What happens when you are dating someone and you can’t stand something about him (or her)? Not that you are annoyed by something that he does and isn’t conscious of – like tapping a finger on a table when thinking or twirling a strand of hair around her finger. What if there was a big part of someone’s personality that you couldn’t stand and you didn’t think was right, but you don’t want to break up over that one thing – no matter how much you can’t stand it?
I am dating someone whom I really like. Everything is almost perfect, but there is one thing I can’t stand about her — she is very critical. Not of herself, but of everyone and everything around her. When we began to date seriously, I started to take her out to dinner with my friends, and she began inviting me to get-togethers with her friends and family. After we spend time with people, she always has criticism about something that was or wasn’t done during our time together. For example, we went to the movies with friends, and on the car ride home she spoke about how awful the movie was — that her friend chose, and how her friend never makes good decisions. When we went out to eat, she complained about every little thing in the café: how the fork didn’t look clean and how the waiter seemed like he was giving her attitude, and how her meal wasn’t as tasty as she wanted. She nitpicks at the little things that most people wouldn’t even notice: “He had a stain on his shirt. Did you see?” or “Can she talk any slower? I’m not trying to read her lips. My ears work.” She wasn’t like this in the beginning when we first started dating. I guess she has gotten more comfortable with me and feels she can do and say this with me.
I told her that she has a complaint about everything, and she didn’t seem to care. She said that it was important to have an opinion and not just follow along blindly, not caring. I don’t even know what that meant! Nothing is ever perfect or to her liking. She complains a lot or criticizes someone behind her back or badmouths someone even when he tries hard to make something a success – like her cousin’s barbecue. I’m friends with her cousins – they set us up originally. A couple of weeks ago they invited a few friends over for a last-minute barbecue. On the way home, I had to hear how it was “too casual” and that she doesn’t like to do all the work when invited over to someone’s house. We were all asked to chip in and help out. I didn’t mind helping to bring out some of the food or staying late to help clean up. She didn’t like it that she felt more like the help than a guest. I joked that it was all in fun – how her cousins think of her and me as close, so they don’t have to stand on ceremony with us and they can just be themselves. She didn’t agree with me.
I really like this girl, but not all of her negativity. No one is perfect and I told her that. I asked her to try to find two good things about someone or someplace we have been before she starts complaining – “Can’t they redecorate? Knock, knock? Who’s there? The ’80s and they want their wallpaper back.” In the beginning I don’t think I minded so much, but now it’s just an annoyance. Why is she so hard on people? Big deal something isn’t perfect; move on. I told her not to pick apart people because she wouldn’t want someone to do the same to her, but she said they could and she didn’t care.
What can I do?
Shimon, thank you for your email.
I, too, know of someone who complains about everyone and everything. If there isn’t something to complain about, she isn’t happy. I’ve learned to get used to this side of my friend’s personality and to tune her out for a few minutes while she complains about the latest victim she has chosen or event she has attended and decided to rant about. Even when I had spoken with her about this, it seemed to go in one ear and out the other.
If I were you, my fear would be what does she say or complain about me when I’m not around? Just because she has continued dating you, it doesn’t mean that she loves everything about you. You wrote that this bothers you. I’m sure it does. Maybe it’s time you have a serious discussion with her and say something to the effect of, “You seem to find fault in everything, even when people go out of their way to make things nice. This is really bothering me and it is beginning to affect my feelings towards you. Is there any way you can stop looking for the worst in a situation and start looking for the best?”
It sounds as if this is a big part of the young woman’s personality and something that you can’t stand about her. I hate to say it, but some people like to criticize or pick apart things about others. Maybe it makes them feel better about themselves, I can’t say for certain. But I, too, don’t like being around such “Negative Nellys.” You need to have another serious talk with this woman. I liked the fact that you asked her to try to find two positive attributes about someone or an event that she has been to, before she starts in on complaining. Shimon, this also may give you some insight to how life may be if you continue seeing her and you marry her. Maybe if you tell her that this is affecting your feelings towards her, then she may change. Is it worth it to lose someone over not being able to complain or find fault with someone or with something? Not in my opinion.
Hatzlachah to you all!