What Your Partner's "Annoying Behavior" Actually Says About You

The 'annoying' relationship problem could actually be related to you.

Couple offended by each others "annoying behavior" Peopleimages.com - YuriArcurs | Canva

Nobody's perfect. But, sometimes, does your spouse drive you crazy? It's normal to notice your partner's odd, annoying, or obnoxious behavior — whether that's quirky mannerisms or angry outbursts. But when does your partner's behavior become something to truly worry about? With so much talk these days about personality disorders and mental health issues, it makes sense to wonder if your partner's quirks or outbursts are a sign of something more serious.


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Melanie Gorman, Senior VP of YourTango, took this tricky topic to some of our experts: therapist and life/love/relationship coach Marcie Telander; psychotherapist, trainer, and author Ross Rosenberg; former relationship help doctor Dr. Rhoberta Shaler; and renowned biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher. And what they said might surprise you! 

Of course, if your partner's behavior makes you feel afraid or threatened in any way, you should seek help from a professional. But ... if what you're talking about is more "annoying behavior," the experts had an unexpected angle on the subject. Rather than flip out and focus so much on your partner, they say the place to start in analyzing that "annoying behavior" is with ... yourself! 


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"Before we say or do anything," Ross Rosenberg says, "take a deep breath and think about: What part of that is me? ... and then talk about it [with your partner] and you'll probably always find out that a little bit is about both of you." "I agree with that," says Rhoberta Shaler, "and I think there is another piece. Sometimes I have to say to my clients, 'Whose face do you have on your partner right now?' because they're taking it from another relationship. They're reacting to the old relationship versus the partner right in front of them."

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So, how do you know if the issue is you or if the issue is your partner? It all comes down to communication. Note what your partner does that upsets you, write it down, and encourage them to do the same. And then, have a (kind) conversation with your loved one about what's going on. "Wait until you're calm and relaxed to do so," says Marcie Telander. 

"Pick a time when you're feeling tender and comfortable and secure, not when you're all charged up." Look, there are instances when your partner's behavior indicates something troubling (again, if you feel afraid or threatened, seek help) but when you find yourself frustrated with their annoying idiosyncrasies or imperfect personalities, part of addressing that should include a good look in the mirror.

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Melanie Gorman is the former Senior VP of YourTango Experts. Helen Fisher Ph.D., is a biological anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute and Chief Scientific Advisor to the dating site Match. She is the author of the book The Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, among other titles. Marcie Telander is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a life/love/relationship communication coach. She is the president of East River Counseling, Inc., an author, and TedXTalk presenter. Rhoberta Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor, provided urgent and ongoing care for relationships in crisis for more than 30 years. She was also the host of the Save Your Sanity Podcast. Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, is a psychotherapist, Self-Love Recovery Institute CEO, and author of The Human Magnet Syndrome.