What are microaggressions in relationships? (+7 Tell-tale signs)

The current blogpost will discuss what microaggressions in relationships are and the various signs of microaggressions. We will also be listing a few examples of microaggressions and the different ways in which microaggressions can be prevented in a relationship.

What are microaggressions in relationships?

Microaggressions in relationships are biased comments and actions which target a marginalized group. This is a discriminatory act and may be done intentionally or even accidentally. Microaggressions can hurt relationships to the point of breaking up.

Microaggressions may be practiced in a romantic relationship, working relationship or even a friendship and are often hard to notice outwardly. Even if the words or actions are small, microaggressions can be hurtful and can harm a person’s self-esteem.

Signs of microaggressions in relationships

Microaggressions in relationships can be difficult to notice and even understand fully at times. In the points below, we have discussed a few tell-tale signs of microaggressions in relationships.

  • Making fun of different cultures and traditions by impersonating them without giving the credit where it is due.
  • Bringing up terms from other languages or cultures and highlighting them in the conversation through air quotes.
  • Making racist jokes even if they are directly in the presence of someone from that particular race or ethnicity.
  • Criticizing the other person through small words or gestures over a long period of time.
  • Only making sure that their voices or opinions are heard above their partners all the time.
  • Being skeptical of their partners and their opinions when they are talking about a particular topic.
  • Showing disinterest in the other person, their culture and their point of views on any topic.

Examples of microaggressions in relationships

Microaggressions can take many forms and natures, even when it only involves two people who are in a relationship. Some examples of microaggressive statements that may be heard in relationships have been listed in the point below.

1. “It was only a joke. Why do you get so easily offended?”

Most of the time, the person who is taking part in the microaggression does not realize the weight of their words. They may feel that their partner is getting offended easily at their words and is taking their joke out of context.

2. “You are too sensitive.”

This is often used by men to women but can be seen the other way as well. Sensitivity is most often stereotyped to be a weak personality trait and this statement may be said at times when the other person is expressing their emotions outwardly.

3. “Your food stinks up the place.”

Certain foods from other cultures can use a lot of spices which can give off aromas that may not be pleasing to the other person. Rather than being kind and empathetic about it, the partner may openly exclaim that the food is too unpleasant to taste and eat.

4. “Your people must be really proud of you.”

Many people from privileged backgrounds often use this statement thinking that it is a compliment. However, a statement like this is actually microaggressive and is more insulting than complementary in nature.  

5. “There is no such thing as racism today.”

A statement like this is also definitely microaggressive in nature. Racism is definitely alive and kicking today and it only screams privilege when someone says something like this, especially when they are in an inter-racial relationship.

6. “Stop being so girly all the time.”

This, again, can be directed toward women as well as men and is wrong in both cases. Being feminine or having characteristics that are stereotyped to be feminine in nature is definitely not wrong and is a personal choice.

7. “You don’t look like an Asian.”

Some people actually find comments like these compliments, especially if they are trying their best to shrug off a certain identity or stereotype. Statements like these are deeply rooted in racism and can be hard to understand since they are microaggressive in nature.

8. “I might as well do it. You are too dainty to handle something like this.”

This statement may actually seem pretty harmless on the outside, but actually is microaggressive. This statement puts down the other person as weak just by sugar-coating it with the word dainty, so that it is accepted better.

9. “When I see you, I definitely don’t see color.”

This is another example of a statement that can look very sweet and Hallmark movie-like on the outside, but is filled with racism and prejudice. However, since it seems very sweet on the outside, people might find it hard to understand and call out.

How to prevent microaggressions in relationships?

Microaggressions can sometimes be hard to understand but need to be stopped right away, especially if you are trying to improve your relationship. A few ways to prevent microaggressions have been discussed in the following section.

  • You can try becoming more aware of what you are trying to say. When you do this, you will be able to deliver your message to your partner in a clearer way without any microaggressions or even passive-aggressiveness.
  • Take time for introspection. Introspection is not just being aware of your own thoughts and feelings but also being aware of why you believe what you believe. In many ways, institutions can impact your principles and values, many of which can be racist in nature.

This is, however, not always true to the fullest extent. But it always pays to question your thoughts and beliefs. This can also help in preventing microaggression when you are in a relationship with someone.

  • Listen to the other person. In many cases, microaggression keeps repeating as a pattern because one person does not listen properly to the other. Try listening to your partner with an open and non-judgmental mind.
  • You can learn more about racism and microaggression. By learning about racism and microaggression, you will become more sensitive to the feelings of others, including your partner which is crucial for your relationship to work.
  • You can practice being open-minded. Being open-minded is not always easy but is only going to help you in the long run. Open-mindedness to different personalities, ethnicities and cultures will help you prevent microaggression in your relationship.

Open-mindedness may not crop up as a personality trait immediately but only comes up through regular practice. You can try letting go of your ego, and practice being more open-minded to concepts and ideals which may be new to you.

  • You can try going to therapy. If you have definitely tried preventing microaggression and being more positive in your communication but it hasn’t worked, you can try going to therapy. Both couples therapy and individual therapy can help.
  • You can start calling out microaggressions in others. Once you know how to prevent microaggression in your life and your relationships, you can also try your best to call it out in others. This can further help you understand this subject.
  • You and your partner need to talk about sensitive topics. Sensitive topics like family roots and cultures need to be discussed openly between partners if microaggressions need to be prevented. While you do this, be as open-minded as you can.
  • Be ready to cut off people from your life. If you are trying to prevent microaggression and are also actively calling out others in their microaggression, not everyone is going to be happy with you.


The current blogpost has discussed what microaggressions in relationships are and the various signs of microaggressions. We have also listed a few examples of microaggressions and the different ways in which microaggressions can be prevented in a relationship.

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