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How much is too much when it comes to motivating your partner?


‘Motivation’ can quickly veer into ‘nagging’ (Getty/Metro)

It can be frustrating watching your partner procrastinate when they have something they want to achieve.

Whether it’s finally quitting the job they hate, getting back on track with the gym or cutting off that toxic friend, it’s difficult seeing them avoid doing something you both know will make them feel better.

But is it your place to push your significant other to do the things they said they’d do, especially if it has nothing to do with you?

When does trying to help become controlling?

When is it okay to try to motivate your partner?

According to Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, pushing your partner to be better is ‘more acceptable when they are engaging in behaviour that is harmful to them’.

If you can see that what your partner is doing is damaging, either physically or mentally, it might be a good idea to step in.

However, Touroni adds, try not to get involved if the situation is more subjective.

She says: ‘If you have a personal preference for how things should be, rather than something of real concern, leave them to it.’

There’s also a difference between when someone is genuinely struggling to do something – maybe it’s triggering for them – and just plain avoiding it.

Why should we be careful when trying to push our partners?

That being said, if you do want to step in and help your partner, it’s important to think about not just what you say, but how you say it.

‘It’s difficult to push someone you’re very close to,’ says Touroni. ‘It’s a fine balance. 

‘When we tell a partner what to do, it can make them feel criticised and as though what they’re doing is not “good enough” for us.’

Plus, if we aren’t careful, constantly trying to motivate someone into action can quickly turn into nagging.

‘If you are being very repetitive in your requests, then it can easily move towards nagging,’ Elena tells us.



How to sensitively push your partner to meet their goals

  1. Describe the situation and express your concerns.
  2. Make the request in a validating, non-blaming way.
  3. Explain your point of view without being judgmental in any way. Avoid making any attacks.
  4. Try to convey your point of view by asking them to see the situation from your perspective.
  5. Do all of this whilst trying to keep a very easy manner. Keep a soft approach so that it comes across as motivational instead of critical.

Dr Elena Touroni, consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic

As most people in relationships will know, this can get very annoying, very quickly and might lead to arguments down the line. 

But it’s also important to make sure that your motivations for pushing your partner really do come from a place of love rather than a place of control.

‘It’s important to be really honest with yourself here,’ Touroni says. ‘Are you acting from a place of feeling anxious if you’re not in control of the situation? Or is what you’re saying a legitimate concern?’

If it’s the former, it might be more about you than it is them.

In that case, it’s probably a good idea to take a step back and let your partner work on themselves in their own time and understand that you can’t take the reins on everything – even if it does mean listening to them complain that they’re still not where they want to be for the next few weeks, or months. 

At the end of the day, we all want our loved ones to succeed and thrive – and communication is key.

If your partner tells you that they need that extra push from you, then go for it.

But if they explain that it’s not what they need right now – or if you see that your attempts are only hindering their progress – you need to honour that, lest you become the equivalent of a parent or teacher figure (which is very unromantic). 

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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