Relationship Help: Got boundaries? Or, faultfinding down to an art?

Got faultfinding down to an art? Some people have been carefully trained to be faultfinders.

They look for the problems, the inadequacies, the not-quite-good-enoughs, and the Got faultfinding down to an art? Get help now for resolving relationship problems less-than-perfects...and pounce!

Fault is often the first thing out of their mouths. You might know one or two such folks.  Maybe, you're related to one? Or, married to one?  Or, do you have faultfinding down to an art?

How about this scenario? You (the parent) walk into the house and the first thing you do is see what you kids have not done that they should have, and what they have done that they shouldn't have. No greeting from you. No, "How was your day?"  Just a barrage of faults.  Does this sound familiar?

Or, maybe you're married to someone who only sees what you have not done. S/he seems blind and oblivious to what you do, what you contribute and how you improve. S/he wants to hold you in their view in a certain way--a certain negative way--to keep you down and keep themselves in control. Or, at least, that's what they think and are hoping for. Somehow, making you smaller is supposed to make them feel bigger!

That doesn't work. Or, does it?  Abused women--and that doesn't mean begin hit only with fists, it includes words, too--often do tend to put more stock in the opinions of others who want to tear them down than they do in the opinions of those who want to lift them up.  That expands the more frequently they believe the emotional and verbal abuse, too.

Live with a fault-finder and you have two ways to go:

  1. You cringe whenever they come near and your shake in your boots when they open their mouths.
  2. You take what they say as a reflection of themselves, rather than as a reflection of you, and you assess it honestly in the light of reality.

Your choice. Yes, it's easy for me to say, I know. But, if you are regularly being put down, criticized or belittled by someone, you are honestly letting them do it. Stand up and speak up. No one deserves to be put in that situation, but all too many folks take it lying down.


  • Have a boundary

    People do not have the right to criticize me if I did not ask for their opinion.

  • Express that boundary

    I prefer that people wait until I ask them for their thoughts about me before offering them.

  • Maintain that boundary

     I do not wish to hear anyone's opinions of me unless I ask. If this cannot be respected, I'll have to leave this conversation (or relationship.)

  • Release folks from your world who will not respect that boundary.

    Walk away or limit your time with these folks. They do not respect you and seemingly do not take your boundary seriously.

You'll notice that not one of these statement has you using the word, you, when you are talking to someone else. This is the best rule-of-thumb in any conversation that can be inflammatory. Just speak about yourself, what you prefer, what you want, and what you will do if it is not respected.

THEN, DO IT!!!!!

P.S.  If you need help--because I know this is difficult for many people--let's talk. You can book an appointment or take a class with me by visiting and seeing the options for you there. You deserve to have loving, mutually-supportive relationships with your partner, your family and your friends.  Speak up!

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  1. Deer - Reply

    I have certain difficulties with what was said here, and perhaps they reflect my own personal problems. If you think they do, I would appreciate hearing from you so that I can improve myself.

    Is everybody who has a critical statement necessarily trying to control the critiqued or build his own self-esteem at the expense of the other. Is there no real honest critique? Could the critiqued person be doing something which is troubling or hurting the one who is critiquing?

    I don’t enjoy criticizing and have sufficient self-esteem to not require building upon the ruin of others. If I critique my wife or my children, for example, it is because something is disturbing me. For example, if I critique a family member for, say, not returning the milk or cheese to the fridge, that’s because the milk will spoil; it is not to highlight my positive or superior behavior. Or if somebody does not turn lights out or heater off before leaving the house, that’s going to waste electricity etc. The purpose of such critique is to stop wasting electricity.

    The idea that a person should be unwilling to hear the critiques of others is, to my mind, unhealthy. It prevents growth, prevents the rectification of faults and flaws (everybody has some but can rectify them)and can cause a person to continue behaving in a hurtful or damaging way.

    I would definitely agree that there are limits to how much critique is acceptable (all in good measure), and the manner in which it is conveyed (should not be meant to hurt or offend), but not allowing the other to voice a complaint if something is bothering him, sounds to me to be egotistical and self-damaging.

    People should have limits in criticizing but at the same time all people should be open to receiving criticism. It would be more helpful to teach people how to respond to criticism in a constructive way than to ignore or reject outright the legitimacy of any critique.

    Deer Listening

    • DrShaler - Reply

      Great insights! The point of the blog post was to call attention to the fact that some folks are simply in the mode of faultfinding and, as such, fail to edit anything that comes from their lips. Yes, it was a generalization, for sure. Having boundaries that you communicate and maintain helps us to clarify what is acceptable to us from whom.

      Certainly, I agree with you, that constructive criticism from folks we value and/or love is a healthy part of the relationship. And, I also agree that it requires carefully learned and crafted skills to offer and receive constructive criticism. That’s why I have I offered programs on that very topic!

      Thanks for taking the time to comments and express your thoughts. We are on the same page, I think.

      Continue to Sow Peace,

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