Good or bad: we’re all guilty of judging a book by its cover at some point in our lives.
Ideally, though, judgment will subside as a relationship evolves. But what if your partner is always judgmental of you? I’ve been in a relationship like this—it wore me out and tore me down to nothing.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Let me show you 10 things you need to know when dealing with a judgmental partner.
10 things you need to know
1) Don’t sink to their level
It’s really easy to retaliate when someone we love is being judgmental, unfair, or rude.
On the other hand, when a stranger is judgmental, it’s easier to just let it slide off. They don’t know who you really are, right? So how could they know?
It’s different when it’s your partner.
They know you extremely well, often better than anyone else. In this way, then, it becomes tempting—and easy—to retaliate, to judge them in return, and sink to their level.
You may feel like you have the right to since they’re treating you in this way.
However, it won’t accomplish anything except drive a wedge even deeper between you.
It will only serve to create a hostile environment that will rot away and damage your relationship twice as fast.
Do your best to not sink to their level, or get defensive. Even if you are completely in the right, there’s no benefit in retaliation. I’m not saying it’s fair, but everything will work out better if you don’t sink to their level.
2) Be patient
No matter your level of frustration, it’s important to be patient. Lashing out in defense likely won’t end well. We’ll talk more later on about the need to make sure that you stand up for yourself, but as a rule of thumb, it’s best not to get defensive.
Remember, too, that any kind of rash or childish behavior on your part becomes a reason for your partner to judge you even more harshly. If you’re being petulant, lashing out in return, and so on, doesn’t that just prove their point?
That’s not to say that they’re in the right for their behavior. Nor is it to say that it’s fair. It most assuredly isn’t. However, having patience will aid the situation greatly.
Being patient will go a long way in dealing with a judgmental partner.
Just keep in mind that you are worth the time, attention, love, and acceptance of your partner. If you aren’t getting the respect and love that you deserve, this is a big problem.
It’s unhealthy and might prove to be damaging to you, your mental health, and your well-being.
So when it comes to being patient, it’s important to be balanced. Being patient doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself, your worth, and your belief that you’re a morally good person.
It’s part of why boundaries are so important when dealing with a judgmental partner.
3) Get a second opinion
If you really are unsure whether or not the criticism you are receiving is warranted or not, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion.
In fact, having well-established and healthy friendships and relationships with people outside of the relationship with your significant other is a really healthy thing to do—whether or not you’re having relationship issues.
They will allow you to be grounded, balanced, and avoid co-dependency.
When being criticized by a judgmental partner, confiding in a friend who will give impartial advice can be incredibly therapeutic.
Not only will you get some much-needed assurance, but you’ll also gain insight from a different side of things. You’ll be able to see how the criticism is being perceived by someone who isn’t actively involved in your relationship—allowing for more clarity and objectivity
But what if your friends couldn’t offer the best-unbiased advice? Do you instead go through it alone?
You don’t have to.
Getting a second opinion could be beneficial for your relationship. So I’m recommending Relationship Hero.
After answering a few questions on their website, you get matched to a coach who can best give sound advice on how to deal with criticism from a judgmental partner.
Remember, your friends can give perspective, but an outside professional can provide a deeper understanding of how to both evaluate and control the situation.
4) Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is something I talk a lot about in my articles. That’s because I’ve found it to be one of the most important things that I’ve learned when it comes to taking care of my mental health both in and out of relationships.
It’s been instrumental for me in letting go of toxic relationships, as well as finding new ones, creating positive energy, and fostering upbuilding interactions with everyone around me.
When it comes to romantic relationships especially, it’s absolutely vital to set—and stick to—your boundaries.
So what are some good boundaries to set? And how can you do it?
If you’re dealing with a judgmental person, it’s really important to limit the kinds of interactions you have with them. This can have various levels of complication based on what your relationship looks like. It’s important to avoid confrontation.
In what kinds of scenarios do you feel the most attacked and judged? Do what you can to avoid them.
If you know certain conversations or interactions will only end with your partner being overly critical, learn to recognize the signs and preemptively leave.
This will allow you the healthy space you need to take care of yourself, and it will also give your partner a big hint that their negative behavior not only has an effect on you, but has repercussions for them, as well as the relationship.
Setting healthy boundaries is about knowing what you need, and what it takes for you to be healthy and able to handle what life sends your way.
Here are some big signs of disrespect in relationships you should never ignore.
5) They aren’t right
It’s important that you don’t start believing your partner’s criticism. In such an intimate scenario, it’s all too easy to start thinking that they’re right.
Especially when you have to hear their judgmental talk all the time. If it’s happening every time that you’re around your partner, it can start to just wear you down.
It’s what happened to me.
For example, once I would come home from work, so would begin a long stream of criticisms. Sometimes it was how I didn’t make the bed right or didn’t do a good enough job cleaning dishes.
Whether it was about how I shouldn’t act this certain way, or how it would have been better if I did things differently, the point wasn’t the criticism. The point was I felt demoralized.
And I started to believe it was all true. I started to believe that my partner was right for criticizing me all the time, and for putting me down.
This left me with a huge lack of self-worth; it wasn’t a good place to be.
It was only when I made a concerted effort to spend time away from my partner that I started to realize that there was something off-balance.
I came to realize that my partner wasn’t right about me. While maybe there was more I could do (no one’s perfect), it was clear I was doing everything I could to be an active and supportive part of the relationship.
And that’s the most anyone can ask of their partner.
If it’s not enough, your partner is being too judgmental, and that can be really toxic for you.
Make sure you give yourself the space and time to process and think about the situation away from the influence of your partner. In fact, it’s important in any relationship to take time for yourself, for personal reflection, being alone, and solidifying your individuality.
6) Don’t give in to their caviling
It’s important in a scenario like this to find your ground and hold it. This doesn’t necessarily mean taking confrontation head-on every time. That will just make your relationship more caustic, more toxic, and more exhausting.
But when it comes to your partner’s criticism, try not to feel like you have to change your habits, your mannerisms, or your way of doing things just to please them.
If you give in to their caviling, their judgmental behavior will only be encouraged. The judgment and criticism may ebb away at first as you change your habits to fit their definition of “perfect”, however, it won’t be long before they find something else to judge you for.
This is an endless cycle that only propagates toxic behavior and leaves you feeling exhausted, worn out, and ungrounded from yourself. From who you are.
If you’re constantly adapting your behaviors to fit someone else, it’s only natural to start losing yourself, your identity, and your sense of worth.
This is hardly a good thing, so it’s important to keep your mental health the most important.
Even if it does sometimes lead to confrontation.
Wondering if it’s time to break up? Here’s a great article that goes through 18 signs you need to end a relationship.
7) But take it in stride
A big goal in dealing with a judgmental partner is to shut down and render useless their constant stream of criticism and complaining.
The more you can disarm their negative, manipulative, and judgmental behavior, the less they’ll be interested in doing it, and the less it’s going to affect you.
In many ways, you are like a steady rock in a stream. There’s a fine balance in both holding your ground and also letting the river flow right by you.
That’s why it’s so important to take their criticism in stride. You could even go so far as to respond with things like: “Thanks for the input, I’ll make sure to work on that.” Or you could be a little more cheeky with it, for instance: “Wow, I had no idea I was so terrible in so many ways.” And then move on.
A verbal agreement is a great way to disarm a potentially hostile situation. Remember, though, you don’t have an obligation to change every little thing about yourself just to appease someone who is essentially just a bully.
8) Try to understand
Judgmental people often have remarkably low levels of self-worth. They don’t hold themselves in high esteem.
In other words, to deflect any judgment of their character—whether from someone else or even from themselves—they preemptively lash out and make other people seem inferior. A lot of the reasons people are overly judgmental have a lot to do with the psychology of anger.
That way, then, they don’t have to confront the uncomfortable feelings they have; they don’t have to face the fact that they don’t love themselves very much. To put it another way, it’s a defense mechanism.
These kinds of behaviors can show themselves in a variety of ways.
So pay attention to when your partner tends to be the most judgmental, and the moments/words/actions that led up to this point.
These instances can be very revealing, not only in regards to why your partner is being overly judgmental but even to what it is that they’re most self-conscious or defensive about.
Just remember to not be too harsh yourself. When you jump to the conclusion that someone is judgmental, it could be that you’re being overly judgemental yourself.
Again, this is slightly different when it comes to something so personal as an intimate relationship. However, trying to understand them will go a long way in helping you deal with your partner, as well as figure out what to do next.
Here’s a look at 6 more signs of emotional maturity, and how to get there.
9) Explain to them your side
It’s important to fully understand the way you feel about their criticism before you decide to talk to them about it.
If you haven’t fully thought through your feelings and come to terms with them, the likelihood is that a conversation will likely turn aggressive or end in a fight.
However, once you’ve had some time to think about your feelings, articulate them, and even get a second opinion, you’ll be better prepared to have a positive and beneficial conversation with your partner.
Find a time that’s good for them. It’s important to make sure they aren’t having a bad day, hasn’t had any time to decompress, are too stressed, or aren’t in a good space to converse.
At this point, it’s important to bring up your feelings, your opinions, and how you see the situation in a non-confrontational way.
Your partner, in all likelihood, is very sensitive to criticism, so any kind of accusatory or confrontational wording can set them off and shut them down.
How this conversation goes will give you a really good bearing on what comes next in the relationship.
Here are some big signs your relationship might be over, and some things you can do to save it.
10) Figure out what comes next
It’s clear that there’s a glaring problem with your relationship. Your partner is being judgmental, accusatory, and wearing you down.
It’s clear that something has to change. Figuring out what exactly that change is will be difficult, and you may not have a clue what to do.
Here’s the thing: that’s okay. You’re taking the time to do research, read up, talk to your friends, think for yourself, and learn what to do in this kind of taxing scenario.
As long as you do the same thing before taking any big steps, you’ll make a really good decision. It could be that your partner realizes it, too, and starts to make some changes, appreciating you more, and so on.
Or, unfortunately, that conversation may not go so well. Your partner may have no interest in changing who they are or treating you with the respect and admiration you deserve.
In a situation like that, it may be best to move on. There’s no telling what the best solution for your specific situation is. However, with forethought, applying some of the points here, getting outside advice, and listening to yourself, you’re bound to make the best decision.
And remember, whatever comes next will be new, exciting, and in all likelihood better than you could have ever imagined.