Minor, yet annoying, behaviors can have a major impact on romantic relationships, says Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D., and “repeated exposure to them results in more hypersensitive reactions over time.”
“Annoyance and disgust” often surface and the likely end result is a breakup if you don’t nip it in the bud.
First let’s break down into categories what exactly is found to be annoying behavior in a relationship: Psychology Today reports that poor grooming, failing to clean up after oneself, or showing poor manners is right up top in terms of turnoffs. Being inconsiderate, expecting disproportionate attention, being chronically late or being self-preoccupied in conversation is also highly annoying. Being critical, acting jealous, giving commands without authority or being controlling tends to ruin a relationship. And practicing a vice to excess, (pot, booze) avoiding work and being lazy, or flirting with other people also become really irritating.
“Men tend to be a bit more uncouth and norm violating, while women more often act inconsiderate and intrusive,” says the report. “Further, the more frequently an individual performed the allergic behaviors, the more intense and negative their partner's emotional reaction. At a one-year follow-up, these repeated behaviors were also related to relationship dissatisfaction and the decision to break up with the partner. Over time, then, these annoying habits built up into strong resentments—making partners miserable and even pushing them to decide to leave.”
But you love your partner—just not their annoying habit. What can you do to stay in the relationship and not live in a world of frustration?
PT says “Be empathetic.” Be genuine and warm—but also honest, and tell them what’s bothering you. Next, make a deal.
“Propose a mutually-beneficial exchange that satisfies you both. Share with them what you would like them to do instead of the behaviors that bother you, while being open to some changes they might want of you as well.”
Motivate instead of tearing your partner down. “Explore what might motivate your partner to change and stick with the new behaviors.”
No screaming. “Your partner will slip up on occasion (as will you). When that happens, try to avoid scolding or punishing them. Instead, redirect them to more positive behaviors that you both enjoy.”
Finally, if your partner is showing improvement, show you appreciate it. “Over time, the annoying habits will be replaced by behaviors you both find more satisfying.”
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