Is nagging an unavoidable part of long-term love?
As part of Nag-Free Week, we wanted to explore the male and female takes on the seemingly unavoidable connection between relationships and nagging. A recent YourTango survey revealed that nagging plagues 70 percent of relationships. Take a look at our parents' generation or any sitcom family on TV, and it can seem like nagging is an inevitable part of a long-term relationship. And yet, men and women agree: nagging sucks. The hen doesn't enjoy pecking anymore than her victim likes being pecked. So what gives? Are all long-term relationships destined to fall into a battle of nagger versus naggee?
Sometimes when I really care about a guy, there's this thing that happens. I can't predict when or where I'll cross the threshold from being curious to absolutely, undeniably liking him, but I know something has shifted when the following happens: I'll find fault in something he does, and I'll nag him about correcting it.
I've been nagging adored members of the opposite sex since I was 15. And I do it even when I find myself lucky to be dating someone wonderful—I'd nag Ryan Gosling, if I had the chance. Like many women, I nag because I love. Or because I'm on my way to love. I do it because I want the best for my partner, and I know he's capable of change. I do it because I know he can't read my mind. I do it because sometimes I don't realize that I'm annoying. I do it because even if I realize I'm annoying, I know my heart's in the right place and ...
There's one more thing I haven't mentioned: I can't take what I dish out. I yearn for validation. I hate being bossed around or micro-managed. I ignore people who nag me. If I had to date myself, I'd remain single.
What I mean to say is that I've come to the very obvious, yet complicated, conclusion that nagging is perceived as negative even when it has good intentions. Yet even as I type this, I can think of multiple instances this week when I've nagged my very capable partner. I haven't addressed anything truly important, either. Few people really nag about make-or-break issues. And if you are, you need to have a bigger, serious conversation about your relationship.
Honestly, I need to think of every week as Nag-Free Week. Will I ever pull it off? Probably not. Some people can't stick to a diet. I can't stop trying to boss around my nearest and dearest. But I have learned to water down every nag with two parts praise. People eventually tune out negative feedback, but the positive comes through loud and clear and encourages future good behavior. On the verge of nagging, I do my best to look at the occasionally irritating person who's stolen my heart and know that I'd get along with him better right now—in this particular moment—if he were more like me.
But ultimately, I'm really glad he isn't. Keep reading...
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