We often talk about getting along well with our partners, and we often talk about fighting with our partners. What I don’t often hear about are those in-between conversations. They’re those serious conversations that you have when your partner is trying to give you constructive criticism about something that bothers them a little bit. Maybe they want you to text more often, or maybe they don’t like it when you hog the blankets when you sleep over. It’s easy to take these things personally, but it’s important to recognize that your partner is just trying to improve the quality of the relationship. So here are a few ways to take criticism without going crazy. (Because we all get crazy sometimes.)
It doesn’t mean that the rest of the relationship is awful.
Don’t overgeneralize. Just because you’re doing one thing that bothers your partner doesn’t mean that you bother them in general. It’s like the difference between hating your roommate when they don’t wash their dishes, and hating your roommate overall. Overgeneralizing can cause you to feel a lot worse than you really need to, and it’s definitely not the goal that your partner had in mind when they started the conversation.
Recognize when you’ve done something that your partner doesn’t like.
Understand your partner’s emotions and respond to them instead of simply asking yourself what you would do if your partner did the same to you. We’re all different when it comes to what bothers us. You might hate texting and prefer Skype, but that doesn’t make your partner feel any better when you don’t respond to your texts.
Take it and go.
(Russell Peters and Louis Vuitton anyone?) Change your actions. This doesn’t mean change as a person! Just, you know, text more often, or share the blankets. It’s the effort that counts, and it will go a long way in showing that you care.
We all do things that bother other people from time to time. That’s just a fact. It doesn’t mean that we’re terrible people, nor does it mean that we’re bad partners. Strong relationships come from responding well to each other during and after these more serious conversations, so it’s important to be able to take constructive criticism. But remember, it’s also important to give constructive criticism too! More on that later, though.
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