I once read a study’s findings that men who were married/partnered in midlife and older lived longer than men who weren’t. The researchers explanation? That if a man has a physical ailment, he’ll let it go, not wanting to see a doctor, thinking it will clear up on it’s own. If he lives with a woman who knows about the malady, she insists (nags?) him to see the doctor. Thus, ailments that would get worse in time are nipped in the bud and healed.
As we get older, many of us develop bad habits (like thinking something will clear up on its own). If we live by ourselves, or with a non-friend or non-relative roommate, or have friends that aren’t very forthcoming to give us feedback, it’s easy to start doing things that are unacceptable to others but we think are normal.
This is why some people are in the “undateable” category, no matter how smart or nice they may be.
For example, an older friend has decided she no longer needs to wear deodorant since she mostly just watches TV all day. However, her relatives say being cooped up in a car with her for even short trips requires they roll down the windows because of her BO. Others decide they no longer need to shower every day, or they wear their clothes a day or two longer than they would if someone were around to point out the smell.
It’s not just personal hygiene that can fall prey to bad habits. It can be talking to oneself, which isn’t a problem when one is alone. But when in the presence of another, constant chattering can cause the other to continually ask you to repeat or speak up, when you were really only thinking aloud. This can be annoying to both of you, yet you’re not conscious that you’re babbling semi-audibly.
Or perhaps your housekeeping has been lax since it’s just you at home now. But when your sweetie visits, he has to step gingerly around the dog food you spilled days ago and haven’t gotten around to sweeping up. Or he has to wash a glass for water because all the glassware is in the sink/dishwasher. Or your beloved dog’s hair has matted on the couch so he has to endure fur on his black slacks or cover the couch with a dog-smelling throw.
Maybe your habits have spilled over into your table manners. Since you’re used to eating alone, you’ve become oblivious to your chewing with your mouth open, slurping your drink, smacking your lips, or wiping your nose with the cloth napkin. Or since no one checks your tip, you’ve begun to leave less and less and now think 5% is acceptable.
The list could go on. None of these on their own are deal breakers, but the cumulative affect is that you are unconscious of how your behaviors appear to others.
The cure? I wish adults would more easily enroll in charm or etiquette school, but once one is past school age, few find that acceptable. And it wouldn’t address some of the issues listed above.
So how do you know if you have a habit that could be off putting? My suggestion is to seek input from those you trust to tell you the truth and who have some savvy about these things. I wouldn’t ask a pal who sees nothing wrong with a sinkload of dishes and rampant dust bunnies to assess your housekeeping habits.
What bad habits have you identified in yourself that needed fixing? Or have you had to tell a sweetheart s/he needs to become aware of a habit that has passed the acceptable range?
Want to assess your own habits and assets? Get your copy of Assessing Your Assets: Why You’re A Great Catch.