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On Nagging

Referring to someone else's concerns, especially those of women, as "nagging" is usually about dismissal. This is clearly sexist, a means to shut women up. But on the other hand, constant complaining about anything can get really old. Really fast. Nagging is just bad news all around.

Nagging means something, but it doesn't mean what we culturally think it means. The script is about power. If you ask most men, women are trying to take their power away - their power to make their own decisions, to be free. If you ask most women, they nag because they're fighting for their own power. I saw this repeatedly in my parents' relationship growing up, and I took it into all of my own relationships as an adult. You recognize the script of nagging. It's one we all see constantly. It looks like this:

"I am paying for x amount of things while you fuck off/do something that uses my money in x ways. I cook for you, I do your laundry, and I always make time for you. I make so many sacrifices for you. What do you do for me? You don't even pay enough attention to me! You need to do your share around here and be more grateful!"


Look at this formula. What do you see? What I see, now, is that when I said these things I already always felt powerless. I was angry because I felt I had to try to convince men I was valuable and had any control over my life, and I was pretty damn sure men would never actually believe me. I didn't believe in my own power over my life. I didn't set my own boundaries, either. I let other people take from me and then I let it eat away at me. I was resentful, but convinced that I would never be able to fix anything. I took this script into a healthy relationship and used it as a means to address concerns that were totally fixable, with a person totally willing to fix his end, and I made a giant mess out of things. I actually did hurt him and make him feel powerless, because I assumed from the start that he was unwilling to try and really just wanted to take my power.

Nagging is the script of powerlessness. It's not resistance - it's giving up.

Having personal power doesn't look like nagging. Anger and resentment mean something - often, that your boundaries are being ignored. But the solution to that is simply enforcing your boundaries. Stating your needs, and expecting them to be met. And knowing that if someone who claims to love you has no interest in meeting your needs or respecting your boundaries, you can recognize that and take the steps necessary to kick them the fuck out of your life.

I'm sharing this with you now because I wish I had realized it before I put my relationship in jeopardy. Fortunately I figured it out before things were ruined, and we're now working toward healthy communication and healthy boundaries. I feel very lucky. But maybe this realization will save someone else the amount of trouble we've been through.

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