Do You Nag Or Avoid?


What is ‘nagging?’ In essence, nagging is the act of harassing someone with repeated reminders to do something. Nagging is a relationship problem that involves two people: the one who nags and the one who avoids. In other words, nags don’t nag in a vacuum.

Nags require an avoiding person to co-create a cycle of nagging in a relationship. Nagging is also a genderless action. Nags and avoiding persons can be men or women, it really doesn’t matter.

The nagging cycle is upsetting for both the nag and the avoiding person. Let’s see if we can figure out how this behavioral patterns works and what can be done about it.

Nagging Profile: This is a person who harasses his or her partner with repeated requests for certain responses. Implied in the nagging behavior is an inability to do whatever is being asked for himself or herself. The person being nagged is needed.

In addition to the ‘need,’ the nagging person is having difficulty accepting that the avoiding person is resisting his or her request. This difficulty accepting the resistance accounts for the harassing repetition. Along with the need, and harassing repetition, there is an absence of direct communication about the cycle of nagging requests and avoidance.

Avoiding Profile: The avoiding person tends to either ignore the nag, make empty promises, or both. The avoiding person tends to be ‘passive-aggressive’ in response to the harassing repetition of the nag. Empty promises and reassurances without results expresses the avoiding person’s counter-hostility to the nag’s hostile repetitive harassment.

Fundamentally, the avoiding person does not want to do the action being requested by the nag. Only he or she does not say that directly. Like the nag, the avoiding person does not communicate directly about his or her true reactions in the ‘nag-avoid cycle’ taking place.

The cure for the ‘nag-avoid cycle’ is for at least one person, but preferably both persons, to speak their minds about what they are really thinking and feeling. If the nag were to speak directly, he or she would say something like, “Why do I have to ask you to to this over and over again with you always making empty promises to me? Do you want to do what I am asking you to do or not?”

You see, this last question is usually avoided because the nag doesn’t really want to hear the answer and give the avoiding person an easy out of the cycle. On the other hand the avoiding person needs to say directly that he or she does not want to do what is being requested or he or she has some ‘conditions’ on the request regardless of whether the nag wants to hear them or not. Expressing this directly would effectively stop the harassing repetition but risk disappointing the neg or hurting the nag’s feelings.

Now you might ask, what happens to their relationship if they substitute direct communication about what they really think and feel for the nagging and avoiding they have been doing? The answer is either intimacy grows now that they are being honest with each other, or they breakup because they now know they are not suited for each other. Either way is better than a never ending cycle of nagging and avoiding.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan

Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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