.
You deserve better than this, and you should make yourself happy by ending things and moving on. There are a lot of people out there who will treat you better and love you with your flaws and imperfections.
Want to know if your relationship is headed for trouble? Check out these red flags that could mean disaster’s on the horizon.
8. External factors
You should also consider external factors, such as family issues or other stressors going on in her life that can cause her rude behavior. Your girlfriend might not be dealing with the best things right now, and so she has a hard time expressing herself.
If you notice that your girlfriend is mean to you at certain times of the year, it might be because there have been changes happening in her life that she isn’t fully comfortable with. This could be moving to a new place, starting at a new school or job, dealing with family issues, etc.
It can help if you try and understand her better during this time. It might not always seem like the easiest thing to do, especially if it feels like she’s being ungrateful or doesn’t want to bond with you as much as she used to. But it’s important for you to be there and support her anyway because she might need it more than ever during times like this.
9. She needs professional help
Your girlfriend’s moods might change rapidly and without explanation, which can affect how she treats people around her. If she’s constantly giving you a hard time or starting fights, then it might be a sign that your girlfriend needs help.
It might be difficult to realize that the person you love is struggling with mental health problems, but it can affect how they feel and behave around other people. In some cases, this could cause them to lash out or become aggressive. And because of the stigma against mental health, she might not want to seek professional help. 9
If you’re worried about your girlfriend’s mental health, then it’s important that you talk to her about it. She might not realize that she’s struggling, and so she needs your help in getting the treatment she needs. You can look for mental health resources in your area or online, and you can also talk to a therapist about the situation.
10. She’s not in love with you anymore
It’s possible that your girlfriend doesn’t love you anymore and is trying to push you away. It can be hard to tell someone whether they’re faking it or not, but if her behavior towards you is changing drastically compared to how it used to be, then there might be a reason for that.
A decline in commitment is a common reason why couples break up, and it can start with something as small as your girlfriend not wanting to see you as much. 10 She might make excuses not to spend time with you, she might be more distant when you’re together, or in this case, she might be more mean and hateful.
It can be hard to face the fact that someone you love doesn’t love you back, but it’s important to remember that you deserve to be with someone who loves and cares for you. If your girlfriend is showing these signs, then it’s time to end things and move on.
If you want to find out why your girlfriend is mean to you, the best thing you can do is talk to her. Have an open conversation with her and express your concerns. Let her know that her rude behavior is causing problems in your relationship and see if she has any explanation for it. By communicating openly with each other, you may be able to resolve the issue and improve your relationship.
Secrets to a healthy relationship: Books every couple should read
It's no secret that a healthy relationship is key in a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship. This list of books about healthy relationships will help you learn how to communicate better, resolve conflict, and deepen your connection. From classic self-help books to more modern reads, these titles will give you the tools you need to build a strong and healthy relationship.
- Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships
- Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of Every Healthy Relationship
- Love More, Fight Less: Communication Skills Every Couple Needs: A Relationship Workbook for Couples
- Infidelity Recovery Workbook for Couples: Tools and Exercises to Rebuild Your Relationship
- Healthy Me, Healthy Us: Your Relationships Are Only as Strong as You Are
- ↑ Lelaurain, S., Fonte, D., Giger, J. C., Guignard, S., & Lo Monaco, G. (2021). Legitimizing intimate partner violence: The role of romantic love and the mediating effect of patriarchal ideologies. Journal of interpersonal violence, 36(13-14), 6351-6368.
- ↑ Luerssen, A., Jhita, G. J., & Ayduk, O. (2017). Putting Yourself on the Line: Self-Esteem and Expressing Affection in Romantic Relationships. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 43(7), 940–956. doi.org
- ↑ Antai, D. (2011). Controlling behavior, power relations within intimate relationships and intimate partner physical and sexual violence against women in Nigeria. BMC Public Health, 11(1). doi.org
- ↑ Simpson, J. A., & Steven Rholes, W. (2017). Adult Attachment, Stress, and Romantic Relationships. Current opinion in psychology, 13, 19–24. doi.org
- ↑ De Netto, P. M., Quek, K. F., & Golden, K. J. (2021). Communication, the Heart of a Relationship: Examining Capitalization, Accommodation, and Self-Construal on Relationship Satisfaction. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 767908. doi.org
- ↑ Cano, A., & O'Leary, K. D. (2000). Infidelity and separations precipitate major depressive episodes and symptoms of nonspecific depression and anxiety. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(5), 774–781. doi.org
- ↑ Sanders, D., Warner, P., Bäckström, T., & Bancroft, J. (1983). Mood, sexuality, hormones and the menstrual cycle. I. Changes in mood and physical state: description of subjects and method. Psychosomatic medicine, 45(6), 487–501. doi.org
- ↑ Eliminating Toxic Influences. (n.d.). Mental Health America. mhanational.org
- ↑ Rössler W. (2016). The stigma of mental disorders: A millennia-long history of social exclusion and prejudices. EMBO reports, 17(9), 1250–1253. doi.org
- ↑ Langlais, M. R., Surra, C. A., Anderson, E. R., & Priem, J. (2017). Differentiating Declining Commitment and Breakup Using Commitment to Wed. Journal of family studies, 23(3), 352–370. doi.org