"Put down the toilet seat!" "Clean the gutters!" "Change the light bulb!" These 'obvious' bits of nagging are actually the laziest forms of relationship clichés. [Yawn.] Like love itself, nagging comes many different and sometimes unrecognizable forms. Not all women are naggers, and not all men are the ones who are nagged. That said, there's a definite communication gap, and we guys tend to...misinterpret an innocuous comment every now and then. It may be impossible to ever conquer this particular battle of the sexes, but here's a little insight into what we actually hear when you nag. Consider this your male-female online nagging translator. (Disclaimer: I may have exagerrated a little, but you get the point.)
What You Say: "Oh, are you playing Madden again?"
What He Hears: "Video games are for teenage boys or fat virgins. When will you grow up and become a man with self-respect? You disgust me."
What You Say: "No, that’s cool. I don’t mind. Have a good time with your friends.”
What He Hears: "You’ve chosen them over me. I know we agreed that we need our space, and I respect that, but WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO BE WITH ME?!"
What You Say: "Sure you don’t want to switch to water?"
What He Hears: "Great. So now you’re becoming an alcoholic. Are you that miserable? What is it about me that drives you to the bottle? Do you need to be drunk to find me attractive? Screw it, pour me one too."
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What You Say: "Are you really going to wear that shirt?"
What He Hears: "I've tried. I’ve tried so hard. I’ve given you nice shirts for birthday presents, I’ve taken you shopping, and I’ve hidden your Goonies t-shirt. If you won’t make the effort to be presentable, maybe I’ll stop making the effort to shave my legs."
What You Say [when the check comes]: "...Do you need cash?"
What He Hears: "I don’t really want to pay, but to save face I’ll ask if you 'need cash,' which, technically, isn’t even a proper offer to pick up the tab, but more like a loan."
What You Say: "You’re working late ... again?"
What He Hears: "You’re working late. Of course you’re working late. You’re always working late. Clearly you’d rather stare at spreadsheets than have dinner with me. Or maybe you’re having an affair?!"
What You Say: " ... [fill in the blank…]"
What He Hears: "NAG NAG NAG NAG!!!"
(Sometimes you just can’t win ...)
What You Say: "Why aren’t you listening to me?"
What He Hears: ...
Jeff Wilser is the author of The Maxims of Manhood and the editor of ThePlunge.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.