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How do I handle my annoying boyfriend?

Relationships
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 We are endlessly fighting over everything (Photo: iStock)

Hi Chris,

My current relationship started so well that I was totally convinced he was the one! But eighteen months later I’m not so sure.

He’s become quite annoying, like he’s late for everything, and resists doing the things I like at the weekends. And so we’re endlessly bickering over one thing or another.

I’ve tried talking to him about all this, but he never listens and so I’ve become quite a nag, forever complaining and sulking. Not like me at all in fact.

Why’s all this happening? And is there anything I can do to turn things around?

Nagging Girlfriend

Chris says,

Hi Nagging Girlfriend!

Remember that saying, ‘love is blind’? Well, it’s true. Because in the excitement of getting to know one another, you overlooked all sorts of faults in your new boyfriend. But as you settled down together they gradually became obvious and started driving you mad.

And so you’re nagging. Which never works.

A better approach is to reward the behaviour you want and ignore everything else. Like giving him a warm smile anytime he’s not quite as late as usual. No explanations, his subconscious will figure it out. Ignore anytime he’s really late without so much as a word. But because you reward him whenever he’s a bit more punctual, that will start happening more often.

Rewarding small steps like this leads to a whole new set of habits. But don’t expect him to catch on by smiling just once. You have to keep on consistently rewarding every small step in the right direction.

Ignoring bad habits is just as important as rewarding good ones. Because any response fuels a behaviour, while if there’s no response at all it will gradually die away. It takes a lot of self-control, but after a while, your boyfriend will become much easier to love. And instead of taking every irritation personally, you’ll also start seeing his behaviour more objectively. You’re also training yourself to be less bothered by his bad habits, of course!

 And instead of nagging your boyfriend to get him to do the things you like, try helping him to choose something you want by presenting him with several options. Chances are he’ll happily settle for one of the items on your list, even if you’ve omitted all his favourites. Put them in the right order though, because the one you offer first is the one he’s most likely to choose. The whole concept works because you’ve offered him a choice rather than an ultimatum.

 Get the idea? Couples often spend all their time bickering and end up making their lives a misery. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Replace the nagging and complaining with a more subtle approach, and your whole relationship will start going in the right direction.

 All the best,

 Chris

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