Why Do We Criticize Others?

How to stop criticizing my partnerCriticism brings out the worst in men and women.

Men actually think they are good at taking criticism, but it is not true.

The reason we criticize someone is that we are trying to get someone to do or accomplish something.

Our compulsion to criticize is our instinctual way to get what we want.

And most of us criticize because we don’t know how to get what we want any differently.

It is one of the biggest reasons I see dissatisfaction and anger in the couples I coach.

Criticism undercuts relationships in ways that can never be restored.

What Are You After By Criticizing?

If you can understand why the other person is criticizing you, understand what it is about and why it is coming at you, then you can be more effective at handling it and diffusing it.

So I am going to explain why men and women criticize each other and the different ways they tend to do it….

1. To Express Displeasure and Disappointment

This is the number one reason women criticize and they do it to get someone to change a behavior or do something differently.

Women criticize when they don’t like the way you are being or doing something or your attitude or some result you are getting.

You want to change the result you are getting, by changing someone else’s behavior.

The most common way women express criticism:

Why can’t you, why aren’t you..why don’t you…

Why haven’t you got this done yet?..Why aren’t you doing it?

Women’s intent is to get, typically men, moving and getting on whatever they want done.

Pleasing To Avoid Conflict

This line of questioning will work, but it will only work on someone who cares about pleasing you and/or cares about avoiding displeasing you.

But it does not mean men, or anyone for that matter, will do what you want out of love, generosity or true desire.

Often then women will get even more upset, because the men are doing what they asked with a bad attitude.

It is because the people who care the most about pleasing you and avoiding displeasing you are doing it from a low level of engagement.

Most men want to provide for women, but doing it because they want to stay out of trouble is different than providing it out of true love and caring.

People that feel dependent on someone, like because they are being paid by that person or depend on them financially, will feel like they need to stay in their good graces.

So they will do what you ask, but it is not from a true authentic place of wanting to.

Most Men Are Literal

When women ask a man a question, “Why don’t you”…most men most will answer literally.

“Why haven’t you emptied the dishwasher?”

When asked that question, men don’t typically jump up and empty the dishwasher…he will tell you why he hasn’t.

You get a literal response, instead of his taking the action you wanted.

Most women are not literal and so they expect the man to jump up and empty the dishwasher, but most men are literal so they answer the question.

So asking” why” is not effective.

Losing Respect

By expressing displeasure, you probably will cause someone to do what you want.

But you also lose respect and admiration for the person you talk to like that – who acts just to please you.

It is not done from a place of dignity, respect and love.

If you try to motivate someone through being upset or hurt, because you think it will get them to something “if they REALLY cared about us.”

It does get them to act, but often it is temporary and they only do the bare minimum.

They aren’t really trying to really figure out how to do it better.

That comes from a different type of communication, a more respectful type of communication

2. To Hurt, Punishment Or Poke At Someone.

Hopefully you see that criticism doesn’t change behavior and then when it is used to punish men, it never works they way women were hoping.

It causes a man to withdraw emotionally, sexually, mentally (not think about his woman), physically and causes him to clam up and not communicate.

Trying to change someone by punishing them – ruins the relationship fast.

Punishing them comes from feeling pain…the pain you experience from thinking they don’t love you or respect you.

What if it is not because they don’t love or respect you?

I guarantee it will eventually becomes the reason, because you kill the love and respect from over criticizing.

You probably assumed men are just not doing it right because they don’t care about you, but I promise you if you are willing to listen, you will find your man had a valid reason.

3.  To Make Us Feel Better

Even if it is too late to change someone’s behavior, you feel so much hurt and frustration that you hope by criticizing someone it will make you feel better – if you express how you feel.

Admit it – it doesn’t make you feel better.

What makes you feel better is when someone is truly sorry.

“I am so sorry I don’t get your birthday right.”

You are wanting to be reassured, to know you are loved.

Criticizing may get someone to say, “I am sorry” but often it does not make you feel any better.

You want a true authentic apology.

“I am sorry I din’t get it right and made you feel I didn’t want to be married to you.”

You can’t beat someone down to get a true heartfelt apology, because you need the apology from someone you respect to do it out of genuine care and concern – not fear.

4. We Often Use Criticize As Self Defense

When someone comes at you with criticism, you will often criticize back in self defense.

“Why don’t you ever pay the bills?”

You answer back…

“Why don’t you ever appreciate anything I do?”

We criticize to get the other person to stop criticizing us…it never works.

Criticism begets criticism!

5. Attack The Enemy

Women criticize in order to change a behavior or way of being, a man will tend to criticize in order to change women’s priorities or to advance his place in line with her.

When a man needs something from a woman he can’t get, because her time, energy, attention, resources are going to something or someone else, he will attack what he sees is coming before him or taking from him what he needs.

It doesn’t matter if it is his mom, sister, wife, lover, employee…

She is giving to “it” before him.

Women do this too, but it is not as common.

i.e. The reason he is not paying attention to me is because he is so wrapped up in his job.

“You spend all your time working!”

The truth is women don’t really don’t mind the job, they are just feeling ignored.

Men love that their wives take great care of their kids, but the instinctive response is criticism when they feel like their needs are not being met.

“Why do you spoil that kid or why do you let the kids, your mother, your friends take advantage/manipulate you?”

You will criticize their behavior, because you think that thing is why you aren’t getting what you need.

It is because that thing or person is getting most of your attention.

That type of criticism is devastating to the relationship, because there is a good reason why someone gives their time, energy, attention, heart to that thing.

It is important for you to figure that out.

What every one of us spends time on is a reflection of our core, our values, what we think really matters and what is most important to us.

Is every action a woman takes a reflection of her core values? No and this is why…

Women Have Diffuse Awareness

What causes a women to choose what she is doing?

She is not choosing “that thing” as more important than you. 

It is because a woman’s brain pulls her away. Not her heart.

Women instinctively give their attention to many things at once, because that is how women’s brains work.

Criticizing her for it doesn’t work.

“I can’t believe you are paying attention to that…”

It may get a woman to pay attention or do what you want, but it saps her self esteem.

Women will do the thing that you ask…hustle get the kids in the car or finish the sales report,  to please you…but what you really need, her love, motivation will be gone.

Criticizing her kills it.

“I’m talking to you, but you are wiping the counters.”

Men don’t understand how much a women’s environment is talking to her.

They think the women are choosing something over them, but there is no choice involved.

6. Statements Of Fact

Men and women are both so wanting to be perfect for the other person and are so sensitive to being criticized, so when we hear a statement of fact….it feels like criticism.

i.e. Someone makes you meal and you say, “The steak is dry.” 

It is just a statement of fact…

“I was hoping for a blue one not a green one.”

Then they feel disappointed and hurt because they were trying so hard to get it right.

Often men miss details…

They see you need something, but the detail of the color did not register because their brains works differently.

If women learn to communicate differently, men will understand what they need.

Why Not Criticizing Is So Hard

We don’t mean to take each other apart.

We are often just so hurt and we want so much…

It starts with our human instinct not to admit that we need someone to listen, to touch, to be there for us.

Men feel it is weak to say I need your attention, I need you to touch me…to love me…you are my only place to go to for that.

It takes a lot of courage for men to say or admit that.

His warrior instinct tells him never to say that..instead he attacks and criticizes.

i.e. “You are spend too much time taking care of your mother.”

But that is why you married her, because of how caring she was to her family.

Women tend first to say, “We have an issue…” and then they attack to get what they need.

These statements hurt, because we are all so sensitive.

Criticism Comes From Survival Instincts

Our human instincts cause us to criticize, because you think you are protecting yourself.

You think it keeps you from being vulnerable.

It is like shooting from a castle turret or from behind a door – you think criticizing is keeping you safe while expressing all the things you need.

But it doesn’t work!

It ruins relationships and it does not get you what you need in any sustainable way…

Criticism causes loss of confidence, intimacy, receptivity, passion, generosity, devotion, whole heartedness.

What you truly want does not come from human instinct, it comes from risking being vulnerable and reaching towards a person – not throwing something at them.

Want To Learn How To Get More Of What You Need?

I can help you harness your instincts to make your life better and your relationships more meaningful and loving.

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