Keep blame and defensiveness out of the conversation.
In 2010, the music duo ALL CAPS released a song called, “World of Warcraft Ruined My Life,” and anyone who has dated someone obsessed with WOW can relate. “He never calls back, he’s too busy raiding?” Nailed it.
Maybe your significant other is guilty of spending too much time with electronics and not enough with you, or maybe you have a different gripe. Maybe they leave their hair in the sink or it collects in the shower drain — and they don’t clean it. Gross. Or maybe they expect you to be a mind reader and the phrase, “you should know” is now the bane of your existence.
Whatever their bad habit is, it’s driving you crazy, and you need to talk to them about it. Otherwise, the problem will never be solved and you’ll grow to resent your partner instead of just their bad habits.
That can be an uncomfortable conversation for sure, but it doesn’t have to be!Here are five tips to make the whole experience way more positive.
First and foremost, approach your SO with the knowledge that nobody likes to be called out (including you). Make sure that you are having a conversation, not launching a personal attack. Think about what it would look like for someone else to kindly and respectfully approach you about a bad habit. How would they show their consideration? How could their behavior influence your knee-jerk defensiveness reaction, and even prevent it entirely?
2. Be clear.
“Brutal honesty” is not helpful, but neither is dancing around the subject. Simply state what is true: “When you do X, I feel Y.” How would you feel if your SO no longer had the bad habit? Once you know, tell them genuinely. Would you feel grateful? Relieved? Proud? Share your feelings!
3. Own what is yours (but nothing more).
Yes, I’m telling you to use “I” statements. Why? Because Mark Manson — author of worldwide best selling book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck — is right when he says that regardless of fault, your feelings are your responsibility. It’s not your SO’s fault that this habit bothers you, just like it’s not your fault. We can’t help our likes and dislikes. But, these are your feelings, so own them.
That said, if your SO wants to play the blame game, you don’t have to indulge that. They are just as responsible for their own actions and feelings as you are for yours.
4. Make a deal.
Whether or not you know it, positive reinforcement is your best friend. Has your significant other been dying to try that new Mexican restaurant? Offer to take them there on a date once they’ve gone a certain period of time without “re-offending.” Maybe they hate cleaning the litter box. Offer to take over that small chore if they succeed. It’s quite effective.
5. Quit a bad habit of your own.
Your SO undoubtedly has a complaint about something you do, too. Offer to quit a habit with them and help each other stay accountable. This way you can turn an annoyance into an opportunity for both of you to work on yourselves while also improving your relationship. Who doesn’t like a win-win?
If you use the tips above, your SO will likely surprise you with their willingness to change a behavior. Most of us just want to make the people we love happy, so help your SO accomplish that goal.