What You Should Do With a Judgmental Boyfriend. Hint: It Sounds Like Lump Him.

What You Should Do When Your Partner is Judgmental
Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax recently answered a reader’s question about her new boyfriend. The reader wrote:

I feel like there are so many things I will never be able to share with him because he would judge me so severely. He continues to bring these instances up, however, as “hurdles” in thinking about my character and our relationship. He asks probing questions about the details, acts very cold and mean to me, and I walk away feeling horrible about myself.

Hax’s advice?

In my opinion, it’s nearly always a better bet to find a new boyfriend than to complain that the current one makes you unhappy.

Break up with him immediately.

Good for her. It’s about time someone else got on the honesty train and gave straightforward, unequivocal advice, instead of providing “relationship coaching” designed to get the reader to assert herself or make her boyfriend into a better communicator. I have a very different philosophy, which is why I refuse to coach women with boyfriends.

My thinking: “If you need to pay a dating coach $5000 to discuss your boyfriend, your relationship can’t be very strong. So why are you trying so hard to preserve something that causes you so much pain?” It’s amazing how few women have thought this through.

I actually had one woman get really angry at me last week when I refused to take her money and offered her free advice about her emotionally withholding alpha male boyfriend. I told her that she may be all anxious about whether he proposes or not, but that she should be cautious if she gets the ring she so desperately covets.

Because now she’ll have an emotionally withholding alpha male HUSBAND and spend the rest of her life walking on eggshells, dealing in silence and wondering where she stands. This made her very angry, of course, and she hung up on me. Such is the price for telling people things that they’d rather not hear.

Check out Jax’s full response here. I think it’s smart and hardhitting.

In my opinion, it’s nearly always a better bet to find a new boyfriend than to complain that the current one makes you unhappy. If he makes you so unhappy, he shouldn’t be your boyfriend. Seems obvious from the outside, but when you’ve invested time and emotion, it becomes particularly hard to cut bait and start over.

Having dating a series of judgmental (but kind) women, I decided in 2005 that this would be the #1 quality I sought in a partner – a woman who accepts me as I am.

As a result, I have an incredible marriage.

And that’s all it took – valuing someone who accepted me instead of criticized me.

You can do the same.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Julia

    I had a very judgmental, critical boyfriend for about 2 years. 6 months before I broke up with him, I started to spend money, on a therapist, so I could get to the point where I was comfortable breaking up with him. Its not always easy to just get up and walk away, especially from someone who has taken a huge toll on your self-esteem but you MUST maybe not tomorrow but ASAP.

  2. 2
    Heather

    Evan,

    Spot on.  You are exactly right. The woman who wrote to Ms. Hax could have been me, two years ago, and I even wonder if this woman is dating my ex-boyfriend, she described him so well!  He was extremely judgmental, mean-spirited, cold, always could find fault with MY behavior but heaven forbid that I EVER point out a shortcoming with him, oh heavens no, Mr. Perfect could NEVER be wrong.

    I wish I’d dumped him alot sooner than I did, but thankfully I had a few friends who spoke truth, made me open my eyes and see what this guy was doing to me, and supported me when I ended things, finally.

    A judgmental, nasty boyfriend is going to be a judgmental, nasty husband.  I finally realized, well hold on, I accept people “as is” and it is about damn time that I look for someone who accepts me “as is” as well. 

    And once I did that, it made weeding out the jerks, alot easier.  If I spotted what I thought to be a judgmental profile, I moved right along.  If a guy sounded judgmental and too much like he always had to be right, I moved along.

    I hope the writer listened to Ms Hax (and you if she reads your blog) and moves on.  As the author of “Baggage Reclaim UK” writes, he’s not THAT special.

  3. 3
    Anonymous

    Crying. I spent a year being judged and picked apart by my girlfriend whom I loved deeply. Unfortunately over time her Superiority complex began to emerge. Whenever I didn’t read her mind and anticipate her uncommunicated expectations, she withdrew her love and affection and didn’t speak to me for days. Then when she finally did return my calls, she would tell me I was lucky she was even speaking to me and proceed to lecture me for hours about my imperfections, demeaning me for the way I dressed, and a laundry list of ways that I did not meet her her approval. Everything became an ultimatum. Do this or I won’t love you or want to be with you. Thank God I woke up. This type of person never learned how to love unconditionally. Classic Narcissist. They don’t accept themselves and they will never accept you. Let them go and find someone who can appreciate you and enjoys celebrating your goodness, despite whatever imperfections you may have. You don’t need this person anywhere in your life. Not even as a friend because they will twist the most innocent things into something sinister and they will drain your energy. Wish them well and let them go.

  4. 4
    Bill

    There is obviously something wrong with you if you are constantly settling for emotional satisfaction and are unable to pick and choose the right kind of mate that would propel you to become a better person from a feel good positive standpoint not because you want to appease them.

    1. 4.1
      Emelynn

      @Bill..

      There are many reasons why people end up with judgmental mates. It’s not always that apparent at first. My ex-husband was not that way at first but became that way over a few years. Of course a person probably needs to work on self-esteem and self-awareness if they keep choosing these types of people, but to to say “there is obviously something wrong with you” is judgmental in itself and not very helpful. Perhaps you could rephrase in a way that is direct but not so negative. 

      1. 4.1.1
        queenbeetv

        Totally!

  5. 5
    Fiona

    I agree fully. The last guy that dumped me was criticising my “party girl” ways just because I like to go out for dinner once a week and catch up for drinks with friends one other night. This hardly makes me a party animal but it seems he prefers the kind of woman who wants to stay in every night of the week and doesn’t have a social life – in other words, he wanted me to change to fit his ideal rather than accept  me as I am.

    1. 5.1
      queenbeetv

      He probably doesn’t prefer a homebody. I bet he’d have some issue with her too. She doesn’t get out enough. and What’s wrong with her? Why doesn’t she have any friends. Remember, It’s not you, It’s him and his judgemental brain.

  6. 6
    Jane

    Spot on, Evan.  And I think that pertains to men who are hurtful in passive ways:  exclusion from his life, behaving like a single man even though he is involved, getting angry and blaming the girlfriend, etc.  

    Why try to sustain any relationship that brings one pain?  Why siign on for more hurt and succumb to the biggest trap ever:  but if I do this maybe he will change!  NO, no, no!

  7. 7
    Heather

    You nailed it right on the head, Anonymous.  My ex boyfriend was very similar, threw tantrums, picked me apart over really innocent stuff, always accused me of “mocking” him or “lecturing” him.  It always felt like I was walking on eggshells.  Finally, one day, I had just had enough.  He sent me numerous text messages and the final one was: “DO NOT contact me again about this issue today.  I am in no mood to discuss this since you have such a contrary attitude currently.”

    That was it.  I saw red.  And guess what.  I didn’t contact him again that day.  Or the next day.  I decided, enough.  He’s been verbally abusive, has shut me out and disrespected me.  I am done.  If he wants to repair the relationship, he can contact me.  I am done being verbally abused. Because of his past and present anger issues, family and friends told me to stay away, not take his calls any longer.  He never really apologized, only made one attempt at contacting me and that was just posting on Facebook about a quote I liked, and he said, “this is for a dear friend who has affected me more than she will ever know.”  I ignored it, took him off my Facebook, and moved on with my life.

    Some months down the road, I wrote him a letter and I told him, “I wish you no ill, but I WILL NOT TOLERATE your abuse any longer.  Please leave me alone, I consider our friendship beyond repair and want no further contact.”

    And ever since, I have not tolerated one instance of verbal abuse.  I tell people, “You will not speak to me like that ever again.”  Nobody should ever put up with verbal abuse.

    And I hope that you will continue your journey of recovery.  It took awhile for my wounds to heal, but it’s better now, and I’m the wiser for it.

  8. 8
    daphne

    I am always pleased w EMK’s orientation toward finding a good relationship, rather than the far more expensive and usually futile effort to fix one that is hopelessly broken. Bravo for the honesty.

    1. 8.1
      queenbeetv

      I agree wholeheartedly!

  9. 9
    Kathleen

    Evan  When I read about the woman that got angry with you for cautioning her about marrying the withholding dude it reminded me of this quote ..
    “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” 
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    Another great article!! 

  10. 10
    Nadia

    Evan, you constantly sing your wife’s praises (and God bless you for it) but I suspect that one of the reasons why your wife is so cool is because you give her plenty of reasons to feel safe in your partnership. It’s a whole lot easier to ignore the occasional porn peep show or encourage your man to go out with their buddies when there’s a nice warm and fuzzy feeling of security at its core. It’s not easily come by, either, and I think that’s why so many women–myself included–work so hard to make a lame relationship work. Emotional investment is definitely hard to walk away from.

  11. 11
    Mia

    If this woman has only driven drunk and smoked a blunt ONCE, she’s  practically a saint! 

    Seroiusly, though, where are women even finding men like this? It’s not like I have the best luck with men, but if they are judgmental of me they usually stop asking me out after a couple dates, that’s all. They don’t get in a relationship with me!  I struggle to understand how the abuser and the abused end up in such a situation . It’s been my assumption that men are impossibly picky and demand perfection in order to make you their gf, so a scenario where they are with a woman they are critical of confuses me.  But yes, on a minor, non-abusive scale, I do run into judgmental men. Still, While having an out of town romance with my friends friend the last week, we were open and accepting of one another and it was so refreshing to be able to talk about how he had a “record” and a DUI and was earnestly trying to turn his life around – I told him about some of my troubles too, and it was like we could accept and like each other bc there was honesty. He’s been kind, consistent and generous with me and it has restored my faith that there are accepting men. 

  12. 12
    Christina

    I see far too many people twisting themselves into pretzels, trying to accommodate a demanding and unreasonable partner. Sometimes, the demanding one isn’t necessarily bad, but the fact that they constantly feel the need to judge means that the parties in the relationship are simply incompatible. And some people are just overly critical.

    Fortunately, an overly judgmental attitude is usually identified pretty early on. In my experience, if someone is constantly finding fault with others, it’s only a matter of time before you end up in their line of fire as well. In fact, you’ll probably be there more often because you spend more time together.

    Evan is right- don’t waste time with people who are clearly dissatisfied with you; find someone who loves you as-is. Part of maturity is realizing that no one is perfect- ourselves included. Finding someone willing to accept your flaws while you are able to accept theirs is the ultimate goal.

  13. 13
    Jane

    Yes, yes, yes! Dump him. I married my judgmental boyfriend. It all got worse from there on out. I could do no right. I wasn’t smart enough, athletic enough, successful enough, not a good enough mother, lover or housekeeper. If I wore a skirt, he said I looked dowdy, If I wore jeans, he said I looked masculine.  On and on.  One time I just asked him, “if I’m such a mess of a person, what does that say about you that you married me?”  And of course in return I got the ultimate gesture of disdain…. he rolled his eyes at me! It took 17 years to extricate myself from his clutches… self esteem hanging by a thread. I still remember many of the ridiculous things he said to me and I somehow tolerated it. Four years later I have mostly recovered. The one upshot is that I have keen radar for any type of judgmental behavior in the men I meet now and I completely recoil from it. It is the most flagrant red flag there is.

  14. 14
    Tan

    Great article Evan, it’s so true. If your honest with your bf/gf about things in your past Ect. And they judge you and make you feel bad about it then dump that person.
    My ex who I dumped after being together a week, judged.
    I was open with him and told him things about my past…that I use to party alot and take some
    xtc pills (which I don’t do now days) and he just gave me this weird look and kept saying how silly that was. After that I felt like I didn’t want to tell him anything else..and I would watch what I would say, so I really couldnt be myself around him.

  15. 15
    Paragon

    This BF does sound pretty clueless, as a keen intuition into your partner’s feelings seems a pretty essential quality to preserving a LTR.

    Still, I wonder if she has considered DISCUSSING her feelings, with her mate(guys are admittedly pretty obtuse, when it comes to ‘reading’ their mates). 

  16. 16
    Chau

    Didn’t realize so many women had to deal with this.

    It’s great that many of you had the strength to move away from the emotional abusive relationship.

    My first reaction to the headline was to work on the communication skills.

    Yes. The Way Of The Therapist.

    But I’ll need to re-examine this issue since it appears to be much worse than it seems.

    Thanks for everyone’s contribution and an awesome share Evan. 

  17. 17
    Heather

    Christina,

    Exactly.  That was my ex, to a tee.  He was about 8 years older than me, but had the emotional maturity of a toddler and I might be insulting toddlers!!!  He couldn’t accept that others had flaws; he would talk like he did, but it was done in a very condescending manner, and I even said to him a few times, um, if you’re constantly criticizing and putting down this person and venting to me, then WHY do you hang out with them?  I only did that a few times because then I got a lecture about how I do not understand people like he does.  Uhhhh, yeah, OK, genius.

    My current guy has flaws, but they’re not dealbreakers.  I have flaws, but to him they are not dealbreakers.  He has not judged me for having to juggle a very sick Mom right now, a stressful job, and recovering myself, from major surgery last year and getting back into a full and active life.

    The more comments I read on this blog, the more certain that I am that I made a very wise choice in pulling the flush handle on my last relationship, and sending him packing.  It wasn’t the ideal way to end a relationship, but as my Dad reminded me, when abuse of any kind is involved, all bets are off and that person isn’t entitled to anything other than watching your back as you walk away.

  18. 18
    Goldie

    @ Mia, right on. I read the woman’s letter and it made me so livid. Why wouldn’t her boyfriend take some time to educate himself on some of the “non-addictive drugs”? heck, had he tried some, he could’ve been a better person for that — odds are it would’ve helped him lose that giant stick he seems to have up his ass. Anyway, given the legal ramifications, I can see why he may not be okay with his GF using the stuff now, but harrassing her for something she’s done once in the past that didn’t do her or anybody else any harm? harrassing her about something he doesn’t understand, or try to understand? that’d be a deal-breaker for me, I don’t do closed-minded. Drunk driving is another matter, but again, she did it once, it’s done, she cannot go back in time and undo it, and she’s not doing it anymore, so what the hell is he trying to accomplish  by bringing the issue up again and again? I guess in addition to closed-minded and judgemental, he also comes across to me as illogical — no good can come out of what he’s doing, yet he keeps doing it and I cannot understand why. FTR, I don’t do illogical either.

  19. 19
    Markie Mark

    @Anonymous #3.

    I’ve dated these kind of women as well. Once the judgments start I ask them 1 question, prior to breaking things off.

    If I am such a loser (which I KNOW I am NOT) – why are you with me?
    I  like to watch them stammer out an answer. Then I say goodbye.

    The problem with these types is that’s their communication style blame, shame and manipulation. And it NEVER works.  It keeps them unhealthy because it’s ALWAYS some one elses fault things are the way they are.

    These people don’t’ know how to function in a healthy relationship and are damaged. Best thing to do is leave. You are NOT their therapist. 

    I agree with Evan and that’s my #1 criteria..non-judgmental. When you’re with someone who is non-judgmental you can totally be yourself and they can see the person you actually are.

  20. 20
    Michelle

    Thank God people have recognized the dysfunction of having people like this in their lives (take a look at friends, co-workers, family that do the same?)

    I also have experienced not quite as blatent criticism.  I tolerated it for awhile since I’m one that is confident in myself and can laugh at my imperfections.  However, after a few of those ‘haha’ comments, plus other huge problems like a closed heart, I ended it after 5 months.  I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow someone in my life and expend energy on someone who doesn’t believe I’m the cat’s meow.  I would rather enjoy my beautiful, fun life on my own.   I wish him the best, and hope eventually he can see how his behavior is hurtful to others by learning to open his heart.

  21. 21
    Ruby

    Chau #16
     
    If you read the actual letter, this woman has been with her boyfriend for only 4 months, way too soon to consider a therapist, and certainly inappropriate for a partner to continually be bringing his girlfriend’s past. Most relationships don’t get beyond the first few months, and this is one that also shouldn’t, despite the fact that she refers to boyfriend as a “great guy”. A really great guy doesn’t harp on past mistakes as “hurdles”, or constantly question his girlfriend’s character. Simply put, at the 4 month mark, things should be getting better and better, not worse.

  22. 22
    Rosy

    Part of me wishes I’d had this advice about fifteen years ago when I had a judgemental boyfriend (and later, husband) with whom I spent the best part of an unhappy decade. Actually, I have an amazing child as a result of that relationship, so I can’t really regret it! But yes, this is spot on.

  23. 23
    Soul Sister

    I don’t intend to say that there are not judgemental people, but this does remind me of a behavior that I think is becoming way too prevelant in dating today.  In this world of transparency and acceptance, I do find that sometimes people share WAY too much stuff with people they JUST MET!  Then they wonder why they were being judged harshly.  And sometimes, there are things that just do not need to be shared, ever.  You don’t need to know everything about my past and everything I have ever done to “know” me.  And there are some things I would never reveal to a partner. It was wrong, I am terribly sorry I did it, but do I want the current man I am dating to know about it? It was a mistake and will never be repeated, so what do I gain by telling him and now making my junk his junk to deal with? I would not lie about something that could affect him (ie I would not lie to someone I am deeply involved with about my financial situation, which could end up impacting them).  And some things perhaps could be shared when someone already loves you, and then they may be much more accepting of what happened because they already care for you. 

    I am suggesting that while a dear friend might tell me something that I can accept because I already know and care for her, a new friend telling all about her past “shit” in the first few months might be someone I judge that I don’t want to get to know more deeply.  There are also some things that I just don’t care to know about someone unless it is still affecting them today. I certainly have skeletons in my closet, if I run around sharing them with everyone, I have to expect that some will judge me and not accept me for who they “think” I am because of what I chose to reveal. 

    Just like I don’t think there is ever a reason for my lover to see me on the toilet as a visual he will now forever have of me, I don’t think they need to know about every screwed up mistake I made on the road to learning to be the person I am today.  What do you really gain from total transparency…it is almost like showing someone all your dirty laundry and then asking them to overlook it and love you anyway because you are such a great person. How does sharing the number of sexual partners I have had benefit the current man I am dating if I have been tested and do not have STDs to pass along?  If you haven’t put your past in the past, you may want to get help with that and not drag it into your future relationships. If it is not in your past, that is a different issue….

  24. 24
    Serena27

    @nadia #10 -You don’t have to just suspect it Nadia, it’s plastered all over Evan’s blog and in his videos to women :)  Evan says that he treats his wife very well, and that he responds to the wonderful way she treats him by matching it.  And b/c he loves her.  Evan advises over and over not to accept a man who doesn’t make you feel good in the relationship.  He tells women to be warm and inviting and believe the best in men so that when the ‘right’ man comes along he will feel welcomed and will give you his very best.  He also warns women “you don’t attract the wrong men, you accept the wrong men.”  A lot of the men you meet will simply not be right for you, even though they aren’t bad people.  Some of them might also be bad or jerks.  But if you don’t allow a jerk to be your boyfriend, his jerk behaviour cannot hurt you.  Which is why Evan also advises in a new relationship to ignore the positives and focus on the negatives.  You don’t expect bad behaviour, but you also don’t ignore bad behaviour when it occurs.

    If you are doing your part for the relationship by being open and accepting and honest (don’t lie to yourself if you can’t accept something about the person.  Let them go), then you just have to wait for the man who matches you, and pursues you. 

    It’s very important to take responsibility for what you accept.  If you believe that you just attract controlling men, then you will actually sub-consiously seek them.  After I left my ex my therapist advised against dating for at least a year b/c he said my chances of finding a man just like my ex were very high.  I tried dating after 8 months but I didn’t pick well and it was a sub-par relationship.  I ended it after 3 months, but it shook my self-esteem and I did therapy and read a lot about relationships and took a break from dating for another 14 months.  You can usually only find a person as healthy as you are, and no one can love you more than you love yourself.

  25. 25
    Catharine

    I was married to someone like that and also had another similar relationship.  Both  caused me a lot of pain grief and even worse affected my son in many negative ways.  Its better to move on than try to fix a broken marriage and deal with a broken family.  In the long run, everyone suffers.

  26. 26
    David T

    @Soul Sister 23
     
     
     
    This used to be a real problem for me.  I would share too much. As you say, if it is in your past, it is in your past not who you are today.   I will not lie about anything, but now I know I don’t need to volunteer anything that does impact them or any shared relationship/friendship.
     
     
     
    If I ever feel a need to lie about my past that means the potential partner is (all together now)
     
     
     
    TOO JUDGEMENTAL
     
     
     
    @Rosy 22 Yours is almost my story to a T. The being judgmental was almost unnoticeable amongst the downright nasty meaness in general.  Funny how those two traits tend to come together. Maybe judgmental people also tend to be dopamine addicts who get their rush out of life by getting riled up.

  27. 27
    Mia

    Good to have a few male comments here – bc this kind of nastiness goes both ways .  I grew up in a house with a controlling, nasty, manipulative mother who constantly beat down my father with criticisms. My (white American) mother would laugh at my (Asian immigrant) dad during dinner, saying things like, you’ve lived in this country for 20 years and you still don’t know how to use a fork! (my dad used forks for weird things, like pizza). She wouldn’t let him watch sports on tv, constantly told him everything he did wrong, and withheld affection. Once, to my horror in college, she mocked him for having E.D. right in front of me! She dictates his diet, schedule, everything. The sad part is, my dad loves her and thinks they have a great marriage. I think being privy to that dynamic inadvertently  screwed up some early relationships, where I found nice pushover men who tolerated unbelievable behavior from me and still adored me. Ever since I decided that was not how I wanted things to go, and treated men with affection and kindness and understanding, I’ve been single.

  28. 28
    Mia

    By the way, this is one of the things that makes me a little cynical about men’s choices in women – I’m sure my dad was just thrilled that he could snag a model looking blonde woman at a time 35 yrs ago when Asian men never got white women and ignored the fact that she was a train wreck. As an attractive family man with a decent job, he could have easily found a woman of his own race who supported and respected him and his immigrant experience.

  29. 29
    Bill

    It shows that many people are willing to deal with a partner that makes them feel bad if the attraction/chemistry is high.

  30. 30
    Tonya

    I once dated a guy who literally could not handle the fact I had previously been with other men.  We were in our late 30’s, both previously married, and had kids of our own but over 9 months he COULD NOT get over jealousy of my having been with other people in sexual relationships in my life before meeting him.  What?  Insane.  He wanted nothing but to argue over and over about this fact.  And other issues included not liking my clothing and shoes.  I had enough of the immature madness and finally got to the point of anger and indifference and dumped his crazy ass.

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