But in fairness to women, we come by our nagging honestly. Any girl growing up around even halfway wise women was told to stand up for herself. That men don’t like doormats. That men love bitches. We’re told that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, that agitation promotes change, that closed mouths don’t get fed. Translation: if you want something from your man, open your mouth and make noise with it. And don’t stop til you get what you want.
My mother is a Grade-A, first class, champion nagger. If nagging were an Olympic sport she would be an 18-time gold medalist. She has elevated the shit to an art form. And while I have to give her credit for coming up with a system that worked for her, I realized fairly early on that I never wanted to be like that.
My dad, sisters, and I always did what my mother said. As quickly as we could and as well as we could. Anything to make her stop.nagging. For the love of God. There were times when we felt that if she said just one more word our heads would explode. And so we’d jump up off the chair and do whatever she wanted just to make her stop. We didn’t do what she wanted out of love, or to make her happy, or because it was what we owed her for everything she did for us. We did it so she would shut the fuck up.
Fast forward however many years and I’m a grown up with my own home and my own relationships. And like all girls I vowed to be different from my mum. So it was anything goes with me. Let people be who they are. It’s not my job to raise my man, he’s already grown. Give him the rope to do what he wants and just bounce when I couldn’t take it anymore. Like I told you guys, I was always the cool girlfriend. No matter what he did to me or didn’t do for me, I would not nag.
But after one too many men moving from smooth sailing with Max to rough waters with borderline harridans – and being happy as a pig in shit to be there – I realized that my laissez-faire attitude wasn’t really serving me well. My coolness was being mistaken for indifference and the rare times I did speak up I wasn’t taken seriously. I refused to adopt my mother’s style of relentless and punishing nagging, but I couldn’t be Ms. Laid Back either. I had to find the middle ground.
The truth is though that finding the middle ground between pushover and pain in the ass is hard as shit. Any woman in a relationship will tell you that on any given day her man will do at least one thing that annoys the entire shit out of her. And deciding whether or not to speak on it requires an algorithm more complicated than anything Google can come up with. The thought process goes something like this:
“Well, yesterday when I asked him to call me and he didn’t I let it go and didn’t say anything, so I should say something about this. But wait, no – I gave him shit three times last week, I must be getting on his nerves. Oh but I’m really annoyed right now. I really should say something. Oh but he’s going out with the boys this weekend, I’m sure he’ll do something then that I’ll have to rip him for, so maybe I should save my breath til then? Oh but he must know he’s wrong about this – if I don’t say anything he’s going to think he can get over on me any time he wants. Okay I’m going to say something.”
And then once I do decide to speak on it I have to decide on a tone and the length of the lecture. Should I ambush him the minute he picks up the phone? Lay into him before he has a chance to come up with an excuse? Or should I play it supplicating and say “please babe would you mind not doing it again? I know it might be a bit irrational but it really annoys me when you let other women rub your bald head?”. Should I go for funny and make a joke that he knows is serious but is so funny he can’t figure out if I’m serious or not? Or should I Glinda the Good Witch him and go in with something quick and biting but instantly return to my pleasant amazing self?
Believe it or not dear men, but no woman really wants to nag her man. And smart women know exactly how annoying they are when they’re doing it. But we can’t help it. It’s what we’re taught to do and you have to admit that nagging does work.
But what about you guys? Ladies do you struggle with being a nag or have you accepted it as your birthright as a woman? Men are you involved with a nag? How’s that working out for you? Speak on it in the comments.