Relationships, even the best ones, are not always perfect. They are filled with conflict, and it's important to recognize that fighting in a relationship is completely normal. But there are some conflicts that should be considered red flags — namely, when your partner criticizes you for certain things. Of course, criticism comes in different forms, and not all of it is harmful. But some forms of criticism can have a lasting negative effect, not just on a relationship, but on your fundamental sense of self. Once you recognize these things, it’s important to evaluate the effect it can have on you and your relationship.
Relationship and etiquette expert April Masini explains to Elite Daily, "When criticism is really just about preferring meat cooked well done, not rare — and not about a global criticism like, 'You're the worst cook I've ever met' — it's harmless. But when a partner uses criticism as a tool to maintain a power dynamic, there's abuse underfoot. Stinging, chronic criticism can be abusive if the point of the comments are to make the person feel bad about themselves and to manipulate them that way."
Here are four big things your partner should never criticize you on.
1. Your Appearance
"Any criticism that has to do with body image is generally a touchy area," says Masini. "For instance, height, freckles, big breasts, small breasts, big rear end, small rear end, waist size, hair, nose, skin tone — these are all areas that people tend to concern themselves with about their own bodies, and they worry about how they may appear to others."
Masini explains that partners want to feel like they’re attractive to each other, so criticizing their appearance can have a negative effect on the relationship as a whole.
2. Your Family
Masini says if you're dating someone who criticizes your family — your parents, your siblings, or your kids (if you have them) — you should take into consideration how that makes you feel and the effect it has on you.
"It's very tough to do this, but when possible, avoid or at least limit any criticism of these family members and these relationships," says Masini. "They're too close to the heart ... to be taken objectively."
Family stuff can complicate relationships, especially when you vent about your family issues to your partner. This can make it easy for your partner to criticize your family alongside you, but if a line is crossed, it’s important to speak up.
3. Your Personal Traits
You can't change the way you were brought up and the life experiences you had that shaped who you are today.
"Personal traits like being late, not being well-read or well-educated, having a different religion or culture of origin, coming from a different socioeconomic group, or being either 'low class' or 'uppity' are very bad arenas in which to criticize a partner," says Masini. "People can't change their pasts, and criticizing a partner for being ill-bred or uncultured presents a tough fix for the person hearing this."
As Clinical Csychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D, previously told Elite Daily, "When feedback is directed at your character, your personality, or who you are vs. what you are doing, then the feedback is becoming criticism. When you feel like you don’t want to hear from your partner, or when you are avoiding them or your interactions so you won’t be criticized, it is time to take action."
4. Your Career
If your partner makes you feel bad about your career — whether it's because they wish you were wealthier, don't approve of what you're doing, or want you to be more well-known in your field — it may be a red flag.
Masini says lots of people value themselves based on how well they're doing in their careers, so if your partner criticizes you for your work, it may end up hurting your self-esteem – and that’s not good. It's particularly terrible when your partner decides you're not successful enough or making enough money for them. Your partner should keep these kinds of complains to themselves, "or date someone who has a better chance of the kind of success that is important to [them]," says Masini.
Your partner may criticize you for your career if money becomes an issue in your relationship, especially if you live together. They might feel so stressed by the lack of funds that it can create a negative environment for your relationship. "Collateral damage occurs when partners feel devalued in a relationship and look outside that marriage or partnership for sex, love, and self esteem," says Masini.
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