Constructive criticism for partner's creative pursuit?
June 9, 2010 12:38 AM Subscribe
My partner has a hobby/interest that is important to him--similar to music or art, it's something that he occasionally shares the labors of his love with the public. The problem? I'm not crazy about these particular creative fruits. Am I just being too snobby?
posted by leemleem to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We have been together over a year, both of us are 30ish. This came up as an issue several months ago and I'm still confused how to deal with it. We both have several different creative pursuits, and most of his other creative endeavors I have a lot of admiration for. I like one of his pieces more than some others, and there are plenty of examples of this type of creative pursuit that I do enjoy. Let's say it was jazz compositions--the problem wouldn't be that I don't like jazz comps, I could list several jazz composers whose work I admire, I just don't seem to like his jazz comps, among others I don't like. The town we live in supposedly has a good community for this type of creative expression, but when I've gone with groups of his friends to these events, they've disliked the same sorts of things I have. They haven't directly criticized his pieces, but they have criticized elements that I see in his work--it seems possible to me that they are most likely indifferent to his work and were just there to be good friends. I also have an academic background that involves critical theory, and so that might be throwing a wrench into things too. With my main creative pursuit, I was routinely run through a gauntlet of unbridled criticism in school--and loved every minute of it. When it comes to other routes of expression that I am less confident in, I tend not to share many of the results, and only in ways that let my friends know that I am sharing a very rough beginning, and that I'm only ready for however much criticism. When this issue got very painful between my boyfriend and I, it wasn't the first time he had asked my opinion. I had tried to remain sort of non-committal, only talking about the things that I did like--but he began pressing the issue more directly and it felt like it was pushing me to be either honest and somewhat insensitive, or dishonest and effusive. This is, of course, my perception of things--and even within my perception of him, not indicative of who I think he is. he is extremely talented in many other ways, an amazing partner who really contributes to our shared responsibilities, smart, fit, true north on a moral compass, the whole nine yards. We are also normally able to talk through our problems very well. I certainly didn't like hurting his feelings, but the resulting fight still leaves a funny taste...not just that I didn't think I did anything wrong, but even after months, I still feel very confused as to how to handle this issue. I haven't learned anything! I don't want to continue to hurt him, or hurt him again, it's a touchy subject.
He has said things like, "well I just won't invite you to my next performance" but that doesn't sit right with me either. I want to encourage him to be happy in all his pursuits, so maybe I've already screwed the pooch here--before he pressed me for more of my opinion, I WAS just happy that it made him happy. There might be some more backstory necessary, but I'll stop here for now to see what kind of a read you all have so far.