Sure, you've noticed that he has some annoying habits that have, at one time or another, left you shocked, surprised, and even speechless. But you've either ignored them hoping they'd go away or waited until you had a really big fight and used them as deadly ammo. Dump both these methods, says Arpita Anand, consultant psychologist, Max Healthcare. "Clear communication is the key to a good relationship. We must know that we are in relationships for a reason and that we don't need to make all sorts of concessions for our partners, especially for guys who have some highly irritating habits."
We identify the seven most common put-me-off traits of the most maddening men and tell you how to tackle them before they destroy your duo.
We've all come across this creep. He pretends to listen, but you know for a fact he hasn't heard a thing. "My boyfriend acts as if he's listening to me. But if I ask him to repeat what I just said, he says, 'Sorry, I didn't catch the last thing you said.' Meanwhile, he hasn't heard a word!" says Minakshi, 25, producer.
What's his excuse: "Most typically, men have difficulty paying attention to detail. They want information presented to them in a clear, crisp manner instead of the usual long-winded, meandering sermons many women are prone to," says Anand. Faced with this overflow of information, your average guy will simply tune out.
Bad-behaviour buster: According to Anand, you can't expect your man to listen effectively all the time. "Make time to talk," says Anand. This could be in the evening, over coffee, or 10 minutes before going to bed. Say, "I have something important to tell you. Do you have a couple of minutes?" Once you have his attention, hang on to it, by sticking to only the important details.
How many times have you missed the beginning of a movie, ordered yet another coke waiting for him at a restaurant, and turned up at a party when it's almost over? "My husband is always an hour behind schedule, and I'm left waiting at the restaurant or rushing home to relieve my mom who plays babysitter," says Aruna, 32, editor. "It makes me so mad, but he just doesn't understand."
What's his excuse: Most people are never late on purpose, they are just bad managers of time, says Anand. But there's a bit more: being chronically late implies a lack of sensitivity to another person's time.
Bad-behaviour buster: "If his periods of lateness vary, he's probably late for practical reasons, like it takes him longer than he thinks it will to get somewhere," explains Anand. If this is the case, you can help. Call him half an hour before he has to be somewhere to remind him to leave, now. On the other hand, if he's consistently late, it will be much harder to change. So work out consequences. If, for example, he shows up half an hour late for a date, tell him calmly that the evening is cancelled. That should make him sit up and pay more attention to you and the clock. Do this a couple of times and he'll be cured for good.
He can't even breathe without you, and you know it's not a romantic feeling. "My boyfriend follows me around like he's my shadow," says Rina, 27, lawyer. "He wants me to be next to him always, to the extent that I feel guilty if I spend a day alone with my friends or family. I don't know how long I'll be able to put up with this."
What's his excuse: This kind of latch-on behaviour stems from a feeling of deep-rooted insecurity. "Men like to believe that they are the centre of their woman's universe. Anything that trespasses on your time together with him seems like a threat to him," says Anand.
Bad-behaviour buster: The solution is to provide enough security and loving reinforcement to your man while at the same time maintaining your own space. If you've spent three days a week with him, inform him that you're taking a well- deserved girls' night out on the weekend.
All that you share fades into insignificance in front of his family and friends. Yes, we've been there, and we know it's more than just annoying. "I've been seeing Rahul for over a year but he still won't introduce me to his friends or family. If we bump into someone he knows, he introduces me as a 'friend'. I feel humiliated by his behaviour but love him too much to leave," says Shamita, 28, executive.
What's his excuse: A lot of it has to do with the fact that if you acknowledge a relationship it ups the commitment level a thousandfold. So it seems like a safer bet to him if he just calls you a "friend". That way, he doesn't have to deal with nosy questions from his family and friends, plus if he changes his mind about you at any time it's wonderfully easy to bail out.
Bad-behaviour buster: Unfortunately, the only way to deal with this situation is to confront him and say that this kind of behaviour is just not acceptable. No woman, with any amount of self-respect, would want to be with a man who hides her like a dirty little secret.
The trophy hunter
He doesn't care about you, but he does adore your hair, and the way you charm his boss. "I'm 26, bright and pretty and have been seeing Amit for nearly three months. But lately, I've noticed that he pays way too much attention to the way I dress and to escorting me to various parties around town, and not enough time to what I think or have to say. Once, at a party, he complimented me loudly in front of my friends and then, five minutes later, when I expressed my opinion on what was being discussed, he told me to shut up," says Mona, designer.
What's his excuse: Many men are not able to regard women as individuals in their own right, says Anand. They tend to look at you as objects of desire and feel threatened when you voice an opinion or take any major decisions on your own. This kind of behaviour can trace its roots straight back to his lack of self-esteem and a deep-seated feeling of insecurity.
Bad-behaviour buster: This guy is bad news whichever way you look at him. Anand suggests that you try to talk to him. Hopefully he will see things from your point of view and give you the recognition and respect you deserve. If he doesn't, dump him at once. And, next time, look for a man who loves you for your heart and mind, not just your body.
He won't return anything, to anyone, ever. "His house is full of rented books and DVDs that he hasn't returned, stuff he's borrowed from family and friends and the money I lent him. Forget paying it back, he doesn't even remember the loan," says Samira, 27, photographer.
What's his excuse: It's most likely that your man is lazy and not a kleptomaniac. Often, men find returning things is a big chore, and they'd rather pay late fees and apologise than go to all the effort of giving things back. "His feeling of responsibility is not high enough," says Anand. That's why he puts off returning stuff that's now almost covered with mildew.
Bad-behaviour buster: Politely and firmly ask for your belongings or money back. Yes, people feel uncomfortable talking about money, but if you share a close enough relationship with your man, he'll understand and hand you the cash.
His circle of friends is a noose around your love. They're always around. "I never have my boyfriend to myself because he is always surrounded by his friends," says 24-year-old assistant Vani. "Whether we're at a movie, a party or even just chilling at his place, his posse is sure to be there," she says.
What's his excuse: Some people just like to be surrounded by a crowd all the time. This often stems from a fear of being left alone or abandoned. Maybe some incident in your man's childhood is to blame for this kind of behaviour. On the other hand, always being part of a big group means you don't have the self-confidence to do things on your own, like walk into a room.
Bad-behaviour buster: Explain that you love the fact he has so many friends, but that you need some time alone with him too. The foundation of all good relationships is communication, says Anand. And in tricky situations like this, where you don't want to upset your boyfriend and his friends and still make your point, it pays to be assertive about your own needs and communicate them clearly. If he loves you, he'll get the point and show his gang the door.
This Stuff Just Can't Be Fixed
Save yourself the headache—these four guy things are virtually unbreakable.
1. His frankness about bodily functions. For some reason, men aren't embarrassed by this stuff, plain and simple.
2. His double-take reflex. Guys just can't help looking when an attractive woman walks by. It's in their genetic makeup. But remember, it's a totally harmless reaction. After all, he's with you and not her, right?
3. His inability to put the toilet seat down. You see it as up; he sees it as in its rightful position. Flush any notion of changing him.
4. His obsession with sports. Woe to the woman who changes channels when her man's team is on the screen. Accept that his life will revolve around ESPN until the cricket season is over.