Pet Peeves and Their Effect on Relationships

Reviewed Mar 27, 2017

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Summary

  • Find a solution that will resolve the problem in its entirety.
  • Try negotiation, compromise, accommodation or compartmentalizing.
  • Give in to living with the pet peeve.

Pet peeves can add serious strife to a relationship, so whether you are the one who is peeved or the “peever,” read on.

The peeved

It can be very hard if you are the one in the relationship who has pet peeves. You may find yourself intensely irritated at your mate by things he is nonchalant about. Often, your irritation is met by baffled or hurt looks, because he may not understand why you are so peeved.

The peever

Perhaps the most difficult thing about living with someone who has pet peeves, is understanding that you’re never going to understand it: Pet peeves have nothing to do with logic. Living with pet peeves has more to do with acceptance than understanding why it is the end of the world when the sponge is sitting in the sink rather than where it should be, on the side counter.

Pet peeves can be destructive

Can something as innocent as being unable to tolerate gum chewing or being adamant about using only cream in your coffee really be a major stumbling block between two people? Absolutely. Have relationships ever ended over pet peeves? Yes. And in many cases, it is not the peevish behavior itself that destroys the relationship, but how addressing it is handled. The discussion can get blown out of proportion, someone can get insulted, and then resentment can grow. It becomes a bigger issue of control, choice, and respect.

How to communicate a pet peeve

Whether you choose to disclose your pet peeves when you first meet, or wait until the relationship has progressed further, the tone and presentation you use are very important. When you bring up the subject of pet peeves, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t overcompensate for your embarrassment by being overly flippant.
  • Don’t bring the subject up when you are angry.
  • Don’t try to make your pet peeve sound normal—admit it’s a pet peeve!
  • Don’t use ultimatums.
  • Don’t use an authoritarian tone to let your partner know you mean business.

Once the subject is out in the open:

  • Reassure your partner or roommate that you don’t have many “requirements” (pet peeves).
  • Be specific about the time and place: For example, “I hate when you interrupt me with a question when I take a shower in the morning. It’s my pet peeve.”
  • Remember that sometimes the smallest compromise might satisfy your partner or roommate, so stay open to suggestions.

One of the hardest things to accept is that you might have to compromise your rituals in order to assure that there is peace in the house. Sometimes the compromise is so subtle that you may be surprised it suffices. Be creative in coming up with agreements. Often, coming up with creative agreements requires that you share the history of how and why the pet peeve came about.

Share the history of the pet peeve

If you dig deep enough, you might find that all pet peeves come from some past experience. Somehow, knowing where they come from makes them more tolerable, as they seem easier to understand.

Cathy’s pet peeve, for example, was that her boyfriend Rick constantly left lights on when they weren’t home. When Cathy moved in with Rick, she complained bitterly of being after him to turn out the lights. Every once in a while, he would walk out of the house with one or two unnecessary lights left on. He couldn’t believe that someone who usually was so mild mannered could become so incensed that he forgot to turn the lights off. Finding out where Cathy’s rule originated helped him understand her reaction:

“My mom was obsessed with us turning out the lights when we were kids, and would make us check again and again. When we would leave a light on, she would take a quarter out of our allowance.”

How much does the pet peeve affect your relationship?

Ask yourself, “How is this pet peeve affecting my relationship?” Your answer might range from “barely bothering me” to “making my life miserable.” What is important is that you quantify how disruptive the problem really is, and then only spend the amount of time and effort on it that it deserves. Once you have clarified what a pet peeve is and you have quantified how much it matters to you, you can decide to do one of the following:

  • Find a solution that will resolve the problem in its entirety, so that each member of the relationship is satisfied by the solution
  • Try negotiation, compromise, accommodation, or compartmentalizing so that both members continue their respective movements, but try to avoid or deflect conflict.
  • Give in to living with the pet peeve. Things to say to yourself that will help:
    • “I should go along with this because my partner is otherwise a rational person.”
    • “I should try to remember this rule because arguing will be moot and a waste of time.”
    • “I should go along with this because I am not a perfect roommate either.”

If the peeve is specific and simple enough, sometimes living with it becomes second nature, eventually.

By Belisa Vranich, PsyD

Summary

  • Find a solution that will resolve the problem in its entirety.
  • Try negotiation, compromise, accommodation or compartmentalizing.
  • Give in to living with the pet peeve.

Pet peeves can add serious strife to a relationship, so whether you are the one who is peeved or the “peever,” read on.

The peeved

It can be very hard if you are the one in the relationship who has pet peeves. You may find yourself intensely irritated at your mate by things he is nonchalant about. Often, your irritation is met by baffled or hurt looks, because he may not understand why you are so peeved.

The peever

Perhaps the most difficult thing about living with someone who has pet peeves, is understanding that you’re never going to understand it: Pet peeves have nothing to do with logic. Living with pet peeves has more to do with acceptance than understanding why it is the end of the world when the sponge is sitting in the sink rather than where it should be, on the side counter.

Pet peeves can be destructive

Can something as innocent as being unable to tolerate gum chewing or being adamant about using only cream in your coffee really be a major stumbling block between two people? Absolutely. Have relationships ever ended over pet peeves? Yes. And in many cases, it is not the peevish behavior itself that destroys the relationship, but how addressing it is handled. The discussion can get blown out of proportion, someone can get insulted, and then resentment can grow. It becomes a bigger issue of control, choice, and respect.

How to communicate a pet peeve

Whether you choose to disclose your pet peeves when you first meet, or wait until the relationship has progressed further, the tone and presentation you use are very important. When you bring up the subject of pet peeves, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t overcompensate for your embarrassment by being overly flippant.
  • Don’t bring the subject up when you are angry.
  • Don’t try to make your pet peeve sound normal—admit it’s a pet peeve!
  • Don’t use ultimatums.
  • Don’t use an authoritarian tone to let your partner know you mean business.

Once the subject is out in the open:

  • Reassure your partner or roommate that you don’t have many “requirements” (pet peeves).
  • Be specific about the time and place: For example, “I hate when you interrupt me with a question when I take a shower in the morning. It’s my pet peeve.”
  • Remember that sometimes the smallest compromise might satisfy your partner or roommate, so stay open to suggestions.

One of the hardest things to accept is that you might have to compromise your rituals in order to assure that there is peace in the house. Sometimes the compromise is so subtle that you may be surprised it suffices. Be creative in coming up with agreements. Often, coming up with creative agreements requires that you share the history of how and why the pet peeve came about.

Share the history of the pet peeve

If you dig deep enough, you might find that all pet peeves come from some past experience. Somehow, knowing where they come from makes them more tolerable, as they seem easier to understand.

Cathy’s pet peeve, for example, was that her boyfriend Rick constantly left lights on when they weren’t home. When Cathy moved in with Rick, she complained bitterly of being after him to turn out the lights. Every once in a while, he would walk out of the house with one or two unnecessary lights left on. He couldn’t believe that someone who usually was so mild mannered could become so incensed that he forgot to turn the lights off. Finding out where Cathy’s rule originated helped him understand her reaction:

“My mom was obsessed with us turning out the lights when we were kids, and would make us check again and again. When we would leave a light on, she would take a quarter out of our allowance.”

How much does the pet peeve affect your relationship?

Ask yourself, “How is this pet peeve affecting my relationship?” Your answer might range from “barely bothering me” to “making my life miserable.” What is important is that you quantify how disruptive the problem really is, and then only spend the amount of time and effort on it that it deserves. Once you have clarified what a pet peeve is and you have quantified how much it matters to you, you can decide to do one of the following:

  • Find a solution that will resolve the problem in its entirety, so that each member of the relationship is satisfied by the solution
  • Try negotiation, compromise, accommodation, or compartmentalizing so that both members continue their respective movements, but try to avoid or deflect conflict.
  • Give in to living with the pet peeve. Things to say to yourself that will help:
    • “I should go along with this because my partner is otherwise a rational person.”
    • “I should try to remember this rule because arguing will be moot and a waste of time.”
    • “I should go along with this because I am not a perfect roommate either.”

If the peeve is specific and simple enough, sometimes living with it becomes second nature, eventually.

By Belisa Vranich, PsyD

Summary

  • Find a solution that will resolve the problem in its entirety.
  • Try negotiation, compromise, accommodation or compartmentalizing.
  • Give in to living with the pet peeve.

Pet peeves can add serious strife to a relationship, so whether you are the one who is peeved or the “peever,” read on.

The peeved

It can be very hard if you are the one in the relationship who has pet peeves. You may find yourself intensely irritated at your mate by things he is nonchalant about. Often, your irritation is met by baffled or hurt looks, because he may not understand why you are so peeved.

The peever

Perhaps the most difficult thing about living with someone who has pet peeves, is understanding that you’re never going to understand it: Pet peeves have nothing to do with logic. Living with pet peeves has more to do with acceptance than understanding why it is the end of the world when the sponge is sitting in the sink rather than where it should be, on the side counter.

Pet peeves can be destructive

Can something as innocent as being unable to tolerate gum chewing or being adamant about using only cream in your coffee really be a major stumbling block between two people? Absolutely. Have relationships ever ended over pet peeves? Yes. And in many cases, it is not the peevish behavior itself that destroys the relationship, but how addressing it is handled. The discussion can get blown out of proportion, someone can get insulted, and then resentment can grow. It becomes a bigger issue of control, choice, and respect.

How to communicate a pet peeve

Whether you choose to disclose your pet peeves when you first meet, or wait until the relationship has progressed further, the tone and presentation you use are very important. When you bring up the subject of pet peeves, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t overcompensate for your embarrassment by being overly flippant.
  • Don’t bring the subject up when you are angry.
  • Don’t try to make your pet peeve sound normal—admit it’s a pet peeve!
  • Don’t use ultimatums.
  • Don’t use an authoritarian tone to let your partner know you mean business.

Once the subject is out in the open:

  • Reassure your partner or roommate that you don’t have many “requirements” (pet peeves).
  • Be specific about the time and place: For example, “I hate when you interrupt me with a question when I take a shower in the morning. It’s my pet peeve.”
  • Remember that sometimes the smallest compromise might satisfy your partner or roommate, so stay open to suggestions.

One of the hardest things to accept is that you might have to compromise your rituals in order to assure that there is peace in the house. Sometimes the compromise is so subtle that you may be surprised it suffices. Be creative in coming up with agreements. Often, coming up with creative agreements requires that you share the history of how and why the pet peeve came about.

Share the history of the pet peeve

If you dig deep enough, you might find that all pet peeves come from some past experience. Somehow, knowing where they come from makes them more tolerable, as they seem easier to understand.

Cathy’s pet peeve, for example, was that her boyfriend Rick constantly left lights on when they weren’t home. When Cathy moved in with Rick, she complained bitterly of being after him to turn out the lights. Every once in a while, he would walk out of the house with one or two unnecessary lights left on. He couldn’t believe that someone who usually was so mild mannered could become so incensed that he forgot to turn the lights off. Finding out where Cathy’s rule originated helped him understand her reaction:

“My mom was obsessed with us turning out the lights when we were kids, and would make us check again and again. When we would leave a light on, she would take a quarter out of our allowance.”

How much does the pet peeve affect your relationship?

Ask yourself, “How is this pet peeve affecting my relationship?” Your answer might range from “barely bothering me” to “making my life miserable.” What is important is that you quantify how disruptive the problem really is, and then only spend the amount of time and effort on it that it deserves. Once you have clarified what a pet peeve is and you have quantified how much it matters to you, you can decide to do one of the following:

  • Find a solution that will resolve the problem in its entirety, so that each member of the relationship is satisfied by the solution
  • Try negotiation, compromise, accommodation, or compartmentalizing so that both members continue their respective movements, but try to avoid or deflect conflict.
  • Give in to living with the pet peeve. Things to say to yourself that will help:
    • “I should go along with this because my partner is otherwise a rational person.”
    • “I should try to remember this rule because arguing will be moot and a waste of time.”
    • “I should go along with this because I am not a perfect roommate either.”

If the peeve is specific and simple enough, sometimes living with it becomes second nature, eventually.

By Belisa Vranich, PsyD

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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