No matter how good your relationship is, expect to have a little over two arguments per week, says Sally Lloyd, an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah, in her article in the journal “Family Relations.” Knowing how to navigate through these inevitable periods can be the difference between strengthening your relationship by working through conflicts or ending up in damaging screaming matches. With the right tips and strategies, you can calmly make your way through your next irritated moment.
Silence is Golden
Sometimes saying nothing is better than straining your voice and relationship by complaining repeatedly about the same annoying habits. Remaining silent doesn’t necessarily show weakness, says Marcia Reynolds in “How To Deal With Annoying People” on Psychology Today. Instead, your silence could reflect thoughtfulness. For example, you could use your silence as a moment to reflect on how your reactions could be contributing to his behaviors. If your boyfriend keeps repeating himself, perhaps he doesn’t feel heard by you. Alternatively, use your silence to take a deep breath and release tension from your body. He may be getting on your nerves because you feel stressed out.
Choosing to be tolerant and forgiving when your boyfriend is being irritating is a loving way to react to whatever is annoying you. Remind yourself that no relationship or person is without flaws. And then move on. If the issue is something that repeatedly gets under your skin, then you may want to tell him about it. Try broaching the subject later, when you are calm and have stopped feeling annoyed. Perhaps no one has ever given him feedback that his tendency to interrupt is irritating, for example. Try to discuss the matter in a non-blaming way by focusing on how his behaviors make you feel.
If you have picked up on the things that your boyfriend does that annoy you, you can formulate a strategy to avoid the situation escalating. Avoid certain topics that will aggravate you, suggests Hara Estroff Marano in an article, “Difficult People: The High Art of Handling Problem People” in Psychology Today. If the long hours he spends at work are a problem, talk about something else. If you know that you get annoyed by him trying to solve a problem instead of listening, state from the beginning that you want his understanding not his heroism.
Distraction is a commonly used strategy for conflict resolution Shirley Feldman and Kris Gowen discovered in their study published in the “Journal of Youth and Adolescence.” Find something to do that will get your mind off the current situation and remove his attention off of his conscious or unconscious habit that you find annoying. Suggest playing a game you both love or engaging in a hobby you both enjoy, such as a card game or gazing at the stars. Or engage in a solo distraction technique by focusing your energy on the things you find endearing about him despite his irritating behavior, such as his dimples and the quirky way he tells a story.
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- Family Relations: Conflict in Premarital Relationships: Differential Perceptions of Males and Females
- Psychology Today: How to Deal with Annoying People
- Psychology Today: Difficult People: The High Art of Handling Problem People
- Journal of Youth and Adolescence: Conflict Negotiation Tactics in Romantic Relationships in High School Students
Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.
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