Do you always find faults with your partner’s behavior? Or is your partner constantly criticizing you. Nitpicking is a damaging behavior and can lead to the end of your relationship.
What is nitpicking?
Nitpicking is a form of hypercriticism in romantic relationships. It is when you look for faults in unimportant or irrelevant things and use those mistakes and errors to unnecessarily criticize your partner.
Continually pointing out your partner’s flaws and mistakes can lead to frustration, resentment, tension and conflict in a loving relationship.
How nitpicking affects a relationship
Relationships are never easy. It is highly likely that our partners will have very different personalities, beliefs, ideologies and habits than us. When we try to mould them the way we want to see them, that’s when the problem begins. When you are unable to accept your partner as they are, you will look for faults to point out in their personality. As you believe your partner needs to change the way you want them to, you will start criticizing anything and everything that you dislike and disagree with. And this can adversely affect the foundation of your relationship.
You may use criticism constructively to help your partner improve. But when it is delivered in a negative or inappropriate manner on a regular basis, nitpicking can seriously damage a relationship. Founder of CompassionPower and author Steven Stosny, Ph.D. writes “Criticism is an utter failure at getting positive behavior change. Any short-term gain you might get from it just builds resentment down the line.”
He explains that criticism is an ineffective tool to help someone improve as it involves two basic factors that are unacceptable to most human beings:
- A call for submission
- Devalues the criticized individual
To err is human. By pointing out your partner’s errors and flaws you demean, embarrass and belittle your partner. You are sending a strong message that your partner is not good enough for you as they are and you really want them to change.
“Essentially, nitpicking is a sign that you don’t fully respect your mate,” writes marriage consultant and author Sheri Stritof. She adds “Even if this isn’t your intention, it can be received this way… If you continue to nitpick at your spouse, a growing resentment can create a wall between the two of you.”
Signs of nitpicking
Here are a few signs of a nitpicker or a critical person as explained by relationship and transformational coach Dr. Jessica Higgins.
1. You are a perfectionist. You always strive hard to achieve perfection in every aspect of your life, including your relationships. You refuse to accept anything that is below your perception of perfection.
2. You had exceptionally critical parents. It is likely that your parents had high unrealistic expectations from you. They never refrained from criticizing you when you failed to reach their impractical standards. Now you carry this mindset, behavior and relationship pattern in your romantic relationship as an adult.
3. You criticize yourself. You tend to be too harsh on yourself as well when you screw up or make a mistake as you are a perfectionist. When you criticize yourself, you will end up criticizing your partner as well. “Think of what you automatically say to yourself if you drop something or make a mistake. Critical people will typically think, “Oh you idiot,” or, “Jerk,” or just curse or sigh in disgust. If you do that to yourself, you most likely do it to others as well,” writes Steven Stosny, Ph.D.
4. Your partner, family members, friends, and coworkers often tell you that you have a habit of nitpicking unnecessarily.
5. You are often judgemental of others and provide critical commentary to people on their personality, habits, behavior, choices, mentality, attitude and appearance.
6. You tend to be overly sensitive and take everything personally. You feel insulted and offended when anyone criticizes you or offers you any feedback.
7. It is easier for you to find someone’s fault and criticize them than to praise them and give positive reinforcement.
8. You are more focused on what your partner lacks than what they have to offer to the relationship. Instead of appreciating their uniqueness and value, you are more interested in their flaws.
9. You have a habit of micromanaging everything. When things don’t go your way in the relationship, you have a tendency of fixing it to the way you want.
10. You have a negative mindset and lack empathy. You are more interested in observing the weakness and faults in people’s behavior and mannerisms than understanding what drives their behavior.
Can you identify these signs in yourself or in your partner? Then there’s no doubt that nitpicking has creeped into your relationship.