Maybe you’ve been out on a few dates, and it seems like things are going well. Your new romantic interest is attractive, financially stable, and fun. However, you wish they would be less critical of you. It’s a valid concern because many experts believe that excessive criticism is one of the leading predictors for divorce. It’s also a behavior that tends to escalate over time. By addressing the issue early, you’ll be in a stronger position to change the way you communicate or move on if necessary. Couples can disagree without devaluing each other. Learn how to deal with excessive criticism and share constructive feedback. How to Deal with Excessive Criticism: 1. Boost your self-esteem. A steady diet of disapproval can be demoralizing. Build up your confidence by setting meaningful goals and working towards them. Remember your achievements and surround yourself with supportive family and friends. 2. Set boundaries. Create ground rules to deflect inappropriate criticism. Make it clear that name-calling and ridicule are unacceptable. 3. Stay calm. Your date may be more willing to listen to your views if you can keep your emotions under control. It’s natural to become angry or upset if you think you’re being treated unfairly but taking a moment to settle down could help to restore harmony. 4. Be compassionate. Keep in mind that your date’s behavior probably says more about them than it does about you. Excessive criticism is often associated with high levels of anxiety. If you can help them to feel more comfortable, they may lighten up. How to Communicate More Effectively: 1. Think positive. Try to be cheerful and upbeat. Create a positive atmosphere by sharing sincere praise and calling attention to the things that are going well. 2. Speak kindly. Choose your words carefully. You can discuss sensitive subjects and disagree without being unpleasant. Before you open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are saying is true and helpful. 3. Be specific. Guide your comments toward specific actions rather than criticizing someone’s character or personality. Tell your date you appreciate making plans in advance instead of accusing them of being lazy or inconsiderate. 4. Avoid blaming. Shift your thinking from casting blame to accepting accountability. Relationships run smoother when both parties take responsibility for their choices. 5. Identify underlying issues. Something else may be going on if your date is expressing a strong dislike for your career choices, footwear, and living room curtains. Maybe they’re annoyed that you showed up 20 minutes late without keeping them updated. 6. Focus on solutions. Criticism is constructive when it focuses on making positive changes. Ask each other what you’re trying to accomplish when you provide feedback. 7. Expand your options. It’s easy to get stuck in assuming that there’s only one correct way to approach a task. Aim to be more flexible so you can accommodate others and find mutually satisfying arrangements. 8. Work together. Stress cooperation rather than thinking in terms of winners and losers. If your date is willing to cut down on criticizing others, do what you can to help them. If they like things as they are, respect their decision and resist any urge to retaliate or punish them. 9. Consider counseling. If you notice a pattern of choosing partners who belittle you, you may want to see a therapist who specializes in relationships. Couples counseling may also be beneficial if you develop a serious relationship where you feel like you’re being controlled or coerced. Stop excessive criticism from undermining your romantic relationships and your self-esteem. Let others know how their comments affect you and resolve differences respectfully.