10 signs you’re in a relationship with an overly critical partner

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You have no doubt that your partner loves you.

But they complain and nitpick a lot that you can’t help but wonder if there’s something seriously wrong with you or you’re just with an overly critical partner.

It’s good that you’re asking, because this is definitely one of those things you’ll want to be aware of if you want a healthy, happy relationship.

To help you out, here are 10 signs that you’re in a relationship with an overly critical partner.

1) You don’t feel like it’s safe to mess up

An accepting partner will make you feel comfortable with the idea of failure. 

You won’t feel like there’s something wrong with you when you mess up. If anything, they’ll be there to comfort you and tell you that making mistakes is totally normal.

You will see none of this with an overly critical partner!

They’ll make you afraid of making even one small mistake—like choosing the “wrong” brand of shampoo.

Maybe you’re afraid they’ll mock you, or maybe they make you feel like you’re a careless idiot.

Do you notice that you fumble and stutter when they’re around? Do you feel like they’ll roll their eyes or shout when you do something “stupid”? 

Your partner is—without a doubt— overly critical.

2) You always feel like you’re to blame

Whenever something goes wrong, you always end up feeling like you’re to blame.

Did you forget to bring your keys? Well, that’s your fault because why would you rely on them to always bring the keys!

Did the two of you get lost in town while out on a date? Well, that might be your fault too… somehow! 

Overly critical people will always be out looking for someone to blame—be that themselves or another person—and this kind of self-blaming attitude is a natural consequence of being with one.

3) They only want what’s best for you

It doesn’t have to be these exact words, of course. 

Your partner might also say that they’re just “looking out for you”, or that they just want to “keep you safe” or “see you flourish.”

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting the best for one’s partner or always wanting to see them safe.

But it can also be used as an excuse to control and police how someone is supposed to act.

If they care about your health, they might criticize your lifestyle choices daily. And when you tell them to stop, they’ll shrug and say “Alright, alright. I was just trying to help!”

Yes, most overly critical people are manipulative, but most of the time, they’re not even aware they’re doing it.

4) They grumble when others do things wrong

So not only only are they critical towards you, they’re critical towards everyone!

Your partner likes to criticize and nitpick people left and right—from their mother to their friends, to even their two-year-old niece.

They would complain endlessly about how their neighbor never mows their lawn or how their dogs are so noisy.

Or they might point at random people on the street and tell you how those people have a horrible sense of fashion.

Someone who’s not overly critical will just let these things fly. In fact, they won’t even see the point in being so nitpicky. They’d rather take things easy and just enjoy life.

So if they tell you “No, I’m not overly critical. You’re just sensitive.”, let them notice how they nitpick others, too.

5) They struggle to accept criticism

Your partner is always quick to grumble when other people do things “wrong”, but if you ever give them any criticism in turn—no matter how well-meaning, and no matter how accurate—they struggle to accept it.

Tell them that they are way too concerned about what other people look like or that THEIR sense of fashion is outdated and they’ll immediately get on the defensive.

This is not surprising. Overly critical people are often the way they are because of their insecurities.

They’re their own worst critic, and to protect themselves from crushing their own self-esteem into dust, they take it out by being exceptionally critical of others.

6) There’s a lot of conflict in your relationship

Conflict is inevitable if you’re ever in a relationship with someone who is overly critical.

It makes sense if you think about it. 

If your partner is ALWAYS nitpicking every little thing you do, you’ll naturally end up resenting them for it.

And it would affect everything in your relationship—from simple chores to your sex life.

On the other hand, it also means that your partner has some unresolved issues (even if they insist they don’t have any) which can easily make them lash out at you at random.

And those issues usually come with other toxic traits that could pose more challenges in your relationship.

If this doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship, that’s because it isn’t. 

7) You rarely hear positive feedback

That said, criticism itself isn’t entirely a bad thing. 

We all need to have our flaws brought up to us in order for us to grow.

But a partner who does genuinely want the best for you and is willing to give you criticism to help you grow will make sure their comments are balanced and well-thought out.

They wouldn’t go so low as to nitpick, and they’ll make sure to give you plenty of positive feedback, too.

An overly critical partner on the other hand will not bother about what you feel. They’d like to “say it as it is” even if those comments could hurt you.

You’ll rarely ever hear them give you positive feedback, even when you deserve it.

8) They try to take the role of a teacher

Something that overly critical people like to do is to present themselves as “enlightened” and “learned.”

They try to put themselves in the role of a teacher or a mentor— there to guide or teach the “ignorant” people around them.

And that won’t change just because they just so happen to be your partner. 

They’ll still see themselves as being a teacher, or a guide, or a judge, or a manager and you to be someone they’re meant to train.

They do this even in things where you actually know more than they do, and they do it in part because they genuinely believe they always know better.

Hell, you might simply be trying to cook breakfast and they’re there judging your every move and correcting you as if they’re Gordon Ramsey!

9) They’re always second-guessing themselves

They try to present themselves as if they’re confident, but you can sense that they’re always second-guessing themselves.

Sometimes this manifests in them nervously waffling about big decisions before committing to them, and sometimes this manifests in them always changing their mind.

For example today they might go “Oh, maybe we should go to Paris for our honeymoon!”

But then tomorrow they’d go “It’s too expensive, maybe we should go to Vietnam.”

And the day after? They’ll go “On second thought, let’s go to Paris.”

This is a sign that they don’t actually trust themselves deep down inside, even if they try to look like it on the outside.

And most of the time, this is rooted in childhood—they probably grew up with overly critical parents!

10) They find it hard to just enjoy things

Take them to a restaurant and instead of just enjoying the food, they’ll start commenting on all the many little things wrong with it.

Watch a film with them and they’ll make comments about parts of the story that don’t make sense to them as if they’re some kind of film critic (and they might actually believe that they are).

Where most other people can just sit back and enjoy things, they somehow simply cannot.

It’s as if looking for the bad stuff in anything is their full-time job!

It might have even got you so frustrated that you might have been tempted to say that they should just enjoy the damned movie.

Last words

Being in a relationship with overly critical people is an ordeal and a half.

But it’s not like they’re bad people—there most certainly is a reason why you love them, after all.

For now, just be a little more patient. As they say, the secret to a good marriage is being a little deaf. So try to be “deaf” to their criticisms if you can.

But if that doesn’t help, then convince them to get better. Statistically, overly critical people often end up destroying their relationships sooner or later. So if they truly love you, they’d take the necessary steps.

Their overly critical attitude is a sign that they have a lot of problems they need to resolve through therapy and introspection.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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