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Am I overly sensitive or is he too critical? Tired of living together

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  • #383964
    DeJana
    Participant

    Dear community,

     

    I moved in with my boyfriend last November. Since then our relationship deteriorated and I constantly daydream of living alone again.

     

    The problem in my eyes is that I feel he is way too critical, hoards and doesn’t do a similar share of housework. This all got so wired on me, that resentment has been built and I don’t want to spend time with him anymore and snap on him for everything possible.

    I come in our apartment. First he says I should pull the door knob when unlocking, because it breaks with time if I don’t.  Then he says that I forgot a light on in the morning. Then he says I forgot to charge my tablet and this is not good for battery health. Then I start loading dishes in the dishwasher and there was a box I brought home from work, that I have forgotten there before the weekend. It already smelled bad when I opened it of course, so he says I am irresponsible for forgetting stuff. Then he says he is upset I walk without shoes in the house, because the floor in the kitchen is not clean enough.
    This literally came in this order after I came home from work today.

    On the other side the apartment is full with his stuff everywhere on the floor, which makes a huge surface of the apartment unusable for me. He constantly says he will deal with it, but in my eyes he doesn’t. When I confront him with it he says I don’t do the stuff he asks me for (see above).

    I don’t expect to not be criticized at all, but the amount of the small stuff he criticizes , in my eyes way to frequently, makes me feel like I am not able to do anything properly. Which I don’t believe, I believe he has an issue. So even if he has some good critique I immediately snap on him.

    I also get frustrated that he never cooks and never helps me clean up after I cooked. Instead he pops in the kitchen and tells me the flame on the stove is too high, I drop onions while I cut, makes suggestions and teaches me how to do it right. This ends up with me getting furious, leaving the kitchen and telling him to cook his meal.

    This whole critique lead to me not wanting to spend time with him. He is very upset. When I tell him what my issue is he believes I can’t deal with critique in a healthy way and I am not able to compromise for the stuff that is important to him.

    Last weekend I went to visit an old friend of mine. We spend time at here place, cooked a meal together, chatted, ate, did the clean up together. And I thought myself wow! ,how easy it could be working together with someone! Now I spend my time daydreaming becoming this friends roommate or renting a studio. I felt so alive after this weekend!

    I wonder if it is always in long term relationships that living together is so miserable. I know a lot of couples fight because of housework and I wonder if I am about to give up too early?

    I like this guys intelligence and wit. We have similar political views, he is extremely cuddly and our love life is good. I just don’t think we function as a team and living together doesn’t make me happy.

    #383966
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DeJana:

    Your experience living with your boyfriend, “Then I start loading dishes in the dishwasher and there was a box I brought home from work.. so he says I am irresponsible for forgetting stuff. Then he says he is upset I walk without shoes in the house, because the floor in the kitchen is not clean enough.. I like this guys intelligence and wit… I just don’t think we function as a team and living together doesn’t make me happy.” etc.,-

    – reads similar to your experience living with your mother, according to what you shared on December 2017: “my mothers parenting method is to not leave the children do anything on their own… Last time I wanted to do the dishes she said I shouldn’t, because they are very dirty and I don’t know how to do them. The fact that I am living alone for five years, have been cleaning houses for four years and deal in my current job with pain and death every day is not enough qualification to do the dishes… And then I feel so guilty and ungrateful, because my mother loves me and is a good person after all“-

    – what do you think?

    anita

    #383968
    emmaholson
    Participant

    DeJana,

    I think you know your answer based off your feelings around him vs others. He sounds really controlling and ridged, something I can relate to. Brought up being told I’m worthless and stupid doesn’t help. I’m an empath, highly sensitive to others energy and words, it affects me greatly. I just recognized this same type of treatment THIS YEAR after 27yrs together. Passive aggressive, never do things right, questions what I do, which all in turn brings me back to feeling worthless. He too is a hoarder with Adhd. I wonder if your partner has the same? They have to have things just as they want and cannot finish tasks etc (both sides of my home and garage are FILLED with junk He can’t let go or finish projects. Perhaps you two could consider couples counseling as it sounds like you two do have a loving relationship amongst other positive bonding traits. Or listen to your gut. If you’re feeling rejuvenation with others but resentment, upset at home, perhaps you’re done. I hope this helps some, you’re not alone. Feel free to msg at any time. Hugs.

    #383983
    DeJana
    Participant

    Dear Anita

     

    Yes, I notice this similarity too. I find my father also being too critical. I wonder how to bond those facts.

    Am I seeking for traits in men that remind me of my childhood? This is is well known. I have talked to my mother about it (funny to read my previous posts. The difference between them is that my mom (nowadays) talks about having OCD and being a slave to her obsessions. She admits her mistakes with this issue. My boyfriend does not, he can hold a 2h monologue about how much he has thought about this topic in comparison with me and that’s why he is right.

    Or am I overly-sensitive and can deal with critique? In general or just in close relationships? I do think I can deal fine with critique at work or from my friends though.

    #383985
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DeJana:

    “Am I seeking for traits in men that remind me of my childhood?”- no, I don’t think so.

    Or am I overly-sensitive and can deal with critique? In general or just in close relationships? I do think I can deal fine with critique at work or from my friends though“- I would guess that you are overly-sensitive to being criticized in the context of close relationships because it is most often the case that children who experienced lots of criticism by a parent or parents (within the close relationship of parent-child) grow up to re-experience over-sensitivity/ over reactivity to criticism within the context of close relationships.

    What do you think about talking to your boyfriend, telling him that you are over-sensitive to criticism because of your childhood experience, that it is not his doing (as it preceded meeting him), and that you need his help. Give him an example of something he said that sounded to you like criticism, and suggest a way that he can re-state what he said in a way that doesn’t sound to you like criticism?

    anita

    #384004
    DeJana
    Participant

    Dear Anita

     

    Thank you for your advice. The problem is I see this behavior of him with other people too, which makes me believe that maybe the issue is not just with me.
    His relationship with his mother is strange. They seem to criticize each other the whole time. He constantly fixes stuff in her home or gives unasked advice. His mom seems very defensive. She brought her car to be repaired in a service, although my boyfriend enjoys repairing cars. This made him very upset, but I do understand her. I always hide stuff from him. An example: the drain in the kitchen got clogged. The last time it got clogged we had a huge fight, because he started lecturing me about how I don’t use enough water to wash the dishes. Of course it is just my fault, because he never washes the dishes. Like, not a single time since we live together. But I think I do my share and try not to clog the drain. But it happens, it is an old house and the neighbors complain of the issue too. So after half an year the drain was clogged again. I panicked and tried to fix it alone not so much because of the drain but in fear of his critique when he comes back. I really get very anxious telling him stuff like that.
    I hide how much a particular thing costed, even if if I bought it with my money. I even started hiding a job I do two days a month, because he won’t like it.
    And I see the same with his mom. She avoids asking for his help, keeps him in distance, doesn’t share her emotional issues and vents about him to me.
    Another situation: a cousin and good friend of him has depression. He lectured her about half an hour or longer how she hast to cycle to work and this will help her depression. She says she doesn’t enjoy cycling in a big city because she is afraid of the traffic. Then he continues a loud monologue about how good cycling is, how she should stand against her fears. He means good, but I just looked at his cousin there, sitting, feeing extremely uncomfortable and small and not saying a word anymore. I think he made her feel a lot worse. It was not a conversation but him lecturing her for a long time in front of me.
    I noticed his cousin felt a lot better spending time with me. We cooked together, went exploring the city, talked. I think she felt accepted and comfortable. And I believe this is what makes people gain strength and push themselves, knowing that someone’s likes them as they are, you are more comfortable to grow as under criticism.

    I tried communicating how his critique feels to me. He answered that he is trying and he doesn’t even say half of the things that bother him. If this is his trying I don’t feel good about it.
    It lead to the next problem and the same I had in the previous relationship. When I share my fears and emotional burdens with a man, he starts trying to fix me. The relationship gets a parent-child dynamic. How do I solve this problem in relationships? I don’t want to be fixed. I want to be accepted, to have a base, that let’s me grow.
    I don’t believe my issues are so unique, every person has some baggage.

    #384005
    DeJana
    Participant

    Dear emmaholson

     

    Thank you for your answer. It sounds very familiar. He has diagnosed ADHD. I had to look at the link between hoarding and ADHD and it all makes sense. The apartment is full of stuff, except a small room of mine and the kitchen and I have to fight against his stuff creeping in those areas too.
    The garage is full and two basement rooms in his moms house. She fights with him about it every time they meet. She wants him to free those rooms but there is no place in our apartment for this stuff.
    And it comes that I barely can touch it, because something may take a scratch. Like if I am in a room and something falls on the floor he jumps with anxiety, comes in and asks „What was it?!?“
    It may be just a spoon I dropped, but he is really anxious about his things.
    When there is stuff from him lying on the bed and I want to sleep I have to ask him to put it away for me. I am not allowed to put them away, because something may break. I feel way to restricted in my home.
    And even though I know it is his problem he makes me feel so incapable with myself.

    #384006
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DeJana:

    You made an excellent case for moving out and ending the living-together arrangement, making it a Nov 2020- August 2021 experiment that failed.

    You shared in your original post: “I constantly daydream of living alone again….Last weekend I went to visit an old friend of mine. We spend time at here place, cooked..  Now I spend my time daydreaming becoming this friends roommate or renting a studio. I felt so alive after this weekend!“-

    – You started your thread expressing a strong emotional motivation to move out: it already feels great (“so alive..!”) to just imagine moving out. I suppose you were looking for your rational thinking to catch up to your emotional motivation to move out. Well, reading your long descriptions of his behaviors with different people (as well as his hoarding etc.), my rational thinking.. caught up to your emotional motivation!

    Am I overly sensitive or is he too critical?“: you are probably overly sensitive to criticism (so many of us are!) and he is too critical (not one or the other). I am excited for you at the idea that you will be moving out soon.

    anita

    #384008
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DeJana:

    I forgot to attend to the next problem, but that’s okay- a separate post for the next problem is appropriate:

    It lead to the next problem and the same I had in the previous relationship. When I share my fears and emotional burdens with a man, he starts trying to fix me. The relationship gets a parent-child dynamic. How do I solve this problem in relationships? I don’t want to be fixed. I want to be accepted, to have a base, that let’s me grow. I don’t believe my issues are so unique, every person has some baggage“-

    – Before you share your fears and emotional burdens with the next man in your life, make it very clear to him (kindly but assertively) that you don’t want him to think of himself as a parent who needs to fix you, a child. Tell him that it is very important for you to have a relationship between 2 adults who think of each other as equally responsible adults, helping each other from the position of equality.

    Then tell him that every person has some baggage and ask him if he agrees, if he has baggage too?-

    Then wait for his answer: if he says No- abort the idea of having a relationship with him. If he says Yes, ask him to tell you just a bit about his baggage. Listen to him. If you detect some willingness to share with you then respond, keeping your response short and empathetic.

    Then share with him just a bit, and listen to his response. Is his response empathetic? If in his initial response, he already tried to fix you, tell him so, show him how he did that, keeping your input short and clear. Listen to how he responds next, or give the topic a break until next time you see him.

    It will take a few meetings or dates to figure out if an equal relationship is possible with a man.

    anita

    #384025
    DeJana
    Participant

    Yes, I think it is not the one or the other. I had thought a lot about the topic of criticism. From this relationship I learned to value criticism a lot. It is important for me now to look for the people who can be blunt and harsh to me when needed, because sometimes we need to get things said and friends are often way too polite in order to keep peace and don’t hurt feelings. Every person reacts to criticism negatively, often in defensive manner. But we should know to listen to the constructive criticism given to us and people who care to give it are important.
    So I am thankful to my boyfriend, because he indeed taught me important things, gave me some very good advices. Really.
    I learned to ask bluntly for feedback and advice, something I never did before. Small stuff like asking a good friend for a feedback how does my apartment smell. Or why do I failed an exam and what should I do differently. I asked my new boss if she can give me feedback of my work, because she never praised or criticized me. Or even asking my parents if I should break up with my boyfriend.
    It is way easier than guessing people’s thoughts. I do it the opposite way too now. I told a good friend of mine who was single that she had bad breath often. I tried to be as discreet as possible and needed a lot of strength to do it. She thanked me later. And has a new boyfriend now, maybe fixing this issue has a finger in it? I told an colleague that she makes certain mistakes after I heard some other people at work gossiping about her, but not giving her any feedback.
    And I wish to be told those things too, directly.
    But the way my boyfriend criticizes in everyday life is not healthy and I tried communicating this very often. He believes, especially dealing with household and material things, to have found the right way. Example:  he has a philosophy of not having a scratch on his car and keeping it pristine clean. I have a philosophy of being comfortable. Once we were on the beach. He did not let me sit comfortable of play with the sand, because there will be sand in the car afterwards. Before I enter the car I should control the folds of my clothes for sand. The sand is made of small particles which in a microscopic way damage the seats of the car. Those particles get everywhere. This microscopic damage accumulates with time.
    My philosophy is: I go and play in the sand and don’t care. Before I go in the car I remove visible sand from towels and clothes quickly. If there is sand in the car I vacuum it later. Done. And if microscopic damage accumulated with time, which happens with almost everything, I don’t care much too. I just don’t notice those things or when I do they don’t bother me. I don’t expect my car to look new after five years.

    I want to show we have different philosophies. A lot of his critique goes in this direction. I don’t agree with his philosophy and don’t want to be told how to do things of which I already have an opinion. He says he spend a lot of time thinking about developing strategies to not damage objects and keep stuff clean. This, in his eyes, gives him right to criticize me, because I don’t seem to think about that stuff at all. I tell him that not thinking about this stuff is also an opinion. We just disagree.

    I see how much this person loves me. I see his eyes glow when I am there. He tells me I am the one for him, he wants to have children. He believes we will find a solution to those problems. He agrees that his hoarding bothers me and tells me he will deal with it. And I decided to give it a try and move in with him. Well, It has been ten months and things don’t seem to change. I am tired and feel uncomfortable at home.
    I don’t want to loose him, but I am unhappy and feel stuck.

    Something bad happened to me last year and I got confronted with my mortality for the first time. I spent months in the worst mental state I was ever in my life.

    Now I feel impatient and not ready to compromise with who I am. I feel so strongly that there is just one chance to live and I want to be myself. I put a lot more effort in my friendships and family, think a lot more of who and what matters in my life.
    The conflict with my boyfriend is that he matters to me and that I matter to him. But living together does not make me shine but willow. Or he makes me shine just when we have some distance.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by DeJana.
    #384032
    DeJana
    Participant

    Another point is that it matters to me to build a family. How should a find a man that suits me?
    Finding a man is not a problem, but the next person will have other incompatibilities and somewhere one has to compromise. There will never be a perfect, so how to know?

    #384036
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DeJana:

    From this relationship I learned to value criticism a lot. It is important for me now to look for the people who can be blunt and harsh to me when needed, because sometimes we need to get things said and friends are often way too polite in order to keep peace and don’t hurt feelings“-

    – there is a middle way between being “too polite”, saying nothing and  being “blunt and harsh”. The middle way is saying your truth in a gentle, kind way.

    we should know to listen to the constructive criticism“- criticism is constructive long-term only when it is given in a gentle and kind manner (or at the least not in a rude, harsh way!)

    I told a good friend of mine who was single that she had bad breath often. I tried to be as discreet as possible.. . She thanked me later. And has a new boyfriend now, maybe fixing this issue has a finger in it?“- your criticism worked, probably because you delivered it gently, kindly (not harshly!)

    Once we were on the beach. He did not let me sit comfortable of play with the sand, because there will be sand in the car afterwards… My philosophy is: I go and play in the sand and don’t care…. I want to show we have different philosophies“- this mismatch of philosophies would make co-parenting with him (if you have plans to become a mother) very difficult, and produce sad kids (kids who are not allowed to play in the sand are sad kids)!

    He says he spend a lot of time thinking about developing strategies to not damage objects and keep stuff clean. This, in his eyes, gives him right to criticize me“- he values objects more than he values people’s emotions: another reason to not have children with him. Plus, if you want to keep the kid in you happy.. he is the wrong partner then, isn’t he).

    I see how much this person loves me“- but.. he loves his car/ stuff more?

    he wants to have children“- oh, oh.

    I don’t want to lose him, but I am unhappy and feel stuck“- like you said, you experienced some good with him, so there is some loss if you move out/ end the relationship with him.

    I feel so strongly that there is just one chance to live and I want to be myself… he matters to me and that I matter to him. But living together does not make me shine but willow”– moving out and maybe ending your relationship with him would be easy if you experienced nothing but bad with him.

    Seems like overall moving out is the right thing for you, but you will need to expect to experience a sense of loss, a sadness, and some overall distress  for some time before you are able to feel the euphoria/ the feeling-alive of your current imaginings of the time you live alone, away from him.

    anita

    #384037
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DeJana:

    I just read your most recent post: “Another point is that it matters to me to build a family. How should a find a man that suits me? Finding a man is not a problem, but the next person will have other incompatibilities and somewhere one has to compromise. There will never be a perfect, so how to know?“-

    – it’s quite simple: choose a man who is okay with you and your kids playing in the sand! A man who values human emotions (including his wife’s and his children’s) more than he values objects!

    Sure, there will be incompatibilities, but pick and choose which incompatibilities you should and can accept, and which you shouldn’t.. or couldn’t.

    anita

    #384043
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear DeJana,

    From this relationship I learned to value criticism a lot. It is important for me now to look for the people who can be blunt and harsh to me when needed, because sometimes we need to get things said and friends are often way too polite in order to keep peace and don’t hurt feelings. …  But we should know to listen to the constructive criticism given to us and people who care to give it are important. So I am thankful to my boyfriend, because he indeed taught me important things, gave me some very good advices. Really.

    It appears you value your boyfriends’ advice and guidance, as well as his honest feedback, on many issues. This could be because you didn’t receive advice and guidance from your parents, but only their veiled criticism, e.g. your mother not letting you wash the dishes because they are “too dirty”. Or your parents not supporting your choice of college (medicine), because you weren’t such a good pupil, so they were afraid it would be too much for you.

    You are in need of constructive criticism, but what your boyfriend is giving you seems more like toxic criticism. His 2-hr monologues of why he is right and you are wrong, his berating you for the slightest mistake, his obsessive behaviors (hoarding, as well as obsessive care of his car) – all point to a serious problem. His criticism isn’t constructive, but toxic. That’s why you whither when living with him…

    It could be that you have an unmet need for a healthy parental guidance, and that’s why you’re attracted to some of his qualities. But his guidance and his behavior isn’t healthy unfortunately, and my impression is that he is doing you more damage than good.

     

    #384046
    DeJana
    Participant

    Thank you, anita

    I see what you mean with „harsh and blunt“. I choose the wrong words with the point of exaggerating my expression (do you know what the term for this in literature is called in English?). I agree with what you wrote.
    He does not give his criticism in a rude way. In fact this is the way a lot of articles advice for: give your opinion, explain why you think like that, how does it make you feel. He does it calmly, explaining himself. But unasked and way too often. And I don’t agree with it because I have different values.

    He does value human emotions, of course the post I wrote is just a Fragment of his personality. For example he offers emotional support for a few friends with addiction. He seems to be the only person some of those people can talk freely to and when someone relapses or doesn’t answer calls for a long time my boyfriend gets very sad and concerned. He can be the one person to call at 2 am to save you and he will be there and do his best.

    I completely agree with you on the part with the kids. How confusing will it be to them to have this and that upbringing at the same time? And I fear his criticism when he disagrees about upbringing, I don’t want my children to witness me as a weak woman.

    May I ask, anita, are you a professional? It is great you are active here for so long and I hope it brings you joy and retrospection for your life too. One of the best things in life is to get to know others, it is what I like about working in a hospital. To get to know people I would otherwise never meet. People are wonderful.

    I find it interesting when reading other post you answered that you use some methods like paraphrasing the persons statements. On the other side you don’t leave you posts with open question, but give your straightforward opinion, which I find untypical for a therapist.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by DeJana.
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