When you're dating someone, not everything is always perfect, and part of being in a relationship is pushing your partner to grow. However, there are certain boundaries when it comes to complaints and criticisms. Spend too much time dwelling on the bad, and you may start to exhibit some signs you're too negative with your partner. Even if you're coming from a good place, you never want to put too much emphasis on the downsides of a relationship, and you could end up hurting your partner or pushing them away if you're always nitpicking at everything they do.
"Being too negative in a relationship can have many damaging effects on both parties and on the relationship itself," says Laurel Steinberg, PhD, relationship therapist and professor of Psychology at Columbia University, over email. "Negativity makes other people feel depressed, is a total buzz-kill, and can be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Negativity also reduces libido and the frequency and quality of sex that couple could be enjoying."
To make sure you're not harming your partner more than you're helping them, watch out for these 11 subtle signs you're too negative with your partner and should probably start looking more at the positive aspects of your relationship.
1. You Argue All The Time
If you're constantly arguing with your partner, it might be more about your attitude than the subject. "Arguing can leave a bad taste about the relationship in partners' minds, causing them to believe in the relationship less and less as time goes on," says Steinberg. This can also ruin valuable quality time.
2. You Always Complain To Your Friends
"No one wants to hear endless complaints about your relationship," says Steinberg. "Eventually others will tell you to break up with the person. If that's not where you'd like to be headed, start talking your partner up —you'll soon believe what you are saying."
3. Your Partner No Longer Opens Up To You
Your partner may stop being very open with you and not share things with you if they feel like you are always negative. "That's a sign that your partner isn't feeling safe, which is what can happen if faced with a lot of negativity," says Holly Brown, MFT over email.
4. Your Neutral Statements Are Often Misconstrued As Negative
It's not a good sign if everything you say is construed as negative, even when you were saying something entirely neutral. "There's information in that miscommunication," says Brown. "If your partner has a lot of those experiences with you, they'll build up. Neutral cues will be coded as negative."
5. You're Dissatisfied In General
Your unhappiness with life might seep out into your relationship with your partner. "You might feel dissatisfied in general, but you're only safe to express that within your relationship," says Brown. "You might not mean to, but you've begun using your partner as a bit of a punching bag to release your frustrations. If this keeps up, it can become emotionally abusive."
6. You're Not Having As Much Sex
Not sleeping together frequently could be an indication that your partner's attraction is waning. "If your partner isn’t interested in sex or affection from you, it may indicate that you have been too critical and negative," says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. over email. "If your partner doesn’t feel you enjoy him or her, then being intimate isn’t appealing."
7. You Don't Pay Attention To Your Body Language
"When non-verbal and verbal cues don't match up, people pay attention to the non-verbals," says Brown. "That means that using an aggressive tone or posture can create negativity in your relationship, despite careful language. Your underlying feelings might be bleeding through, so you need to be aware about the anger, resentment, or even contempt that you're carrying toward your partner."
8. You Always Have To Give Your 2 Cents
If you constantly interject with your negative opinion even when it's not wanted, your partner is going to suffer. "This could lead your partner to feel that they can't do anything right in your eyes, which is very painful to endure and can erode at a person's self-esteem," says Steinberg.
9. They Share Their News With Others Before You
"If your partner wants to tell other people about what is going on, but doesn’t tell you first, it may be because your reaction is negative, and brings your partner down," says Tessina. "For example, if your partner says he or she is trying for a promotion at work, and you respond with 'You may not get it.' That takes the joy out of it, and you won’t be told about the next time."
10. They Stop Doing Special Things For You
If your partner used to cook for you, take care of your car, or tidy up around the house and has stopped doing that, you've likely been nit-picky and critical instead of appreciative. "If you want to motivate your partner to help, don’t grumble, whine, or complain," says Tessina. "That will push them away. Instead, be grateful, thankful, and appreciative."
11. You Don't Celebrate Their Accomplishments
Ignoring all the positives is just as detrimental as focusing only on the negatives. "Not having efforts celebrated is a form of rejection and is one of the most commonly reported reasons for relationship dissolution and infidelity," says Steinberg.