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No More Nagging

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No More Nagging


Can you wash the dishes after dinner? Hey, the dishes are waiting for you. Why did you leave the dishes in the sink? They’re going to smell if you don’t watch them now…. Babe, the dishes. Never mind… I’ll just do it myself. 


Today, we will take a deeper look into what nagging is, what it looks like, why one would do it, the three phases of nagging, and some coaching tips.  


By definition, nagging means to “irritate by constant scolding or urging. Generally speaking, nagging is associated with constant complaining, persistent criticism, and pleading. It’s consistently reminding your partner to do something and wearing them down until they submit to it. There’s a sense of urgency with nagging, and as it goes on, the urgency ramps up. Like if you don’t do it right now, there will be consequences type of thing. Nagging is a toxic, silent relationship killer. You may not know you’re even doing it.

So contrary to popular belief, men and women can nag each other. There’s a common perception of the “nagging wife,” but nagging also occurs with men. The difference is when nagging occurs in a masculine way, it’s often more domineering, controlling, and commanding when done in a feminine way, it will sound like pleading, whining, and complaining. Let’s look at some examples: 


  1. Why can’t you ever take the trash out? Honey, the trash is still waiting for you. It’s trash day tomorrow. Don’t wait for the morning. You always miss it, and we end up with full trashcans. Babe, the trash. 

  2. I want to go dancing. Why don’t you take me dancing? You don’t take me out dancing enough. Dancing. Dancing. Dancing. I hate that you don’t take me dancing. 

  3. Why are you always on your phone? I told you no scrolling when we are on a date. You care about your phone more than you care about me. I hate it when you’re on your phone. Just stop. 

  4. Why do you have to wear that outfit and put it up on Instagram? You do it all for the gram, huh? The fact that you’re obsessed with Instagram is unattractive. Stop putting your life all on the gram for everyone to see.


If you notice in these nagging examples, no matter if it’s in a feminine or more masculine voice, they all focus on one specific topic and find many ways to say the same thing over and over again, like a broken record. But how did we get to this point of nagging? We didn’t just begin repeating the same phrases over and over again for no reason. Well, there are three phases that will lead one into nagging….


Phase 1. Politeness 


In the polite phase of nagging, you have a request for your partner, and you bring it to their attention. For example, “It makes me uncomfortable that you’re so overly protective about your phone. Would it be possible to have an open phone policy? This message is presented in a respectful and non-combative manner. Or “I get really worried about your out with your friends late at night. Can you give me a call when you get home to make sure you’ve made it back, ok?” The receiving partner may refuse to make a change. They may feel like they’re being controlled or their privacy invaded. However, instead of saying that aloud, they decide to continue with their existing behavior. 


Phase 2. Annoyance 


In the annoyance phase of nagging, the partner requesting realizes there has been no change. This causes them to become frustrated, taken for granted, annoyed, and ignored. This is where things are beginning to be said with disrespect and anger. Demands begin to happen in this phase as patience is wearing thin. 


Example 1 

  • “Who are you texting?”

  • “Are you texting another girl?”

  • “I don’t understand why you’re so protective of your phone.” 

  • “Why are your notifications off, and you get so skittish if I even get close to touching your phone?” 

  • “Are there pictures of other women on there you don’t want me to see?” 

  • “I demand to see the photos in your phone right now.” 


Example 2

  • “What time did you get home last night.”

  • “Where did you sleep?” 

  • “Are you going back to someone else’s house?” 

  • “Why wouldn’t you just call me when you get home?” 

  • “What are you doing at home that you can’t call me?” 



Phase 3. Arguments 


In the argumentative phase, any time the topic gets brought up, it’s done in a very argumentative and hostile way. 


Example 1 

  • I don’t trust you at all because you’re shady with your phone. I don’t know why I stay with someone I can trust. 

Example 2

  • Don’t bother calling me; it’s obvious you don’t care about me. Stay out with your friends and act single. 



All right, now that we’ve gone through three stages of nagging let’s talk about some coaching tips and signs of nagging.


  1. Don’t ask your partner more than two times to do something. If you ask for something more than twice, you may be stepping into nagging territory. Yes, it’s important to speak your needs aloud, but if you’ve done that and you know they’ve heard you by the third time you ask them, this is considered nagging. 

  2. If your partner doesn’t change their behavior, it’s because they don’t want to. Let me repeat that…. If your partner doesn’t change their behavior, it’s because they don’t want to. Instead of continuing to ask for the same thing. Ask them why there is a communication gap. Why don’t they want to do the thing that you have asked them to? There is an answer underneath their passive behavior. If we go off the examples above: 

    • Why won’t you call me when you get home from your night off?

      • Maybe the partner doesn’t want to feel judged on the time they get home. 

    • Why are you so protective of your phone?

      • Maybe the partner doesn’t want to feel controlled, and their phone is the last inkling of freedom they can control. 

How will you know how your partner is truly feeling unless you ask them about the resistance you’re feeling? You have to go straight to the issue and get to the bottom of the resistance, or else passive aggressively go in circles. 


  1. Nagging comes out in the form of criticism and often starts with a “You” statement followed by something your partner is doing wrong. Most people don’t respond well to criticism, and definitely not consistent criticism. Some even can start tuning that voice out completely. We have to be thoughtful about the way we voice our desires and concerns. 

    1. Begin concerns with “I” instead of “you.” 

      1. “I would love it if you..” 

      2. “I like it when….”

  2. Ask yourself: if nagging is a mask for control? If you think about your request, is it accompanied by a feeling of control? Are you nagging your partner to fulfill your request or to control them? If you think about it, nagging is a way of wearing another person down until they submit to our desire. At its foundation, nagging is controlling. So what is it that you are trying to control? Also, do you have the power to control anyone else but yourself in the end? 

  3. Are you feeling helpless in your relationship? Nagging may be a sign that you feel helpless in your relationship. Nagging often happens when your needs aren’t being met. You’ve asked for something polite at first, then after a while, your needs have been unheard, so you begin to turn up the heat on the frequency of asking for what you desire. Your partner still does nothing to help you, and it makes you feel helpless. Instead of pausing and noticing the lack of support, you try harder, but it only pushes your partner further and further away. 

    • Again, if your partner doesn’t want to adhere to your request, you can only change your behavior. You have to find a way to help yourself to get your needs met. Do not ask more than two times because it’s more than likely they heard you the first time. Make changes in your own behavior and life. For example, you want to go out dancing with your boyfriend. He doesn’t want to go. You’ve asked twice; he’s ignoring you. Call your good friend and go out with her instead. There are other ways to get your needs met without leaning on your partner who doesn’t want to do it. 

    • If you’re nagging your partner constantly, it’s probably a sign that you are neglecting yourself in some form or fashion. This would be a good time to ask what you are nagging your partner about and see if you can provide it for yourself. If you have the energy to nag another person, it indicates that you have an excess of energy that could be turned around and used for yourself. 

      • By repeating yourself over and over again, you’re saying I need you to fill this need. I need you to fill this need. But if they can’t or don’t want to, where will that leave you? How can you fill the need yourself and bring that energy back to yourself? 

  4. Work on replacing nagging with positive reinforcement. 

    • People respond so much better to positive reinforcement than criticism and nagging. Instead of 

      • “Why don’t you clean the dishes.” Trade that with, “I really love it when you clean the dishes. You’re really good at it.”

      • “Why don’t you call me when you get home? You don’t care about me?” Trade that with “Thank you for sending me a text when you got home. I was happy to hear that you made it home, ok!”

        • Mainly want to stick with terms such as:

          • I like it when you do this….

          • I was so grateful when you did this….

          • Great job on this…. 

          • Thank you for doing this… 

        • I know this may be the opposite of how you’re feeling right now, but you’ve got to tip the scale of your energy towards your partner from negative to positive so they feel motivated to be present and work at the relationship. They will not want to work at the relationship if they feel consistently beaten down by you. 

      • Nagging focuses on what your partner isn’t doing, while positive reinforcement focuses on what your partner is doing right. I will be going over how to shift from nagging to positive reinforcement in depth in my next video so stay tuned!!

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