How Do You Tell Your Date/Partner What You Don't Like About Them?
So he has smelly feet, she has stinky breath, and the both of you could use a bath, how might we communicate those things about the other in a way that hopefully won't come back to haunt us later?
1. Get to the point.
Mention the flaw in a way that you aren't saying, "You need to...You should...You ought to...You might want to..." Notice all the Yous? Starting "you" off when talking to someone is like taking your finger and pointing it in the person's face depending on your facial expression and tone of voice. Instead of beginning with a you statement say, "What is that smell? It is really bothering my nose." or "I keep having to put these things away and it really annoys me having to do it." Then you follow up with the rest of your statement if your date/partner isn't catching on.
2. Remain brief.
As much as you would like to tell a long story about how long the issue has been bothering you, don't. I repeat, don't. Unless you enjoy a good argument, it is best just to leave all the details out.
3. Don't bring up the past.
Maybe this has been the third time, the fourth time and the umpteenth time that your date's breath smells and he keeps showing up wearing the same ugly jacket. Don't mention the past and how when you first laid eyes on it you thought, "WTF?!" Just take your date to the store and let him or her pick out something appealing with your coaxing of course. Then stop by the grocery store and take him or her to the toothpaste aisle or give him a business card from your dentist's office. Why work yourself up or your date with stories of your past boyfriend or girlfriend's smelly breath and stinky feet?
4. Explain (without being mean and yelling) why what your date is or isn't doing is bothering you.
Some people just refuse to take a clue, so for them you have got to make it plain. "I have talked about this issue in the past with you and it seems to me that you either forgot what I said or overlooked how much this relationship means to me...some things just make me feel...I really need for you to work with me. I love you and I just want to get along with you." Pray (that is if you have a faith) that he or she will respect your feelings and do what is best for the relationship, if not for you, for the environment and others who probably think your date's selection in clothes are an eyesore too and his or her breath is awful as well.
5. Gently remind your date when he or she isn't doing what you ask.
Sometimes you just have to remind people over and over again until it sinks in, but don't act like a fool about it such as: calling everyone up complaining about your date, using sex as a treat, or acting manipulative in an effort to make him or her listen to you and do as you say--you don't want to be accused of being a control freak. Start getting signs, notes, videos, books, and other things together to let this person know that he or she is slipping.
If all else fails, you may have to settle with your date's shortcomings or move on--no sense in badgering him or her to death about this person's issues, you have enough of your own.
Nicholl McGuire author of Laboring to Love an Abusive Mate