Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nagging revisited

Nagging: Take 2.
I sense a sharp collective intake of breath by the men.

The Nag. The complainer. The whiner. The moaner. The droner. The harpy. The ...
And the list goes on.
OK, so tell us how you really feel about this, gentlemen.

I decided to return to this topic after doing a little homework on the last post on women's 'chitchat'.
Nagging seems to really be the number one complaint of men against women, huh.
Can't think why :-)
I skimmed the topic of women's chitchat in this post but I was talking more of the innocent banter of women.
I am not done yet on this topic, it seems.
To me, and I suspect, most women, nagging is never a big issue. Even the least talkative of us understand that it is good to talk.
But apparently not so for men.
So many films portray some poor guy driven to distraction by nagging. I already mentioned the case of the man in 'Captain Corelli's mandolin'. 'American Beauty' is another one I recall.

As part of the 'research' for this post, I tried asking a male member of my entourage for his feelings on the topic of nagging and all I got was something similar to this facial expression:

No words. Just this face pulled at me.

So I tried a little farther afield. I asked another man not in my immediate entourage but close enough.

In typical fashion I got a two word answer. This is in fact progress. Because I usually get one word :-)

'White noise'.
No elaboration, no qualification, no explanation.
Just 'white noise'.

Some random guy who was not part of this conversation but who overheard it and was clearly going to give me his unsolicited two cents come what may volunteered this in glorious technicolour complete with sound effects:
'It's like this high-pitched shrill, like Donald Duck on acid and helium'.

White noise. Shrill. Donald Duck on acid.
Is that what men hear when women nag?

See, one reason I am curious about men is that of course I shall never be one, no matter how many of them surround me. I realise that I could just take a shot of testosterone and 'see what happens'.
But no. I wouldn't want to look like this:

It's not quite the look my feminine self covets right now.

I am curious, but not that curious.

On a related note, some people really do take their curiosity to the extreme, don't they?
Like the scientist who performed a coronary angiogram on himself. Not content to do it on his dog like all the other boffins of his time, he had to take it to the next level :-)

Anyway, I digress.

I find more and more that it really pays to understand the biological differences between men and women if one is to live in a harmonious fashion one with the other.
For example, how widely known is the fact that women have better peripheral vision than men?
And what is the biological/evolutionary explanation for this?

Men need that 'straight ahead' tunnel vision for the hunt. He cannot be distracted by anything else. Otherwise he and his brood are not eating that day.

Women need their peripheral vision primarily for child care. She needs to be seeing out of the corner of her eye what little Johnny is up to, before he harms himself, whilst she is doing other things.

So, how does this affect relationships?

A woman can check out that gorgeous hunk at the supermarket without so much as moving a muscle. And we do, trust me :-)
Even if she is with her boyfriend or husband, he need not know she did that.
And she would ensure he does not get to know if she loves and respects him. If she does let him know, it would usually done in jest which would be completely harmless and good humoured. Unless of course she has a specific agenda in mind. Unless she means to hurt him.

But a man apparently cannot 'check out' the floozy with the short skirt without turning his head.
If done in front of girlfriend or wife, she will undoubtedly think, 'He can't possible love me, this man. He couldn't even do it discreetly?'
Failing to realise that in fact, he can't.

I can't say I have ever felt like Donald Duck was jabbing in my ear, even when I was a surly teenager and thought my parents were 'nagging'.
Of course, every teenager thinks everyone above their own age is nagging them. It comes with the territory. But I never felt the need to gouge my own eyes out when someone said the same thing to me twice or more.
Is this a masculine experience I will never be able to appreciate for myself? It doesn't sound pleasant, so I am grateful for that :-)
Is it possible that men actually experience nagging as a painful auditory experience whereas for most women, if at all they get nagged, it's water off a duck's back, so to speak?

It is not surprising that what men and women perceive from each other is completely diametrically opposite.
BeijaFlor's post 'Rupture' examines this possibility with characteristic poise.

Somehow, and correct me if I am wrong, I think nagging is actually an older women's game?
Or does she just find more and more reasons to nag the longer she is in a relationship with a man in a way that the younger generation cannot beat?
Or is it a specifically marriage- or cohabitation-related thing? Do women get a quick lesson on nagging on the way to the altar or something? Is this part of the pre-Cana class?

Would it help for men to know that nagging, as unpleasant as it may seem actually means on some level that she cares?
I have no way of explaining this illogical phenomenon other than to say that a woman will find a way to communicate with someone she cares about even if that communication style is flawed.

The day a woman goes silent on a man is a much worse day than when she nags him so much he wants to poke his eyes with a sharpened pencil.
But I am sure many men would disagree with me on this one.
For the life of me, can't think why :-)


Senior Beta said...

Nagging is an irritant because it reflects, usually, a lack of appreciation for the male. In a H-W situtation the H has lots of responsibilites (as does the W). With innumerable things to be done, being reminded of what has not been done is unnecessary as it invariably will get done.

just visiting said...

Men see nagging as a lack of respect. Women see having to nag as a lack of love. Which is why it's important to pick a man who follows his words with actions. And important for a woman to tell, remind, then leave it at that.

Spacetraveller said...

Welcome to The Sanctuary, Senior Beta!

What you say makes sense to me. It follows therefore that a woman should just be......patient.
Patience has been described as one of the highest feminine virtues.
Now I can see why.

@ JV,

What a wonderful summary! Thank you.
I never thought of it that way, especially the having to nag being about a perceived lack of love. So a woman is using nagging to 'get some love/get some validation'.
But a man being what he is, she is going about it the wrong way!
Makes sense :-)

Wow, I can also understand now why nagging is so abhored by men then.
If it means 'lack of respect' or 'lack of appreciation' I can see how that would make them go ballistic. Because a man needs respect like he needs air to breathe.

So your advice is golden, JV.
If women just break the chain at their end, before they get to the point where they are so unhappy they don't even have the energy to nag anymore (i.e. separation looms) there will probably be a lot more happy marriages.
I imagine this will require a mighty shift in attitude though.
So much easier to already have the right attitude before going into a marriage/cohabitation.
And yes, picking the right partner is crucial I can also see.

dannyfrom504 said...

if i get nagged, she'll get a blank stare from me before i walk away from her.

ask me to do something, or express how you feel politely and respectfully.

if i'm less than pleased with a woman that doesn't give me the right to scream at her and get aggressive does it?

if she keeps irritating me, perhaps she's not the right woman for me.

Spacetraveller said...


The blank stare is very effective...
Where'd you get your box of tricks? :-)

dannyfrom504 said...

Lol. Years of practice.

Anonymous said...

The Navy Corpsman

Anonymous Reader said...

Nagging is not merely a lack of respect. It shifts the roles from "woman" and "man" to "mommy" and "child", and therefore it is a display of contempt.

Contempt is to a man's affections as battery acid is to metal, it is corrosive and the damage is not easily repaired.

Spacetraveller said...

@ NC,

So funny!!!!

@ Anonymous Reader,

Useful info.
As a woman I would never have guessed that this is what a man feels when he is nagged.

I can just about understand that he would feel disrespected.
But contempt?
That is a much worse emotion to feel, no?

So a woman who nags should take note of this.
Because it matters less what she intended than what the recipient feels in response to her words/actions.

Technically, anyone could challenge me on this point and say that what you feel/think in response to someone else's action or words is your own business - deal with it.
But that's not a helpful attitude to have in a relationship, I guess.
If one knows one is hurting someone else, even if one did not intend to, one should stop doing it.
In any case, some laws (like sexual harrassment laws) take the view that if the victim feels a certain way, that is what holds, rather than what the alleged perpetrator intended.

Anonymous said...

Nagging/bitching/complaining is controlling behavior, in most circumstances, whereas reasonably asking for this or that or the other thing is not controlling. Goes both ways. If communication is a high priority, I'd say nagging or controlling behavior by either person in a LTR or marriage is reduced to near zero. Sometimes that communication just means acknowledging that you need to take the damned garbage out.

The Navy Corpsman

BeijaFlor said...

"BeijaFlor's post 'Rupture' examines this possibility with characteristic poise."

Spacetraveller, I am honored.

Spacetraveller said...

@ BeijaFlor,
The honour's all mine :-)