We all know that sometimes, to get through to a man, we have to communicate with them in a language they understand. For TikToker Nadeen Hui, this meant using business practices to try to repair her relationship. The 30-year-old went viral after uploading a video explaining how she put her boyfriend on a “performance improvement plan” as a last-ditch attempt to work out the couple’s issues.
For those not accustomed to business-y terminology, a Performance Improvement Plan – or PIP, for short – is a formal document given to an employee on the brink of getting fired for lackluster performance. They include goals that must be met by a certain deadline, or else the employee’s job is in jeopardy. PIPs are popular in the world of tech as well as a handful of other industries.
In the video, which has now garnered nearly 200,000 views, Hui said that in the beginning of their relationship, the two were having “a lot of issues,” so she put him on three months of “probation.” This included a “shared note with daily and weekly tasks he needed to do, and a set of things he needed to work on. And it worked out really well.”
@nadeenhui we started living together really early on in our relationship so we saw all of each others living habits and lifestyles super quickly. and i honestly think it worked out better this way because we could decide if we actually wanted to work on these lifestyle habits together or split up. since it was so new, there wouldn’t be much love lost and we’d still be friends. but ultimately, we decided that we wanna stay together, and these lifestyle changes were for the better so why not do it? i had to learn to be more accepting and easy going, and he had to learn to be more tidy and considerate of shared spaces. #relationshipadvice #softwareengineerlife #lifeintech #girlsintech ♬ original sound – nadeen
Harsh? Sure. But effective? Apparently. Hui not only insists that putting her boyfriend on a PIP healed their relationship, but also that, “he kind of liked it.” She acknowledged that some viewers may find the approach a bit intense, but that “he’s an engineer, and sometimes it’s really hard to communicate with him without using something he can already relate to.”
Since the PIP worked so well, and “has been the only thing that has stuck and works,” the couple still uses some of the techniques Hui implemented; She adds tasks to their shared to-do list for him to complete (in the video, she says that he’ll forget if she gives him a verbal reminder) and they have weekly check-ins to get a feel for how things are going for both parties, which Hui says is her favorite part.
In an interview with HuffPost, Hui explained she and her boyfriend “were friends first and moved in very quickly because it was COVID lockdown. Because of that, we started seeing each other’s good, bad, and ugly very quickly.” She also works in the tech industry, as an entrepreneur’s personal assistant, and type A personality’s approach to household chores contrasted greatly with her boyfriend’s. “It really came down to the fact that we had different levels of cleanliness that was acceptable at home,” she said. “I needed a well-organized space to work and feel comfortable, whereas in the beginning, he’d be the type of guy to kick his clothes under the bed and leave it there.”
Social media users had very mixed reactions to how Hui addressed this issue. The top comment on the TikTok calls it “condescending,” and a comment that racked up nearly 500 likes read, “Late stage capitalism truly is hell” – in reference to Hui potentially “workifying” her relationship and creating an employee-manager dynamic. “I’d prefer not to be someone’s manager or assign tasks though…I’d want more of a co-founder dynamic,” wrote one woman in the comments. Other commenters questioned if the practice was mutual, so that both parties could “improve.”
Still, many users praised Hui’s strong, direct communication and suggested that they might try out the same system. One user wrote that, “it’s easier than nagging.” Some just found the situation entertaining, with one commenting, “As an engineer this is hilarious.”
In the aforementioned HuffPost interview, Hui noted that “99.9% of the critics are men,” and recalled that her boyfriend included conditions for her in the PIP as well. She said that, “it wasn’t an angry argument. It was literally just like, I don’t think this is working out because our lifestyle habits don’t work well together.” Hui also went on to say that the burden of fixing their relationship isn’t unfairly placed on her shoulders anymore, and that when you commit to a partner, “you’re also committing to changing with them and always finding ways that work for you both, no matter what stage in life you’re both in.”
In a follow-up video responding to the criticism she received, Hui says that implementing the PIP “wasn’t an ultimatum” or “some manipulation tactic,” and advised against viewers trying to “PIP their boyfriends” to “get what they want.” She says that the PIP came from an honest conversation about their relationship dynamic, in the interest of not wasting each other’s time. She also added that, “he was the one that told me that task lists with clear objectives are what works for him.”
@nadeenhui Replying to @alexwall86 if you get it, you get it. if you don’t, you’re not my intended audience. i can’t deal with people who don’t recognize healthy relationship building and choose to misunderstand what im saying. communication isn’t about how you want to deliver information, it’s about how the other person receives information. if you’re not communicating in a way they understand, you’re going to feel like you’re talking to a wall. #communicationskills #relationshipgoals #thingswomendealwith #healthyrelationshiptips ♬ original sound – nadeen
The PIP was put into place when the couple had been together for just three months – they’ve now been together for three years, and Hui says that though their approach might not work for every couple, they’re each others’ best friends, and she’s glad they addressed their issues head-on early in their relationship.
While we should never feel obligated to tolerate men not holding up their end of the bargain in a relationship, Hui’s customized approach to healing her relationship dynamic is a great example of upfront communication, and a testament to the fact that every couple is unique in how they navigate their relationship. If they found something that works for them, good on ‘em!
Top Photo: Screengrab from TikTok