As someone who is hyper-critical of themselves, and has had relationships pretty severely affected by this personality trait/flaw/strength, it's something I think everybody should be aware of. First of all: everybody is hyper-critical of themselves to some degree. It's not like there are people who are just manically self-conscious and people who are completely accepting and chill. (Life happens in the grey area, eh?)
When you enter a relationship, you open up to the otherwise unseen parts of a person. And the part of people that they're quick to hide but eager to share is how they want to change. This is for a few reasons: they want to quell the anxiety that drives them, share the goals that inspire them, or simply get a second opinion on the ideas they want to make realities. Wanting to improve yourself exponentially is not always just a product of self-hatred (in fact, it's often the opposite).
But that doesn't mean that some things don't often get crushed collaterally, and often simply because nobody is aware that it's happening. Here, all the things you should know before you date someone who is hyper-critical of themselves — or maybe, more accurately, what you should know for when whomever you are dating becomes critical of some part of their lives:
Sharing Something We'd Like To Change About Ourselves Is Not "Fishing For A Compliment"
We're just trying to share with you how we really feel. Telling you all the ways we'd like to evolve and change and grow, even if in the context of how we feel we're behind or stagnant or lacking, is not fishing for your love. It's sharing a part of how we truly think and feel about ourselves, and knowing us in that very intimate, honest way is crucial for developing an intimate, honest relationship.
Honesty Will Win Us Over Much Faster Than Deluded Naivety Ever Will
We want someone to be a sounding board. Someone to give us feedback on progress and be honest. We can smell your ingenuity from a mile away, and it's not comforting. We'd rather you give your totally honest (albeit not mean) opinion as opposed to treat us like delicate little flowers who are too sensitive to be honestly objective.
A Comforting Lie Is Even More Painful Than The Truth, Because It Insinuates That We Can't Handle The Truth
There's no such thing as a painful lie or honest truth. People know you're lying regardless, and they also know it means the thing in question is so bad or hard or seemingly unacceptable that you can't possibly admit to it. Think of the Louis CK skit where the girl was mad because he refused to admit that she was fat — as though it was so bad to be overweight, he couldn't tell her that she was. (The validity of that skit is up for debate, but for the sake of this particular argument, it stands.)
We May Be Hyper-Critical Of Our Relationships, And While That's Not OK, It Sometimes Comes With The Package
I'm not saying it's OK to pick apart and overanalyze the relationship like we do ourselves, but I am saying that sometimes, it's inevitable. It's not that you have to accept it, but it does mean you should be aware of it before you internalize it, and so you can maybe stop us and say, "Hey, maybe there's another way to look at this."
Our Manic Desire For Self-Improvement Does Not, In Any Way, Mean We Want You To Change, Too
Though that will probably be your instinct, that we're judging you because we want to change ourselves. You see it all the time: one partner wants to lose weight or get a promotion or do something to objectively better themselves, and then the other partner feels bad if they don't, likewise, follow suit. That's ultimately on you, though. We are, in no way, hoping our journey will inspire you to start one. We just hope you'll be there with us along the way.
Wanting To Improve Does Not Mean We Hate Ourselves
Though that's what it sometimes can, and does, imply. Confidence and a desire to change are not mutually exclusive, and it's better for everyone if you don't treat it as such.
We're Future-Oriented Thinkers
This isn't always the most flattering or admirable quality. We tend to be mentally flighty and always thinking 10 years down the road — often to the fault of feeling incapable of fully being in the present moment (but more on that later). On the flip side, though, you will get away with approximately 0 percent bullsh*t — we already know what you're thinking, we've thought of it already, and we're ready for your argument, the counter-idea is already prepared.
There Was Someone, Or Something, In Our Past That Implanted The Voice Of Hyper-Criticism
Hyper-critical people don't just get that way for no reason. It's the product of someone, or something, that led us to believe that we weren't enough as we are. Most people get over that eventually, but few completely release the idea that they need to keep manically revolutionizing themselves. Once hooked on self-improvement, always hooked on self-improvement.
We Thrive On Growth
Happiness, to us, is a palpable improvement. It's growth. It's change. It's doing things and creating things and delving deeper and deeper into things that make us proud. Stagnancy is our hell. A relationship that doesn't evolve is dying, in our minds.
Being Present Is Something We Have To Work On
Being in the moment is not something that comes naturally to us, and it's a really crucial component of happily functioning in a relationship. It's not excusable, similar to being unnecessarily critical at times, but I make mention of it because it's just something you should be aware of beforehand.
Being Honestly Critical With Yourself Is Sometimes A Very Genuine Form Of Self-Love (Despite Seeming To Be The Opposite)
The best way we know how to love ourselves, and our lives, is to actively participate in making them better. Some of the most self-critical people I know are also the most self-loving, and it's because they love themselves that they're able to be that honest with themselves, too.
We Need To Be Reminded: We're Human Beings, Not Human Doings
And like everything else, it's something we'll come around to teaching ourselves, too. But the truth is that the most beautiful things in life are felt, not chased. They're present, not hypothetical. They're love and togetherness and appreciation and the ability to stand still at the cusp of another goal we've achieved and to be grateful to be that far, not critical of how far there is to go.