Barbara: My daughter blurted out a comment the other day that hit a nerve. And while I don’t want to betray her confidence, I did think it was the kind of subject apropos to throw around here for a bit. She had something she wanted to discuss with her boyfriend but was worried she’d come across as a “nag”. This thing she wanted to discuss was neither a demand nor a recurring issue between them; it was more along the lines of a request that he might or might not like. Okay, enough about them. Now to the subject: ARE we nags, or do we FEEL like nags, or do our significant others BELIEVE we’re nags?
And whoa, Nelly, no hating on men, women, significant others, or nags for that matter, equine or other. Just a debate on the difference between how things are and how things are perceived.
Please believe me when I say I am not dissing my husband here—I love him madly, you know that and he knows that––but I will confess that over the years I’ve had my own issues with requests. If I bug him about the tap dripping, am I a nag? If he doesn’t feel like fixing the tap, does he make me FEEL like a nag (meaning, it’s my fault I feel this way) or has he actually ever SAID I was a nag? Honestly, I don’t know!
When I look back over the years, I can remember often feeling that I was a nag, but as I write this I’m not sure if that comes from a literal experience or from my own ingrained response that just because someone doesn’t welcome my suggestions (“Honey, would you mind fixing the tap?”) that their negative reaction turns into a REJECTION OF ME, thus turning the whole sordid affair into an implied accusation that I am a … NAG.
Over the years I’ve gotten a lot better at not twisting people’s responses into indictments against me (it’s win-win, if I misinterpret, I’m an idiot, and if I’m right, I don’t wanna know). But this nag thing keeps nagging at me. And the reason I brought up my daughter’s experience is because I thought their generation might be past all that (especially modern urban creative types). But clearly, no.
So, here’s what I told her—and what I try to tell myself. If you want something, there’s nothing wrong with putting it out there (even if it’s an unwelcome chore). And if the other person doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Even if it takes 200 reminders that the tap needs fixing J
Deb: The word Nag has been around as long as I’ve been alive. And sadly it has always been attached to the female of the species. But I have seen male Nags. And really, to me, Nag simply means someone who is responsible. Someone who wants to get things done that need to be done. Man or woman. It is the person in a relationship that is trying to keep things in running order and keep things looking nice.
I have witnessed first hand on occasion those who overuse the Nag moniker and they are scary. But my general take on it is that those who are calling someone a Nag, are generally those who don’t give a damn how anything works and are even less interested in keeping it in order. Do I sound bitter? I have a husband who does more than his share. And a father and a brother who do the same, so I am really not speaking from family experience. My bitterness around this has nothing to do with personal experience.
I just hate when woman are saddled with these unfair labels and I think that this one has been passed down through generations, which is probably what made your daughter cop to it. There is nothing naggie about this lovely girl.