10 Signs You're Nagging Your Partner (And How to Quit Once and For All)
Nagging is a type of bad interpersonal communication in which one person repeatedly pesters or harasses someone to do something. Nagging often happens when someone does not believe in someone else’s ability to do something or ability to do something properly. This can happen in any form of relationship (parent-child relationships often come to mind), including romantic relationships.
When someone persistently nags their romantic partner, it can lead to a nagging pattern in the relationship in which one partner tries to control the other partner’s actions. This often results in their partner digging their heels in and refusing to do things out of spite. Nagging patterns in a relationship create a power imbalance and can lead partners to lose respect and trust for one another. Nagging is something that couples should avoid in their relationship or correct if it is an existing pattern.
Here are ten signs that you are nagging your partner, and how to quit once and for all:
1. You always give instructions
If you are always giving your partner instructions or telling them what to do, this is a telltale sign that you are nagging your partner. If your partner asks you how to do something, then it is appropriate to give them instructions, otherwise, pipe down! Your partner is a competent individual and they will be able to figure things out for themselves. If they are not able to, you can help them problem-solve as a peer and work on a solution together. Giving instructions to your partner communicates that you know better than them, or do not trust their judgement. Rather than doubting their ability, focus on letting them problem solve and approaching the problem solving as a team.
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2. You try to control everything around you
If you have controlling tendencies, you may be nagging your partner without even realizing it. People who try to control everything around them often put a huge burden on their partner to act in a certain way or do things in a specific manner. This can come across as nagging if your partner feels like you are telling them what to do. Rather than trying to control everything around you, including your partner’s actions, focus on your own actions.
If you like something done a certain way you can let your partner know your preference, but at the end of the day it is up to you to make sure that things are done how you want them to be. If it is super important to you that something is done a certain way, do it yourself! It is also important to learn to trust your partner. If you focus energy on trusting your partner, you may feel less inclined to try and control their behavior, which can also reduce the amount of nagging in the relationship.
3. You ask for something more than twice
There is a huge difference between asking for a favor (and reminding your partner that you asked them for a favor) and nagging. Asking for a favor is a request (AKA not something that you are telling your partner to do) and it is something that your partner can choose to do or not do. If you find yourself repeatedly asking your partner to do things for you, this is a sign that you are nagging them. If your partner isn’t doing something the first time you ask them to, consider why they aren’t doing it. Do they not want to? Do they not understand what you are asking for?
Talking about your request and listening to your partner’s point of view will help ensure that you are communicating clearly. It is important to remember that your partner doesn’t have to do everything that you ask of them. It is also nice to do a favor for your partner, but they might have other things going on that are more important. Communicating your needs to one another will help you avoid nagging each other and will encourage you to help each other when you do have the bandwidth.
4. Every statement begins with ‘you’
If every time you talk to your partner, the statement begins with ‘you’, then it’s a sign that you are nagging your partner. Using ‘you’ statements associates blame and can make your partner feel as if they are falling short or letting you down. Using ‘you’ statements can also cause your partner to feel defensive and lead them to dig their heels in on things and refuse to help you. This can lead to a nagging pattern in your relationship, which leads both partners to feel let down and indignant.
Instead of using ‘you’ statements, communicate with your partner using ‘I’ statements. For example, if you are disappointed about something, rather than assigning blame (like saying “Why didn’t you do this”), reframe the situation to talk about how it made you feel, “I felt disappointed because...” This type of reframing takes blame out of the equation and will help you communicate more effectively. Once your partner understands your point of view (ie. being disappointed) they can choose how to deal with it instead of you telling them how to.
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5. You focus all of your energy on their behavior
When you use ‘you’ statements rather than ‘I’ statements, you are focusing all of your energy on your partner’s behavior, rather than focusing on what you can control (hint: your behavior). If you focus all of your energy on your partner’s behavior, then it’s a sign that you are in a nagging pattern in your relationship. Rather than focusing on what your partner is or is not doing and whether they are or are not doing what you want them to do, focus on your actions and how you can change your behavior.
If you are disappointed because your partner isn’t doing something you asked them to do, and it is something that needs to be done, do it yourself! Remember that you have agency to get things done and sometimes it is easier to take things into your own hands. You and your partner have different priorities, so rather than feeling let down when something you find important is neglected, take care of it yourself.
6. You've been told by your partner you nag
A telltale sign that you are nagging your partner is if your partner tells you that you nag!! Your partner knows best whether you are nagging them and if they communicate to you that you are nagging, listen to them! If your partner tells you that you’re nagging them, consider how you can communicate more effectively about what you want and need from the relationship.
Communicating about your expectations and needs in the relationship will ensure that you and your partner are on the same page and can inform your partner’s behavior without you telling them what to do. Remember that your partner wants to support you and they will work to do so if you communicate to them.
7. You feel more like a parent than a partner
If you feel more like a parent than a partner, then this is a sign that you are in a nagging relationship cycle. Partners see each other as equals in a relationship and talk to each other about decisions rather than instructing each other what to do. A parent-child relationship on the other hand is not a relationship between equals, and parents often instruct children what to do without consulting them or considering their point of view.
If you are in a nagging relationship cycle, there is an uneven power dynamic in which one partner acts almost as a parent and instructs their partner what to do. This can lead their partner to act like a child and refuse to do what they’re being instructed to. If this scenario sounds similar to you, it’s important to change the power dynamic in your relationship so that you and your partner have equal say in the decision making in the relationship.
Establishing a more equal power dynamic will lead both partners to feel more respected in the relationship and it will actually inspire you to help each other more (without being asked!).
8. You're starting to feel resentment
If you are the partner that is being nagged in the relationship, you may start to feel resentment towards your significant other. This resentment is related to the parent-child power dynamic we discussed above. When your partner is constantly telling you what to do rather than consulting you, you may start to feel resentment towards them. This resentment can lead you to ignore your partner, be contrary towards them and/or purposefully not do what they are telling you to do.
If you start to feel like you resent your partner or your relationship, communicate how you are feeling! Explaining how you are feeling as a result of being nagged will hopefully show your partner that nagging is not an effective way to communicate. It’s important to try and change the power dynamic in the relationship so that you don’t feel as if your partner has more power or say than you do.
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9. Your partner has started to act out
On the flip side of the coin, if you are in a nagging relationship pattern, you may notice your partner acting out in immature or child-like ways. This is due to resentment that they are starting to feel towards you and towards the relationship. If you act like a parent to your partner, they may start to act like a child and act out immaturely.
If your partner is acting out against you, it’s important to discuss their actions and how they are feeling. It is important to show your partner respect, even if they are acting in an immature way, and hear them out when they are telling you how they feel. Try to get to the bottom of why they are acting out and see if there are things that you can do to help them feel more seen and understood in the relationship.
Partners often act out if they feel like they aren’t being heard through normal channels of communication. Try and keep communication open with your partner so that they don’t feel the need to act out in the first place.
10. You have little to no intimacy
If you are in a nagging relationship cycle and if there is a parent-child dynamic in the relationship rather than an equal relationship, then there will probably be limited intimacy in your relationship! If you have little to no intimacy with your partner, consider why this may be the case! Are you constantly telling your partner what to do? Or vice versa?
Intimacy - whether it’s emotional, physical or sexual - is based on good communication and respect for one another. Nagging patterns break down good communication in relationships and lead partners to lose respect for one another, which can significantly impact intimacy in the relationship. Think about it, if you are upset with your partner, you probably don’t want to be intimate with them! If this is the case, focus on improving communication with your partner. Improving communication can naturally foster intimacy in the relationship.
Ending a nagging pattern in a relationship can be difficult, especially if it has been the relationship dynamic for a long time. In addition to trying the above tips for ending the nagging pattern in your relationship once and for all, it can be helpful to turn to experts. Relish is a relationship coaching app that can help you and your partner assess your relationship and establish #relationshipgoals. The coaches at Relish can provide you and your partner with custom advice to help you work towards your relationship goals in achievable and incremental ways. Relish is an excellent resource for couple’s looking to improve communication and stop the nagging pattern in their relationship.
The experts at Relish can help you and your partner establish healthy communication patterns, balance power dynamics, and end the nagging in your relationship once and for all. Click here to try our award winning relationship coaching app free for one week!