Help! My Boyfriend Is Obnoxious

Nerdy guy

Dealing with annoyance in a relationship is easier than you think.

(View video here.)

Guys, especially younger ones, are well known for having 'courting behavior' and then relaxing into their old, slobby selves once you're committed. It's not that men are from Mars, women from Venus - it's more like all of us have grown up on different planets. Couples can get caught up in arguing about who's right, rather than focusing on what will work.

All of us have little traits that annoy our partners, and what is easy and fun for one may be intolerable and abhorrent to the other. These personal "quirks" can produce major struggles unless you discuss them and work together to minimize the annoyance factors. When you got together you found each other's traits refreshing and endearing; but they can become irritating when you're living with them on a 24/7 basis.

Quirks such as:

  • a laugh or throat-clearing that grates on your nerves,
  • differences in messiness or neatness,
  • irritating jokes or stories,
  • incompatible work schedules,
  • different ideas about TV programs or music, housekeeping,
  • your partner's nail-biting or smoking,
  • differences about what and when to eat or feed the dog,
  • different politeness levels with family and friends, or
  • struggles over how warm or what color the room should be

when endured for months and years, can feel like sufficient reason to break up, divorce, oor even commit mayhem.

Many men were not taught anything about housecleaning or picking up after themselves. Sloppiness is most commonly a learned behavior. Either his parents were also sloppy, or constantly cleaned up after him, so he never learned: 1. how to do it; or 2. to notice or be bothered by a mess.

Small irritations may seem silly, but they can create enough resentment over time to become serious problems. Arguing about who's right and who's wrong doesn't work. The key is to tell your partner what bothers you, and negotiate about it. Don't insult, hurt or demean your partner by what you say, but communicate pleasantly. "Dear, when we're watching TV together, and you suddenly channel surf, it startles me. Could you check with me before you do it?" Or, "Honey, I'm not comfortable with our division of labor. Can we talk about it and work out a different system?" -- You're not accusingl you're just working out the logistics of a problem.

If you have different tastes, it may require a lot of creativity and negotiation or ourside help to decorate and maintain a joint home that's comfortable.

You can make deals with each other. "If you'll dress up for my business meeting, or clean up your mess, then I'll....." Just try to remember this is the person you love; not your enemy. If your partner is really treating you like the enemy, maybe it's time to let go and find a more reasonable person.

Dr. Romance on How to Deal with Annoying Quirks

1. Sometimes, your boyfriend's quirks are small enough to be easily dismissed by deciding the "whole package" more than makes up for the little annoying quirks. If you can do this without resentment, his quirks will cease to be a problem, although you may occasionally need to remind yourself of the benefits of the relationship.
2. Perhaps he will voluntarily modify his or her behavior to make you happy. Ask him directly for what you want (see below) and see what happens.
3. You can minimize the impact of your partner's quirks on yourself by finding things to do when he or she is gone, asking clearly for what you want, or distancing yourself from irritating habits.
4. If the above three steps don't work, and you feel irritated and resentful about a job problem, find a way to discuss the problem objectively, without blame or defensiveness, to create solutions that satisfy both of you.

Women need to know how to ask men for what they want directly, and in a rational, not emotional manner. Men respond much better to “Honey, will you take out the garbage?” than to a whiney “The garbage can is overflowing, and it smells bad.” or "I have to do everything around here.”

The indirect request is a female style of communication that works well with other women, but doesn't work well on men, because our thought processes are different.

How NOT to get what you want: (Common mistakes)

• Exaggerate your want: The fear that you may not get what you want may cause you to say you want more than you really do, (“I want you here all the time”). This is confusing to both you and your partner, and because your wants are exaggerated, makes it look much more difficult to reach a satisfactory solution than it really is.

• Overstate your need: The fear that you won't get your wants met may cause you to state what you want as if your survival depended on it (“I'll just DIE if you don't come with me”). This causes your partner to feel suspicious that he or she is being manipulated, and resist cooperating with you.

• Argue for or justify your want: Anxiety that your wants are not important enough to be satisfied may lead you to present them as a persuasive argument, with an overwhelming flood of reasons why you should want them or that the wants should be satisfied, (“I should get more of the money than you do, because .......”). This can provoke your partner to object and argue in return, rather than listen.

• Don't say what you want: Belief that you won't get what you want anyway, or that differences in wants will cause a fight, may lead you to say you “don't care” or “it's not important” or just be silent, when the truth is you'll resent not getting what you want.

• Understate your want: Fear that your partner will be upset, hurt or unhappy if you say what you really want may lead you to ask for something else (“Let’s ask your sister to go with us” when you really want an evening all alone together.) This confuses your partner, and makes it impossible to get what you really want because you haven't said what it is.


(Adapted from Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.)

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.