His Honking Habit, Her Last Nerve


Dear J,

How does one gently tell one’s boyfriend to stop making that godawful snorting noise before one takes a cast-iron skillet to his skull?

A little on edge, perhaps? Hmm, maybe it’s just me, but it sounds like you’re pretty frazzled. Might want to look at that. In this format, I can only respond to your question as written, but I am imagining that there is more than just snorting that you are attempting to mitigate.

Let’s approach it this way; suppose you sit down and write said boyfriend a really honest (read: brutal) letter. I mean let it all hang out, bring on the friggin’ frying pan! I want you to say all the things that are bugging you about this guy. Pull out all the stops, describe every grievance, every habit, every possible annoyance. Take as many pages as you need to, but make it at least two full pages. This should take place in private where you will be undisturbed. You may get in touch with some powerful emotions that are simmering right beneath the surface. Take a chance and let them out-on paper. (Don’t worry about spelling, sentences, etc).

Once you’ve done this, read what you’ve written, perhaps highlight the really important stuff. If a lot of stuff came up for you, do it the next day, too. Highlight the important points. Destroy the letters immediately after reading them.

Now, is there anything else going on here? Did anything more come up for you about your boyfriend? If not, you should at least be a bit more calm when you ask for a sit-down to ask “What is up with this snorting?” If there’s more stuff, try to sort out what it is, i.e. do you hate your job? Are you worried about money? Are you grieving someone, something in your life? If so, try to formulate that and have the sit-down with the boyfriend and say, (your version of…) “You know that snorting noise that you’ve been making? Well, I am so stressed out about —— that it just about puts me over the edge. What can we do about it?” There, you’ve said it, that alone will help. Plus you have put your issue on the table, since it’s intruding on the relationship, it’s only honest to own it, too.

Once you have made the BF aware of how annoying the noise is, see how he responds. Perhaps it’s allergies, something fixable. See how your concern is received. Perhaps you can talk about what else is bothering you because you can be sure that it is affecting your relationship, too. If this is not well received or met with anger and hostility, well, perhaps there is a lot more to look at than just the snorting.

“Dear J” is a north state advice column that offers insight about every aspect of life.  We invite readers to weigh in with suggestions, feedback and answers to the questions, below. Send your “Dear J” questions in care of anewscafe@gmail.com. (We will maintain strict confidentiality.)

Dear J . . .