How to Survive Your Partner’s Annoying Habits

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Kia Handley and The Sugar Doctor uncover the most annoying habits in the Hunter Valley!
[Original recording on ABC Radio here.]

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Kia Handley is: Not a car! Presenter ABC Newcastle. Loves vintage, Eurovision & great stories.

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Episode Transcript:

Kia: [0:00:00] Oh yeah after a weekend we always like to debrief on the people in our life that we love maybe struggle to hang out with on a weekend, and we all have them, yeah, even you, stop trying to brush it off to the next person I’m talking bad habits [Chandler from “Friends”: It’s so unfair, so I have a flaw, big deal, like Joey’s constant knuckle cracking isn’t annoying, and Ross with his over pronouncing every single word, and Monica with that snort when she laughs, I mean what the hell is that, I accept all those flaws, why can’t you accept me for this]

Oh yeah biting nails, clean washing away, throwing everything into a junk draw stressing over the little things, not listening, uh, the list just goes on. And that’s just my life, but in love and life sometimes you have to just learn to deal with people’s bad habits. So, how do you do it, and when is it okay to ask someone to change just a little bit? Tara Whitewood is our regular relationship coach from The Sugar Doctor, good morning.


Tara: Good morning Kia


Kia: Do you have bad habits? No-


Tara: No, not me, other people that I’ve worked with had terrible habits but-


Kia: Or that you live with-


Tara: [smiling] Me number one, my number one worst habit is definitely the floordrobe.


Kia: Oh see that’s where I think I fail as well.


Tara: Yeah.


Kia: My side of the bed-


Tara: Hundred percent, I cannot pick up my own clothes from the floor on my side of the bed.


Kia: See that is the only part in my life where I’m messy, is that side of the bed. So this had to be, and we will talk about it, there has to be compromise where’s like, I am clean everywhere else but that is my side, I could do with it what I want.


Tara: This is my issue and you need to deal with it [smiling]


Kia: Sorry [smiling] and obviously when it starts tripping you over when you’re going to the bathroom, have a word with me and we will sort it out.


Tara: Closely related to my least favorite chore, putting away laundry [smiling]


Kia: [smiling] Yeah, what else have you’ve been thinking as bad habits at the moment?


Tara: Look, it’s- the funny anecdotes that I hear, you know I call them funny because there is someone else’s life, but there’s little tiny niggles right that I’ve heard are related to me that past few weeks from friends and from family and just think, oh my gosh, how are we ever going to get pass this? [smiling]


Kia: Because it does feel like that sometimes, especially if it’s- sometimes these little things that are- what we fight about again and again, they are the recurring issues we’re good with money, we’re okay with kids but-


Tara: People get divorced over a squeezing a toothpaste in the middle.


Kia: The fact that he bites his nails when we are sitting there trying to watch our favorite TV show is doing my head-


Tara: Feeling like you’ve been watching my house [smiling]


Kia: [smiling] Are we all guilty about having these pet peeves these annoying habits that-


Tara: Oh a hundred percent because what’s not annoying for you is super annoying for someone else, it’s just the way, you know, we are bringing two or three or four humans together in a house, with different views on how to do things and what’s okay and what’s acceptable and different lifestyle habits. Inevitably there’s going to be something that you don’t agree on.


Kia: Um-hum. When does it become a problem bigger than just “could you just stop doing that please”


Tara: Yeah. So I think that what actually happens is that the niggling things become a big problem when the positive interaction stop happening. So, I know that I can write out most of the thousands of annoying things that happen in my household [smiling] most of the time-


Kia: Talking about the dogs, and not the partner, right?


Tara: Yeah, other people, other [smiling] absolutely, and, but then, when everything is great, we’re getting along really well, everything is wonderful, and it’s when you’re going through a bit of a tough period that those things start becoming glaring issues.


Kia: Is it because they’re easy to focus on than on the real problems?


Tara: Yeah, and they’re quite visible, as well, like these tangible evidence of it.


Kia: Or adoreable or smellable-


Tara: [smiling] Okay in some way, in some way it’s in your face.


Kia: [smiling]


Tara: Yeah, so you’re noticing like where a lot of the other things that happen, between you, are not tangible, but more abstract, it’s conversation or it’s something that you think about, so you can get really fixated, you know, if you see the socks on the floor just one more time, we don’t have that problem because we have dogs [smiling] you know, you’re getting a divorce. And, people will go there, will sit down and-


Kia: Is it, are these things divorce, break up worthy?


Tara: I don’t think they’re break up worthy but often it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, like, I just cannot deal with that one more time. So I know that the Gottmans talk about the positive affect ratio.

So the ratio that they talk about, the magic ratio, is about five to one of positive interactions to negative interactions. So what I would suggest instead of focusing on retraining your partner, because I mean if- I think that’s a bit of a- asshole move, you know.


Kia: I was going to ask you, is it fair to ask someone to change, when what they’re doing is not hurting you, it’s not really hurting- well hopefully [0:05:00] it’s hurting you, not hurting anyone else.


Tara: Yeah.


Kia: Really not- you know it’s not something that’s going to drastically affect-


Tara: It’s just you don’t like it.


Tara: Yes.


Kia: Yeah.


Kia: So is the problem with you or them?


Tara: Well a little bit of both [smiling] little bit of both, really you really need to sit down and think, am I trying to- is my partner a project partner? So, I often hear-


Kia: Meet the man, like the man, change the man.


Tara: Exactly right, am I trying to perfect this human who is- so that they are perfect for me, which is really, arrogant, unreasonable, unkind, or is it something that I can live with. So I suppose it’s this scale of the issue.

I think if we have a conversation, you know sometimes people just aren’t aware. I know, I had an ex-boyfriend who used to use my towel nearly every day and it make me crazy and when I eventually said something, hey, can you stop using my towel, that’s not exactly what I’ve said [smiling] it turned out that he was using the towel depending on location.


Kia: Got it.


Tara: So I was putting my towel in what he thought was his towel location. And as soon as we’ve established that, it was easy. Easy sailing right, so, like have a quick conversation, touch base on it, but if it’s something that happens over time, maybe you just need to suck it up.


Kia: Princess


Tara: Princess [smiling]


Kia: Or prince, or prince-


Tara: [smiling] Sometimes you got to let one go through the keeper you know sometimes you just got to roll over the-


Kia: But it’s okay to have that conversation initially, like, yeah I really dislike when you do this-


Tara: Yeah, I think so, as long as it’s that-


Kia: And they’re not even aware of it right?


Tara: Not a huge tantrum, just say hey that’s super annoying- [smiling]


Kia: My love. I love you a lot and it’s really great when you do these good things, but this one thing drives me mental.


Tara: Yeah. But I think sitting above that is the- when it comes to issues like this the problem that you’re focusing on is rarely the actual problem. So if you’re really fixated on the fact the toilet paper is not getting changed, then there’s something else going on in your life because really that is a minor detail, you know, it’s probably one out of ten on the scale of the importance in your life.


Kia: It’s sixteen minutes away from the ten o’clock news, you are listening to ABC New Castle with Kia Handley, we’re talking to Tara Whitewood, she’s our regular relationship coach here on a Monday morning and we’re talking annoying habits, I’d love to know your most annoying habit, whether it’s yours, whether it’s the thing that you can’t stand people doing.

This one is coming through a lot, people who would say, “like”, and “um”, all the time, lazy brains, says Mark from Hamilton, Roger says, I probably fall into this, like our pet peeves radio announces who tend to say right  constantly-


Tara: [smiling] Is that passive aggressive-


Kia: So- maybe it’s not me, but if it is, I’m monitoring you Roger, I take what you’re saying on board, thank you for sharing [smiling] Stew says talking with a mouth full of food and eating with your mouth open and slipping noodles. If you can’t eat them without slipping, don’t buy them. These are really small things and that’s what we’re hearing again and again.


Tara: I cannot eat an apple in a room with my sister, she will lose it.


Kia: [smiling]


Tara: She could- food noises, there’s actually a word for it, I cannot think of what the word is, but people who can’t deal with the food noises.


Kia: You know, so I’m that person.


Tara: You are that person, yeah.


Kia: Yeah. It’s genetic, I don’t know if it is, I’ve just made that up.


Tara: [smiling]


Kia: But see you have learned how to handle that with your sisterly relationship.


Tara: I leave the room [smiling]


Kia: Like, okay, I will not eat, I would endeavor not to eat an apple in front of you.


Tara: Yes.


Kia: So it is manageable-


Tara: Yeah.


Kia: To get on top of this and maybe in a household that maybe it’s turning to a long running personal joke.


Tara: And that is I think that absolute best pathway, it’s to have a little bit of humor about it- uh, you know we have a noise in my house which is this [noise] [smiling] it’s just you know, I know that you know that I think that’s annoying and, I’m expressing my annoyance and let’s get on with it.


Kia: And you can carry on doing it, because I know you’re not going to change-


Tara: Yeah, there’s this episode that I remember of Everybody loves Raymond where she makes, Debra makes her husband a sandwich that he doesn’t like, and he says, oh it’s very-

I’m so grateful for the effort you put into something, or similar, and she says like, that’s fake nice that’s rubbish and he goes, can I put it in the bin, and you can call me an idiot, and make this little funny deal and she thinks about it and agrees-


Kia: [smiling]


Tara: And then he goes and it puts it in the bin, and she goes uh, idiot [smiling] so it brings that humor you know, allows you to diffuse that tension, I think.


Kia: And look, if we can, I feel like if, as a relationship, even as friendships, lovers, it doesn’t matter what it is, if you can get past this small stuff and have that conversation and get to that middle ground where they’re probably going to keep doing it, you’re going to have a funny reaction and we can move on, that then puts you in a good stage to talk about big issues when they pop up.


Tara: Exactly right, and I think that if you’re fixated on something that is really minor, really on the scale of things, when you’re talking about the cap on a tube of toothpaste as compare to political things and economic things and you know, financial things.


Kia: Kid things.


Tara: Kid things and you know, stuff that is the stuff of happiness in your life, maybe you have [0:10:00] perfectionist’s tendencies you know, maybe your expectations of another human in your life are not super reasonable. Like maybe you’re the asshole [smiling]


Kia: Paula says, toilet paper the wrong way around.


Tara: I love it.


Kia: John says aggressive driving. Oh my other pet peeve is grandpa driving, Glenn says whingeing around trivial meaningless things, Ann says noisy rude lazy eaters, chewing food, gum, any solid in the mouth with the mouth opened, there’s a lots of common ones coming through.


Tara: Yeah. I have a friend who would change the way that people hang the toilet paper in other people’s houses [smiling]


Kia: See this is where a- which way is the right. Inverted comes the way around-


Tara: Over the top.


Kia: Yeah I don’t even know, I don’t even focus on those sort of the things.


Tara: And I don’t really care [smiling]


Kia: Yeah, is there a way to talk about this that’s effective, to raise this with someone that you love in a way that’s not going to be like, I hate it when you do this.


Tara: You know I think casually, I think casually initially you know, hey that’s really annoying. Would you be open to do it in another way.

But once you start getting through that- once you start getting to that point where you, you know, really wearing the rut, we’ve had that conversation a thousand times, maybe it’s time to think, maybe this is not going to change, like is this a deal breaker, like I’ve heard you’ve said it earlier. Is this going to be- can I live with this for thirty, forty, fifty years.


Kia: Is it okay if it is a deal breaker? Is that okay?


Tara: Yeah-


Kia: If that’s where you get to?


Tara: Absolutely. I would express that to your partner before you go walking out the door, but also, you might like to try on the sentence, I left my partner because they chewed loudly.


Kia: The toilet paper was the wrong way.


Tara: Or, I left my partner because they didn’t put the cap on the toothpaste, like I- can you live with that with that decision, because personally I think it’s a little bit petty but I do appreciate if they- the accumulation of everything sometimes of all of the different things can feel overwhelming, so you can get to the point where you can’t live with that.

If there’s a whole catalog of sloppy habits, then maybe you are getting to the point where, you know, this isn’t going to work.


Kia: Yeah, and that’s suggests something bigger. That suggests that our- sort of a way of life is bigger and it’s not just the tooth cap.


Tara: Broader issue. I think so. So I would say them, maybe you could look at the annoying habits of being symptoms of something else and, you know, is it something that you can, is it occasional hay fever is it an occasional relationship hay fever or is it terminal [smiling]


Kia: Yeah [smiling] Tara, always great to catch up getting to the bottom of big issues like annoying habits, we’ll do it again next week.


Tara: Yeah, thank you.


Kia: Tara Whitewood there, from The Sugar Doctor



[END OF AUDIO] [0:12:48]