Can your partner do no right in your mind? Do you always find fault in their behavior, words, texts, and habits? The bliss of the honeymoon period where they could do no wrong is long gone at this point. But why is your brain programmed to look for faults? There are a couple of reasons that could explain why you constantly look for (and point out) the things your partner is doing wrong.
These are the top five reasons for nitpicking and criticizing that I’ve come across through my years of working with grumpy girlfriends.
1. You think the relationship will end
If you live with a fundamental belief that this relationship is doomed, you will constantly be searching for evidence to support it. This is called confirmation bias. Your brain makes the world reflect what you already believe to be true and dismisses evidence to the contrary.
Your brain gets high off of evidence. Every time you can point out a reason why this relationship isn’t good, isn’t going to last, and why your partner is a bad person, it feels good. And every time your brain comes across evidence that your relationship is good, that your partner is a good person, and that it can work out… that actually feels bad. So your brain ignores it.
Check out this podcast episode if you think you relate to this explanation!
2. You feel responsible for them
Have you ever thought “If I just let this slide and I don’t point it out and criticize it… they’ll just continue doing it”? Then this is probably your explanation.
There are two main reasons why you would feel the need to correct your partner’s behavior as if they were your child; either you think their behavior reflects poorly on you and you want to prevent that, or you literally believe that you are objectively right and your partner is objectively wrong.
But here’s the truth:
Your partner is not your child. It’s not your job to raise them. It’s not your job to correct them. It’s not your job to make sure they behave. You are two adult human beings who are complete as you are and have chosen to share a life together. Neither of you has authority over the other. Neither of you is objectively right or wrong.
No matter how much you correct, criticize, or bully them… they get to continue doing what they are doing if that’s what they want. And I really don’t recommend emotionally manipulating your partner that you love in order for them to change who they are and what they do.
If you genuinely believe that your partner must follow your manual for them in order for you to feel good, check out this episode of the podcast. It’ll help set you free and allow you to be okay regardless what your partner is or isn’t doing:
3. It makes you feel better about yourself
It’s no secret that grumpy girlfriends deal with a lot of self-judgment and shame surrounding their behaviors. We know it’s wrong. We know we shouldn’t be thinking, feeling, and acting this way. But it’s so challenging to stop!
So while you feel like you’re a terrible girlfriend, it might actually make you feel a little less awful if your partner is a bad partner as well. If you can point out all the things they’re doing wrong as well, then you’re more equal and you might get some relief from your guilt and shame.
Obviously, this isn’t a long-term solution. If you relate to this explanation, I really recommend signing up for my coaching program. Instead of dragging your partner down into the dirt with you and making the relationship an equal, but hostile environment… clean your dirt up and learn how to be happy instead.
4. You have a limited capacity to have
Your capacity to have is a measurement of your beliefs about life. All your beliefs and thoughts about what you get to have, what’s possible/impossible, and what’s right/wrong will shape your capacity to have. So when it comes to your relationship, your partner might actually exceed the kind of partner you have the capacity to be with. Your relationship might be better than what you think is possible or right for you (or for anyone).
This state of life exceeding your capacity to have creates something called cognitive dissonance. Meaning that reality differs from what you believe to be true. This is very uncomfortable for the human brain and it will do anything it can to get out of that dissonance.
Here’s the problem:
Your brain’s way of getting out of cognitive dissonance is not by expanding your capacity to have. That is way too challenging, dangerous, and painful. Instead, your brain will try to get reality to fit your capacity to have.
How crazy is that?
So if you think your relationship is too good to be true, your brain won’t go “Oh! I guess I get to have a better relationship than I even thought!”… It will think “Oh… something’s wrong here… this relationship is pretending to be better than it actually is and now I have to find all the evidence for that”.
This is where self-sabotage comes in. Check out this podcast episode if you think the capacity to have-explanation might apply to you:
5. You have not questioned it
Last, but definitely not least, we have one of the simplest explanations. You might have learned somewhere along the way that this is what you do. Perhaps your parents always nitpicked and criticized you or each other. Perhaps your ex did this to you. You just picked up this behavior and you haven’t questioned it. Until now.
One of the most powerful “tools” or thoughts that has helped me stop nitpicking and criticizing my partner is thinking “How would I feel if my partner said this to me?”. 9 times out of 10, I would be appalled if he treated me the way my brain wants me to treat him.
Constantly pointing out what your partner does wrong and always finding fault in what they say, do, and how they say/do it is extremely rude. If you wouldn’t do it to a stranger, coworker, or friend… why in the world are you doing it to the person you love most? (You’ll probably find the answer to that question somewhere among these 5 points hehe.)
In an interview, Bear Grylls (who doesn’t love Bear??) said that you should always save your best for your partner/family. A lot of people make the mistake of being their best selves out in the world when interacting with others, and then their partners at home get the worst. The left-overs. The part you don’t show others… But your partner and your family deserve your best. So save it for them.
There are many reasons why you might be constantly looking for problems in your relationship. And each of these problems has a specific solution.
If you want to stop looking for faults in your good relationship and finally learn to enjoy it, apply for my 1:1 coaching program today. I would love to work with you and help you become the kind of girlfriend you can be proud of.