The other day my boyfriend and I were joking about my very annoying habit of almost constantly nagging him. Unfortunately I don’t know how to choose my battles, as the experts say. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, her boyfriend must be whipped”. Well, we also joke that I have him on a harness. Not a leash, but a nice gentle harness to guide him on the right path. In all seriousness, we started to think about the little things I do that frustrate him and the list was long. After that conversation, I walked away feeling like a terrible girlfriend. I really don’t know how he still puts up with me.
I thought this would be a really good topic to explore and self reflect on for all of us. If you go through this list and find yourself having similar habits, I hope this article helps you overcome these problematic patterns. I’m taking it as an opportunity to learn and become a better partner in my relationship. Hopefully, by writing this article, I become more self-aware when I engage in these behaviors. I also hope that when I refer back to this article in the future, I can confidently say that I no longer do a lot of these things. That would be a great thing. If you share these struggles with me, I hope the same for you too!
Things You Do That Probably Anger Your Significant Other Without You Realizing It
Without further ado, here is the list we came up with. These are things you might also be doing that can majorly jeopardize your relationship without you even realizing it. As you scan through the list, you may be thinking that doing these things is not a big deal or that you are just trying to help. However, over time, these habits will damage a happy and healthy partnership.
- You comment on his lifestyle choices like his diet, exercise, etc.
- You constantly tell him what he can and can’t do
- You multitask while he is trying to tell you something
- You lecture him
- You hold him to a higher standard than other people
Let’s dive more deeply into each possible transgression.
1. Commenting on his diet, exercise routine or lack thereof
If you are constantly complaining to your significant other about his lifestyle choices, you are putting a strain on the relationship. This includes commenting on his diet, exercise routine, smoking habits, etc. No one wants to feel like crap and if you make your partner feel bad about what they are eating or what they are doing, they will feel low about themselves.
Nagging about someone’s “bad” choices is not a good way to persuade someone to change their habits. Change comes from within. The only thing we can do is educate the other person. It’s also important to be supportive on their lifestyle journeys. Whenever they make healthy choices we should be proud and comment on that. This may sound funny but it’s kind of like training a dog. When we teach our dogs a new skill, positive reinforcement is so much better and more effective than yelling and screaming at our pets. They are more likely to do what we want them to do in the future when we praise their positive behaviors. I think this also applies to human interaction.
2. Telling him what he can and can’t do
This is a big one! You are dating an adult and he should know how to behave. You can’t always tell him what he can and can’t do. You are not his mom. Besides, if you constantly have to tell your significant other what he can and can’t do, aren’t you getting exhausted? In a healthy relationship, it’s not our job to “parent” our significant others.
3. Multitasking while he is talking to you
This is definitely something that I struggle with on a daily basis. I think women are more inclined to multitask while men tend to focus on one thing at a time. At least that has been my experience so far. The other day I was FaceTiming with my boyfriend and while he was telling me a story, I was working on the computer on the blog. I was still paying attention to what he was saying but I was not giving him my full attention and time. That needs to change. I get it, we are all very busy. But when you give your significant other your full attention, you are showing him or her respect.
No one likes to be lectured after doing something “wrong”. One of my biggest offenses that I need to improve on is to stop lecturing my boyfriend. I have a bad habit of repeating myself while lecturing him. Once I’m on a roll, I can’t stop talking until I hash out everything that is in my head. Just writing this out makes me think how annoying that must be for my boyfriend.
If you also have this crummy habit of constantly repeating yourself and dwelling on your points while “lecturing” your signficant other, try to put yourself in his or her shoes and approach the topic in a different way.
I was recently reading an interesting book entitled “Healing Without Freud or Prozac: Natural Approaches to Curing Stress, Anxiety and Depression” by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. (My point here does relate back to the lecturing complaint. I’m not randomly going to start discussing depression and natural methods of treating it in an article about relationship faux paws 😊). In one of the chapters, the author discussed communication techniques and suggested a really good method for conflict resolution. The acronym for this method is STABEN and it provides a formula for a powerful way to get your points across in an assertive (but not angry) manner. In the STABEN method by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber:
- S stands for Source. When something bothers you, make sure that you address the problem with the correct source. This is the person who is the origin of the problem. The disparager, if you will. All too often we talk about our relationship issues with someone else like our friends or family. Yes, these people can provide advice, but they can’t solve or fix the issue at hand. I also don’t think it’s a good idea to talk in a negative light about your significant other to anyone in general. They will form opinions that you feed them. Based on these discussions they might become biased towards your partner and they could end up not liking him or her. But that’s a topic for another post 😊.
- T stands for Time and Place. When discussing important matters, make sure the conversation takes place in a private setting where both you and your partner will be free of distractions.
- A stands for Amicable Approach. Start with something positive and use your partner’s name when addressing him or her.
- B stands for Objective Behavior. This is important. Clearly describe what is bothering you but do not offend the other person’s character. Say “when you do this and that”.
- E is for Emotion. Next describe how the behavior makes you feel. For example, “I feel hurt”.
- N is for Need. Describe what you need from your significant other in order to move forward.
As an example, say that your significant other interrupts you constantly when you are trying to talk. Using the STABEN technique, you could say something like this:
“[Your partner’s name], I understand that you want to contribute to the conversation with your perspective before you lose your train of thought. I appreciate that you do listen and want me to hear what you think about this topic. However, when you interrupt me while I’m in the middle of my story or train of thought, it makes me feel like my voice and opinion is not heard. It makes me feel like it’s not as important as what you want to say. I need you to be more mindful of our conversations and let me finish speaking before you interject with your thoughts so that we can have a meaningful discussion.”
I have effectively tried out the STABEN method on my boyfriend and afterwards asked him what he thought of my approach. He was impressed. He said that I was assertive, straight to the point and I didn’t dwell on the same thing over and over. I was clear in what I needed to move forward and my boyfriend understood exactly what was bothering me. I highly encourage all of you to try this method out in your relationships. It will improve your communication skills.
5. Holding him to a higher standard than other people
This is another big issue that many couples deal with. Sometimes I catch myself being frustrated at my boyfriend because he says something that I don’t like. The issue is not with that he is saying, the issue is that if someone else would have said it (like a friend or family member), I really wouldn’t be mad or frustrated. I wouldn’t think it’s such a big deal. This can also apply to habits or things that your significant other does. We generally want our partners to literally be perfect:
- he needs to be a good and kind person
- he needs to be generous
- he needs to be helpful
- he needs to have an amazing job and successful career
- he needs to get along with his family and friends
- he needs to be slow to anger
- he needs to be mature…
- the list could go on and on!
But this long list is not realistic. While yes I’m extremely lucky and my boyfriend is many of those things and so much more, I cannot expect him to be perfect and always be “the best” person in the room. It’s not healthy to hold your significant other to a higher standard than you hold other people that are in your sphere of influence.
In summary, after reflecting on all of these habits, I think the biggest and most important takeaway for all of us is to be more self-aware of our actions. It’s also key to practice good communication skills with our partners. These two things can significantly improve our relationships.
Let me know in the comments below what your annoying habits are that frustrate your significant others! I wonder if I need to add any more to my list. 🧐