When my boyfriend and I first met, nearly 5 years ago, I was going through my most "carefree" and "relaxed" phase of my life.
Read: I didn't really give a shit about anything apart from having fun.
Seeing as we met on a night out where I ended up gatecrashing a birthday party and then spending the next morning having a competition with the birthday girl to see who could down the most wine out of a pint glass without throwing up, he rightly assumed I was someone who was pretty laid back, the opposite of uptight, pretty fun, actually.
I was living in a house-share with three older guys and a girlfriend who were also "carefree" and "relaxed," and together the five of us had a fantabulous time -- at the detriment of our house, which was a complete shambles.
But it was fine. None of us really cared whether someone else's wet washing had been in the machine for four days. We didn't really care about the crack in the living room window, that I'd accidentally done over Christmas by vomming out of my bedroom window and knocking a glass out at the same time.
We weren't really bothered about people staying over and not leaving for a while. We smoked indoors, drank bottles and bottles of red wine every Sunday and generally had a massive LOL.
Chris entered my life at this point, when everything was very "manana, manana." He'd stay over and we'd spend all day in my teeny tiny boxroom of a bedroom, with its overflowing ash trays and clothes everywhere and old cans of Red Stripe that sat on my dressing table along with my perfumes.
I just didn't care about housework. My bedroom was on the top floor of the old Victorian four-story terraced house, so dragging a hoover up just wasn't an option. (Well, it could have been. If I was that bothered. I wasn't.) My carpet was a funfair of pennies and kirby grips and fluff and spilled nail polish.
Frankly, we had more pressing things to be getting on with than cleaning up, like going to the pub! Or sitting on the beach in the sunshine with some 2 for £5 bottles of wine from the shop round the corner!
Chris had recently returned from travelling and was living back with his parents, where I moved in (unofficially, but basically I lived there full-time) after being made redundant and giving up my next house-share. Living there was lovely -- his parents are the nicest people -- but we were keen to find our own place. Which we did. We've been there two and a half years.
Somewhere along the way, I got tidy. I don't know when it happened, but it did. This was MY (our) flat and eventually I wanted it to look nice. I wanted fresh flowers on the table and pictures on the walls, scarves draped over mirrors and Flash cleaning wipes in the bathroom. I wanted hoovering done. I wanted shelves without dust. I wanted to have a proper grown up's house.
I bought table mats and plug-in air fresheners and a floral bag to keep carrier bags in, vases and AN APRON and a multitude of other things that don't make much sense to my boyfriend. I switched from leaving things out for days to finding proper homes for everything.
And I became a massive fucking nag.
Chris has gone on holiday this week, and the thing I have noticed most (other than missing him, obvs) is that I haven't heard my voice do that thing where I suddenly don't really recognize myself anymore because I sound like someone that isn't me.
"Are you going to pick that towel up?"
"Do your socks live on the floor, then? Am I your housemaid?"
"PLEASE CAN YOU WIPE DOWN THE SIDES AFTER YOU'VE MADE THAT BAGEL OK PLEASE THANKS"
I find myself nagging even when he hasn't actually finished whatever it is that he is doing that will create mess. He'll offer to cook me dinner, and I'll feel a mild panic rising as I think of all the mess that could potentially create. I'll do a preemptive nag.
"No! Please don't cook tonight, I just cannot handle the destruction of the kitchen. I'll make something." I am a horrible cow. He is perfectly capable of tidying away while he cooks, but I still can't hack it.
I find myself mildly irritated by trivial things. "Why do you have two pairs of shoes out in the hallway? Keep them in the cupboard!" I hear myself screech. They're just shoes! It's not even as if they're in the way! Why do I care so much?
The thing is, I know that being so uptight about stupid crap like a few crumbs on the sideboard is detrimental to our relationship. I don't like being so naggy. And Chris can't win, as even if the towels are all hung up and the kitchen is clean and the shoes are all put away, there will always be SOMETHING I can moan about. I hear myself do it and I try and remind myself that I am being unpleasant.
Of course, if he is showing a blatant disregard for the general upkeep of the house and I feel that I am doing the majority of the work, then nagging is of course warranted. But a lot of the time, I am just being uptight. And I hate it.
Do you find yourself nagging? Or is your partner a massive nag, like me? Oh, god, my kids are going to HATE ME. Do you have ways of biting your tongue about things, so you don't sound like a raging psychopath? Tips and stories below, please, and then go and tidy your room. AND THAT'S AN ORDER.
NAG NAG NAG all day long over on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM.