Sometimes in conflict, we can dismiss or undercut our partners. Instead of seeking to understand and work together as a team, in conflict, it can be tempting to try to win. However, the truth is when one person seeks to win in a disagreement or heated exchange, both partners lose. Here are seven ways you might be unintentionally invalidating your partner’s feelings.

Talking Over Them 

In communication, especially conflict, it can be easy to speak without listening. However, the goal, first and foremost, should be to understand instead of seeking to be understood. When communicating with your significant other, you can unintentionally invalidate their feelings by being defensive and speaking over them. When you feel yourself trying to defend your case and interrupt, bite your tongue. Instead, acknowledge your partner’s thoughts and emotions.

Dismissing Their Opinions or Experiences

One thing to avoid in conflict is dismissing your partner’s opinions and experiences. When you attempt to explain why your partner should not feel a certain way, you are essentially telling them that what they think or feel is wrong. Alternatively, strive to validate their feelings by creating space for them to feel and react. After all, they are human with a range of emotions.

Questioning Them 

There must be a balance in communication and conflict with your significant other. While asking questions and expressing curiosity is a part of healthy communication, too much questioning might have the opposite effect. If you over-question your partner, you might inadvertently be expressing disbelief and diminishing their feelings. 

Making Comments in Jest

While everyone loves a good joke, a sarcastic remark might not be best suited in a disagreement. When you make comments in jest (even if it is just to lighten the mood), you might be communicating to your partner a lack of seriousness or interest. 

Immediately Trying to ‘Fix’ Their Pain

It’s very common in relationships to have one partner who always strives to fix things and make things better. In a moment of tension, trying too quickly to “fix” things may make things worse. Sometimes, all your partner needs is a listening ear and for you to create space for their emotions.

Adding a ‘But’ to the End of an Apology

An apology might feel less authentic or valuable when you add a “but” at the end of it. This seemingly harmless conjunction will invalidate your partner’s emotions and cause the apology to lose its sincerity. It will come across as though you are trying to defend yourself or make excuses.

Telling Them to ‘Let It Go’

Similar to trying to fix things too quickly, telling your partner to let something go before they have had time to process it can be damaging. Instead, the goal should always be to give them space and grace to work through their emotions.