When I got hired as a Credentials Supervisor on a big national political convention, my boyfriend of 11 months repeatedly insisted, “You only got that job because you’re pretty and a minority.”  Oh, yeah — so why didn’t some other comely ethnic coed get the job.  Surely there are other qualifications I offer.  

-Yvette X.

I’ve been living with my boyfriend Eprhaim for 2 years.  One day last week, I felt overwhelmed by the number of daytime errands I had waited weeks to do.  So I called in sick to work and took the day off to handle all my personal business — we get ten per year and I had only used 2.  I proceeded to renew my license at the DMV, get new digital cable equipment from Time Warner, visit the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, pick up my dry cleaning and get a haircut.  So I wasn’t home when my boss called.  When I checked my cell voicemail, I listened to boss chew me out for shirking on work when I wasn’t really sick.  It turns out Ephraim the non-employed graduate student told my boss I was “feeling healthy as a horse” and was out somewhere just running errands. Why would he tell boss I wasn’t sick when I took a sick day?  Is he kidding?  Or seriously trying to screw me over?

-Lorena V.


Women and all people deserve love, encouragement, trust and support from their partners.  In these circumstances, we find ourselves feeling innocent and yet being punished.I know it’s hard to distinguish hostile and purposefully hurtful actions from among the many loving gestures of our honeys.  But examples like these force us to admit that our honeys are getting some payoff for what they are purposefully doing to hurt and insult us, however sick or subtle those payoffs are. And these attacks target our character, worth and essential identity.

Furthermore, undermining behaviors like this do anything but build us up and make us feel better and safer.  Rather these actions are meant to make us feel as insignificant, jealous and hateful as the perpetrator.  You’ve heard of “each one, teach one?” Well, it definitely applies when it comes to sharing pain and negativity.  Please believe: underminers build up their own spirit by breaking ours down.


Getting our lover to acknowledge their hurtful behavior is just the first step down the road to ending this undermining dynamic. Like an ant infestation, the signs are unlikely to disappear overnight.  Couples can stay stuck in this one for years without making any real progress, because real progress means real work, and letting go of hidden envy and egomaniacal lash-outs. But the Underminer gets far too much attention and too many opportunities for denial and excuses. He’s not wallowing in HIS suffering; he’s wallowing in yours.

Frequently when busted for undermining, perps make vague reference to their troubled & trying unbringing.   He may in fact blame his bad behavior on his past, and expects you to cut him slack and feel sorry for him whenever he transgresses. Our loved ones can sometimes use their misdeeds to their own advantage, playing victim.   In the above examples, you did wrong by fibbing about your sick day or getting a job you really didn’t deserve.  His egocentricity is right there with bright ideas to make up this injustice to him. Things like acting discourteously, tattle-tailing & gossiping behind your back or having an affair. After all, their “victim mindset” preaches “Life owes me something.”

But we’re all adults now and it’s high time to get beyond merely faulting childhood trauma and get our s*** together. Hell, most Underminers have never been abused in life — only spoiled, cajoled and given a pass by their Mamas.

Are you ready to undo that deep-seated programming?


4 thoughts on “UNDERMINING

  1. My ex was an undermining, manipulative and controlling man-boy. I feel embarrassed to say I was with him. He’s someone else’s problem now.

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