Criticizing your partner can be tempting, especially when they do something that annoys or upsets you.

But it's important to remember that criticism can have a negative impact on your relationship.

The way we present our partnerships to the world can have a major impact on their strength and longevity.

One behavior that can instantly sabotage the trust and love you've built with your partner is publicly criticizing them.

Whether it's a snide remark at a dinner party, airing a complaint in front of family or a subtle put-down in front of friends, frequently airing your grievances with your partner or criticizing them in public damages your relationship.

So, let's delve into five ways in which criticizing your partner in front of others can wreak havoc on your love life, along with some alternative approaches to foster healthy communication and connection.

5 Reasons Why Criticizing Your Partner in Public Ruins Your Relationship

1. Trust Takes a Major Hit

Publicly criticizing your partner is like tossing a grenade into the house of trust you've carefully built. When you routinely expose their flaws or weaknesses in front of others, you shatter the very foundation of trust that underpins a healthy relationship.  If you’re not careful you can create the situation in which vulnerability and openness; two important factors to the success of your relationship may instead feel like an invitation for public humiliation.

Instead, make private spaces, like Couply or in-person conversation, the place of relationship problem-solving. Find a quiet moment to sit down and have an honest, open discussion to express your concerns. Share your thoughts and feelings in the Couply check-ins or take one of the courses on the topics that you want to work on. This is why we built these features!

By nurturing trust in a private setting, you'll create a solid foundation for a lasting and fulfilling relationship.

2. The Dynamic Disappears

Building a healthy relationship dynamic is like a dance. You support your partner, they respond, they take care of you, you respond, each of you take the steps together to make the movement build. Imagine the seasons of our life like songs, each one requiring adjustments to the dynamic. You’re still dancing, the tune got a heck of a lot different now kids are on the scene!

Now, when you have negative steps, the dynamic disappears, if you’ve called out your partner for eating too much in front of other’s or ridiculed them they don’t want to dance, they want to disappear. People hate to be ridiculed, causing them to withdraw emotionally – the dynamic disappears.

To counter this, prioritize creating a supportive and understanding atmosphere. Encourage open communication, where both partners feel heard, validated, and respected. This fosters emotional safety and builds a deeper connection between you two.

What can make a marriage work is surprisingly simple. Happily married couple aren't smarter, richer or more psychologically astute than others. But in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couple have) from overwhelming their positive ones. They have what i call an emotionally intelligent marriage.” – Dr. John Gottman.

3. Resentment Becomes the Unwanted Guest

Publicly criticizing your partner not only damages their self-esteem but also plants the seeds of resentment. It sends a clear message that their thoughts and opinions don't matter, eroding their sense of self-worth. The thing you’re shaming them about? Unlikely they’ll tackle it. Over time, this can breed deep-seated resentment and create a communication breakdown.

When people feel criticized, disliked, and unappreciated they are unable to change. Instead, they feel under siege and dig in to protect themselves.” – John Gottman,

Instead, practice empathy and kindness in public settings. Focus on uplifting your partner by celebrating their strengths and accomplishments. Address concerns or conflicts privately, in Couply or with a therapist, allowing both of you to work through them without feeling attacked.

By honoring each other's dignity, you create an environment where both partners can thrive.

“Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” – Dr. Brené Brown

4. The Social Perception Struggle

Remember that public criticism doesn't just impact your partner—it also influences how others perceive your relationship. When your interactions are tainted by negativity and criticism, friends, family, and even casual acquaintances may start to view your relationship through a negative lens. Sometimes someone in a relationship will “prepare a break-up” through advertising public problems for others to see. This strains social connections and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere in group settings.

Instead, be mindful of how you communicate and present your relationship to others.

Choose to highlight the positive aspects and work through conflicts privately. While of course, you can and should (!) vent and confide to your friends and family – when if it comes to put-downs, squabbles and nitpicking your public, it casts both you and your partner in a negative light.

By projecting a united front, you foster a supportive network and strengthen your bond as a couple.

“While challenging at times, maintaining a united front with your spouse will give you a new sense of security and safety.” – Jennifer Long Marriage Restoration Project

5. Conflict Resolution Hits a Dead End

Publicly criticizing your partner hinders healthy conflict resolution. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, the focus shifts to defending one's pride or reputation in front of others. This triggers confirmation bias, because they’ve taken up a position now they seek to maintain that position! So it help powers the exact opposite of the issue you might have been raising.

This derails the conflict resolution process, leaving your underlying issues unresolved and causing long-term damage to the relationship.

To break this pattern, embrace constructive conflict resolution strategies. Take the couples quiz: Conflict Styles in Couply. Dive into the Conflict Styles course in Couply as well..

Find an appropriate time and place for discussions, use "I" statements to express your feelings, and practice active listening to understand your partner's perspective. By addressing conflicts privately and respectfully, you lay the groundwork for growth and understanding.

What’s the Difference Between Healthy Complaint and Public Criticism?

Healthy Complaints:

Expressing concerns or frustrations within the boundaries of a healthy complaint can actually strengthen your relationship. A healthy complaint is focused on specific behaviors or actions that bother you, rather than attacking your partner's character. It allows you to address issues in a constructive and respectful manner, with the intention of finding a solution together.

For example, saying, "I feel upset when you leave your dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Can we find a way to tackle this together?" opens the door for a productive conversation vs. “You’re such a lazy slob, why can’t you just clean up after yourself!”

Public Criticism:

On the other hand, public criticism is a whole different ballgame. It involves openly berating or belittling your partner in front of others, which is detrimental to the relationship. Public criticism often lacks the intention of resolving issues and instead serves as a means of humiliation or domination. It disregards the dignity and respect that should be present in a healthy partnership.

Remember, public criticism not only damages your partner's self-esteem but also erodes the trust and emotional safety in your relationship.

What to Read Next:

What are Core Negative Images and how to Stop Them Ruining Your Relationships:

7 Steps to Having a Difficult Conversation With Your Partner



Gottman, J. (n.d.). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Retrieved from

Brown, B. (n.d.). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Retrieved from

Long, J Marriage Restoration Project