• Arlene S. Rosen, LMFT

Complaint Versus Criticism In A Relationship

Making space for a complaint is far different than hearing criticism, although it may feel similar. An analogy of a complaint is contacting customer service to resolve an issue, desiring a shift or change, seeking a resolution-specific outcome. A criticism is simply the act of expressing how you how unhappy and displeased your partner is. An example of criticism is writing a scathing remark on the internet, you are venting without a constructive desired outcome.

Healthy relationships require room to adjust and grow. An underlying rule that is helpful is, to hear one another’s happiness and also the individual’s need for change allowing for flexibility in the relationship to grow.


We may hear a complaint as I am doing something wrong, my partner is unhappy with me, I am not good enough. The complaint may not be that deep! Most of us strive to have a happy partner which translates to I am good enough, liked, or desired. Try to imagine when you are hearing feedback, What is the need? This allows us to stay in a place without personalizing the information is an attack on our character while receiving the information constructively.