How to Deal With An Overly Critical Partner

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Are you involved with a partner who is always second-guessing you or making you feel like you’re never good enough? Dr. Nina W. Brown, author of Coping with Infuriating, Mean, Critical People, explains how overly critical partners can poison a relationship and offers some tips on how to deal with it.

Q: What kind of impact does a critical personality have on their partner and on the relationship?

A: Overly critical partners do not perceive themselves as overly critical, or even sometimes as being critical. They are seeking perfection, and unconsciously assume that others also have a desire and need to be perfect. They can be convinced on a deep level that their way is the only “right” way, and that others should recognize this and comply.

Relationships can suffer when one partner is overly critical as the other partner can never be or act in a way that eliminates most of the criticism. And all criticism can never be eliminated because perfection is never achieved.

Tips for dealing with a critical partner…

It is never helpful to a relationship to be constantly faced with comments and remarks about mistakes, perceived inadequacies, lapses, and so on. The criticized partner can try harder to please and be perfect, but is never successful, leading to feelings of resentment, anger, self-doubt about personal adequacy, decreased self-esteem, and other negative thoughts and feelings.

Q: What are your tips for dealing with a critical partner?

A: 1. Accept that you can never be perfect enough for him/her.
2. Evaluate the criticism for its validity. Accept what is valid, and ignore what is not.
3. Accept that you will make mistakes, be less-than-perfect and so on, forgive yourself, and try harder the next time, but do not berate yourself in addition to the external criticism.
4. Realize and accept that the overly critical person will not change or become less critical.

Q: Any signs you should look for that indicate that you should call it quits?

A: This is a personal decision. You have to judge if the relationship is important enough for you to persevere and continue to encounter the excessive criticism.

Looking for more relationship advice? Check out these posts:

How to Cope With a Partner’s Jealousy
Signs Your Relationship Will Never Work
How Passive-Aggression Can Poison Your Relationship
Don’t Let Anger Ruin Your Relationship

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