Constructive criticism does not hurt. It advises and informs. If you take it up another notch beyond constructive, it can destroy someone’s life. You may think you are helping if you are always criticizing your partner, but something else is happening. You find yourself alone or trapped in a negative cycle. There are consequences when you point a finger at someone. Here are 10 bad side effects of criticizing your partner:
1. He/she will hide things from you
Your partner may be tempted to keep secrets if you routinely spew negativity and criticism. If you are always criticizing your partner, think twice. Your partner may be taking on new risks/challenges without you knowing. You may be missing out on their growth, learning experiences, and the intimacy of a healthy relationship.
2. He/she will secretly resent you
A build up of criticism can lead to closeted resentment. Resentment shows up when you most need your partner—on your deathbed or co-signing on a loan. Resentment is worse than hate because, like the background music in an elevator, you don’t always notice. It’s there while everything else looks normal. Walking around with resentment is painful and makes others vulnerable to future hurt.
3. He/she will not give you the space to make your own mistakes
Sitting on a person’s pedestal may be nice in the beginning. The overly criticized partner will admire you, perhaps too much. They will give you no room to mess up, as you become the light to their darkness. If you are always criticizing your partner, you inadvertently build your own jail.
4. He/she may seek validation online or elsewhere
A partner who is overly criticized needs an outlet. It can be as innocent as reading a book alone or more risky like venting to someone who is emotionally available, caring and compassionate. Leaving the door open to this can create dire consequences that can lead to the end of your relationship.
5. He/she will tune you out
After consistent criticizing, your partner will stop listening and stop caring. Wait, what’s that you said? Exactly.
6. He/she will see you as a burden
Nobody wants to go into a relationship with a job. Daily life is enough of a hassle. If your partner overly criticizes you, you may see them as a drag, a burden, and a problem. Your overly criticized partner may want to stay with you, but they simply cannot handle doing the work.
7. He/she will become a punching bag for the qualities you hate about yourself
Like everyone else, your partner is a reflection of your innermost self—some parts you don’t even know. Criticizing your partner is an act of projection. Your partner may look like they have the problem, when it’s really you. Is your partner always late? You reminded him/her for the thousandth time. You may see this as an act of disrespect when your teachers in elementary school ignored you. Now, it’s up to your partner to make you feel good again. Fix your own life, first.
8. He/she will lose self-confidence
Keep criticizing your partner and they will lose the energy to live life to the fullest. They may become indecisive, disempowered and complacent. Would you be happy with a partner like that? Consider how that would affect your life.
9. He/she will become dependent on you
Your partner may give up completely. After constantly complaining to your partner that he/she does not help out around the house, they may stop altogether. You’ll end up with the brunt of all the tasks, decision making, and planning in more than one area of your life. Congratulations, you just created your own worst nightmare.
10. He/she will lose courage to try new things to advance their lives
Worst of all, an overly criticized partner may become stuck and stagnant. Regret will grow in them each day for the life they did not live or the places they did not go. They will blame you, whether it is fair or not.
Then how to give constructive criticism lovingly?
- Choose the right time: Never judge your parter when he/she has just gone through a tough time. Only give constructive criticism when they are calm and they can give you their full attention.
- Go for dialogue rather than monologue: No one likes being told to do something so make sure you can create a space where both of you can express your thoughts and listen to each other’s point of view.
- Show appreciation before giving criticism: If you want your partner to accept your criticism, always highlight what you appreciate him/her first. After they let their guard down and know that you have good intention, they will take your criticism more positively.
Keep in mind, everyone is responsible for his or her own life. You can’t make an overly criticized partner give up unless they already wanted to, or had talked themselves into it. However, if you are always criticizing your partner, you can make it a lot easier. Instead, choose your words carefully. Give advice only when asked and show empathy more often. What you do to others, will in some way be done to you—literally or figuratively. Think wisely.
Featured photo credit: Caleb George via ununsplash.imgix.net