Frustrated woman threatens breakup over "frog" in boyfriend's throat


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

My friend, who has been in a relationship for a little more than a year, called me in a panic recently.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, bracing myself for bad news.

“It’s my boyfriend,” she replied. “He won’t stop clearing his throat.”

I could hear the worry in her voice, but I wasn’t sure how to react. On the one hand, it seemed like a pretty minor issue. On the other hand, I knew how much my friend valued her relationship, and I didn’t want to downplay her concerns.

“That does sound trying,” I said slowly. “Is there anything you can do to help him stop?”

“I’ve tried everything!” she exclaimed. “I’ve begged him to see a doctor, I’ve bought him every throat lozenge on the market, I’ve even tried massaging his neck! Nothing works.”

“Well,” I said, trying to think of something comforting to say. “At least he’s not coughing all the time. That would be really annoying,” I said in a failed attempt to lighten the mood.

My friend sighed. “I know. But it’s just so constant. I can’t even get any sleep. It’s driving me crazy!”

“Maybe you could try talking to him about it again,” I suggested. “See if he has any ideas about what might help. And in the meantime, maybe you could try wearing earplugs?”

“Earplugs?” she repeated, sounding doubtful.

“Yeah, why not? It couldn’t hurt,” I said. “And it might help you get some much-needed rest.”

She thanked me for my advice and hung up. Two weeks later, she reported that “operation earplugs” was a bust.

“At this point, I’m ready to call it quits,” she confided. “I can’t take it anymore. I refuse to live with a man who has a perpetual ‘frog’ in his throat!”

I was sorry to hear that, and I tried to think of something else she could do, but I came up blank. They might be at an impasse.

Annoying habits.

It is possible that my friend’s boyfriend could have an undiagnosed medical condition, but that doesn’t make the situation less bothersome for her. People break up over annoying habits all the time. It might seem like a petty reason to call it quits, but when you’re the one dealing with the issue, it can be tough to see things any other way.

A 2005 study on “Social Allergies in Romantic Relationships” found that repeated behaviors are only mildly annoying at first, but they become more and more intolerable over time. The study’s authors “found that the more often that the partner performed an allergenic behavior, the stronger was the individual’s negative emotional reaction. Further, frequent and emotionally intense social allergens were associated with relationship dissatisfaction, and with termination assessed a year later.”

“In reality, what makes many relationships miserable, and ultimately end, are not the big things but the little inconsiderate, annoying behaviors which build up over time and kill the exciting activities and grateful exchanges” — Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D.

Feeling selfish.

When my friend first told me about her boyfriend’s throat clearing, I admit that I didn’t fully understand how she could be so upset about it. But the more she talked, the more I realized that it wasn’t just the noise that was bothering her — it was also the lack of sleep and the feeling that she wasn’t being heard or understood.

If you’re considering breaking up with your partner over an annoying habit, it’s essential to check in with yourself and make sure that you’re not being selfish. In other words, is this really about them, or is it about you? If it’s the latter, you might want to reconsider whether or not this is a dealbreaker.

Everyone has annoying habits.

We all have annoying habits. Maybe you clear your throat when you’re nervous or fidget with your hands when you’re bored. Perhaps you interrupt people when they’re talking or hum to yourself when you’re lost in thought. Whatever it is, we all have quirks that drive other people nutty.

The key is to be mindful of how your idiosyncrasies impact others. And if it’s something that you can manage, it’s worth making an effort to do so. But if it’s not, you might need to accept that this is just who you are and move on.

At the end of the day, you have to decide what’s best for you.

There’s no easy answer when it comes to deciding whether or not to break up with someone over an annoying habit. It’s a personal decision that only you can make.

What do you think? Is a froggy throat a dealbreaker? Or is this something you could learn to live with? Let us know in the comments.

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA

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