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Why Do Partners Become Critical Of Each Other?

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Criticism in relationships can often seem like the death knell for that particular partnership, but the truth is that it’s not always a bad thing. Criticism can help partners develop better communication skills and repair negative behavior patterns if approached constructively. But why do our significant others become so critical at times? 

Understanding the source of this criticism is key when navigating disagreements and difficult conversations within relationships. We’ll look into what sparks criticism from your partner and discuss ways to move forward productively without further damaging your relationship.

What Is Criticism in Relationships

Criticism in relationships is when one partner expresses disapproval or judgment about the other. This can be done in various ways, from verbal comments to body language. Criticisms are often negative and aim to point out flaws or weaknesses in a person’s character or behavior. They can also target actions not conducive to a healthy relationship, such as lying or untruthful.

Why Do Partners Become Critical?

There are several reasons why partners may become critical of each other in a relationship. Stress and fear can lead to criticism as an individual attempts to cope with difficult or uncertain emotions. They may also be projecting their feelings of inadequacy onto their partner. 

Another source of criticism may be that an individual has experienced negative behavior modeled for them in the past, and their current critical behavior results from these experiences.

Criticism can also stem from feeling unheard or unimportant in a relationship. If one partner feels they are not being listened to, they commonly become critical to voice their concerns. Sometimes, criticism may arise simply because people naturally have different opinions and beliefs, leading to disagreements and tension between partners.

Being Self-Critical

It is not uncommon for someone to be overly critical of themselves. People often have a set of standards that they strive to reach, which can lead to criticism if they need to be met. This self-criticism can often manifest itself in other areas of life, such as relationships. 

It’s important to recognize when you may be too hard on yourself so that you can manage the situation and take steps to be more kind and understanding of yourself.

Lacking Gratitude

A lack of gratitude or appreciation can also lead to criticism within a relationship. If one partner is not expressing their appreciation for the other, it may lead to feelings of resentment and cause them to be overly critical. It’s important to remember that relationships take effort on both sides and that partners need to show respect and kindness towards each other for things to work out.

Distrusting Our Judgment

Distrusting our judgment can lead to criticism, as well. We may question our decisions and be overly critical of ourselves or others for making mistakes. It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and we should strive to learn from them rather than view them as failures.

Being Self-Protective

Finally, criticism in relationships can arise from a need to protect oneself. If we feel vulnerable and exposed, it is natural to put up defenses and become critical of our partners to protect ourselves. 

However, this can further push our partner away and damage the relationship. Finding healthy ways to express our feelings without criticism is important to maintain positive relationships.

Fearing Space

Fear of space is also a common reason for criticism. If one partner feels that the other may be pulling away or looking for an escape, they may become overly critical to keep them close. It’s important to remember that relationships need breathing room, and both partners should have time apart.


Criticism can be a way of avoiding intimacy in relationships. If one partner feels overwhelmed or anxious due to closeness, they may become critical to push their partner away and create distance. Discussing any discomfort with your partner is important so it can be addressed rather than resulting in criticism.

Intimacy is a key component of a healthy relationship, and partners should strive to provide emotional safety for each other. Building trust and being open with your partner can help create an environment free from criticism where both feel accepted and respected.

Signs That You Are Too Critical in Your Relationship

It’s important to take a step back and assess your behavior if you feel too critical of your partner. Signs that you may be too harsh with criticism include frequently pointing out their faults, having negative thoughts about them when they are not around, or being overly controlling in the relationship. If you recognize this in yourself, taking the steps necessary to address and modify this behavior is important.

How Criticism Damages Relationships

Criticism can damage relationships, as it undermines trust and affection between partners. If criticism is constant, a partner might feel that their opinions or feelings don’t matter. This can lead to a lack of communication and deeper disconnection in the relationship. 

It’s important to recognize when you are too critical and take steps to repair the damage caused by your criticisms. It is also important for both partners to take responsibility and be open to feedback to maintain a healthy relationship.

How to Address Criticism in a Relationship

Communication is essential for resolving criticism within a relationship. Speak calmly and clearly about your feelings and allow your partner time to express their feelings without being judged. Develop solutions to help both parties move forward productively. It’s also important to have a sense of empathy and understanding for your partner’s point of view.

It’s also helpful to practice self-care when dealing with criticism in relationships. Take time to practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, to help you stay grounded and focused on the present moment. 

Try to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings to identify when you are critical or negative. Taking the time to address these difficult emotions healthily can help prevent them from manifesting as destructive criticism.


How do you react to a critical partner?

When faced with criticism from a partner, it is important to remain calm and listen to their points of view. Express your feelings without blaming or attacking them, and make sure they have the chance to be heard. Come up with solutions to help both parties move forward productively.

How much criticism is too much in a relationship?

It is important to remember that criticism should be constructive and not destructive. Too much criticism can lead to resentment, a lack of communication, and deeper disconnection in the relationship. Try to address issues with your partner calmly and openly, and practice self-care when dealing with difficult emotions.

Is criticism a form of abuse?

Criticism can be a form of abuse if it is constant and accompanied by other emotional or psychological manipulation. If criticism begins to manifest itself as controlling behavior, gaslighting, threats, or humiliation, this may constitute abusive behavior. It is important to seek help if you are in an unhealthy situation.


In conclusion, the debate about whether criticism is a form of abuse is ongoing. What is right for one person may not be appropriate for another. It’s important to remember that in any relationship, criticism should be done constructively and with respect for the other person’s personal space. Criticizing someone or something needs to be done with care and empathy. It’s also equally important to accept constructive feedback with grace and positivity. The best thing we can do is open up conversations around this topic to learn how to effectively communicate without causing hurt feelings or damaging anyone’s well-being.


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