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.

Join our conversation (85 Comments).
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  1. 1

    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.

    1. 1.1

      a very good decision.

      im going through a similar problem dealing with my boyfriend who keeps on judging me on my past and keeps on criticizing me on how much less money i spend on him and how much he spends on me comparatively. im just getting sick of his judgmental nature but honestly im trying to deal with it because i love him more than anything else.

  2. 2


    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.

    1. 2.1
      Plan Jane

      Going on 18yrs of wasted time & energy, I’m bankrupt emotionally. I have left this judgemental man a number of times through out theses years praying for a change.   I have a son with with tjis stubborn mule, thats the only bond now. There’s more to him then his paranoid jealously he was divorced and his X gave me HELL. Now i am leavibg him for good moving to another state. My son will be 18 and wants to stay eith him my biggest fear us what this man is teaching him.

  3. 3

    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.

    1. 3.1

      I went through the same with an ex. I allowed his comments emotionally destroyed me at one point. It hurt so much to never be accepted, constant rejection that would end up with him dumping me, then do something “nice” the next day. It was extremely confusing. We’re not together but I learned alot from that relationship. It won’t ever happen to me again.


    2. 3.2

      Thank you for your wise advice. I wish you continued blessings.

  4. 4

    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


      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


    2. 4.2

      What is the point in being in a relationship at all, if it’s not emotional satisfaction? If I wanted a life coach, career coach, etiquette consultant, or whatever else, I would pay for one.

    3. 4.3

      Bill, let’s be sensitive to those of us who are posting here. Relationships can take a very high emotional toll on both men and women, and sometimes it takes enormous insight and a very good therapist to help people get to the root of why they get into bad relationships. Many times behavioral patterns emerge  when examining, in depth, people’s childhoods. This isn’t a website to shame or blame anyone – it should be utilized as a space for people to feel safe to say, “I’ve been through this too.”

  5. 5

    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

      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

    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

    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.

    1. 7.1

      Absolutely never tolerate any form of verbal abuse it comes in all forms.


  8. 8

    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

      I agree wholeheartedly!

  9. 9

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    1. 12.1

      Thanks for saying that! My overly critical boyfriend and I just broke up. I noticed very early on that he was critica of EVERYONE – the waitress, a random person walking down the street, a person in a TV ad, etc. It didn’t take long for him to start being critical of me. Now I know for my next relationship!

      1. 12.1.1

        Spot on well done.

  13. 13

    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.

    1. 13.1

      OMG, this sounds like the guy I am dating now!! What a nightmare….

    2. 13.2

      Yes me to I can spot   a Narc after 5 minutes.


  14. 14

    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

    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

    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


    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.

    1. 17.1

      I don’t believe in flaws, I only believe that there may be something about me, that no one else likes or that may not be beneficial but harmful to a relationship, and with me that is almost never the case, because I’m a sit down and talk it through person. The few men who told me I wasn’t good enough were men who were very arrogant and liked to control everything,even our sex. Always wanted me to be available when they say, a sex slave in Bed…and never have anything to say about their flirting or come ons with other women or always being late. The only deal breaker for me, is controlling and abuse of any kind and arrogance that fuels their abuse.

  18. 18

    @ 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

    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.

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