Are you nagging because you need attention? Are you nitpicking because you are experiencing a lack of affection? Identify the core issue if there is one.
Nitpicking is a funny word – its literal meaning is to “pick nits.” Nits are lice eggs. So, nitpicking is to comb through someone’s hair and pull out lice eggs. Yum.
Many are guilty of nitpicking in their relationships – combing through your partner’s personality and pointing out the petty characteristics you wish to change.
Sometimes people nitpick over their partner’s small, inconsequential personality traits or actions that are innocent and harmless, like leaving a dirty dish on the counter. Other times we nitpick over seemingly bigger faults, like putting off the oil change for months and refusing to go to the doctor after a long cold. No one is perfect and everyone has flaws. There is always going to be something about your partner that annoys, aggravates, or frustrates you.
Here is a question: have you made it past the “blind romantic love” phase of your relationship? (You know, that phase where everything is perfect and your partner never does anything wrong?) If the answer is yes, then without a doubt, you are able to name at least one of your partner’s flaws, right now, as you’re reading this.
Finding flaws in your partner’s personality is one thing, nitpicking is another. Do you constantly nag your partner about their personality? Their actions? Their problems? Do you belittle them? Are you condescending? Do you talk to them as if you were their parent, rather than their partner? Are you guilty of hyper-examining their flaws and obsessing about how to change them?
If you are guilty of this, here are a few points to bear in mind and tips to make your peace:
Accept that your partner is not perfect (and neither are you!). I can’t stand it that my partner doesn’t rinse out the sponge after cleaning up the kitchen and I’m sure she can’t stand how I won’t unpack for a week after returning home from a trip. These are the little things that could be nitpick fodder; instead recognize you’re not always going to agree with how your partner does things in order to avoid causing unnecessary relationship tension. So what, my partner doesn’t rinse out the sponge to my liking – life is too short to get worked up over something so trivial.
#2 Why Are You Really Nitpicking?
This question nods to: what are you really fighting about? Are you really upset about the sponge? Or the lack of oil change? Or failure to unpack in a timely manner? OR is your nitpicking really a projection of other worries or insecurities? Are you nagging because you need attention? Are you nitpicking because you are experiencing a lack of affection? Identify the core issue if there is one. Otherwise, revert back to accepting your partner isn’t perfect and embrace their flaws as part of the package deal.
#3 You Can’t Change Them
I know my failure to unpack my bags in a timely manner annoys my partner. Out of kindness and respect, I try to not let my luggage fester for quite as long. In no way has my partner tried to change who I am, I am just trying to be more aware and responsive to the little things I can control. But if you nitpick about their personality, for example, let’s say your partner is an introvert and you can’t stand their shyness, know you can’t change their personal nature. Engaging in a relationship with hopes to fundamentally change your partner is rarely rewarding for either party.
#4 Make Your Peace
To make your peace you have to stop the nitpicking, accept your partner’s flaws, and respect your partner’s approach to life. You can be supportive and encouraging without trying to control your partner. Know that there is nothing you can do to change them and relinquish yourself from the need to have everything your way.
#5 Know When Nitpicking Goes Too Far
There is a difference between nitpicking and abuse. When nitpicking goes too far it may advance into blaming, hurtful remarks, and extreme criticism. Recognize the signs of emotional, mental, and physical abuse and safety plan accordingly. Abusive behavior is never acceptable in a relationship.
Anyone in a relationship can name what they believe are flaws in their partner’s personality or actions. Nitpicking over these particular flaws expends unnecessary emotional energy and can cause tension in your relationship. Know you can’t change your partner and accept your partner for who they are, and all the little details that come with them.