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If Your Partner Criticizes You About These 4 Things, It's Time To Break Up With Them

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.

“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,” says April Masini, a New York based relationship and etiquette expert and author. “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 things that your partner should never criticize you on. And if they do, you should probably dump them ASAP:

1. Your Appearance

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If your partner is criticizing you for what you look like, that is a huge red flag. We're all already so concerned with how we look (thanks to our toxic society) that hearing criticism from someone we want to find us attractive, even if the comment is made in passing, will just make us feel worse.

“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.”

One of the biggest factors about your appearance that your partner should not be criticizing you on is weight, which can be a huge issue for many people.

“Partners want to feel that they're attractive to each other, and when you criticize a partner's weight, you're criticizing their appearance and making them feel less attractive,” says Masini. “This is going to have a negative effect on the relationship — especially if weight is a tough obstacle for them.”

Your partner should make you feel attractive. Period. If they aren't actively doing that, get rid of them.

2. Your Family

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Masini says if you're dating someone who criticizes your family — your parents, your siblings, or your kids (if you have them) — you need to reconsider if they are worth keeping around, because your partner really should not be criticizing these people.

“It's very tough to do this, but when possible, avoid or at least limit any criticism of these people and these relationships,” says Masini. “They're too close to the heart … to be taken objectively.”

Family stuff can really complicate relationships, especially when you yourself vent about your family issues to your partner. This can make it can easy for your partner to fall into the trap of criticizing your family alongside you, perhaps because they want to make you feel better about whatever's going on.

But even when my brother and I are in a huge fight, and I'm telling my partner how much I hate him, I get defensive the second my partner elaborates on how sh*tty he is. Only I can call my brother an assh*le.

It is simply not your partner's place to say anything negative about your family, and you should not tolerate it if they do.

3. Your Personal Traits

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You can't change the way you were brought up and the life experiences you had that shaped who you are today. You are the person you are — flaws, weird habits, and all — and your partner should not criticize you for being that person.

“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.”

I once dated a guy who made me feel horrible about my taste in music. I was raised on Top-40 songs that people played on the radio at pool parties in suburban backyards, not the hipster records he and his friends listened to as they smoked weed in their basements. He made me believe I was vapid and uncultured, even though my pop culture taste really wasn't my fault — it was just a result of my upbringing.

“[People] can't become well-read in a month — this is a life goal, and they may feel distress and depression upon hearing that their partner feels this is a problem,” says Masini.

You guys, I still have an inferiority complex over not liking Radiohead.

4. Your Career

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If your partner is making 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 — dump them.

Guys I've dated have criticized me because my career involves writing about sex, feminism, and relationships for young women on the internet. Sometimes, I'd let their comments get to me, but mostly, I knew that tackling those subjects is not only my career, it is my passion — and I was not about to change what I love to do just because a guy felt threatened by it.

Also, Masini says lots of people, especially men, value themselves based on how well they're doing in their careers, so it's particularly terrible when your partner decides that 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 they'll create a negative environment in which your relationship's financial problems become entirely your fault. “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. Not good.

So, if your partner is criticizing you on any of these four things, re-evaluate your relationship. You may not realize it while the criticism is happening, but your partner is messing with your sense of self-worth, and it could do serious permanent damage to your psyche.

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Alexia LaFata

Digital Editor

Alexia LaFata is a Senior Editor. She's a proud New Jersey native and Boston College graduate. When she's not writing, she's watching documentaries, practicing her Cher impression, or eating pasta. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.
Alexia LaFata is a Senior Editor. She's a proud New Jersey native and Boston College graduate. When she's not writing, she's watching documentaries, practicing her Cher impression, or eating pasta. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.

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