My partner and I have lived together for two years now. He’s the first significant other I’ve ever moved in with and we were thrilled about finally cultivating a space to call our own. It was the most exciting time of my life and it started out well enough, but the honeymoon period was definitely over when I realized that my partner was a total slob.
I knew that my partner was messier than I was, but I’d hoped this would change. Hindsight is 20/20, but it should have been obvious to me that my partner wouldn’t change his whole personality just because we moved in together. I’ve always been a very neat, organized person; he was a little more lax with his cleaning regimen. When I used to visit him in his old apartment, I’d bring up how much the mess upset me every now and then. He’d always have an excuse ready: work was a killer that day and he didn’t have the energy to clean, or he just had too many things going on to find time to pick up his mess.
Our place got dirty as hell and the cleaning fell solely on me. After we moved into our new place, I did the bulk of the cleanup. We’d both taken a weekend off work to move, but that break quickly came to an end and we still had a lot to do around the apartment. Boxes had to be broken down, trash needed to be thrown out, and our dishes started piling up. At first, I was happy to get it done. I wanted my new apartment to stay pretty and my partner did help when I asked for it. However, in the back of my mind, I noticed that the only time he lifted a finger was when he was prompted. He never made the effort to do things on his own.
Everyday life resumed and so did my partner’s old habits. He started letting his messes grow again. I’d come home from work, wanting to relax in my clean home, and find stacks of dishes on kitchen counters and pyramids of laundry on our bedroom floor. It became frustrating to me. I’d have to keep working as soon as I returned home just so that I could relax in a neat environment. He’d help if I made a big deal out of it, but often he’d try to tease and joke his way out of doing any work.
He started ignoring or refusing my requests for help with cleaning. After a few months of living together, he started getting combative. I’d ask him to do the dishes and he would make an excuse. I’d tell him to please put his jacket in the closet instead of over the back of a chair and he would tell me it wasn’t important. He’d leave clothes on the bathroom floor and let the trash pile up until I was forced to just take it out myself.
The stress of doing all the work around the house started getting to me. Why was it so hard for him to just help me? It shouldn’t have been entirely up to me to clean our apartment. It became a source of regular arguments for us. We’d been living together for nearly a year and I did absolutely everything around the house. When I asked him for help now, he asked why I couldn’t just do it myself. After all, I’d been doing it all alone before now. WTF?
I began to resent my partner. It was as though my willingness to do the work in the beginning had conditioned him into thinking he didn’t have to help at all. I had to remind him constantly that living together was a team effort and he didn’t care. I’d remember how messy his last place always was and how he always had an excuse for why he hadn’t cleaned and I felt foolish. What did I think was going to happen?
Out of anger, I started only taking care of myself. If he wouldn’t help me, I wouldn’t help him. I’d separate his dirty laundry from mine and only wash my own clothes. I started washing my individual dishes and leaving the cupboards empty of anything else but the food I’d gone to the store to purchase. I even started cooking only enough for myself because I wanted to force responsibility onto him.
Shockingly, he didn’t seem to care at all. Even though he had almost no clean clothes, was constantly eating out for meals, and practically lived in his own filth, he made no changes. I was truly stunned by his behavior and so disappointed that I began to realize that this arrangement wasn’t going to work.
I should never have expected him to change. What I should have asked for in the beginning was a compromise. If he could put his dirty clothes away in the hamper, I’d wash them. If he could load the dishwasher, I’d unload it. I’d hoped that living with me would rub off on him and that my cleanliness would inspire him. Now, he did nothing but argue with me.
I’m done trying and this might be the end of the relationship. I’m still not sure what’s going to happen to us. I know that I can’t stand living in this environment anymore, but I’m also done asking him for help. All it does it cause problems. I want to blame him for being so combative, but I know that part of the blame falls on me for expecting him to change himself just because we moved in together. Maybe it’s time we put an end to this whole thing.
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