The moment I knew it was over was when my husband told me his favorite musical in the whole world was “Phantom of the Opera.” I had just performed in a production of “Phantom of the Opera” that he hadn’t bothered coming to see.

-Barbara J.

So my boyfriend Mitch asked me to marry him and I am considering it.  But he’s the constant criticizer of women’s looks.  This one woman is too fat for that outfit, that coed has “cankles,”  that lady has too high an opinion of her looks and shouldn’t try to dress young. No matter the beauty, achievement or irrelevancy to his existence, Mitch is hardwired to attack women’s looks. His repeat joke is, “Why are all this nickels acting like dimes?”  Meaning, why do women he rates as a “5” acting like “10”s?  Oh, and I’m a prime target, too.  Interspersed between “I love you” and “I’m so happy with you” are the smart remarks.  His new riff is:”Once your looks go, what’ll you have?  You’re lucky I really love you.” Today, it was, “I’m so glad my babydoll doesn’t have a line on her face. At least, not now.”  This from a man who is 5’9″ and looks like he swallowed a basketball.

-Isabel R.


The subtle neglect.  Routinely overlooking your need for acknowledgement. The constant critical gaze.   The bottomless fountain of insult.  The one-way magnifying glass.

Let’s be clear: this is not an accident and it is not benign.  Your loved one puts these negative ideas and actions in motion to hurt you and destabilize your confidence. He wants to worry you?  De-valuing you gives him power.

Why?  Your paranoia and lowered self-esteem increases your need for him.

De-valuing is a key weapon in the arsenal of an Emotional Abuser.  It may not be 100% of the relationship 100% of the time but it’s there to gnaw away at your psyche.

In an emotionally abusive relationship, your lover systematically tries to control you by:

1. Undermining your confidence, worthiness, growth, or trust
2. Manipulating you with shame or fear.

Idealize.  De-value.  Reject.

What attracted them at first is now devalued like a child taking a toy away from another child.  You the abused are then supposed to work to restore the previous value or feel you have disappointed your loved one. It is just another mind control game.


Talk to your loved one about how his/ her words impact you.  You may get the runaround.

Next, look around at the bookstore for helpful texts on the matter for you.  See if you loved one will read for the sake of your relationship.

You can always rebutt each individual comment or hurtful action.  But you don’t want to amp up conflict — just defuse a hurtful dynamic.

Your lover may not even be conscious of de-valuing you — it may be what s/he grew up with as normal.

Make a good effort to raise their consciousness.  But protect yourself first and foremost.

And move on if you deem it the only solution to root out this soul-clawing dynamic.


2 thoughts on “DE-VALUING

  1. I do enjoy the manner in which you have framed this situation and it does indeed give us some fodder for consideration. However, coming from just what I have seen, I basically hope when other commentary pack on that men and women continue to be on point and not start on a soap box regarding some other news of the day. Yet, thank you for this fantastic piece and even though I can not really concur with this in totality, I respect the perspective.

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