Mila and Milli decided to paint their apartment themselves. In fact, that was Milli’s decision. Mila wanted to hire a professional painter, but Milli didn’t give up on the idea. “What does he know that I don’t” he was confident. And so they bought brushes, paint, actually Milli chose the colour because Mila had a poor taste for colors or brushes for that matter. They pulled the furniture in the middle of the room. Mila started preparing the paint. “You’re not doing it right!” Milli told her and added some grey color to the polycolor. Each of them took a brush and started painting the left wall first. Milli ran with the paint roller twice on the wall, then stopped looking at Mila. “You’re slow as a snail. Leaving brush marks on the wall. Look at me!” Milli took the brush, soaked it in the paint and confidently pressed it on the wall with a sharp motion. “This is the way to do it! You cannot do a proper job unless you splash yourself!” Milli continued, wiping the splattered paint on his face.
In fact, Milli never missed a chance to criticize her. It was like a hobby to him. In those seconds between the two brush strokes in Mila’s head passed, like a slideshow, all the moments whenever she was judged as not good enough. And how she began to doubt herself and her own worth, her own choices and her thoughts. When they started dating, Milli had remarks on the way she dressed as well. One day he went out and purchased some clothes. He didn’t like her style, so he finally bought her things that would suit her. “You’re always wearing black. I don’t know if those are the same clothes, or you have a countless number of black blouses as if you’re mourning or something.”
Mila and Milli were also colleagues from work. In fact, that’s where they met. They were both teachers, but during the pandemic, they held online classes from home. Milli had the opportunity to watch Mila’s lessons. “You invest yourself too much! You should know how much to give. I see you’re building some close relationships with them like you’re their friend. You shouldn’t do that! And why do you care about their opinion so much!? YOU should be the authority; they should listen to YOUR opinion! Evaluate your methods! Do you really need to be that patient with them!? Listen to me!” Milli used to ‘advise’ Mila all the time. That criticism spread and went from the kitchen to Mila’s friends and on to her ability or, better said, inability to organize her day…
Here it is again. When he saw how she smeared the left wall of the living room, he couldn’t help himself. “Look, you overlook the right corner. It’s white. I would have lifted you up, but you’re not slim anymore. You should cut out certain foods; and run too”. Mila took a deep, deep breath in and slowly exhaled little flames like a dragon. She used to get into arguments with him, but now she was tired. She just stopped, took off her overalls calmly and threw the brush into the bucket. A splash of paint slapped his mouth. Without saying a word, she ran out of the door confidently. “Where are you going?” murmured Milli through his pursed lips. “Somewhere far away,” he heard Mila’s voice.
Simply put, it is grueling to be in a relationship with a constant critic. It is a horror, in fact. Regardless of who’s in that role, a co-worker, your boss, partner, friends or especially parents. Being exposed to constant criticism and remarks about literally everything or being judged at every step inevitably leads to self-doubt, feeling you can’t get anything done correctly, losing self-confidence and connection with yourself. It is a poisonous, extremely stressful and ultimately sad environment where nothing good can happen. Even when the constant critic doesn’t use offensive words directly, he has a large arsenal at his disposal to attack your opinion, beliefs, behavior… to downgrade you.
Hypercriticism is a strategy used by people attempting to appear smart and who want to be in control. The main means for achieving that goal is by humiliating the other and attacking their partner’s intelligence. Staying in such a surroundings has a powerful impact on the other person. Usually, people who find themselves in this type of relationship become convinced that they are worthless, and as time goes by, they become dependent on the critic, who is seen as someone who knows best.
That’s why it’s not hard to understand Mila. Not hard at all.