#1020: “Is this relationship doomed or do I just need to put in more work?”

Hiya Cap’n!

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for just over three years, and after a stint of long-distance, the two of us have recently moved in together.

Captain, it’s not going well.

Most of the ways it’s not going well are problems on my end, though, and they’re all pretty minor, falling into the category of ‘either suck it up and compromise or use your words to try to fix the problem.’

Captain, how do I tell the difference between us not being compatible and me not being enough of a grown-up to put in the work? I’ve never been in a relationship this serious before, so I don’t have much of a sense of how this is supposed to go.

Here’s the crux of the matter, I think: I am really freaking organised. I had a very chaotic childhood, where my ‘organisation’ sometimes determined whether my brother and I would eat that day. As a teenager I was then taken in by a foster family whose idea of fun was a multi-day backpacking/rock-climbing trip — great training in how to plan. My early career was spent working jobs where the health and welfare of myself and those around me depended on my ability to mastermind; due to disability, I now work an office job in a different industry, but my current role still boils down to ‘be the most competent person in the room.’

Anyway, I’m really on top of household stuff (and also an excellent cook, if I do say so myself). My boyfriend is…not. My boyfriend’s the type of person who constantly starts fires in the kitchen. Who loses household bills. Who forgets to go to important doctor’s appointments. Who is late to everything. Whose bedroom looks like a tornado hit. Whose fridge still contains leftovers from three months old that are now incubating the most amazing mold.

I would be delighted to take over all household chores. Really. I like cooking! I like cleaning! I would so, so, SO much prefer to, say, just take the trash out myself than to have to bug my boyfriend several dozen times to take out the overflowing, rotting trash. I would so much prefer to ask Boyfriend what he wants for dinner and then to make it happen myself than for it to be ‘Boyfriend’s night to cook’ which often turns into ‘it’s late at night and there’s nothing to eat in the house because Boyfriend forgot and LW only reminded Boyfriend twice rather than three times, and somehow it’s LW who goes to the store and ends up making dinner anyway.’ Boyfriend is welcome to take care of the garden (I freaking hate plants), the car (disability = I can’t drive), anything in his name (hey, it’s not messing with my credit score), anything that he himself owns, etc, but I’d really just as soon do any joint household stuff.

Boyfriend, though, keeps having tantrums about this. Like…we were having some friends around for dinner, and Boyfriend asked if he could help, so I asked him to set the table, but he didn’t, so an hour later when it was dinner time, I just set the table myself. MAJOR MELTDOWN. Apparently I was supposed to interrupt Boyfriend, who was entertaining our guests, and remind him to set the table. And I’m like: ??? It’s fine? It’s just a table? It’s not a problem for me to set it, I was in the kitchen cooking anyway? Or, a few times when Boyfriend has done our joint laundry, a bunch of my clothes vanished into the waist-deep chaos that is his bedroom (and then as near as we can tell, he later donated them to a charity shop, not realising they were mine???), and I don’t have the spare cash at the moment to replace these clothes, so I’ve started doing my own laundry separately. And now every single time Boyfriend sees me doing a load of laundry that is clearly just mine, Boyfriend freaks out. And I calmly explain, ‘Boyfriend, I’ve had X, Y, and Z items disappear, so I’m lot more comfortable washing my own clothes, but I really appreciate the thought, thanks,’ but that doesn’t really work. So now I’m doing my laundry in secret to avoid a Boyfriend!meltdown? Which is probably my own fault, but also kind of sucks?

So, Captain, what do I do?

I know from Boyfriend’s perspective, I’m being controlling. The answer may just be ‘chill out, LW, learn to live with a bit of chaos.’ I also know that there’s a lot else going on in our relationship that I’m not particularly happy with that is not going to be fixed by one or both of us chilling out. (We aren’t sexually compatible.) (I’m a politically active antifa SJW, whereas he comes from a pretty conservative culture and is fairly ‘meh’ about politics.) (He tends to monologue, and I find this exhausting.) (He doesn’t think ‘people like us’ should get married — think ‘I don’t think a Muslim and a Jew should get married’, though that’s not our specific demographics — and I’m still fairly saddened by this, both because I would love to get married and because I think this reveals a disturbing level of internalised bigotry.)

FWIW, my therapist thinks I should leave him. But I’m disabled and broke and his emotional and financial support are pretty great and he really is a lovely person.


I don’t want to do all of the household chores *and* navigate my boyfriend’s ego. (She/her.)

Welp, we can add “tried to do my laundry, managed to donate my clothes to a charity shop instead” guy to the list along with “broken glass” guy, “you can’t pee, I’m in here” guy, “water YOU use is wasteful” guy, and other members of our Awkward Rogue’s Gallery of ex-boyfriends.

If you prefer, we could call him “had a MAJOR MELTDOWN because I set the table once” guy?

Fundamental Incompatibility Guy?

I’m Frankly Astonished That He Had The Wherewithal To Bag Some Clothes And Actually Get Them To A Charity Shop Guy?

The part that is killing me is not even his series of household fuckups, it’s that he takes it out on you (via “meltdowns” and “tantrums” and “freaking out”) when you try to gently do things like make sure the table is set and the trash is out and you have clean clothes and you eat at a normal time. You don’t just have to take care of everything in your living situation you have to take care of his feelings about it? Nope. Nein. Non. And he’s got you doubting yourself, whether you’re being “too controlling?” Negative. Nopetepus. Noperocket.

As always, whether you leave this guy is 100% up to you, but you asked for my opinion and my opinion is that right now, doing your laundry in secret and living your life around his incompetence and his moods and his monologuing and being sexually, politically, and otherwise totally incompatible in every way is the best that it’s ever going to get. He is not going to change. You ask if you need to “grow up” or “chill out” or “put in more work” and, NO! You’re already doing all the work that could possibly improve it by expressing your needs and taking care of yourself. There is no secret level of Relationship Work that you could decide to do that would make it better.

You say he’s a lovely person and like, he’d have to be? I believe you that he has something lovable about him or you wouldn’t have made it this long? One of adult life’s tragedies is that two perfectly lovely people can be really incompatible as life-partners and roommates. Sometimes people date long distance and find out that it doesn’t work when they move closer to each other. This is one of those times. Your script can be “I care about you so much, and I know we looked forward to this for so long, but now that we’re living together it’s really not working, and I think we are just too incompatible for me to be happy like this.”

The finance and disability part suck, to be sure, and I wish that that didn’t have to be a part of your decision matrix. I wish I had a magic wand that would fix the situation. The best I can do is “Let’s break up, we’ll both be happier.


572 thoughts on “#1020: “Is this relationship doomed or do I just need to put in more work?”

  1. Leave this guy YESTERDAY, OP. If it’s absolutely necessary that you have his help for money/rides/whatever, then come up with a plan where you don’t need him anymore and then leave him as soon as you possibly can. Think how much happier you’ll be when you don’t have put up with his monologues and meltdowns (meltdowns?! is he a small child?!) anymore.

    1. YES. There’s nothing this person is providing that LW can’t get another way: Lyft, a short term loan or similar, a cleaning service, that will cost a LOT less, both in terms of money and time not spent comforting a grown man who throws tantrums when he isn’t reminded to be an adult enough times.

      From her description of her childhood, it sounds like controlling her environment is very important, and her disability may make it hard to socialize in real time, but all those things? Can be handled. This guy? All the handling in the world isn’t going to cut it.

    2. “(meltdowns?! is he a small child?!)”

      I would suggest maybe not using this framing? Pretty sure a lot of autistic people use “meltdown” to describe things they go through.

      1. +1, meltdowns suck from both sides. With me and my husband, we *talk* afterwards (or during if the meltdown didn’t steal all my words), and try to figure out a solution that works for both of us. It doesn’t sound like this guy is talking much? Like, he just thinks it’s reasonable to expect OP to provide constant reminders? Maybe he’s young and in denial and could still wake up and start working on his issues, that would be nice… But, that last paragraph adds so much extra incompatibility that he should really work on those with someone *else*.

      2. To be fair, people in neurotypical situations also use the word colloquially; it’s not a medical term or anything. I distinguish between my son (who’s autistic) having a meltdown and having a tantrum, but I think it’s pretty clear from the context that LW just meant a super-tantrum. And that’s fine. It’s useful to be able to identify an autistic meltdown, but we didn’t create the word and I don’t think we get to control how other people use it.

        Boyfriend is being childish; it’s a fair description of his behaviour. From the context it’s pretty evident that his are the non-autistic kinds of meltdown, and I don’t think it helps anyone to wrangle over the term.

      3. Yes, thank you. I wish people wouldn’t use “meltdown” to mean “tantrum”. Meltdown means, in short, completely losing the ability to can. The way this manifests may be a loss of emotional control leading to screaming, crying etc, or in hiding under the table not making eye contact, or misplacing the ability to speak, or several other ways. It may look like a tantrum, but the important part is that is the result of a LOSS OF CONTROL, brought about by being completely overwhelmed by sensory and/or emotional stimulus and a feeling of lacking control over what’s happening, not the result of a DECISION to, eg, scream at your partner for trying to make the house liveable. Having a meltdown is awful and humiliating. It’s not what Boyfriend is doing.

        Boyfriend lacks accountability, personal responsibility. He’s perfectly happy to continue to behave in the way in which he is behaving, and will do so until met with serious consequences FOR HIM.

      4. Yes, autistic people and others with mental illnesses can have meltdowns as a regrettable consequence of life being too much. Even neurotypical people sometimes have a bad day and react in ways that are not proportionate or helpful! But as Halpful said, it doesn’t sound like LW’s boyfriend even *cares* whether he is being proportionate or helpful. If an emotional reaction to a situation becomes too much to bear, a good-faith adult will later apologize for what they did to exacerbate the situation and try to work on a compromise. LW’s boyfriend expects her to do the exact amount of work he demands, without telling her, and does not appear to register that this is unreasonable. He feels he has every right to make life miserable for her in order to punish her for daring to do all the housework instead of being his infinitely patient housework manager. That’s unacceptable and infeasible.

        Tl;dr: the problem isn’t really the meltdowns, but his entire handling of the situation from start to finish.

          1. Thank you — I’m autistic, I sometimes have Very Big Emotions, and I describe my emotional experiences as “tantrums” or “meltdowns” frequently. I do my best to minimise and mitigate their effect on others, and work with others to find modes of minimisation/mitigation *that work for them as individuals*. It’s odd and rather uncomfortable reading so many comments saying that how I experience emotions & the world are a massive red flag and None Of My Partners Should Be Dating Me.

            Having said all of which: holy SHIT this behaviour on the part of your boyfriend is COMPLETELY unacceptable, LW, you are — as everyone else has said — not even remotely the problem, and you’re already uncomplainingly putting in far more work than anyone has the right to ask or expect of you. I’m… going to echo everyone else and suggest that you would probably find life much, much easier if you weren’t devoting so much time and effort and energy to working around a “partner” who is providing you with nothing that even remotely resembles supportive, functioning, healthy partnership.

          2. Oh, absolutely! I was just using your comment as a jumping-off point, not to contradict you in any way. Agreeing with you that “meltdowns,” as such, aren’t the core problem here– if he were a good-faith operator who sometimes has meltdowns, the situation might still be frustrating sometimes (like literally relationships!) but nowhere NEAR as awful as what LW describes.

      5. With no evidence whatsoever that he is autistic or anything, a grown man having a meltdown because his girlfriend set the table for him IS acting like a small child.

        And as a person on the autism spectrum, we don’t own the word “meltdown”. Anybody who wants to can use it.

        1. Even if the boyfriend was ASD, the LW is still in a bit of a “you’re standing on my foot” situation – his behavior is not acceptable and she deserves to not be screamed at.

          But it sounds like he’s not, so…he doesn’t even get the modicum of understanding we (rightly) owe non-NT people who stand on our foot. Fuck him, man.

  2. In my experience, the moment you have to do anything in secret to avoid a partner’s tantrum or meltdown is the moment to start planning to get the hell out of Dodge, because Here Be Bees. Bees waving Big Red Flags. Sorry, LW, but no-one is so wonderful as a person as to make up for that. The Captain is absolutely spot on; this, right now, is the best you’re ever going to get. I can tell you right now from personal experience that it can only go downhill from here – and it will.

    1. This!!!! As soon as you find yourself sneaking around/hiding perfectly normal, reasonable activities from your partner, it is a BIG GIANT FLASHING RED FLAG about how they are treating you. If the subterfuge feels like less work than dealing with the emotional meltdown, it’s time to get out yesterday. (Also speaking from experience, alas!)

    2. And it’s not like it is running a secret fight club out of the basement, we are talking basic chores that have to get done in secret. Laundry is already not fun, I cannot imagine it gets better when you have to sneak off to get clean socks.

    3. Okay, now I’m picturing a flock of bees buzzing around with bee-sized red flags strapped to their backs. Which is highly entertaining as a mental image, but very sad for the OP, and I 100% agree that “having to take care of everyday tasks in order to avoid a blowup” means “run and don’t look back”.

      1. Perhaps sneaking around to do laundry give the same thrill as sneaking around to have illicit sex?


        I hope she finds a way to feel financially comfortable being on her own because he’s an utter assclown who doesn’t deserve someone who’s willing to put in so much work for a relationship with someone who won’t work at it and blame her for his shortcomings. Oh, and speaking of comings? Yeah, don’t relegate yourself to a life of bad sex, LW – you deserve someone who makes your toes curl!

        1. I’m actually rooting for LW to find a “Golden Girls” housing situation, sharing her home with reasonable and responsible adults, with whom she is compatible, and for her to find her romance elsewhere. Eventually, she can find a man with whom she is compatible AND in love. In the meantime, though, compatible roommates, without the mine-field of romance, is the way to go. In my opinion.

          As someone who is also disabled (I don’t drive, either), and both depends on and assists my sisters and mother (Between all of us, we make one healthy person, is our running joke), I can attest that it is better than living alone, even if finances aren’t an issue. We can take care of each other! Of course, the finances help, too, but even if I were able to pay the way for all of us, and money wasn’t an issue, with our various issues, I’d still share, because we take care of each other in various ways, and it works better than me trying to take care of myself alone. Been there, done that, and although it was good when I was younger and healthier, I know I’m never going back to that again.

    4. Yes exactly! LW, maybe you’re okay with the idea of doing your laundry in secret for the rest of your livelong days, but I sure as hell would not be. In a good, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship, things do not have to be done in secret (or at the very, very least, normal household chores do not have to be done in secret). He may be a nice person in some ways, but you’ve reached the point of an unreasonable amount of effort being put into maintaining the relationship. It’s not worth it.

      1. Cosigned.

        Things that may be done in secret in a healthy, functional relationship:

        ~planning a surprise party for your partner who loves surprise parties
        ~helping your very dearest friend through a painful time which they want kept confidential
        ~end of list.

        1. I’d just like to add “falling apart over something which really should be your own problem if you have Big Feelings about it at all (for example, your partner set the table herself instead of reminding you yet again, when it was your job)” to this list. Sometimes, people DO have Big Feelings about unreasonable things… but an adult human being goes off into private and handles those feelings in a way which does not force them upon their partner. Deep breathing in the bathroom for five or ten minutes, if there are guests to entertain, for example.

          Laundry should not have to be done in secret. Upset over somebody doing their own damn laundry, however, possibly should be.

          1. A fair addition! I’m trying to make a distinction between “things you don’t involve your partner in” and “things that are secret from your partner,” and would be inclined to file your example under the latter– like, for sure Boyfriend should not be making it LW’s problem that he has feelings, but it would be okay if she were simply aware that he was processing feelings without her involvement. Or even if she weren’t aware, but he wasn’t actively keeping it a secret from her. (Similarly, it’s fine if your partner has no idea what you’re doing with your friends, as long as if they asked you would say– it’s only a signifier of Problems if you don’t feel like you *can* tell them.)

          2. I’d like to add “Things your secret club do at their secret meetings, because you’ve all taken a vow of secrecy,” but not your membership in that club.

            Freemasons, for example. The spouses may not know what happens in the order, but they may know that you’re in the order. The secrecy is the actual activities/rituals/etc. of the order, and not the membership, itself. I’ve known plenty of Freemasons, who are not exactly hiding their membership, but they’re not talking about what happens behind closed doors. I’ve often wondered if the things we see about them on TV are actually a myth to make their order seem more exciting to outsiders, but they actually spend the meetings just relaxing and goofing off. Which is a perfectly fair use of their time, anyway.

            And lastly, “Things you do for your job which are legally classified, such as government work.” Yeah, my Dad did a lot of classified stuff, and wasn’t allowed to tell Mom or us kids. But he never hid the fact that he HAD classified stuff, so it wasn’t such a secret, after all. Just an “I can’t talk about my work” thing. Also, when things became de-classified, he’d tell us stuff then. He had some amazing stories.

            Also, queenbeemimi – your first item was the first thing that pops into my head whenever I hear that break-up song where the woman is dumping the man because *he called her best friend, and left her number on his phone!* Oh, the horror! He could not possibly have been talking to his SO’s best friend about anything perfectly innocent! So, the singer, who had trusted him so much, and thought they had a perfect relationship, right up until she saw her friend’s phone number on her lover’s phone, dumped him without warning or a chance to defend himself, because OBVIOUSLY, he’s cheating on her, and there could never be another explanation, forever and ever amen.

            UGH. I hate that song. And also, I’ve seen the situation play out where the innocent parties are so hurt by the accusations that they turn to each other for comfort (platonic), and then, after a while, it turns to romance, which would never have happened if the original “injured party” had not freaked out, in the first place. And both original romantic relationship and friendship is destroyed.

  3. LW, I second the Captain’s opinion that the relationship has fundamental incompatibilities that can’t be overcome but only worked around… for now. However, I also appreciate the barriers of disability, limited mobility, and income. If doing what is best for yourself means postponing a breakup while you figure logistics, that’s okay. If the emotional support means more to you than the chaos, that’s okay too.

    Perhaps your therapist can help brainstorm a bug-out plan that transitions you into living somewhere free of someone else’s chaos, even if you don’t break up with your partner.

    You sound like a very level-headed person. Congratulations on overcoming so much to be where you are today. I truly don’t have any advice, but I hope it helps to hear your feelings affirmed in this forum.

    1. However, I also appreciate the barriers of disability, limited mobility, and income. If doing what is best for yourself means postponing a breakup while you figure logistics, that’s okay. If the emotional support means more to you than the chaos, that’s okay too.

      This is very valid. However, having Been There, Done That with an emotional vampire who faked being wonderfully emotionally supportive, at a time when my mental illness was severely interfering with my ability to work and I was terribly financially unstable, I can’t help but wonder if Mr Throws A Tantrum Over Setting the Table might not be costing the LW more in emotional cope than he’s providing? Only LW can answer that in her specific situation, but when I finally got out of my relationship with Mr Promises Rides to Appointments But Then Ooops “Accidentally” Unplugged the Alarm Or Lost His Keys or Forgot and Got Too Drunk To Drive Or Some Other Bustedass Excuse, I found I had so much more cope and wherewithal to handle managing my illness and finding other sources of financial support.

      1. This is a good point – like, I am taking the LW at their word when they say that the boyfriend is offering financial and emotional support, but also…you might not need his financial and emotional support if you didn’t live with someone who threw your clothes away and gaslit you all the time?

        1. THIS. I’m not saying money will rain from the sky but any money she does have won’t be spent replacing clothing he “donated” while gaslighting you into thinking his horrible worldviews and behavior are something SHE’S got to deal with.

        2. I’m not disabled, but I thought I needed my ex’s emotional and financial support too, which is why it took me so long to break up with him. But after he was gone, I found out that he was actually costing me a ton of money (somehow I ended up with an extra couple hundred dollars a month even though I had to pay his half of the lease) and I was sleeping better and functioning better.

          It may be one of those situations where you don’t realize you really don’t need him and his “help” is actually a help deficit. But I back up CA’s advice of creating a budget/plan just in case.

          1. Because “I’d probably just buy the wrong stuff, anyway, so what’s the point? Anyway, you know I’m disorganized, so it’s your own fault for letting it happen, and not nagging me for your clothes back before I had a chance to donate them.”

      2. I wonder about the emotional support thing as well. If LW is having to manage this dude’s feelings about his adulting failures to the point where laundry runs are stealth missions, then how much emotional support could he really be providing?

        1. I find it concerning that he calls her controlling for doing her own laundry and setting the table without bothering him about it. Those things are the opposite of controlling, and that’s some really vicious gaslighting on his part. Obviously she has some extra barriers with disability and not driving and so on … but someone so organized and competent will find a way out of the relationship when she chooses. I just hope she realizes how weird and awful he’s being.

          1. I think “controlling” actually describes that behavior well; he knows and expects those chores to Just Happen, and by behaving this way, he’s forcing the LW to perform them otherwise they won’t get done. He’s got a lot of power here — the power to check out on daily chores, some of which benefit the entire household — and he’s exerting it, partly passively and partly overtly.

          2. You’re right, though, Mookie–he’s doing his best to control her. I hope she’s here and reads these comments. We’re all pulling for you, LW!

      3. This actually happened to me, in a situation very like LW’s in an overall way.

        I am also disabled. Without the millstone around my neck, I have a lot more “cope”. I struggle, but I do it knowing I will never again have to have certain arguments. I am accomplishing more without him than I thought possible.

        1. Add me to the list. I have severe fibromyalgia — on a good day, I can sit up and stay dressed for most of the time between waking and dinner. On a bad day, I’m whimpering in bed. About three days a week, with the help of several medications, I can make it to work, though I’m utterly drained by the end of it.

          I had an abusive partner about five years ago, whom I didn’t leave for four years. Part of the reason was that I loved her and kept thinking I could make it work, as most abuse victims think; but part of it was that she was paying half the bills, and I didn’t have a job, and I had two small children whom she helped me to care for. The idea of being a single parent, responsible for both taking daily care of those kids and putting a roof over their heads, was utterly terrifying.

          When she finally tried to smother me, I called the police and cut off the relationship. I was still terrified about what would happen to me and my children. What actually did happen? I rented out the master bedroom of our house in exchange for babysitting and household help, went back to school, and got a job. I felt a thousand times better, even through the stress and trauma in the wake of the assault, than I had living in the same house with her and having to tiptoe around every mood.

          1. Wow! I’m so glad you survived, and then thrived!

            I know that people with various disabilities are at higher risk of being victims of domestic abuse, and I think the feeling of “I can’t manage without this person’s help” is a large part of that.

            Even though you knew you needed help from someone (rent of babysitting and household help – great idea!), rather than try to do it all yourself, you realized you didn’t need THIS person’s “help.” Good for you!

      4. Nth-ing this, I remember having a torturously long on-again-off-again with my ex (after we broke up) where he would provide me with “emotional support” and I’d *totally inexplicably* end up crying shortly after, if not during our time together. And then he’d jump in to “””comfort””” me and the cycle would repeat.

        I don’t know if there’s a name for this dynamic but it was like my brain got rewired to crave the kind of “support” he gave, even though it came with a heaping side of manipulation and clearly made me feel much worse.

        You’re doing so much emotional labor just to exist in his presence, OP…I think it’s probably draining your energy in a way that you might not be consciously aware of most of the time.

      5. I am recently broken up with someone who is a lovely person but who ran me out of emotional labor because he needed so much, and where I had to do all the mental load of the household (end of lease finally approaching, should have moved out sooner regardless). I thought he was providing a lot of emotional support, but I need SO MUCH LESS support now than I am not in that relationship. I can see our patterns much more clearly now, and emotional self regulation is so vastly much easier than I was when I was with him.

        So yes. It may well be better without the emotional support, when your energy isn’t tied up with him.

        Best of luck, LW.

      6. This is a valid point but ultimately moot, because the LW is in that situation and can’t magically stop the boyfriend from doing these things in order to work up to moving out. Regardless, the solution to the emotional support problem is consolidating Team Her and leaning on them for a while.

      7. yeah, I remember my niece talking about her boyfriend (whom we all thought was mooching on her, and he was doing “bath salts,” etc.) and saying, “But he was so supportive when we ran out of gas at the diner in Colorado! I was so upset and he calmed me down.”

        I thought, “Honey, the WAITRESS would have calmed you down with kindness, and a truck driver or two would have pitched in for gas.”

        LOTS of people will help you.

        Getting rid of this guy will make room for them to step in, and room for you to think of whom you can ask, or for OTHER ways you can cope. And maybe you’ll find it so much EASIER to cope, because you’ll have more energy, you won’t be consumed with HIS logistics.

        There are people looking for roommates. There might be friends or family that would let you stay with them for a month to bank that month’s rent money.

        Our OP has tremendous coping skills–look at what she’s coping with already! She’s a logistics whiz.

        I refuse to believe she couldn’t solve the shit out of any problem she would end up with by leaving.
        But she’s aiming her “solving” skills at a person–and nobody can “solve” other people.

  4. I agree that this dude sounds like a burden LW needs to be rid of. He kind of reminds me of when I was a teenager and my mum would ask me to e.g. wash dishes and I’d go “sure, I’ll do it later” when “later” for me meant “several hours from now or possibly even tomorrow”. Eventually my mum would get tired of waiting and do it herself, and I would get in such a snit. Because I SAID I was going to do it and did she not think I was capable of a simple chore and didn’t she TRUST me? When of course it was not some kind of referendum on who I was as a person, she just got sick of the dirty kitchen and me clanging pots and pans at midnight, and I could have avoided the whole mess by just doing the thing when she asked.

    It’s not an excuse and was a terrible way to behave, and I have thankfully grown up since then. But maybe my juvenile thought processes can shed some light on the thinking behind Boyfriend’s tantrums – and reassure the LW that this is not her fault and Boyfriend is just being lazy and childish.

    1. Oh, adding to that: the real reason I used to get so angry is that doing the thing for me felt like calling me out on my laziness. Cue defensive tantrum. Boyfriend is fully aware that he’s a slob and is doing his best to make it LW’s fault somehow.

      1. This. It’s displaced shame/etc. And he’s being a real dick for doing it to her, especially for doing her own laundry.

      2. LW – This is not about you not putting in the work. It’s true that relationships at a certain point require effort. There are days when you have to choose to love your partner and choose to stay, and choose to work on things that it would just be easier to ignore. But the key word in that statement isn’t choose, it is partner.

        You should be with someone who is in the struggle with you, who is fighting to make both of your lives better and who is your equal, your counterpart, a partner who makes you better. That does sometimes mean learning new things from your partner, like, how to relax, enjoy, let someone else take care of you. it does NOT mean learning about managing someone else’s temper tantrums and losing items of clothing. (That’s parenthood.)

        If you don’t feel like you CAN leave just now, then well, I think you in your infinite competence know what to do. Identify the things that are barriers to you leaving, and figure out a way to manage them, and have a plan to rebuild your life independently.

        All of the things that you are getting from him right now can be gotten in other ways. It might be a little harder, BUT that challenge will come with a heaping side order of not having to be competent for someone else – a dessert of doing your own fucking laundry without having to hide it – perhaps with an digestif of blissful fucking silence.

        1. “The key word in that statement isn’t choose, it is partner.” Wow. What an amazing way to frame that! IOW, *you* can’t do all the choosing, if what you have in your house is not a partner to you. That’s beautiful, thank you for that.

        2. it does NOT mean learning about managing someone else’s temper tantrums and losing items of clothing. (That’s parenthood.)

          As a parent: THIS.

      3. For what it’s worth — anyone dealing with a more good-faith version of this relative to LW’s situation — the trick is to specify actual times. The dishes must be started by 8pm or done by 9pm or some such. Need to “reschedule”? Fine, specify the exact time. Now you can’t complain about someone else doing it, if you fail to do so.

        1. I’m glad this works for you.

          It doesn’t work with people who aren’t operating in good faith. Rescheduling, even with people of good will, doesn’t work when other tasks depend on a task’s completion.

          (E.g. If I’m cooking dinner and need dishes and counter space and the sink, and we need to eat before 8pm then rescheduling washing the breakfast dishes to 7:30pm is not helpful.)

          1. Well, yes, that’s why I specified the good-faith part in my original comment. I should also clarify that I’m primarily talking about resolving the “why did you do it for me?? don’t you TRUST me???” part of the situation, rather than general-purpose Not Good At Doing Chores In A Timely Manner issues.

        2. Yeah, I’ve found this to be helpful for reducing the ordinary dumb misunderstandings of being two people raised in different households and without psychic abilities. When one of you says they’ll mop ‘later’ at 2pm meaning “after I finish this project which might mean tomorrow because I have plans tonight” and the other hears later meaning “maybe in an hour” because they want it done before their partner goes out for the evening, it’s really good to express those details and find the miscommunication in the moment instead of two hours later when the asker is feeling betrayed because, “you said you’d do it and you didn’t!”

          Expressing that I want the dishes done by 4 so I have a pleasant place to make dinner, or that he wants me to move my gardening stuff out of the hallway within 30 minutes because he needs to move equipment through it, makes so much of an improvement over just asking for the thing without explanation.

          It won’t solve bad faith but then what does?

      4. As someone who has to fight this tendency (at 34! I need to grow up!) it is 100% about defensiveness in the face of having my laziness called out. No one should put up with this kind of behavior—from me or anyone else.

    2. Yeah, I was going to say that it reminded me of my behavior going into a semi-normal household after being sent away from one where I would be beaten and starved for not adulting well (at the age of seven and with severe ADHD and dyspraxia if anyone has their tiny violin out, not that this is an excuse for not having your shit together and being a burden. Nevertheless, although the punishments were not malicious, they did not help me be a better person, they left physical scar tissue in some cases, and I do not recommend this caregiving style in my particular case).

      But that’s the final mess that isn’t the LW’s to clean up. From the letter, it’s clear the advice and permission she wants, and I think donating him to a future girlfriend to whom he is not clutter is best all around.

      1. not that this is an excuse for not having your shit together and being a burden.

        Nope. It’s not.

        Just being seven years old is enough of an excuse for not adulting well. That’s all you need not to be able to adult – to be a child.

      2. Whos, wtf. That’s really awful. I’m sorry you had to go through that. Jedi hugs if you want them.

        1. I will always accept hugs from a Jedi. I honor both of your kindness, the Gold Digger and Indoor Cat, even as I say that “even if that’s what happened to LWSO, the onus on abused people is EVEN MORE not to be abusive jerks, because we know how it feels.” And dang, mang, Letter Writer’s dude is being abusive and needs some time in the penalty box until he figures some shit out. “Don’t let the demons drive the brain!”— that’s, um, pretty basic.

          1. “…the onus on abused people is EVEN MORE not to be abusive jerks, because we know how it feels.”

            Thank you for this! I’ve always felt this, but have never been able to put it so succinctly.

          2. The cycle of abuse continues, not because it is impossible to break, but because it is hard to break, and a lot of people, after being abused, glory in the feel of finally being the one in power.

            My Dad broke the cycle of abuse, and I honor him for it. He taught us, exactly what you said. The onus is on the people who know how it feels not to perpetuate that.

            Hats off to you and Jedi hugs, too!

          3. I don’t think that surviving abuse means that someone is now obligated to be a more moral person than others. That part of the comment reminded me of this research showing that people hold victims (and their kids and grandkids) to a higher moral standard: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/37416580/Branscombe__Warner__Klar_Fernandez_JESP_2015.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1504947976&Signature=pjLqd%2F%2FqkQ%2FWGvrFsmjbzptyx%2Bs%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DHistorical_group_victimization_entails_m.pdf.

          4. Anon – this also reminds me of the (imperfect) rhetorical idea that black people have more of an obligation to be pro-marriage equality than white people do, because of Loving vs. VA. It’s an easy trap to fall in, but…nope. We aLL have that same obligation.

    3. My mom used to do this, too… but I remember being angry both because of the (justified) shame and because she would always be sure to do the dishes (or whatever other chore) in the MOST PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE WAY POSSIBLE. Like deliberately loud dish-rattling, huffy sighs, etc. I was an irresponsible and snotty teenager for sure, but her behavior taught me a lot of habits I’m still trying to unlearn in dealing with housework management and distribution between me and my spouse.

      Definitely doesn’t sound like the LW is doing that, though. This isn’t a case of “both parties are equally wrong” (or, kittens help us, “LW is wrong”)–it’s that boyfriend is wrong, KNOWS he’s wrong, knows that SHE knows he’s wrong, and has decided to punish her emotionally for that.

      1. My old roommate did that too. He barely did chores, but any time he did wash some dishes or take out the trash, he acted super put out by it – grunting, huffing and puffing, grumbling to himself, making sure I heard just how annoyed he was that he had to do work around the apartment and how exhausting and horrible it was for him. I wonder if he picked up that habit at home, or knew from experience that if he acted like housework was toooo haaaard for him, others would take care of it and not expect him to pitch in.

        1. Yeah, my husband did that a few times early in our relationship. And I was like “look, dude, this is passive-aggressive as shit. It means that my options are to ask you to do the things that are your share of the tasks and then deal with you ruining the evening, or do it myself and steam with resentment, neither of which make me want to be with you, so….”

          He stopped. Right away.

          There’s something to be said for bulldozing through social conventions and calling shit out in relationships.

          1. My husband and I lived with my late MIL in the final years of her life. He tried that huff-puff-grumble-snort routine in front of her exactly once. She looked at him like he was about three inches tall and said, “I know I didn’t teach you to act like that. Use your words or shut up and buckle down.”

            He never did it again.

            So, yes, calling a spade a spade can work wonders. (It took me a long time after that to learn how to apply it myself…)

      2. Yeah. It’s certainly possible to do chores AT someone. Again, the proper response to this is just “thanks for doing ____” and/or “woop, sorry I didn’t do that!”. Which can be hard when the vibe is off but still, it’ll usually reset things.

    4. For some people, they really do mean to do the chore, and when someone else does it before they have a chance, it hurts.

      My advice for the people asking/assigning the chore would be to say, “When?” after the person agrees to do the chore. Let them set their own schedule (or negotiate it, if it’s too late – dishes at midnight can be disruptive), and don’t nag them before that time.

      If they are operating in good faith, they’ll do it at the time they chose for themselves, and problem solved. If they’re not, then they will have revealed that about themselves, and you can move on to the real issue, which is not really dishes, trash, or whatever other chore.

      BF is almost certainly not operating in good faith. As a teen, you probably were, most of the time, until the resentment set in.

    5. For me, this was about executive dysfunction shame. I genuinely intended to do the thing, and as soon as I was able to do it, I would do it. That just might not be in anything like reasonable time.

      I didn’t understand this at the time and neither did the people I lived with. Had I understood it, it would have been shitty of me to not deal with the problem in a constructive way. Living on my own for a few years gave me the opportunity to learn Strategies and now I am a thoroughly mediocre housemate, who does laundry regularly to make up for my deep aversion to oven-cleaning. Go me!

      The upshot is, LW can’t fix this. Boyfriend has to fix this, but there’s no evidence that he’s going to or that he recognises it as a problem on his end. Also he may just be a whiny asshole.

  5. Anybody else read the “I Gave Your Clothes To Charity Because I Did Not Know Whose Clothes They Were Since They Were Not Mine” incident as a subtle “punishment” for the LW for deigning to ask him to do his own laundry? That just struck me as sinister. He knew exactly whose clothes they were, and he wanted to teach her a lesson to not ask him to do his own laundry again lest some more of her clothes “disappear”.

    1. Eh, I think that that’s a bit of a reach, especially because he’s so upset that she does her own laundry now. The clothes probably got scooped up accidentally with his own clothes that he planned to donate, or possibly they are still buried somewhere in the garbage dump that is his room.

      1. I will buy that a dude who cannot walk three-month-old leftovers from the fridge to the garbage is not very clued about looking at what the hell he donates, but I also side-eye that a dude who cannot walk three-month-old leftovers from the fridge to the garbage is managing to organize a clothing donation.

        Perhaps he was not one of those dudes who deliberately screws up so they won’t be pestered again by That Female. And I will buy the possibility that he is not only getting pissy because he no longer has an easy way to inconvenience the LW. But if dude is having a meltdown out of pure and genuine guilt whenever he sees her doing his own laundry, dude can pull his thumb out of his ass and start trying to fix what he did to deal with the guilt. (I suggest arranging to start replacing the goddamn clothes.)

        It doesn’t matter if the clothes were thrown out, lost-and-shame-claimed-to-be-donated-because-who-wants-to-admit-they-lost-clothes-in-a-room, or were genuinely donated. What matters is that boyfriend fucked up and caused the LW to lose some of her possessions and has decided to cope with this by making any reminders of it her problem. Whether he’s doing that because grown-up-ing around it is hard or he’s got a more consciously controlling motive isn’t maybe so much the problem?

      2. I don’t think the tantrum throwing when she does her own laundry – or the tantrum throwing in general – is any indication whatsoever of him actually wanting to do chores. If he wanted to do those chores, he’s perfectly capable of initiating that on his own, without shaming LW for her supposed ‘failure’ to adequately care-take his feelings about the whole thing. So I can’t give benefit of doubt. His other actions point to the highly motivated behavior of an abuser. This is all straight out of the Emotional Abuse chapter of How To Control Partners 101.

        Every single tantrum can be explained by BF desiring CONTROL and being angry at anything LW does without getting his express approval. He’s ‘training’ her to check with him first, and to let him decide how things get done, in his time, not ever in hers. It’s not about him being upset that she’s taking on responsibility. He wants her to take on all these tasks. I know this because he is continually demonstrating to the LW that her life is massively more difficult if she expects him to do any chores. But he’s also trying to make sure that she learns to ask his *permission* first, no matter what it is, so that he retains COMPLETE control over the minutia of how and when it all gets done. So, he has to break her independent will first. And to make sure she comes to the ‘correct’ conclusions about this, he has to be sure that she is completely, emotionally dependent on and invested in avoiding his next outburst (ie. pleasing the abuser). This is his Tool OF Correction.

        Of course she thinks it would be simpler for her to just do all those things on her own and quit expecting him to help! That’s the point. But first, in the initial period of manipulating someone into letting you have full control of their lives, that person has to be broken down far enough that they stop attempting to do any decision-making or take any initiative for themselves. They have to internalize that nothing they ever do is going to be right. Only then can they can be allowed to ‘voluntarily’ take on all the chores.

        That’s what the making dinner thing is about too. BF deliberately keeps LW from making an independent decision about where her efforts are focused and how her life is scheduled. And then punishes her with an extra trip to the store and late dinner for expecting that she can keep some kind of schedule, and for depending on him to cook. People like this, they break you down by keeping you off kilter – making a schedule, or knowing what’s expected, or avoiding the next blowup, is all impossible – because they know that, after a while, you’ll quit trying to have independent thoughts and actions, since it just isn’t worth the hell that will rain down on you – a hell which, I might add, will also be internalized as the target’s fault for either provoking or not managing the abuser’s temper well enough.

        1. This. Totally agree with you and original commenter. I had extreme side eye at “accidentally” donated her clothes. I would not be surprised at all if this was done deliberately to punish her, especially since it cost her extra effort and money to replace them.

        2. “I don’t think the tantrum throwing when she does her own laundry – or the tantrum throwing in general – is any indication whatsoever of him actually wanting to do chores. If he wanted to do those chores, he’s perfectly capable of initiating that on his own”

          I disagree. I think that the tantrums are a big sign he may *not* be fully capable of doing those chores. If he *didn’t* want to do the chore, why would he be upset that it was taken away from him?

          “But he’s also trying to make sure that she learns to ask his *permission* first”

          No, he didn’t want to give permission, he wanted her to let him do the chores (but without any sane time limit). I didn’t see anything in the letter suggesting that he was okay with sitting back and letting her do everything for him. He does seem more okay with sitting back and letting no chores get done at all.

          To me, this sounds like a mix of undiagnosed/unacknowledged mental illness + a bunch of awful coping mechanisms. Those coping mechanisms might be abusive, but I think it’s unlikely to be intentional, so there’s hope for him still (but NOT with her).

          1. This. Plus, lots of shame around his inability to cope.

            Having recently self-diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, I have been reading a lot about it, and one common theme for those diagnosed as adults is Shame. Shame is a nasty beast. I am not defending boyfriend (poor management of shame can lead to bullying, gaslighting, abuse, etc.), but if LW needs to stay even foe the short term, it might be useful to have some perspective on the issue.

          2. I agree, I think poor coping mechanisms, poor self-awareness, and garden variety selfishness are a more likely culprit than Machiavellian abuse in this case. But that’s less important than what LW needs to do next, which is LEAVE.

          3. I agree with previous commenters. I just wanted to add some random points as well –

            On abuse and abusers – Intent is irrelevant. This is not a court of law. Most abusers are “lovely people” who start out as accidental abusers, and many remain in denial of being abusers no matter how obvious their abuse becomes.

            The abuser’s mindset, health and intentions are all irrelevant – If *you*, LW, experience their behaviour and choices as abusive, unpleasant, life-limiting, then it *is* abusive – for you.

            Also, environmental abuse is a real form of abuse. Hoarding, flithing, never-ending decorating or renovations: anything that prevents you simply living easily in your own home and/or inviting guests over is a form of abuse – and is often also about limiting your options and about control. (Same for *repeatedly* having ugly rows in front of guests, or ugly drunkenness, or messy emotional breakdowns)

            If you feel this is unsustainable *for you*, and he is unwillling or unable to change, or promises to change and then backslides, then it doesn’t matter if it meets some arbitrary level of “abusive *enough* to justify DTMFA”.

            You don’t want to live like this? You have every right to decide that for yourself. He won’t compromise or change? DTMFA.

          4. +1 to Ducking Hill: Intent doesn’t matter. Actions do. LW’s BF is displaying a clear pattern of abusive behavior.
            – Driving financial instability (losing her clothes and not offering to pay for them)
            – Gaslighting (BF: “It’s *your* fault I didn’t set the table”)
            – Emotional abuse (BF: “WHY ARE YOU DOING THE LAUNDRY! I TOLD YOU I WOULD!” LW: Reasonable answer; BF: MORE TANTRUM)

            Whether he’s doing this because he wants to break her down, or because of internalized shame over undiagnosed illnesses DOESN’T MATTER. Either way, he has shown he is not able to treat LW in a decent, respectful way, and as soon as she’s able, she should leave.

        3. I just had a huge moment of clarity about my ex-husband thanks to your comment, Madison. And about how I completely unconsciously carried that mental state into my current (amazing, supportive, healthy) relationship.

          In short, Current Partner had to remind me several times early on in our relationship that he is not the boss of me and I don’t need his permission to do any and all of the things. Sure it would be good to check in on things that affect us both, but that’s more of a “I’m gonna xyz, any objections?” coneversation than a “Would you be ok with it if I maybe xyz?” one, which comes with a heaping side helping of cringing and guilt.

          Also, apparently it is not normal to be AMAZED when your partner says they’ll do a thing, and then does it? That is a thing I learned too.

        4. I totally agree with Madison. Whether he does these things consciously or not is debatable, but either way, he has a clear need to be the one in control and to have his needs and wants be the number one priority in the relationship. This man is unsuitable as a partner for anyone, not just the LW.

          I didn’t see it specified in the LW’s letter when the disability occurred relative to when she got involved with boyfriend, but I bet that on some psychological level, the disability is appealing to the guy, since it means that he can do things the LW can’t (he gets to be “better” than her in an abelist way) and it helps keep her dependent on him.

          LW, if you are reading all these comments (500+ as I write this!), I agree with your therapist — leave him. You have awesome planning skills, so I know you can come up with a plan to get out of there, but I would also recommend doing the planning with help from your therapist and any friends who are solidly on Team You. Staying with this guy is not in your best interests, but he and the brain weasels he’s planted in your head will tell you differently.

        1. Assuming the clothes did go to charity, I wonder if this guy is having hook ups on the sly and didn’t ask the LW as some of those clothes could fessibly come from another woman.

          1. Flashbacks to doing laundry and finding another girl’s panties in with my (now ex) husband’s clothes. You bet your ass I brought that up with him. You would also have good betting odds that he lied and continued to lie about his relationship with that girl and it was the eventual downfall of our marriage.

          2. @Saturnalia:

            A college boyfriend once presented me with a bra. “I think you left this.” It wasn’t my size.

            “Nope. Not mine.”

            “Oops. Must be my sister’s.”


            After we split:
            “It wasn’t my sister’s bra”

            “Yeah. I figured.”

      1. Honestly, that instantly reminded me of my dad who has thrown multiple things of mine away and denied it later, because he just went THROW OUT ALL THE THINGS and either didn’t pay much attention to what went on the bag or reacts so badly to being Wrong that he prefers to just go into absolute denial when he realised later it was actually Wanted and Useful.

        A lot of the bf sounds like ADHD/mental health stuff honestly. I can see a lot of my family and myself there – most especially the massive kneejerk RSD/anxiety/shame/guilt reflex when the thing you are avoiding/procrastinating/genuinely forgot is brought into start contrast by someone else just getting on with it. Either the procrastination is protective because you know you’ll be bad at it, or you genuinely Just Forgot Again, either way it’s a reminder that you are useless and terrible at things. I respond to stuff like that by shutting down or people pleasing or avoiding; my sister responds to any implied criticism/rejection by going full nuclear. My brother will go avoidant or invest great effort in explaining Why You Are Wrong And He Is Not Actually Wrong So He Does Not Have To Feel Criticised.

        Taking it out on the OP is not okay, refusing to discuss these issues or come up with a shared Life Plan Thing that works for both parties is not okay, but gods, I can see so much anxiety/avoidance/guilt around the topic that none of what he did surprises me or seems actively malicious. He may be malicious/controlling (control is often a coping tactic for this kind of ‘I can’t handle anything’ thing), but he easily may not be.

        Solutions… well, there aren’t many that don’t require his buy in, but knowing that this is something that is part of who he is, and pointing the issue out sensibly will not help, may help the OP decide what they want to do next. Approaching him and saying ‘this isn’t sustainable, what solutions work for you, also you don’t get to lash out at me anymore’ may give them a chance to create new habits, but it’s going to require him being very motivated and interested in reducing the impact on her/not deciding that he can just avoid it forever.

        1. Yep. This exact same scenario is basically my life with my mom, on repeat. We have an overall great relationship, but it’s definitely colored by her presumed ADHD (not diagnosed, and she would sooner throw herself off a cliff than go to a doctor to ask about an ADHD diagnosis, so my best option has been to work with a therapist about my own suspected ADHD). Clothes I leave at her home have only about a 50 percent chance of being recovered — over time I have just learned not to leave stuff there, which is of course the same kind of strategizing the LW is doing here by simply doing her own laundry. An incident some years ago helped me much better understand the (frustrating but at least now clear to me) defense-mode thinking my mom goes into when embarrassed in these situations. Normally, she is very generous (sometimes to a fault) with clothing purchases. A time when she was very unusually NOT so was when my ski pants, carefully stored in a corner of the closet for my next visit home, were missing when I arrived for that visit. I tore the place apart looking for the damn things, and the whole time she acted like she had not the tiniest, foggiest hint of an idea what I was talking about, even though she KNEW I stored all my ski stuff at home (like my jacket, which was fortuitously right where I’d left it, in the same part of the closet). We then stopped off at the ski shop on our way up the mountain where I had to purchase a brand new pair. Under our usual circumstances at that time in my life (early 20s), she’d have offered to help with a purchase like that even if she’d had nothing to do with the item going missing … I would have told her no, I got it, but I know for 100% sure she would have offered. In this case, however, she made an extremely pointed display of saying and doing NOTHING. She absolutely knew this was her screw-up, I had no doubt about it. So in my wise old 40s, I don’t keep or leave anything at her house anymore unless I don’t mind the item eventually vanishing into the mist. It’s better for both of us that way.

    2. That was all the red flags. I don’t actually know that he was reacting badly to being asked to do something, though. I almost think it’s something even darker, that Boyfriend is aware that finances are part of what lets him keep the upper hand in this relationship and wants to keep the LW in a place where his financial support continues to seem pretty great and worth putting up with all kinds of manipulation.

      1. Ding ding! Also, let’s say he DID gather up the wherewithal to actually donate those clothes (I’m VERY skeptical of this sudden burst of selfless productivity, given his utter lack of ability to do anything else without being prompted or asked)…she can’t just drive to the store to get them back. She’s disabled and dependent on him for transportation.

        It is manipulative and it was deliberately done and it was cruel.

        1. I’d just like to point out that nowhere did LW say that she’s dependent on boyfriend for transportation. She said that she can’t drive a car because of her disability. In fact she says “and somehow it’s LW who goes to the store and ends up making dinner anyway.” I cannot drive because of my disability, but I am not dependent on anyone for my own transportation. Just because you can’t drive a car doesn’t mean you automatically can’t take care of yourself/get around town. This is even possible in places that aren’t major urban areas, especially with apps like Lyft or cabs (which existed before rideshare apps), but also public transit and walking or using a mobility device, etc.

          1. THIS.
            Funny how people seem to forget non-car transport exists as soon as they acquire a driving license >.>

          2. Agreed. There are different forms of disability, many of which still leave one perfectly able to walk for certain distances, to take the bus, to get a Lyft. And many people (myself included) have lived for years trading favors for rides to the store.

          3. Ran out of nesting, srry.

            I’m all for not making assumptions, but I will say, as a person whose disability precludes me from driving, one of my biggest day-to-day frustrations has been transportation. Especially since, like many disabled adults, I’m underemployed, yet do not qualify for Social Security. I generally pursue work from home jobs, more so due to unreliable transportation than my actual preference.

            So, while between lyft, my mobility scooter, and the limited public transportation here I manage to get by alright, I often rely on friends to drive me. And it seems like that depending somewhat or entirely on friends or family for rides is more the rule than the exception when it comes to disability around here. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a pressing worry to be, “how will I get to work if I break up?” When someone is disabled.

          4. To be fair, non-car transit options vary wildly depending on where you live. I’ve lived places with extensive public transportation where cars are actually less convenient. I’ve also lived places where there is literally no public transportation, it’s too spread out to viably walk most places, and going to the store/work/other daily life places by taxi or rideshare would be a $10+ trip each way (which is maybe workable once in a while, but isn’t feasible as a daily/regular expense for many people).

            I think most people in the US probably live somewhere in between–maybe public transportation exists but is inconvenient, maybe walking is far and a pain but still doable, maybe walking isn’t an option but it’s close enough to use rideshare apps reasonably. But if someone says they’re firmly dependent on X for transportation, I tend to take them at their word on that; they know their local options better than I do, especially when I don’t know where they live.

          5. Ran out of nesting.

            My sister once lived in a town that had ONE taxi, which was subsidized by the town, so that there would be some form of transportation, and the taxi was driven by one of the college professors, so that meant it was only available on extremely limited hours.

            That was it for public transportation, apparently.

            If you could walk, it was fine, but for the mobility impaired (even if wrestling a wheelchair/scooter into the taxi was feasible), it was a real challenge to get anywhere, let alone late at night.

          6. Autism and anxiety make me a public menace behind the wheel. I had three accidents in less than two years, after taking seven permits and four years to get my license. Luckily, I then moved across the street from a subway. Problem solved.

        2. I so agree. That aspect of the letter made klaxons go off in my head, for the very reasons you point out. The ONE thing this boyf manages to do around the house is get rid of *her* clothes?? It was deliberately done.

          1. eh… my mother once threw out my only pair of summer shoes by mistake. (and ohhh the whining about having to drive me to the store to buy new ones!)

            I think human stupidity *can* explain such things. it’s still *possible* he did it deliberately, but it’s not *certain*. This is why criminal negligence is a thing.

          2. I don’t understand this “certain”. This isn’t a court of law where the guy is going to go to jail for losing her clothes, so we need to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt as his liberty is at stake.

            And one would think if it was totally an accident 1) it would not have happened multiple times and 2) he would have replaced the clothes he screwed up or ‘lost’.

          3. I would think that if he really did it on accident, he would apologize, rather than throw a tantrum.

            But then, I was raised by parents who apologized for their mistakes. Yes, even to us children. In fact, my Dad’s parents screamed at him for apologizing to us, because “adults NEVER apologize to children, especially their own!” Dad told them off, and basically said that his own children deserve apologies even more, because they are dependent on him for support and for a good example.

            So, yeah, I learned how to apologize, because my parents apologized to me. I’m not sure where my Dad learned it. Perhaps from his room-mates after he left home? If so, LW, it is not your job to teach your BF how to apologize. Do it if you want to, but it is not your duty, and you are not “failing,” or “not doing enough” if you decide not to do that. It’s a parent’s job, not a lover’s.

      2. It was that bit that had my shoulders up around my ears, because that’s what my abusive ex did to me. And it was usually nice things I’d bought myself (and couldn’t afford to replace) that disappeared or got broken or damaged in some way. It started with the laundry and progressed from there, with the emotional abuse steadily ratcheting up well before it turned physical.

        1. My dad would periodically ruin a load of other people’s clothes to demonstrate that he couldn’t be trusted with the laundry. When my late husband did the same, it was unbelievably upsetting and his response to my reaction was that he “hadn’t meant to” and so my feelings were invalid and also extremely hurtful to him, the obvious wounded party, who was just HELPING, *god*, why am I such a bitch.

          I went on to struggle tight-lipped to produce five clean work outfits per week for two people through two winters without a dryer, with a slowly dying washing machine, in Kansas, because *god*, he can’t even *touch* the laundry without me throwing a fit.

          Get you a man who reads the labels in your clothing, and don’t look back.

          1. Or who will at least do his fair share, even if its not laundry. If he’s really that bad at doing laundry, let him do some different chore, so the amount of free time is equal for both parties. My Dad didn’t do the laundry (because he really was that bad at it and actually destroyed a washing machine, once), but he surely did his fair share in other areas! Also, on those times when he ruined clothes, he ruined his own clothes, too. It was never some passive-aggressive way to punish anyone else.

            More importantly, if he goofs up, does he apologize and try to make things right? If so, he’s a keeper, even if he goofs up a lot. If he turns it around on you, he may have goofed on purpose, or not, but either way, he is abusing you.

        2. My abusive/mentally ill mother used to do this, too, and I think that’s why I was so angry/shocked at his behavior and treatment of the LW.

          My mother wouldn’t allow us, even in high school, to operate the washer, although we had to fold all clothes, put them away, and even sort before she did loads. (So basically, she was the only person allowed to use the machine so she could claim she did so many chores. She was lazy.)

          She would pour bleach on my (colored) clothing from a young age. When I was really small, she’d force me to wear the bleached clothing to school. As a teen who bought my own stuff, she only did it to things I bought from nicer stores. She once poured what I’m assuming was an entire cup of bleach on a shirt I bought from Abercrombie, which was a Very Cool Store at the time, and it ate a hole through the shirt.

        3. This must be in the Shitty Partner Handbook somewhere – my abusive ex did exactly the same thing! They would always pretend it had been an accident, I needed to chill out, it was only a glass etc – but mysteriously they never broke anything belonging to them

          1. nth-ing. Ruined anything my parents gave me when he did anything around the apartment – broken wine glasses, ruined non-stick pans, bad laundry habits. I also had a large helping of him only being willing to eat junk food and also being very concerned with my weight, which unlike his 20-year-old boy weight was quite affected by our shared crap diet. To recap, if he cooked he ruined my stuff, if I cooked it had to be fried, and I had to listen to teasing about my small portions as well as derision about the weight I gained (it was obvs to spite him, he yelled at me often).

      1. Yes, that’s she’s supposed to do both his and her laundry, not just her own.

    3. Yeah — I mean — not to be blithe, but whose clothes did he think they were most likely to be???? If there are two people living in an apartment, and an item doesn’t belong to one person, then we can extrapolate that *perhaps* . . .

      I honestly am not getting the vibe that he was punishing her for not doing his laundry, but for being *competent,* period. I know of several relationships where the way peace is kept is by one partner acting a little less intelligent and a little less capable than they really are, so the other person can tell them what to do and feel superior. (No points for guessing the gender dynamic.) What I was getting from the letter is that he feels vastly insecure about LW being so on-the-ball about so many things while he is definitely not, and he is consciously or unconsciously jamming things up to make some sort of point about that. (What is the point? I suspect it was intended to be, “THE WAY I DO THINGS IS FINE, STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THEM OR I WILL MAKE LIFE UNPLEASANT FOR YOU,” while sounding an awful lot like, “DUMP ME NOW, OR IN FACT YESTERDAY WOULD BE GOOD!”

      1. “Gee wilikers, I just didn’t know” appears to be a very common defense by manipulative people. I wonder how often it actually works, because the one time it was tried on me I called the manipulatior on their crap immediately.

        Why are you wearing my hoodie?
        “This is your hoodie?”
        Yes. Why are you wearing it?
        “I thought it was mine.”
        What? How? Do you own a hoodie that looks like that?
        So why would you think it’s yours?
        “I just saw it and assumed it was mine. I didn’t know it was yours.”

        (they had “seen” said garment inside my closet, among the rest of my clothes that who knows! Might have been mine, might have been theirs, could have been anybody’s!)

        1. That’s so. . . ugh. I have to wonder, a little, how it happens that you end up feeling so gut-level entitled to other people’s stuff? It’s just hard to imagine, for me.

          I have been really fortunate to not live with anyone who felt entitled to help themselves to my stuff (without explicit statements from me like, “I bought this orange juice for us to share!”) (Well, and my dog, who believes all socks are His Socks, but, okay, he may be correct, as dogs sometimes are.)

          1. Rule of thumb: If your *partner* behaves in ways that have to be excused in housepets, they are not a good partner.

        2. Memories of the former roommate who brought a bunch of *my* books to a mutual friend’s book swap. Him: “Oh great, I figured you’d like that one!” Me: (through gritted teeth) “I do.”

          1. Oh, is this a place where I can crank about how my highschool best friend’s mom gave away a shirt I’d lent her? It was my journalist dad’s custom “reporters do it daily” shirt from the ’70s, and its loss is mourned lo these [redacted] years later.

          2. In college, one of my good friends was in a used book store and was excited to see a full set of (beloved childhood fantasy series) – and the same edition that she had. And the she opened the first book, saw her name in the inner cover and realized that her roommate had stolen and sold her books! Almost 30 years later, I still get angry on her behalf whenever I think about it.

          3. UGH, my FWB’s abusive ex donated boxes of his books to Goodwill, and it’s the thing that makes me really hate her years later, even more than the money I gave her (household) for rent/utilities that never got paid back while she turned around and bought an expensive dog from a breeder a month later.

      2. I agree with this. He seems very threatened by her competence and wants, unconsciously or not, a dynamic where he’s The Most Competent And In Control, but instead of, like, trying to develop minimal housekeeping skills, he’d rather just sabotage her instead.

        (I also suspect a nasty thread of ableism running through all of this–like, how dare she be disabled AND vastly more competent than him??)

      3. I have more than once heard advice that women should act less intelligent and competent than they really are, in order to get a man. In fact, books have been written on this subject (Helllooooo, Fascinating Womanhood), that tell women to outright LIE to their husbands. Even if you’ve already proven your competence, and done a particular household chore for years, if it is deemed “man’s work” (such as paying the bills!), then all of a sudden, after reading this book, you’re supposed to bite your fingertip, and say, “Teehee! I’m much too dumb and stupid to do THIS! You’ll have to do it for me, you big, smart man, you!” And, of course, if he goofs it up, you’re supposed to flatter him with, “Well, I would have made an even bigger mess of it, so we’re still better off with you in charge of X (such as PAYING BILLS!), than we were with me in charge (even if you never made a late payment once!). Teehee!”

        Can you tell I hate that book? But not as much as its companion book, “Man of Steel and Velvet,” which teaches how to be a “real man” in a marriage, and how men should not allow women to do manly things (like pay the frickin’ bills!), because that sort of competence is just not in their nature.

        1. I am dying at “Man of Steel & Velvet” as a title! I would not have guessed “marital self-help book” as the genre.

          1. Fountainhead fan fiction would’ve been my first guess. Fifty Shades of that Same MetaphorDull Grey Building.

          2. Aww, Fifty Shades. I have not given the author my limited funds, either reading the book or watching the movie, but I have read three different “re-craps” of it. The first one had lots of extracts, and showcased the very bad writing. The second one had lots of extracts, and showcased the Red. Flags. Red Flags EVERYWHERE! RUN, girl, RUN! The third one was from a member of the BDSM community, saying, “Here is where she gets it wrong. And here. And here. And here. And here. And Good Lord, woman! Stop giving us a bad name! And Good Lord, readers, do NOT use this as an introduction to BDSM!

            Now, from a psychological standpoint, I can see the appeal of BDSM, when there is TRUST, and that trust is both earned and deserved, and the preferences of BOTH parties are respected. Every extract I read of the 50 shades book, however, was a complete turn-off to me, and how is this thing so successful?

            Then I remember that Fascinating Womanhood and Man of Steel and Velvet were also successful, and once upon a time, when I was twelve, and read Fascinating Womanhood, it “made sense to me.” I was twelve and innocent and sorta stupid. By the time I graduated high school, however, I had already learned better. For one thing, I had taken a drama class and participated in a few plays, and realized that acting is hard work, and devoting the rest of your life to playing the part of a different character, because you married a man who does not love YOU, is a recipe for disaster. Plus, I also realized that a whole lot of girls and women are just as smart as men. Being in the gifted programs at school, I saw that the numbers were, in fact, pretty much equal. Yes, even in math and science classes. So the whole “Women can’t do hard science/math/STEM” argument was absolute rubbish, and so anything predicated on that was also absolute rubbish.

            Two years later, I was house-sitting for a family who had both books on their shelves. My sister and I were bored one day, and had a reading. Now, you have not lived until you have witnessed my sister do a dramatic reading of anything, including a mail-order catalog. Let’s just say that even if I had not already realized the very badness of the idea behind Fascinating Womanhood, her dramatic reading of Man of Steel and Velvet would have pushed me firmly over the edge into “Oh, my freaking’ Supreme Soul of the Universe, this stuff is BAD!”

            Christian Grey would have loved it, despite it not talking about sex directly. It was big on “the man has to discipline the woman and control her, to show his love.”

        2. i looked the “Fascinating Womanhood” book up on Amazon expecting to relish the negative comments about it… and i cannot BELIEVE the overwhelmingly positive reviews of this book which is 100% utter drivel. Sigh.

          1. I read one comment that I enjoyed so much, I had to tell my Mom about it. It started out with “Oh, this book is wonderful, and I’m using the techniques to improve my marriage!” and then an update, saying, “Oh, yeah, the techniques in here changed my marriage, alright. But the only thing that changed was that we fought less, because my husband got everything his way. He never started treating me better. He just had less excuse to treat me badly. I have now divorce him, and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! I found a man who actually wanted ME, without all the “act like a child and be amazed at his manly manliness” nonsense, and treats me well because he actually loves me, and it is GREAT!

            I paraphrase, but yeah, that comment was nice. Unfortunately, it still kept her original 4-stars, even after the update.

            Four stars! Both Fascinating Woman and Man of Steel and Velvet had Four STARS! Aaaah! I didn’t even look at Fascinating Girl, which is aimed at single women. Apparently, an unmarried woman is a “girl,” and a married woman is a “woman,” and so I am still just an immature, non-grown “girl,” because at 45, I’m not married, yet. Bleh.

            Actually, I read Fascinating Girl decades ago. Sure, you can use the tricks in there to “catch” dates, but they ARE tricks, and the dates will quickly become disillusioned unless you are willing to devote the rest of your life to maintaining the facade.

            Which I am not. I’d rather be single and truthful than married and a liar. Because guess what? Being single is not the end of the world. I have so much wonderful in my single life! Sure, I want to be married, someday, but only to the right-for-me person, who will stay right-for-me, because we both were honest from the get-go.

    4. It’s also completely understandable that LW would want to do her own laundry after her clothes going missing

      1. Sure…but that was exactly the intended result. When she does their laundry, her stuff doesn’t go missing. When HE does their laundry, a large chunk of ONLY HER CLOTHING goes to charity (or is hidden or thrown out, we just don’t know). Weird, right?

        So, yeah, that’d teach me that if I wanted to keep a fraction of my wardrobe I’d better just do it all myself so it doesn’t happen again.

        1. I don’t think she does their laundry, though, I think she’s only doing her own and that he’s still responsible for doing his own laundry.

          1. Well, per the letter, she’s HIDING the fact that she’s doing loads of her own laundry, because if he sees her doing laundry that doesn’t include his, he will have a “meltdown” about it. Meaning that he expects her to do his laundry or he’ll have an abusive tantrum.

          2. Reply to ‘I think’ – I understood that as meaning that when she does her own laundry, he pitches a fit because she should be letting him do it. Not because she’s not doing his.

          3. Or, a few times when Boyfriend has done our joint laundry, a bunch of my clothes vanished…so I’ve started doing my own laundry separately. And now every single time Boyfriend sees me doing a load of laundry that is clearly just mine, Boyfriend freaks out. And I calmly explain, ‘Boyfriend, I’ve had X, Y, and Z items disappear, so I’m lot more comfortable washing my own clothes, but I really appreciate the thought, thanks,’
            The script I imagined was something like:
            BF: Hey, I’m going to put some laundry on, do you want me to wash anything of yours?
            LW: Thanks for the offer, but I’d rather just wash my own clothes.
            BF: What, you don’t TRUST ME to wash your clothes?! I’m SO INCOMPETENT that I couldn’t POSSIBLY do it right?!

            Which is, admittedly, a super-weird dynamic, but not one I’m completely unfamiliar with.

        2. I had a different interpretation.

          I thought he’d decided that Laundry is his task! How dare LW imply his feminism and task doing are inadequate! Bad LW! Bad!

          1. Either that, or she’s allowed to laundry that includes his stuff, but how dare she be so selfish as to do a whole load that is ONLY Hers! Because if he is not benefitting in some way (even if it’s only a single pair of his socks in the wash), then she’s being selfish, expending her energy on something just for herself!

    5. Yeah, there’s only two people whose clothes they could be, and if he knew they weren’t his then he good and goddamn knew they were hers.

      LW, like Captain said, this is as good as this relationship gets. He throws away your things when you won’t pretend to be incompetent for him in order to soothe his ego. THAT’s what being controlling looks like. It’s not “can cook meals and set the table in a timely manner, and expects occasionally similar behavior from a partner.”

    6. Now that you mention it, I am wondering how someone could just donate old clothes because they didn’t know whose they were. Shouldn’t you only donate your clothes, and if you think you got ahold of someone’s stuff by accident, ask around before donating it? How many items of clothing with mystery owners make their way into his room, anyway? Did he think they belonged to ex girlfriends from years ago?

      1. I thought the more likely scenario was that the boyfriend had a pile of clothes for donation, her clothes somehow got onto that pile, and then he didn’t actually check said pile before donating it.

        Assuming the donation really happened and wasn’t just an excuse so he didn’t have to admit to throwing out her stuff, anyhow.

      2. I donate my clothes, but I sure as hell wouldn’t donate my husband’s without his explicit say-so, as in “If you want to donate stuff put it in that pile.” If it’s “our” stuff like, say, towels or DVDs, I’d make sure to ask him before putting it aside. I cannot fathom just tearing through his things and chucking them in the Goodwill bin like it was nothing.

        1. Yeah, when I go through someone else’s stuff (by invitation!) to help triage for donation, it’s very explicitly *triage* — I make a pile of things I think probably want to go, they then go through it and say what they want to keep (and optionally why) and what they’re happy to get rid of (ditto, so I can get a better sense of their motivations to do better triage in future), and THEY are responsible for the final step of “yes okay this is definitely going, I have put it in a bag clearly marked To Go.”

      3. I don’t recognise half of MY clothes and I’m sure I have a few bits from siblings, ex-flatmates, and parents that they might consider ‘theirs’, but I’m never quite sure. And I’m including multiple genders here, there are all kinds of clothes that are hard to say are definitely gendered. The only reason I haven’t dumped them all in a donation bag is I’m too disorganised to take them anywhere, but if a parent swung by going ‘I’m on my way past the clothing donation place’ I would throw the lot in a bag and it would be done.

        1. …basically, throwing them away isn’t the red flag in itself, it’s how he handled it after the fact when he realised he had messed up and caused negative repercussions for the OP.

          1. (It is entirely possible that he’s punishing OP to cover for his screw ups/train her to work around his feels over not being able to Adult, so whether he genuinely made a mistake or not is kinda irrelevant).

        2. There are some clothes in this apartment that might be either mine or my husband’s, and a few that I might not immediately recognize as mine because they’re things my girlfriend gave me (so not the style I’m used to buying). But that means I might wear one of my husband’s shirts, or we might put a t-shirt in the wrong pile: the thinking isn’t “this doesn’t look familiar, therefore I’m going to throw it away without checking.” LW lives with this guy, so it wouldn’t be complicated for him to ask “hey, do you own a green shirt with a picture of a cat?” or “I think these socks are yours.”

        3. separating clean laundry by human is harder than it looks. I remember the fuss when my brother realised he was wearing mum’s pyjama top in a supermarket one Christmas Eve. it was my fuckup, but in my defence mum wears brother-sized men’s t-shirts to bed, so it looked like a brother-sized t-shirt advertising a well known single malt whiskey. totally plausible. also, he saw it in the drawer/heap & put it on, so…

          (it’s my favourite Fragile Masculinity story. somehow, the men’s t-shirt I didn’t recognise as mum’s pyjamas was Too Girly and this was a Big Deal)

      4. I suppose, to be charitable, he might have assumed that he picked up someone else’s clothes along with is own, at the laundromat. Shared machines can lead to getting a stranger’s clothes, I suppose.

        In that case, the thing to do is to return the unidentified clothes to the laundromat and put them in the Lost and Found.

    7. IDK, I was also struck by that, but I notice that he also can’t manage his own doctor’s appointments or whatnot. I think it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he has some sort of mental illness going on which is just making him utterly incapable of taking care of himself, and instead of getting help, he’s trying to make it the LW’s fault. I have a bad habit of getting defensive when people point out how far below normal my level of functioning is, too.

      Not that the LW should have to put up with that, I am definitely in camp DTMFA here, but I’m just saying this might not necessarily be MALICIOUS incompetence. Just incompetence.

      1. With that said, though, if you can’t, for whatever reason, do your own chores, you really shouldn’t pitch a damn fit when someone offers to do them for you.

      2. And yet, he didn’t offer to pay for replacement clothes, despite apparently being financially better off than the OP whose clothes he discarded.

      3. Grey’s Law: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

        Philip Gooden (2015). Skyscrapers, Hemlines and the Eddie Murphy Rule: Life’s Hidden Laws, Rules and Theories. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 9781472915030.

      4. Possible, but unlikely, since he’s apparently capable of doing useful labor, one presumes on a schedule, in order to bring in more money than LW, who does work.

        Almost certainly intentional abuse when the incopetence is so selectively related to domestic labor.

        1. There’s a difference between a daily job and one off appointments that you have to remember a) exist, b) that you have to leave for, c) at this time, d) NOW DAMMIT, e) wait, crap I was meant to leave an hour ago, f) why is the alarm going -ooooh, I mixed up the days of the week again whoops. Even if you’re late for the job everyday, you still aren’t going to completely miss it.

        2. Agreeing with flynnthecat1. Being able to hold a day-to-day job doesn’t necessarily say anything about your ability to cope at home. I have a disability that causes huge amounts of havoc with domestic chores, bills, being on time to things, etc. I am also aces at my full-time job, get amazing reviews, and have had a coworker tell me he’s in awe of how organised I am (ahaha. ha. ha.) I’ve been trying to get the skill at one to translate to the other for a long time and failing, and by now I’m just thankful I can be on-point and competent at my job.

          And to some extent, it doesn’t really matter? Whether the BF has an issue like mine and is immaturely unloading his frustration about it onto the LW and is not trying to be abusive in the slightest, or whether all this is intentional, from LW’s perspective it looks the same.

          1. I agree that it’s a bit much to be jumping to the conclusion that all of the problems are intentional manipulation (especially missing his own doctor’s appointments). Quite a few of those things look like severe depression to me, and I know I was no picnic when I was a young guy with few domestic skills and undiagnosed mental health issues. Fortunately for the LW, she doesn’t need to prove in court that her boyfriend is actually Hitler reincarnated before she’s allowed to break up with him. I think the speculation about motives can confuse things, as if questioning whether he is fully morally responsible makes it her duty to stay. Even if none of it is his fault, he’s still a terrible partner for her.

          2. Can I ask what it is that you do? You sound very similar to me, and I would REALLY like to know what we’re good at.

          3. AnyMouse: I’m not sure if you were asking me or someone else (I’m terrible at branching conversation trees), but I’m a software developer.

    8. Yep, that did not ring true to me. I had a boyfriend who put two of my wool sweaters through the washer AND the dryer, and then admitted later that he had done it purposely to “test our relationship.” Dumbass on so many levels….

      1. I note the use of the past tense there, and I congratulate you on no longer being associated with such a jerk.

      2. Did you trash some of his stuff to test the relationship right back? I mean, fair’s fair, right?

        (Sarcasm, not actual advice.)

        1. Seriously! What was she supposed to win? “Hey, you ruin my clothing! I adore you forever!”

          1. I mean…it’s good to know how your partner reacts if you make a minor mistake. I’d want to know if my partner was the kind of person who’d scream and yell and threaten to break up over something that a reasonable person could do by accident.
            I would, however, stop pretty damn far short of actively destroying their property to obtain that knowledge…

          2. That seems to be the kind of thing unassembled Ikea furniture was invented for, not wool sweaters!

          3. Okay, but unless you somehow never make mistakes, in which case the point is moot, you’ll find out without engineering a scenario to “test” the relationship.

          4. Whingedrinking – the “how does she respond to an accident?” test is easy to administer. You simply live your life, and eventually, you’ll do something wrong by accident.

            DELIBERATELY destroying her property, “as an accident” to test how she’ll respond to an accident is heinous!

          5. In my life as a not-always-functional adult, I have managed to kill two refrigerators in an attempt to defrost the icebox using a mallet and a screwdriver. Yes, I should have learned from the first time, but in my defense there were years between the two cases. The difference in how partners reacted was simple. The first time, Goldthing went BALLISTIC because clearly I had done it on purpose and should have known better (it was, as it happened, the first time I’d ever tried or needed to try defrosting a fridge) and the process of obtaining a new fridge was fraught with much huffing and anger even though between the three of us living in the house we could easily afford it at the time. This was the same Goldthing that, after I had suffered a bout of particularly bad food poisoning and asked if they could make me some plain minced turkey, walked away and left the pan to burn on the bottom and stay raw on the top, and when I rejected the food on the basis of not wanting to have more food poisoning so soon thank you, made all the feels my problem with a plaintive tirade of “I didn’t know I needed to stir it.” It did have their desired result though… never asked them to cook again.

            The second time, when it was just me and Greything living paycheck to paycheck… There was a sigh of “didn’t we learn how not to do this the first time? Yep, you’ve got yourself a faceful of freon, when you’ve stopped feeling dizzy, we’ll go find a cheap secondhand fridge. It’s not something we can really afford right now and we’re going to have to scrimp in other places, but we’re in this together, and accidents happen.” And, of course, when Greything backed the (newly-bought-used-car) into a pillar in an empty parking garage … there was the immediate panic of “how much have we damaged the car, that was LOUD” but when it was “nope, it’s just the plastic bumper” it was a thing to just go on with our lives about, not a BFD.

            There’s definitely a reason Goldthing doesn’t live here any more and Greything does.

      3. jeez. At least when my spouse it that, it was sheer incompetence. I lost 1 sweater and several hand embroidered pillow cases that my long dead grandmother had given to my mother as a wedding present. Mom passed them on to me when I moved out. The embroidery thread dried at a different rate than the pillow case did and they’re badly puckered. After that, I made damn sure that the stuff I loved was either washed by me or not used. Which sucks. 😦

    9. People who do not take out the trash DO NOT donate old clothes. If the reeking, festering sting doesn’t motivate you to transmit trash 20 feet, how are clean clothes going to motivate you to get in the car and take them to Goodwill? The overlap between those two groups (non-trash takers and donators) must be very close to zero. I call shenanigans right along with you.

      1. I manage to keep my house … mostly clean, and I still often have 2 or 3 bags full of clothes that I just “forgot” to take to the thrift shop. For years. It’s outside the realm of normal habit, and the bags become invisible after a few months.

        1. Joining in the skepticism. I have some household management issues even during the best of times, and they get worse when other stuff is acting up. I’m totally capable of getting into, “UGH. CAN’T DEAL. MUST FIX NOW.” That being said, the next sentence is invariably, “TRASH TRASH TRASH.” If I’m to the point that I’m getting rid of stuff rather than clean my space, I’m long past being able to sort it and bag it and deliver it to the place that takes donations. (Also, even in my worst TRASH TRASH TRASH moments, I’ve never thrown away a bunch of someone else’s stuff…). The LW’s things are totally at the landfill right now.

      2. It’s not relevent to this particular case, but I disagree. Recovering slob, and part of the pathology IS over-purging on “good” days in many cases.

        LW still shouldn’t have that in her life.

        1. Absolutely, I’ve let a lot of junk pile up, and realized that my room would be easier to keep clean if I had less stuff, so I’ve been purging a lot of clothing these days. Donating some stuff, selling some stuff, and taking bags full of clothing to H&M for recycling.

          1. Yes, but do you also take out the stinking, rotting trash? I’m willing to bet that anyone, however unorganized before, who goes on a “purge” kick will take out the trash, and probably BEFORE taking the donations to Goodwill.

          2. @Michelle C Young (ran out of nesting) *looks at full trash not bagged up and dealt with* *looks at dumpster downstairs* *looks at bagged up donations* *goes back to lying around with stomach flu* No comment on this one.

        2. Michelle C. Young, ran out of nesting, but yes. Recently gave myself a high five because I was in a time crunch and needed to shower, and I resisted my ADHD fixation-brain which was screaming, “Why are you wasting time getting paint out of your hair and off your face and hands? YOU MUST EXFOLIATE YOUR LEGS NOW EMERGENCY!.” and in my younger days, it was one of the things my parents found most frustrating about me: I would walk right past an priority-one task and spend hours hyperfocusing on a priority six task.

          I mean, for the record, MY mind went immediately to, if the automatic thought path is “see women’s clothing in your messy room: prioritize getting rid of that in an out-of-character way,” the thinker is probably cheating on his partner with a woman. But it’s up to LW to learn to trust her gut about what she truly wants here.

      3. Hey, there are places you can call that will pick up clothes and household items from your front porch. The Canadian Diabetes Association does it.

        Since Boyfriend was said to forget doctor’s appointments (not not make them), he can probably call to arrange stuff. So it seems possible that he shovelled a bunch of donation clothes into a trash bag and left them out front on the porch. (Or shovelled a bunch of donation clothes into a trash bag, meant to leave them on the front porch, forgot the scheduled pick up date, and then they got thrown out with the genuine trash. W/e.)

        1. Now I”m picturing some poor charity workers, picking up bags of donations, along with some bags of stinking, rotting trash. Eww.

          Actually, that probably does happen, from time to time.

          1. I used to dispatch drivers for charity trucks and help unload the. It is fairly common in this neck of the woods to donate bagged feces or even just poop directly in the hatch of the dropboxes. I guess people think it’s funny?

            It makes you truly appreciate the generosity of real donors.

      4. As someone who works at a non-profit that takes donations of stuff I can tell you for a lot of people charity donation = trash because they are basically trying to pass they’re garbage onto us to deal with. And there is definitely an overlap of people who take the time to drive and drop off donations (even going so far to have them organized and inventoried) that basically drive around with junk heaps in there cars, and have homes in similar states.

        People engage in some weird value judgments when it comes to getting rid of stuff so it is entirely likely that BF is totally willing to let trash sit for weeks but still takes old clothes to charity. Either way it’s sort of irrelevant to the fact that LW feels she has to do her laundry secret.

        1. I used to work at a shelter that accepted donations and oh my god you are so right on about some people thinking charity = trash. Actual fast food trash in the clothes. Dirt and leaves and bugs and snakes. Just unreal.

          1. And here I am feeling bad and re-washing clothes for donation if my cat sits on the folded pile before I get it in the box or bag and meanwhile Salazar Slytherin is putting snakes in.

          2. I used to work in a consignment store in a college town, and every May, without fail, we’d get a few bags from students who had clearly used us as a dumping ground for anything left in their dorm rooms that they didn’t want to pack up and take home. When they came back for Fall semester, they’d always be SHOCKED! JUST SHOCKED! that their account with us didn’t have any money in it. How was it possible that nobody had wanted to buy any of the treasures they’d brought us?

            I’d have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “Uh, we didn’t even bother going through that bag you brought in, because the top layer was comprised entirely of dirty panties, and the whole thing smelled like crotch.” Kinda bummed out I never found a snake, though!

        2. In my city, we actually aren’t supposed to put clothing in the trash any longer. It’s SUPPOSED to go into donation boxes no matter what the condition. Yet somehow I don’t think the workers are getting paid by the city to sort out trashy stuff, certainly not at government-job kind of salaries/benefits.

    10. Yes yes yes. I am an organised person. I adult reasonably successfully. Certainly way better than the bf described. I? Still have stuff lying around my home that needs to go to charity and I haven’t gotten to it yet.

      Mr can’t manage the trash and loses all his housebills and setting the table is too hard not only sorted his clothes, he separated them, packed them, then transported them to a charity shop without noticing they were things he’d seen his girlfriend wear recently AND not breathing a word of it until it was too late to get them back? No. Too statistically unlikely. That was deliberate. That was a message. What message, I’m not sure; the op is still wearing all the rose coloured glasses with this guy so doubtless we’re missing pieces of the puzzle, but I bet an uninvolved outsider, if shown all the aspects of the relationship unbiased, would get it.

      Op, I am crossing my fingers you find a way to get out.

    11. Yeahhhhhh, I’m not buying that some guy who can’t even get it together enough to do laundry somehow managed to find JUST HER CLOTHES and bag them up and “take them to charity” if indeed that even happened.

    12. Ohhhhhhhh yeah: Boyfriend lives with another person; if something isn’t his, it’s almost certainly hers. Plus, clothes tend to be gendered, making the argument that he didn’t realize they weren’t his old clothes suspect. He’s actively gaslighting OP. He gave up any claim to the benefit of the doubt the first time he was reminded to do a routine scheduled chore that’s his fucking job as an adult half of a household. (I know this can be legitimately difficult for some people – I’ve been there myself. But he’s providing financial support = holding down a job or managing wealth = not actually incapable of noting schedules.)

      1. Also, for those people who are literally incapable of regularly doing their adult chores, then, as adults, they come to some other sort of arrangement, such as favor-swapping or paying someone else to do those chores for them.

        Adults who can adult well enough to hold down a job and make a good living, and yet are not able to (or just don’t want to) adult enough to do their own household chores are the ones who keep housecleaning companies in business. And they are being just as responsible as the people who do their own chores, themselves. The end of it all is that the chores get done, without a lot of fuss and making one person unreasonably put-upon.

    13. Jumping into the “accidental donation” thread because this reminds me of two different things that have gone on with me, clothes, and men in my life.

      The first is my brother accidentally packing my clothes at the end of a visit and taking them with him to his how (in another city, in another state). Some of it was a case of “mum put these cleaned and folded clothes in my room, so of course I assumed they were mine”, some of it was “my girlfriend put a black top in the laundry basket, and I dug a black top out before we left because it was probably going to hers”, and some of it was “I know i brought at least one pair of blue jeans, so therefore ANY pair of blue jeans might be mine??” The weird part about it was that he never said anything about it… and then I stayed at his house for a weekend while he was away, and there was a pile of my clothes on the floor outside his closet. I never got an answer for “why didn’t you let me know you had my clothes??” Probably he didn’t want me to tell him to mail them back – much easier to intend to sneak them back to me on the next visit, and then forget to…

      The second and weirder one was that my ex-bf bought a t-shit online and got several sizes too small by mistake. It fit me though, and I asked if I could have it, and he said “sure”, and then put it back in his closet. I asked why he did that, when I could just put it in my bag then and there, he told me that I could get it later. Spoiler: I never got the shirt. On subsequent visits to his house, he couldn’t find it, and then when me moved in together a few years later it never turned up while cleaning out and packing his wardrobe. I commented a few times that it was weird that it just got lost like that, and his reply was that I should have taken the shirt with me when I had the chance! I missed the ideal window of acquisition (despite trying to take it?) and therefore it was not his fault that the shirt was gone! I have no idea what that was about… but I totally suspect he either threw it out, or had already promised it to someone else, and never told me (and closed the matter) because… Reasons, I guess?

      Anyway. Clothes. They can be at the casualties of a lot of weird stuff going down in all sorts of relationships…

    14. I read this as him washing them in a way that damaged them and throwing them away, hoping she wouldn’t notice, and making an excuse that wasn’t better per say but didn’t let his girlfriend see the mistake that he felt shame about and that therefore FELT better in his head.

      1. (I have done similarly terrible things many years ago when I was completely incapable of telling the truth about a mistake I was ashamed of, because brainweasels. My ability to empathize with boyfriend’s possibly crippling shame doesn’t mean his coping mechanism is even a little bit okay).

    15. (With a shout-out to William Carlos Williams)

      This Is Just To Say

      I have “donated”
      the clothes
      that I “lost”
      in my room

      And which
      were not mine to lose
      or give away
      (if I did)

      Forgive me
      they were yours
      and I’m
      a terrible boyfriend

      1. This is awesome.

        I was always a little bit mad at WCW for eating those dang plums. They weren’t HIS! She was SAVING them!

        1. I’ve always read the line “you were probably saving them” as him realizing, after it was too late to do anything about it, that the plums being there hadn’t just been a happy coincidence, and he just ate what was supposed to be her breakfast for the next day. Which makes the whole poem read as more of a “shit, sorry – I fucked up, we’re going to need to replace that” note, to me.

          1. Same. The tumbling format reflects physically that realization, I feel. And then he’s trying to comfort her by letting her share in his experience of how good they were, but in the midst of his streaming consciousness his teeth begin to throb because, in his eagerness, he didn’t lend them time to unchill and as a consequence gave himself the mouth equivalent of an ice cream headache.

            Whereas Flossie’s reply is not imagist at all, but tidy, diligently arranged, reflecting a plan of action put into motion and highlighted by implied bullet points. They’re great companion pieces.

          2. Kenneth Koch wrote a response poem to Williams’ poem and I think it’s weirdly apropos:

            Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams
            by Kenneth Koch

            I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer
            I am sorry, but it was morning and I had nothing to do
            and its wooden beams were so inviting.

            We laughed at the hollyhocks together
            and then I sprayed them with lye.
            Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

            I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten years.
            The man who asked for it was shabby
            and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

            Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
            Forgive me. I was clumsy and
            I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!

    16. I mean, I’m trying to figure out why in the world he wouldn’t ASK THE PERSON HE LIVES WITH if the Mystery Clothes were hers to begin with. I’ve wound up with Mystery Clothes sometimes from my roommates. It has never once occurred to me that I should just assume an angel put them in with my laundry, or they poofed in from Narnia.

      Even when we didn’t have a washing machine and had to use the laundromat, the immediate next step after, “Huh, these clothes aren’t mine” was always, “Hey, are these clothes yours?” Not “Into the Goodwill they go!”

      I’m sorry, I cannot find a single logical, good-faith explanation for that.

      It’s sort of the rainbow sprinkles on a sundae of wtfery.

    17. What gets me about it is that she mentions him being a nice guy and needing his financial support, but then in her letter we learn he never replaced the clothing he donated. What an awful person he is! Seriously, he couldn’t afford to buy replacements at a thrift store even?

    18. Who else could possibly be the owner of those clothes?

      Also, if they were underthings, then the fact that he got rid of them, rather than present them to his girlfriend raises some serious red flags in a “monogamous” relationship.

  6. As someone who’s sort of a Chaos Muppet myself, I was coming up with solutions even through the table setting tantrum. But laundry turns into giving your clothes away turns into constant meltdowns when he sees you doing your laundry on your own? NOPE. I don’t think that can be fixed. Add in all that parenthetical stuff, some of which seems like more than enough to end a relationship over by itself, and I don’t think you can fix this one.

    The doing your laundry in secret bit worries me. The fact that your boyfriend is put off by and threatened by your competence, which is clearly one of the awesome things about you and a big part of your identity, worries me. I think the future of this relationship probably involves you making yourself smaller and smaller in an attempt to avoid tantrums, and Boyfriend taking that as an opportunity to have them over increasingly minor things.

    I think you should move out. It sounds like picking up your things and leaving tomorrow might not be in the cards for you, either financially or emotionally, but I think you might want to take some of that energy you’ve been putting into avoiding Boyfriend’s reactions into shoring yourself up financially and making sure Team You is in check. When you can, I really think you should move out. If you want, you can figure out whether you want Boyfriend in your life in any way at all after that. My guess would be that the answer to that will end up being no, but right now, I think you really want to focus on getting your own space so that you can make decisions without his presence hanging over them.

    1. The fact that your boyfriend is put off by and threatened by your competence, which is clearly one of the awesome things about you and a big part of your identity, worries me.

      Yes, this. The LW is being pressured to stop being what she is.

      So “he really is a lovely person”…. when she’s tiptoeing around on eggshells, doing her laundry in secret so that she can avoid both his implicit rejection of doing his share and his taking offense at her being willing to shoulder it for him. I could probably be lovely and super-chill too if my wants and emotional states were being catered to that much.

      LW, there are people out there who will practically worship you for your awesome organizing and household chore-doing skills. There are also people out there who will happily do their share of them and rejoice that they have found someone who can be an equal partner in such things. There are others who will work out compromises with you. This guy is not any of them; he wants to live his way without any slightest suggestion that it is not perfect, and he is trying to passive-aggressive you into submission to it. Don’t give up what you are for this.

      1. “LW, there are people out there who will practically worship you for your awesome organizing and household chore-doing skills. There are also people out there who will happily do their share of them and rejoice that they have found someone who can be an equal partner in such things. There are others who will work out compromises with you. This guy is not any of them; he wants to live his way without any slightest suggestion that it is not perfect, and he is trying to passive-aggressive you into submission to it. Don’t give up what you are for this.”

        Yes. This. So. Very. Much. this….and that’s if the Household Stuff were the ONLY issue.

        You also mentioned sex, politics and conversational style. One of these could be overcome – heck, perhaps two, even – but this much incompatibility sounds like “bye-bye now” for sure. (Especially the -vanishing- of your laundry. So. Odd.)

        I feel for you because three years is a long while and it’s very scary to think “but what if I -never- find anyone else?” and of course he must have some really good qualities too or you wouldn’t have come this far. However he has already demonstrated not only complete disinterest in changing/compromising but enough negative emotion that you are altering your lifestyle to avoid it. Since this is the negotiating “oh I see you like the dishes THIS way…” part of sharing a household he should be at his MOST accommodating so – and this is a hard one – there is no reason to believe it will ever get any better than it is right now. Is that something you can picture with enjoyment? Positive emotion?

        And that’s just for the emotional part of the relationship. There’s another really huge issue here: he doesn’t think you and he should marry. Not just “right now” but “categorically.” Since you do want to marry someday that seems like a fundamental reason to break it off sooner rather than later because even if everything else were perfect, this relationship still isn’t moving you closer to a personal goal. Also if you aren’t married there is nothing keeping him from someday saying “okay, this is done; pack and leave” and that would be far worse if you had become completely financially dependent on him.

        You have survived and thrived in the face of hardship and that’s terrific. Being very competent is also terrific and it’s clear you are fine with compromise. Now it’s time for an emotional partnership which makes you feel terrific and bigger and more of yourself rather than unhappy or sad…and which doesn’t turn “compromise” into “everything stays exactly as *I* want it.” Please go as soon as you feasibly can. It will be hard at first but SO much better later.

        1. “Also if you aren’t married there is nothing keeping him from someday saying “okay, this is done; pack and leave” ”

          Depends where you live, actually. Where I live, just sharing an apartment for a year is enough for the government to consider you common-law married. 🙂 They’ve made marriage certificates almost entirely redundant.

          1. o.O
            Only 1 year now?? WTF are you supposed to do if you’re roommates and not at any point a couple?

          2. that is wild. only a few states in the US even recognize common-law marriage, and in all of those you have to be “holding out” as married — that is, presenting yourselves specifically as a married couple.

          3. I don’t know about the roommate thing. Honestly, I’m curious… but knowing Canada, probably you just have to say “actually we’re not a couple” and they’ll believe you so long as neither of you disputes it? If there was a dispute they’d probably have to get into the details of what a “marriage-like relationship” means legally… (this is based on my experience when there was some confusion about whether I was a contractor or employee)

          4. Don’t count on that, because a lot of those common-law marriage things are being specifically addressed and changed so that only purposeful/by-the-state marriages are legal.

            However, it certainly was true at one point.

            I once knew a woman who accidentally got common-law married to a man staying in the same house as she was (over the course of about a week, I think), and had to get officially “common-law divorced,” so she could be free to be married to her fiancé. She didn’t tell me where it was when it happened, but it did happen.

            Also, for a while, in Texas, you could get common-law married simply by introducing someone as your spouse, in front of sufficient witnesses, and said spouse not denying it. That’s changed, now, I believe.

      2. “There are also people out there who will happily do their share of them and rejoice that they have found someone who can be an equal partner in such things. There are others who will work out compromises with you.”

        LW, you asked if you should try harder, if you’re not putting in enough work. You are absolutely doing enough work, and then some. The person who isn’t trying is your boyfriend. Please try to reframe this, because BOTH parties have to put in the work. As awesome as you are, you simply can’t control how this relationship goes by yourself. The relationship is a result of the actions of your boyfriend, too, and he’s not trying at all. He’s not suggesting a chore arrangement so that you can have your life how you like it and he can have his how he likes it. He’s expecting for you to do ALL of the compromising, while he does none. As an example, he expects you to manage HIS feelings around you doing your OWN laundry, or setting the table, or taking out the trash. That’s really bizarre, and that’s him doing nothing for the sake of your (both of yours) relationship.

        In addition, I think you two are basically incompatible because you each want your life to be fundamentally different than each other. I hope your next relationship (if you want one) is so much more compatible, and with someone who also wants to put in the relationship effort.

        When I ended a long term relationship, I grieved for what I thought the relationship could have been (but was never going to actually be), and it made leaving much harder to manage those emotions AND the organizational details. I know it’s hard, but it’s absolutely worth it. I’m glad you have a therapist to be on Team You as you think about what you want and how to get it. I’m sorry that I can’t say anything about disability or financial issues since I don’t have familiarity with those and they make it even harder.

    2. ‘I think the future of this relationship probably involves you making yourself smaller and smaller in an attempt to avoid tantrums, and Boyfriend taking that as an opportunity to have them over increasingly minor things.’

      YES. THIS. lunchcomma, you just summed this dynamic up so beautifully in one sentence, and it is not a dynamic that can be solved or even healthily managed. When someone is the sort of person who’ll have tantrums over their partner’s behaviour instead of using THEIR words to talk about it, then there is no level of tininess you can shrink to that is going to stop that person from having tantrums. All you can do is destroy yourself trying.

      1. Yeah, it sounds to me like the boyfriend wants a Cool Girlfriend–the kind that will cook and clean and organize his life while simultaneously never making him feel the least bit insecure about his failure to do so.

        1. Right, or figure out some magical way of doing that while also never being seen to expend any effort because that makes him feel bad

          (kind of like guys who want the Hot Girl but also don’t want to know about the cost and time that goes into being the Hot Girl)

      2. Yes, yes, yes. In a long-term emotionally and psychologically abusive marriage, I lost a little bit more of myself each year, trying to behave in ways that wouldn’t upset him. Didn’t work. Should never have tried! But being gaslighted consistently leaves you emotionally punch-drunk, wondering if maybe it really IS you who’s messed up and maybe you SHOULD be grateful that he keeps you around.

        Now, 13 years out of it, I look back and feel like crying for Former Me. On the bright side, Current Me is having an amazing life. I hope, dear LW, that you can find ways to prepare for having one of your own. Building a great Team You is a start, especially when it comes to moving your stuff (if necessary) and having your back when your partner tries to browbeat you into staying.

        And on that note: My divorce lawyer was on board with my moving out while he was away. Don’t make contact, she said, and definitely don’t answer the phone if he calls (and he will). When I filed a restraining order against my ex, a counselor at the women’s center told me that controlling/abusive men are most volatile when they realize you are leaving and they can’t get you to come back. So if you plan to be the one who moves out, make ALL your plans upfront,
        including but not limited to having a new place to live/temporary place to stay, getting all your vital paperwork (birth certificate, bank statements, insurance card and records, et al.) together and ready to go, some money set aside for apartment/utility deposits, maybe a post office box for important correspondence (and change your address with thoe entities soonest). That way, Team You can help you move while he’s at work.

        If that can’t happen, then Team You can help you move when he’s home, as in “they form a protective phalanx around you while you dictate what gets moved into the waiting truck.” He can’t browbeat you if you’re surrounded by friends, or even just backed up by one friend.

        Also: If you live in the U.S., dial 2-1-1 sometime when your partner isn’t home. Describe your situation very succinctly (disabled, need some temporary help getting out of an abusive living situation) and ask for phone numbers to agencies that can help. Perhaps there’s a women’s center that could rally some volunteers to help you move and also help you file a restraining order to keep him away. Maybe there’s a disability rights center that could offer similar help and/or funding to get your moving expenses covered. The 2-1-1 folks can also help you with regard to info on government benefits and local ones, too; for example, in Seattle my disabled daughter was allowed to visit a food bank one hour before it opened, so she wouldn’t have to stand in line in all weather.

        I wish you healing and a larger, lovelier life.

  7. And he should pay to replace the clothing that he “accidentally” disposed of. It’s not that hard to say, “hey, these clothes ended up in my room, I’m guessing they’re yours.” Sorry, that doesn’t sound very nice.

    1. Excellent point! You can’t afford to replace them, he got rid of them– it’s definitely his responsibility to replace them.

    2. Quite. I have dyed my boyfriend’s shirts before (being careful about laundry is not my strong point, I have dark colorful clothes, he has pale shirts), and I offered to replace them. We also do our own laundry now, then we can both treat our own clothes how we want.

      1. My guess is that this is what happened to her clothes. He washed them and stained/destroyed them, but – unlike you – was too dishonest to admit it, so he made up the absurd story about donating them when he got rid of the evidence.

  8. I am often the less-functional person in a household, and many of your boyfriend’s difficulties are things I, too, struggle with. And I am STILL wide-eyed and mouth agape at his behavior. I get that it sucks when someone else’s competence makes it obvious how much I’m failing to adult. But his behavior in this situation is ABYSMAL, and completely unfair to you. If he is having meltdowns because of your completely reasonable behavior, then at the bare minimum it’s his job to find a way to deal so that he isn’t punishing you for reasonable behavior.

    1. THIS. THIS. THIS. THIS. Currently in the process of putting myself back together after being broken by a (wonderful, charming, smart, funny) man child. There are no magic words to convince people that throw tantrums about having to do their fair share of housework to stop throwing tantrums.

  9. You sound more like his mother or housekeeper than his romantic partner. None of this is your fault. Adults are able to feed themselves.

    1. (Hello! I am an adult with multiple disabilities. These sometimes mean that I am not, in point of fact, able to feed myself. This is recognised by the government, and is part of the reason I receive disability-related benefits. None of this means that I’m not an adult.)

      1. Indeed. What makes this guy a lousy partner isn’t his difficulty getting chores done, it’s the way he reacts to LW trying to do them in his stead.

  10. LW, you sound like a gem. The Captain is right, you are already doing all the work you could possibly do here.

    Your boyfriend sounds very controlling. He wants you to follow a very intricate set of unspoken rules and then has a meltdown if you fail to dance his intricate unspoken dance perfectly. That’s not a good thing.

    There are many people out there who would love to have a partner who is an excellent cook and very organized and doesn’t mind doing housework. These are qualities that should make it easier for any given partner to live with you. The fact that this guy uses some of your good qualities to make it harder is a red flag.

      1. I wondered that myself. She said, “I need to learn to be more relaxed,” but the boyfriend here – I mean, he doesn’t even have to learn to cook or clean up, apparently, since the LW is willing to do all of that for him. All he has to learn to do is *not freak out* when LW starts LWing.
        (Seriously, I am very much a boyfriend-type, and I would KILL to have someone offer to do all the shit I can never remember to do.) Which of them is less chill, exactly?

      2. The “more work she should be putting in” reminds me of Boxer in Animal Farm. “I will work harder.”

  11. This is clearly a situation where you GTFO (I’m trying to divorce a man very similar to this one right now), but I can’t get over the laundry/thrift shop thing. So he finds some women’s clothing in his mess of a room and his first thought isn’t “Oh yeah, I was going to do X’s laundry and here it is,” his thought is, “Women’s clothing in my room? It’s not mine so to the donation bin it goes!” I’M SO CONFUSED

    1. I recall asking my ex to please put away the clean laundry (washed, dried, and folded by me) only to have him say “Most of it’s yours.” I’d explain that, no, most of it was his, that had been washed dried and folded by me. He’d point to one bra atop a stack of men’s socks, briefs, and t-shirts. So, rather than asking “in what drawer do you keep your bras,” he’d decided one bra made the whole stack mine.

      My present awesome husband does most of the laundry, and we each put away our own. He’s even noted the times when most of the laundry is his, making a joke about how much clothing he goes through.

      1. That is like the laundry embodiment of that study Geena Davis quotes, about how when 17 percent of people in a group are women, the men in the group think it’s 50-50, and if there’s 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men.

        1. Yes!! My ex is divorced from his subsequent wife, as well. It’s not my business, but I wonder if laundry was involved there, too. He and I have an adult son, with subsequent ex he has two teenage daughters, and I hope he didn’t foist his laundry dysfunction onto them.

          I know from our son that ex’s current partner recently moved in with him. I hope for her sake he’s learned how to live with other people.

        2. Or the laundry embodiment of a strict vegan: if it was even in the same clean pan or pile as your stuff, then it’s all yours. Laundry purity!

          1. So, if the one bra’p rule applies, does that mean she gets to put all those shirts, socks, etc., into HER wardrobe, and keep them there, never for him to wear again?

            I rather like that. Of course, I still wouldn’t say she should give them away. But if he says they’re hers, she should keep them! FOREVER! Hahahahahaha!!!

            Or, he could hand over her bra for her to put away, and put away the rest of the clothes, like a person.

      2. My ex would put off chores for literally weeks or months, and when I would finally get sick of waiting (or when the pile of dishes was making the kitchen unusable) and break down and do stuff that we had agreed was his responsibility, he’d walk in halfway through and say, “Oh, I was going to do that.”

        You will be proud of me to hear that I never once threw a plate at his head, despite very much wanting to.

        1. I will say this: I am that person. I have, in my head, a list of things I am absolutely, truly, genuinely, utterly, completely MEANING to do. There is just, somehow, a great big disconnect between the intention and the action.
          I will also say that I am in therapy to get that dealt with, because MEANING to do it, and then not doing it, is actually a major problem that other people have every right to find frustrating when it causes them issues.

          1. Yep. There is a surprisingly large gulf between “meaning to” and “going to”. Intent and execution are very different beasts, and it’s honestly done my own relationship a lot of good when my husband and I make this distinction with each other.

            I’ll see him frustratedly stomping around the house collecting the eight coffee mugs I’ve left lying about over the past week and guiltily say “Thank you. Sorry. I’d been meaning to get around to that and obviously didn’t.” Whereas if I said I was GOING to do that it would a) potentially be an unintended lie because lol I never actually pick those up and b) as discussed at length by other people putting it in that context is a childish way of blame-shifting into “you don’t trust me to do things, you’re stepping on my toes, etc…”

          2. Yeah, that is me as well. I live alone, so all of those things I’m “meaning to do” just end up not done and I sort of…don’t realize it until my apartment is suddenly (not actually suddenly, it just seems that way) an enormous mess. I’m seeing a counselor to try and help with that (and some other stuff), but I’m not entirely sure she understands the problem or has any ideas how to help me with it.

          3. What you said about therapy makes the difference, I think. With my ex this went on for years, and it was just one of the list of things that would have been bearable had he been actively and visibly *working on it*. (He’s also neurotypical with no executive function problems, which I feel I should be clear about). He just didn’t really, deep down, think things I needed or cared about were important. He would be horrified to hear that said about him and would probably deny it vehemently, but it was a pattern in a lot of parts of our relationship.

          4. @Blue Meeple: that’s the sort of thing that ADHD advice would probably help with – whether or not you actually have ADHD. 🙂

          5. I am this person, too. I live with roommates, but I keep my grossness contained to my room. It’s one of the (many) reasons that I’ve begun to think long term relationships are not for me — no one should have to deal with my nonsense on a regular basis.

        2. I HATE ‘oh, I was gonna do that.’ My ex did that all the time. My son does it sometimes and it makes me want to cry. What I try to do, instead, is point out that someday he may be living with another human being and he should be willing to take on chores in a timely manner.

          To the OP: My ex and I have very different ideas about how life should be lived, and I wish I’d paid more attention to that in the beginning. (Not much, because I got my son out of it, but there you go.) My now-husband and I are so much more on the same page, and I am so much happier for it. You sound like an awesome person who deserves to get what she wants, not spend your life compromising so someone else gets what HE wants.

      3. My husband was helping his parents when his mom was in the hospital. He washed and folded the laundry and asked his dad to put his mom’s clothes away.

        Background: Parents had been married for 50 years. Mom did not have a lot of clothes. Dad had a PhD from Michigan (i.e., not dumb).

        Father’s answer to my husband?

        “I don’t know where her clothes go.”

        1. Did he also…not know how to open drawers and closets until he found the right place? I mean, I assume your MIL didn’t hide them under the floorboards here…

          1. Charitably, I could imagine he meant what I would be thinking under the circumstances: “I don’t know how she sorts her clothes and I’m afraid she’ll be upset if I mix up things she prefers to keep separate, so I’d rather wait till I can ask her.” I mean, based on what tgd’s written before about her in-laws, it doesn’t seem likely to be what was actually going on in this case, but it’s a plausible line of thinking for some of us.

      4. I like doing laundry, and happily did my ex husband’s laundry.

        Except his shirts. He wanted them taken out of the dryer early, or ironed. And he didn’t like real ironing boards, only those little travel ironing boards.

        I balked.

        I offered him these choices:
        1. Buy a real ironing board
        2. Do his shirts himself
        3. Shut up

        He picked number 2. I was happy.

        1. My ex expected me to do all his laundry (a chore I really hate), but was extremely picky about it. He insisted on having 100% cotton shirts. 100% cotton is notorious for wrinkling. Mr. Rage-a-holic would pitch a fit if I didn’t manage to get them perfect. Too bad we couldn’t afford to send everything out to a dry cleaner, bcause only that would have met his demanding standards. This was just ONE of the ways he was an abusive asshole…

          I finally had enough of this and told him that since we both worked, it would only be fair that from then on I would only do his laundry if he’d do mine. (BTW it wasn’t long before my salary surpassed his, and you have never seen such a temper tantrum as when he found this out.)

          From then on, we each did our own laundry. Same rule applies with my current husband, who never expected me to do his anyway.

          1. A laundry related thing happened just before that ex and I physically separated. (We had already decided to divorce, and were in separate rooms, but we hadn’t yet moved into our new separate apartments.)

            Ex2be told me his shrink had told him to restrict all our interactions to “transactions”.

            He walked into my room and began to dump clothes into my hamper.

            Me: What are you doing?
            X2B: I’m putting clothes into the hamper
            Me: That’s my hamper. In my room. What are you doing ?
            X2B: It’s laundry.
            Me: You expect me to do your laundry?
            Removes clothing

        2. Shortly before we separated, my ex finished school and started a job. In the morning, as we were both getting ready for work, he asked “Could I get you to do me a favor?”*

          I replied “It depends on what the favor is.”

          “Could I get you to iron my shirt?”

          “Yes. Next time, ask directly for what you want.”

          We had the exact same conversation the next morning. He could have ironed more than one shirt in the evening (he was a National Guardsman, he was better at ironing than I), but, no, had to play a guessing game with me on the morning of.

          *I HATE that, get to the point.

          1. I think it’s interesting you dislike “Can I ask a favor/get you to do me a favor?” because I like it as a preamble question very much.

            If I’m really busy doing something and my husband asks “Can I ask you a favor?” I feel much more comfortable saying “I don’t really have time to do anything that takes more than a minute. What’s up?” to an unknown request than pushing back or declining to do a specified favor.

          2. I hate the “Can I ask you for a favor?” “Sure!” … … … … (Me thinking “WHAT IS IT? Just spit it out, already!”) … … … “Will you please do X (X being incredibly simple thing that would be FINISHED ALREADY by the time it’s actually stated) for me?”

            It’s the waiting I hate. Especially when combined with the look of “I’m afraid she’ll say no,” when I have already said, “Sure!” and it’s for something no reasonable person would refuse, anyway.

            In such a situation, I’d much rather skip the preamble and just go straight to, “Michelle, will you please do X for me?” Now, I do rather insist on the “please.” And the favor needs to be reasonable. But also, I have a limited number of spoons, so please be respectful of MY time and energy and don’t leave me standing there, politely refraining from tapping my toe, while you work up the gumption to ask me for a perfectly reasonable and fast favor. Because by the time you get around to it, I’ve already used up three spoons and am working on the fourth one, because of the irritation of waiting, while looking at that scared-rabbit/Oliver Twist face.

            Get to the point, indeed.

          3. For some reason that reminded me of a time in a college dorm: Some dude was pestering all the women asking them to iron a dress shirt for him, as he was getting ready to go to some event. He kept pleading that he was in a hurry, he didn’t know how to do it, please please please.

            I didn’t even know this guy, so when he asked me, he included that he was desperate, in a big hurry, NO ONE WOULD HELP HIM, etc. I said sure, that I’d show him how.

            He actually said no. He wanted someone to just do it. I said I’d be happy to show him how, so then he’d know how and never have to ask again. Nope.

            Despite supposedly being in this urgent hurry, he went off and wasted some more time trying to get someone to do this for him. They all turned him down.

            Eventually he came back to me, and tried one more time to get me to just do it without him there. Nope — I told him I would teach him once, and that was it.

            We wound up with me ironing the shirt, explaining to him as I went how to iron a dress shirt with optimal results, while he kept vacillating between acting like he was paying enough attention so that I wouldn’t stop, but also trying to make it clear he was holding his breath and NOT LEARNING.

            Then he got all huffy because I was laughing at him and he couldn’t bring himself to say “thank you” gracefully.

      5. My husband does a similar thing. If there are ten misplaced things in a room, nine his and one mine, he won’t touch his nine things to tidy up until I clean up my one-item mess. I don’t even think he realizes he’s doing it.

        1. Mine is similar but opposite, kinda. If there are 10 things on the table, 8 his and 2 mine and we start cleaning up together, the first thing he always grabs is mine and then…”where does this go?” while I’m dealing with the other thing that was mine. I always say “can you please start with something that’s yours, so that you know where it goes?” His response? “I don’t see anything here that’s mine…”

          I love my husband, this is just a minor quirk and he does laundry and dishes better than I ever do but LOOK sometimes!

  12. Your boyfriend is being a seriously immature jerk. And I’m really surprised he can manage to get his shit together enough to donate “not mine, must be for charity!” clothing but not to set the damned table.

  13. My ex husband was exactly like this…never paid bills, place was a fucking tip, always late – one memorable time 4 hours late – and just the most disorganised person ever (apart from this guy)

    We didn’t live together until we’d been dating for nearly 6 years…for some silly reason, I thought moving out of his parent’s home and into his own would make him grow up and suddenly become houseproud. Of course, it didn’t. If anything, he became worse, and it became a lot more annoying as it was me who would have to end up dealing with situations like the rent not being paid on time, threatened with bailiffs as the council tax hadn’t been paid, etc

    I put up with it for a total of 15 years before I got out. I’ve been in a relationship now for 8 years, and seriously baulk at the idea of ever sharing my living space with another person again. I love having my apartment looking exactly how I want it, and knowing it will still look like that when I return. The only good thing that came from living with my ex was that I’m now super organised as well!

    1. You know, some married couples live quite happily in separate residences. Some people have very valid reasons for wanting/needing their OWN space, and it sounds like that might work for you, in your 8-year relationship, should you want to commit, but still don’t want to share a residence. It doesn’t have to be an obstacle to your happiness.

      Of course, if you really need your personal space, and your partner is not willing to let you keep it, that is an obstacle.

      Anyway, I’m happy for you for having that 8-year relationship, that sounds so much better than the first one.

  14. Sorry LW, you think he is lovely now, but if you stick around you will start to feel bitter contempt for him. Also, watch out for him telling you or giving you indications that you are too controlling or how everything is your fault, because that can start getting into emotional abuse territory. Financial abuse is a thing too, so please don’t put yourself in a position where he controls the finances.

    It is unfair for you to walk on eggshells or for him to expect you to constantly remind him of his responsibilities.

  15. LW, I’m sorry you’re in this situation. I used to be in a relationship that was a lot of work – similar to yours, it was all my work. I had to understand and accommodate him. All of his requests/desires were the standardbearer of reasonable. All of mine somehow demonstrated that I was a needy, pathetic woman who made too many demands. Eventually we broke up and I dated someone I was compatible with. It was SO MUCH EASIER. Because he wanted our relationship to work and wanted to make me happy, the stuff that could have been a conflict, even when I was actually being unreasonable, wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t spend a bunch of time making me feel bad for not having the perfect legitimate complaint. It was “oh, that bothers you? That’s fine. I don’t have to do it.”

    It takes work but it is mutual work, we both put it in, and when one of us is really bothered by something, the other tries to change it. I think a relationship where your partner values your needs as much as you value theirs is out there for you. I wish you luck in finding it.

  16. Can we just pause here:

    (He doesn’t think ‘people like us’ should get married — think ‘I don’t think a Muslim and a Jew should get married’, though that’s not our specific demographics — )

    Because. WHAT.

    So, he’s been OK with dating you for the past 3 years. He’s been OK with you moving in together. But his end game is, what exactly? He’s going to leave you when he meets a suitable member of His Own People? Or you continue living together “in shame” I’m guessing, isolated from your respective People because of his beliefs?

    There’s a lot of things that are Not OK here but this one stood out to me.

    1. YES, this stuck out to me too! The most generously possible explanation is that he’s spinning some narrative where you guys are the Exception and that proves that Your Love Is Pure, but… that… isn’t really backed up by anything else in the letter.

      My current partner is from another country, and if he ever said something like “Canadians* and Danes* shouldn’t get married!”, that would be an /immediate/ “WTF, this needs to be unpacked /right now/”.

      *Not our actual nationalities, but close enough both geographically and in tone

    2. Thiiiiisssssss. Like, say the answer really is that the LW needs to work harder (it 100% isn’t, but for the sake of argument…). For what? So that another two or four or ten years down the road he can start dangling “well, MAYBE we could get married” in front of her, or “why should we get married [and have all those pesky legal protections]? Do I have to go through the hassle of a wedding to prove that I love you?” or “I would marry you but my parents just wouldn’t have it so we have to keep this unofficial.”

      If someone isn’t into marriage, that’s fine. My partner and I will probably get married at some point, but at the moment I have a billion dollars in student loans and neither of us has any illusions that a wedding creates commitment, so we’re not in a hurry. But that’s different from “We can’t get married because you’re not the right kind of people.”

      Just UGH.

    3. Even without the contradiction/ideology stuff, if LW wants to be married someday and boyfriend doesn’t think they “should” it’s reason enough to break up a relationship that is otherwise working.And this one is NOT WORKING in quite a few ways.

      1. Exactly. Even if they love each other, and get along fine, if either couple wants marriage, and the other one will not marry them (for whatever reason is valid in that person’s view, including legal, religious, cultural reasons), then the best thing for BOTH partners is to stop wasting each other’s time and move on to someone who will fit their needs. The one who wants marriage should find someone else who wants marriage. The other one who either doesn’t want marriage, or doesn’t want marriage to the first person’s type, or whatever, can find someone who will not be devastated at spending their life unmarried.

        Some people actually want long-term but not committed relationships, and that’s fine, too, so long as they don’t drag along any “I want to be married and start a family someday” people along with them.

        The same with couples who disagree about children. This is something you should discuss early in the relationship. If you disagree about having children, you can continue, and commit, and one or both of you suffer (since having children is not exactly the sort of thing on which you can compromise – it’s an either/or deal), or you can wish each other well, and break off early, and not waste time, while you search for someone else who wants/does-not-want children the same way you do.

        This sort of discovery it the whole point of “dating” – to determine if there is enough compatibility to make a long-term relationship worth pursuing. By the time you reach long-term relationship, these “is it worth it” questions should already have been answered.

    4. Yeah, I saw that too. I noticed there’s no story about family pressure or anything like that, as there sometimes is, and that this seems to be Boyfriend-generated angst. Given that the dynamic in this relationship seems to be that Boyfriend does something controlling and LW ends up twisting herself up to avoid upsetting him, I don’t think it’s coincidental that this angst happens to be expressed in a way that both makes it impossible for her to have something she cares about and that she reads as Boyfriend’s internalized bigotry.

    5. Yep. This guy is basically telling the LW not to expect to marry him, which she specifically states she would like. I know he represents three years of investment, and it sounds like he’s the most long-term romantic relationship the LW has ever had, but seriously, LW, if you’re reading this: believe him. Do not think you can change his mind or wear him down over time. Even if you could, do you really want a husband who needed that much persuasion or marry you?

      Your boyfriend will waste as much of your time as you allow him to—or he will drop you when he finds a woman from his own community who will put up with his shit the way you do, and also be okay with starting a relationship (or at least a serious flirtation) with someone who is not single. Trust that you are resilient enough to handle breaking up with him, trust that your phenomenal organizational skills make the problem of extricating yourself from your current situation surmountable, and trust that you are awesome enough to find someone who will be a better partner for you eventually. Everything in your letter suggests that all of this is true.

    6. That’s exactly what I was wondering! What exactly is BF thinking? Why would he move in with someone he thinks isn’t the kind of person he should marry? What is he expecting to happen?

      1. He’s expecting dinner to be cooked and his clothes to be washed and his bathroom to be cleaned and…

    7. My mother dated a guy like that. She’s not religious, he was a member of a small, very conservative denomination. He told her he’d never marry her because he would only marry a virgin that was younger than him. Meanwhile, he was perfectly okay having sex with a woman older than himself …

      1. Somehow, the hypocrisy of the religiously conservative never fails to astound me, even though it should have stopped doing so by now. “I have to marry a virgin, because sex is dirty – but only for women, I can bone until my dick falls off and still get married.”

        1. It’s not the hypocrisy of the religiously conservative. It’s the hypocrisy of the individual. Believe me, I have known plenty of religiously conservative men that believed in and practiced celibacy before marriage for BOTH sexes. And a lot of them believed that people who sexually sin (i.e. have sex before/outside of marriage) could repent, and be forgiven, and that virginity in a wife was not a true requirement, so much as sexual purity (either never sinned in that way, or had repented of it). These are the ones who can tell the difference between virginity and purity, and actually believe in the Atonement of Christ (yes, they were Christians).

          I’ve also known some people who *pretended* to be religiously conservative, but were flat-out lying about it, in order to woo the conservative women, who would likely still be virgins, and have no clue how bad these fellows were, either character-wise or sexually. People who are rotten lovers like virgins, because they have no basis for comparison, and figure that’s as good as it gets.

          I once encountered a religiously conservative woman who had been so thoroughly taught that virginity=purity, that when she was kissing a man for the first time, and his hand brushed against the side of her (fully clothed) breast, she felt that she had been spoiled for all others, and had no choice but to marry HIM. He, of course, helped her along with this idea, because it made it a whole lot easier for him to bag a virgin bride if he could convince her that she was damaged goods and no other man would have her than if he had actually *wooed* her. Their marriage was miserable for her, and eventually she left, feeling horrible about betraying her faith by leaving a sacred marriage, but it was just that bad. Then, she started telling other young women about her experience, and that “NO, that does not make you impure, and NO, it does not mean no other worthy man will have you,” and “NO, DO NOT FALL FOR THIS!” So, she turned it around to the good.

          Hypocrites gonna hypocrite, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. It will just take different forms.

    8. Yeah, that’s a pretty basic, virtually insurmountable incompatibility. Even if the rest of the relationship was perfect (and it is so, so not), that alone would be a factor that made breakup worth considering.

    9. THIS.
      LW, if this were the only thing you had doubts about, he’d still be wrong for you. Beneath this kind of statement is some very messed up opinions and assumptions about people, and I’m going to call it what it is: bigotry.
      Since he doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with what he is, the “inferior” one must be you. Which could explain why he’s so hostile to your competence. If his Y is by definition superior to your X, your abilities threaten his image of self.

      1. Bingo! This is exactly what I was thinking.

        -Well, I may have been also running through the types of couples conservatives think shouldn’t be together (so many options).

      2. I was wondering if there was some ableism there: “People like us” meaning “people like YOU, who have a disability.

        Either way, LW: Please try to get out. I was in a 23-year marriage with someone like this. It gets worse.

    10. The LW doesn’t go into detail, but also: it doesn’t sound like their sex life was ever amazing. I don’t want to say sex never improves over the course of a relationship, but that usually takes some enthusiasm and dedication from everyone. Which it doesn’t sound like there is, here. If the sex is a drag at three years and was never that awesome to begin with, it’s not going to get better, and if sex is important to you, you can do better.

  17. So, you don’t share household chores, finances, a bedroom (going by the part of “my clothes vanished into the waist-deep chaos that is his bedroom”), and aren’t sexually compatible? He is not your boyfriend, he is your roommate. You don’t owe him a relationship.
    Maybe break up with him and continue to share a living space for however long you have to, but don’t invest yourself any more on this guy.

    1. Side note from someone who doesn’t even live with her partner because of personal space needs: not sharing a bedroom isn’t a negative thing.

      1. Yeah, nobody would wanna sleep in the same bedroom as me XD And I wouldn’t want to with anyone, tbh.

        Also it’s okay to not be sexually compatible. If I was into romantic relationships (meh), I probably still wouldn’t be sexually compatible with most people who were candidates for that and that’s fine.

        1. It’s also okay for sexual compatibility to be very important to you and something you seek in a relationship where sex is involved! Sexual incompatibility is a totally ok reason to break off a romantic and sexual relationship!

          If Letter Writers mention sexual compatibility I assume it is at least somewhat important to them.

          1. Absolutely! But we no more need to say it’s an automatic dealbreaker for every single person than sleeping in separate bedrooms is an automatic redflag 🙂

        2. “Compatible” is the keyword here, not “sexual”. Speaking as an Ace person, in relationships you have to figure out what works best for both of you.

      2. This. My spouses and I all have separate bedrooms. We’re all introverts with incompatible sleep schedules.

        My wife-in-law (my wife’s other wife) has a separate house, albeit the other half of a duplex.

        Sharing a house or sharing a room works for many people, but not doing so isn’t on it’s own a sign that the relationship isn’t actually romantic.

        Which doesn’t mean there aren’t other red flags about LW’s relationship because holy shit BEES, BEES EVERYWHERE, just that isn’t necessarily a red flag on it’s own.

      3. Thanks whingedrinking! I’m happily in year 6 of a cohabitation romantic relationship and we have never shared a bedroom. Totally can be a personal space (and/or different sleep styles) thing and not a red flag.

        We also have separate bathrooms. Also very nice when we both are in a bad place with IBS.

      4. I concur. Sometimes sleeping in different bedrooms is the thing one does to curtail one’s enormous desire to stab one’s perpetually-snoring spouse to death with a fork.

        (or, “I don’t think my parents’ marriage would have gone well in a one-bedroom apartment.”)

      5. I agree with you that not sharing a bedroom is OK. Living spaces are difficult and privacy is a thing, so yeah…

        I do think that the combination of all the other things is what made me reach the “oh, so they are roommates!” kind of deal. I felt it would be easier to compartmentalize their relationship into something that doesn’t necessarily involves romantic feelings, and in that way, LW could think on a more appropriate strategy to move forward with.

        I am also a very cold person and will try to logic my way out of romantic troubles so that might speak more of me than needed, but as a general rule, you do you.

  18. Good gods, I am absolutely aghast. That’s not an adult, that’s a man-child not ready to be loose in the real world, but I’m betting his parents were happy to be rid of him.

    Run, don’t walk, LW. Get out of there now.

  19. Oof. I am pretty bad at throwing things out in the fridge and taking out the rubbish (although I’m pretty good on the laundry front) and such things. That is totally on me, and it is absolutely not unreasonable for my partner to: a) ask me to take out the rubbish – with the outcome that I take out the rubbish, or b) decide he’d rather just do the rubbish himself and leave me to do the other house-admin stuff that I do – with the outcome that he takes out the rubbish. And golly! The rubbish is taken out, and nobody has thrown a tantrum about it.

    LW what makes me sad about this is that you seem to think that it’s you being ‘controlling’ or ‘neat’ that is the problem here. It’s really not. I do think that neat people and less-neat people can live together and make it work, for sure, but… I don’t think this is one of those times.

    If you really want to give him a chance – and I get that there are barriers to leaving, this stuff is really tough and shouldn’t be minimised – then maybe give him ONE chance to sit down and have a frank conversation about:
    – Optimal division of household chores and admin
    – How that could be managed – for instance, I respond really well to having a specific structure laid out, e.g. “VivaVirago will take out the rubbish every Monday and Friday” rather than “VivaVirago is the next person to take out the rubbish” and having to spot when I think it needs to be done.
    – Reminders / stepping in

    Honestly, though, if you’re at the point where you’re doing your laundry in secret to avoid tantrums, I do think that you’re past this giving-him-a-chance-to-resolve-a-common-issue stage. Living with someone who throws a wobbler in response to perfectly reasonable things just doesn’t sound like a good place to be.

  20. Your boyfriend throws tantrums and punishes you when you won’t stop taking care of yourself and he’s got you questioning if you’re the one who needs to grow up.

    It’s not enough here that you do all the cooking, cleaning, emotional labor, and other chores, you’re supposed to perform ‘lack of life skills’ to boyfriend’s satisfaction so he feels better about his own laziness, and then accept manipulative punishment when you fail to fail according to his standards?

    I so agree with your therapist. Like 100% agree no reservations whatsoever your therapist is a treasure.

    1. Right?

      When I got to the part where HE tantrums at HER for picking up one small portion of the piles and piles of HIS slack, my jaw dropped.

      1. This guy reminds me of a bizarre situation I was once in. I was part of a team doing this big competition. When the clock was on, everything was time-critical and every second counted.

        One girl apparently went to one of the other leaders and tearfully said she didn’t feel like she really had a role all her own when the clock was on. He fell for it, and picked out a thing that was to be Her Thing and comfortingly promised her that this was Her Thing now and that he’d let the rest of us know, which he did.

        I think it was the next day that we were running a simulation of the competition clock being on. Her Thing needed doing, but she was nowhere in sight, so I did it and got us moving again. No one thought anything of it, because if you want something to be your special thing when the clock is on, that means you have to be standing right there ready to do it whenever needed, of course.

        That evening she staged a teary meltdown in front of witnesses about how I wasn’t letting her participate, how I should have made everyone wait and punished the whole team by wasting clock time to go get her and make everyone stand back while she could Vitally and Importantly Perform Her Thing, and begged me to teach her instead of just doing it myself. I said, “Not when the competition clock is on.”

        She did that stand there and stammer thing for a bit, then repeated herself. I told her no, when the clock is on, we are not wasting one second chasing down someone who isn’t in place to do their job. She can either make it her business to be where she needs to be, or accept that we’ll move on without her.

        You would not believe the wailing and moaning that followed. From what she was saying, what she thought was supposed to happen was that she would deliberately not be where she was needed, then the whole team would stand back and burn clock time while she was urgently summoned, then everyone would make each other Stand Back in hushed drama while she Importantly Bustled in and Performed Her Thing.

        She tried to stage something similar several more times, and it seemed to drive her nuts that when she mysteriously disappeared right when she was needed, no one would go after her — they’d come get me instead and I’d do whatever task she’d flaked out on. She threw a lot of tantrums about how I was “not letting her” do things by doing things from which she deliberately absented herself.

  21. LW, I read your letter thinking, “Wow, this guy sounds exhausting to live with,” and then I got to the last paragraph and that thought changed to, “Why the heck is LW even in this relationship?” I don’t mean that to be unkind, or to say OBVIOUSLY you should have broken up with him ages ago, because that’s not how feelings and relationships work. But I hope that the process of writing it out and hearing the Captain’s advice helps you recalibrate your ideas of “normal” and “healthy” a little bit, because this is neither, and if you want a change, you’re going to have to make it because your boyfriend won’t.

    I can say from experience that sometimes we end up in incompatible relationships because they weren’t *always* so incompatible, and at some point inertia sets in and life with the person who doesn’t really satisfy you in bed or think that “people like you” should form long-term serious commitments (!?!?) and who freaks out at you because HE lost YOUR clothes seems like less work than life without him. And you remember that early rush and how great everything was then, and how much of a relief it was to finally drop the L and D from the R, and you think, quite rationally if you do say so yourself, “Every relationship goes through changes. The honeymoon period doesn’t last forever.” You loved him then, so you obviously love him now, and you convince yourself that This Is What Relationships Are Like and if you can’t hack this one, that’s your own problem. It’s not like he hits you or sleeps around, right?

    It’s very possible that isn’t where you are right now and I’m just projecting 10-years-ago me onto your letter. But if it rings any bells at all, let me tell you that my life got unbelievably better the second I was able to leave that relationship. I literally stood up straighter. Looking back, I barely even recognize that woman as myself anymore.

    You sound very grounded and self-aware, so I’m sure you’ll be able to work out what it means for you to get the life that will make you happy. It won’t happen tomorrow, probably, but there’s so much power in just being able to cut through the bullsh*it and see your GOAL, even if it’s got a treacherous, winding road leading to it (and even if that goal is “live in a house where I can clean whenever I want without having to apologize for it”–no need to get too elaborate if you don’t want). You deserve to be happy.

    1. You just described the relationship I was in four years ago. Can confirm, life got so much better when I finally admitted that the relationship was not fulfilling anymore and never would be again and let it all go.

  22. This anonymous internet commenter thinks you should leave him too. It’s not easy for anyone to leave a live-in partner, and I imagine it’s even more difficult when money and disability factor into the equation. But as the Captain said, this is the best it’s going to get with him. (Check out the links to those other letters – if she is lumping your hopefully-soon-to-be-ex in with these guys, that’s important.)

    You deserve better than this, LW, and I hope you can find a way to get it. Love to you.

  23. Dude is not on Team You. The important part is that things get done, not who does them, but he’s so invested in his ego or whatever that he can’t see that and throws a tantrum? And then all the stuff at the end? No, no, no, LW, you deserve so much better than to doubt yourself and your competence and grown-upness.

    I hope you can get out and that in a couple years you’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, that dude? Gosh, I learned a lot about how not to be from that relationship.”

  24. Great googly moogly.

    My spouse and I are differing levels of organized when it comes to differing things (I fold laundry as soon as it’s dry, he roots through the dryer throughout the week, etc). There have been multiple instances where one of us asks the other to do Thing, the other forgets or gets distracted, and the asker ends up doing Thing anyway. But the other’s response is always “Oh crap, I’m sorry! I will do better next time.” followed by efforts to improve. Not a tantrum, not claims of mistrust, and definitely no donating anyone’s anything to charity. If his baseline response to you calmly doing basic tasks when he doesn’t is FREAKOUT, what’s he going to do when you pay the bill he forgot? And, on that note, what are the odds that he *will* forget to pay some vital bill? Or forget to mention an important phone call relevant to your life or job? Or (since you mentioned you don’t/can’t drive) that he’ll forget to make a car payment or an insurance payment or make some necessary repair or maintenance, and you’ll both be high and dry? Eventually, the longer you live together and the more your lives and stuff intertwine, something that’s currently only *his* problem will become both of yours. Or, given his record as you’ve described it, *solely* yours.

    I don’t know him like you do, I can’t urge you to dump him and leave him standing in his chaos of laundry and mold asking “Why”? But maybe this is an LDR that works better as an LDR. He may be perfectly content to live life by the seat of his pants, but it doesn’t sound like you are.

  25. “I don’t think people Ike us should get married”
    This is another way of saying “I do not believe we should have a future together.”
    Which means this relationship is some kind of placeholder.
    Not sure about letter writer, but I wouldn’t be satisfied in a mere holding place. Especially not one seemingly so irritating.

    1. It is definitely possible to be a long-term commitment-type person and not a marriage-type person, but that really *only* works if A) it’s true and B) you’re both on the same page, and also, “people like us shouldn’t marry” is not a “I don’t think I’m the marrying type” statement, it’s pretty firmly a “I do not now and will never want in future to marry you”. If LW were to convert to The Church Of The Slob or whatever his faith is, there would be a different and equally inarguable reason.

      1. Yeppers.
        But just to make it worse, the fact that LW mentions actual demographics, “people like us” does not seem to be slob/not-slob, allergic to cats/cannot live without cats, owl/lark incompatibilities type differences. Sounds like he’s talking nationality/ethnic/religious/racial differences, and that ain’t a red flag, that’s a freaking crimson circus tent.

        1. I wasn’t saying it’s a slob/not slob thing, I was saying if it is religious (example is religious) and she converted there would be another reason.

          The Church of the Slob bit was for humour. Oh for a font of sarcasm.

    2. “I don’t want to have a future with you but in the meantime will you keep my fire ant colony in your house?”

    3. In a way, this angle seems like the easiest way to break up. I know I would have a hard time both saying and not saying anything about his truly awful chores mindset, and I know that technically you can break up with no reason other than “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore,” but I definitely prefer to have a reason when the “but whyyyyyy”s start rolling in. To me, saying “I want to be married, that’s an important part of my life and future, and since you are opposed to people like us being married I need to end this relationship.” People can and will argue against many things (including this) during a breakup but this reason seems less arguable than many. A sudden claim of ability to change that belief of his will sound flimsy to both of you. It should be easier to stick to your guns.

      Signed, a person who needed to end an unfaithful marriage and couldn’t figure out a better un-arguable reason than “I cheated too.” Regrets, but It did work. Funny how me cheating was unforgivable but him cheating was something I should have gotten over…

  26. I agree with the Captain that the worst part about this is that you have to manage his feelings about his mess in addition to *not being able to have your own feelings about them.* You say you asked him to set the table and then when he didn’t you set the table calmly and non-judgmentally? A lot of other people would be PISSED setting that table, and it would be *all right to be pissed* given the circumstances. Somehow you’re responsible not only for not getting mad when he doesn’t do his share, but also for making sure that he doesn’t feel bad about not doing his share. You can’t carry all the emotional burdens for this whole relationship, and if this is his approach to problem solving I don’t see how you can have a future with him.

    1. What killed me about this incident was that he not only got ticked off at her for doing it, but was also ticked off that she didn’t *REMIND* him to do it!

      What do you want to bet that if she HAD reminded him – with guests present – he’d have thrown a tantrum over her embarrassing him in front of them with her “nagging”?

      I had a husband like that – everything was my fault, even when it was obviously his own screwup. (Couldn’t even count the number of times we’d fight in the car on the way to work because I’d “hidden” his keys, Never mind that he never put them in the same place twice when he got home. It was never his fault…) Operative word: HAD.

    2. That’s a really good point. LW, what would happen if you stopped shielding him from your feelings? if you let yourself be angry and upset about the latest mess? If you told him just how awful it’s making *you* feel?

  27. Nopenopenope. You being controlling would be things like “Boyfriend, you have to do all the chores I tell you do to, when i tell you to do them, in the way I tell you to do them in, no matter what else you might have going on.” You doing chores yourself is not controlling–rather, I think it’s quite controlling of HIM to try and be in charge of how you do your laundry or exactly how the table gets set.

    Best case scenario: You and this guy have very different approaches to daily life, and those approaches are very not compatible with one another.

    Worst case scenario: Your guy is being a controlling jerk and then intentionally gaslighting you into thinking you’re the bad guy.

    Neither of those scenarios is likely to lead to a long-term beneficial relationship. In the best possible scenario, a combination of couples counseling/individual counseling for both of you MIGHT lead to enough change that you guys can make your needs compatible eventually (but like, that’s never a guarantee even when everyone acknowledges the full problem and is giving it 100%). In any other scenario, it’s almost certain that you’ll be miserable in this relationship, because he’s not likely to change and will probably continue to yell at you about all of this forever.

    You deserve better than that. I understand that disability and living arrangements make things harder, but I think it’s time to consider what you would need to do to unlink yourself from him, and work towards getting to a place where that feels like an option. If he does somehow improve, you can always decide to stay anyways…but that should be your decision because you really want to stay, not something you feel like you have to do because the alternatives seem too hard to consider. And if he doesn’t improve, you might need that out.

    1. “You doing chores yourself is not controlling”

      I… think I might need to read that a few dozen more times. 🙂

      1. It’s true, I promise!!! You doing things for yourself is, like, the opposite of controlling. You get to decide what’s worth your time and effort, and you get to do those things. Controlling actions are, broadly, things you do with the expectation that it will force someone else to do what you want. Doing chores and things for yourself, on your own schedule, because they need to be done and you have time right now? There’s nothing about that that’s trying to push for a change in someone else’s behavior–it’s the opposite, really, you’re choosing to handle it yourself rather than try and get someone else to do it.

    2. “You doing chores yourself is not controlling”

      I agree with you in this particular instance but not in general. I’ve seen relationships where doing the chores was used to be controlling – putting the other person’s stuff away where [abuser] knew they wouldn’t find it or didn’t want it, following the person doing chores and then going over it again right behind them because they weren’t doing it well enough, etc.

      1. It’s true that there are ways to twist almost anything into manipulation if you try hard enough. But I would argue that household-tasks-as-control-techniques are a distinct category from household-tasks-as-normal-chores.

        Doing chores is really about putting in a little time and effort so daily life can run as smoothly and comfortably as possible; it can cover a huge range of discrete actions (dusting, cooking, laundry, groceries and other errands, whatever), but the end goal is always that this thing needs to happen for life to continue working properly.

        The things you’re describing, on the other hand, don’t really involve getting household tasks done or making life run smoothly or anything of the sort. We all know, when we have a little space to actually think things through (which abuse victims often don’t, so no shame to people who are subjected to these tactics), that ‘putting things away’ does not mean hiding them, ‘doing laundry’ doesn’t mean ruining clothes, ‘cleaning up’ doesn’t mean re-vacuuming a room that was literally just vacuumed, etc. Hiding your target’s stuff isn’t okay, destroying your target’s belongings isn’t okay, and following someone around criticizing whatever they do isn’t acceptable behavior. Those are controlling behaviors no matter what scenario you apply them to.

        Doing household tasks simply because they need to be done and you currently have the time/energy/resources to do them isn’t a controlling behavior. I do stand by that.

      2. Anon, it’s true that anything can be used as a controlling measure. That’s the mindfuck of gaslighting – gosh, I was just doing a chore, what’s your problem? – when in reality there are all kinds of undertones and boundaries and people doing the chores AT you.

        Agreed that in Halp’s situation, she isn’t being controlling in the least. She sounds like she’s being incredibly self aware, and has excellent coping and emotional maturity, and is very practical (you promised to set the table, you didn’t set it in time for dinner to be served but I understand it’s because you were doing another important task of entertaining guests, I will do it cheerfully(!) myself). I would love to have a friend or roommate like you, LW! That’s such a healthy approach to people in general and would have been so healing to me (shame issues).

        LW, there isn’t any further work you can put into this relationship. All further work you will end up doing, will be along the lines of sneaking around to do basic functions (your laundry) and figuring out how to navigate the unreasonable minefield that he presents, while also knowing he is not at all interested in admitting (step 1) or getting on the same side as you or doing any actual work to change what he is doing.

        You are doing too much work as it is. Relationships aren’t this kind of work. They are “how do we both work together to resolve this incompatibility in a way that is agreeable to both of us” and not “how do I find ways to hide evidence of me doing things to meet my basic needs/my existence”.

  28. This isn’t just evil bees; this is twenty nests worth of Winnipeg garbage wasps flying up the hem of your shorts.* This guy is manipulating you to see yourself at fault for everything that goes “wrong” in the relationship. It’s actual gaslighting; he’s got you doubting your own perception at every turn. You haven’t done anything wrong here.

    If he doesn’t set the table it’s not because you didn’t remind him “enough”, and his tantrum if you set it yourself doesn’t occur because you’ve shown him up. He’s intentionally putting you in a no-win situation. He knows you won’t sit down without setting the table so he chooses, deliberately, to ignore your reminders, and chooses, deliberately, to blow up at you when you set the table. He’s trying to induce guilt, trying to make you feel bad even though you didn’t do anything wrong! He’s manipulating you into thinking you don’t try hard enough when in fact you tried harder than he had any right to ask!!

    Your issue with laundry is even more disturbing. He won’t wash it, he even gives it away (or pretends to), but if you wash it yourself he erupts. Why do you think he does that? Ego? Hurt feelings? Shame? I don’t think so; I think it’s because he’s trying to isolate you. If he can control your cleanliness by not washing your laundry, you can’t work. You can’t go out. You’ll be dependent on him.** Best of all, by tantruming and melting down he’s making you feel guilty about basic hygiene.

    Think about that: he’s making you feel guilty about keeping yourself clean.

    This guy is verbally and emotionally abusing you. He is an abuser. Whether he will escalate to intimidating you by punching walls or even to beating you I can’t say, but this is how physical abusers train their victims: by isolating them and manipulating them into feeling guilt and shame over matters they have no control over.

    If I were you I’d leave today.

    * Ask me about my Tuesday.
    ** Disabled people and people like me who do not drive for medical reasons are often targeted by abusive and controlling partners.

    1. This. When you put all boyfriend’s terrible behavior together with his emotional and financial support, he is creating the perfect situation for abuse. He supports LW emotionally (in certain ways! Temper tantrums aren’t support!) and financially so that she feels dependent on him and grateful for her support. Meanwhile, he’s already caused her to be in situations where she literally can’t do anything right. He is showing every sign of being emotionally abusive. Don’t set the table, get a guilt trip over not reminding him enough times. Set the table? Get a tantrum over not reminding him. And I’ll bet even if she keeps reminding him he’ll berate her for nagging! “I SAID I’d do it! You’re so impatient! Don’t you trust me?” Etc.

      LW, there is no emotional or physical work you can do to make this work. In my opinion, it IS working as designed…for boyfriend. You deserve much better.

      1. I was standing at a bus stop – with the bus literally less than a block away – and a wasp flew out from the garbage can and under the hem of my shorts and stung me right on the rear end. The bus driver was alarmed at my scream and jump and it just got odder from there.

        This is apparently the worst wasp season ever.

          1. A friend of mine moved to Manitoba recently. She wrote a poem which she shared with our writing group, which had a lot of imagery of things being eaten by bugs. I asked her what inspired it, and she said, “Brandon*.”

            * For non-Canadians, this is a town, not a person.

          2. @Novel deVice: I wish. The continental climate means brutal cold winters alternating with brutal hot summers.

            Winnipeg has not just an official City entomologist but also an official former City entomologist.

    2. I felt a wash of heat rush over my face and tears come to my eyes as I read that last part about “…often targeted by abusive partners”. I don’t drive by choice–my license expired while I was working overseas and I never got it renewed. I live in a city with robust public transportation, so I decided I didn’t need a car or to drive. My ex kept pressuring me to move to a more distant area with less public transportation options since he drove and he already drove me every where so what was the big deal? We had a serious argument about it until I finally blurted out “I don’t trust you, okay?” I realized I didn’t trust him not to use his car as a weapon against me. And I stayed for almost a year after that.
      LW: it doesn’t get better. I hope these stories and the flags and notes people share give you the same visceral, horrified recognition they do/did to me. And that you get out safely and start a new wonderful life without this flea bitten wool blanket of a man.

      1. Plus there’s a world a difference between choosing not to drive *because* you live in a city with transport options, and a situation where you would lose those options. Pretending it’s not a big deal is very manipulative ><

      2. So glad you are out of that situation. Thanks for sharing with us–Jedi hugs if you need them. And additional thanks for the phrase “flea bitten wool blanket of a man,” which made me laugh even as my eyes were misting over reading your post.

      3. Oh dear. NaoNao, I am so glad you’re out of that situation. Survivor hugs if you want them.

        By way of contrast (and this is for the LW): When I moved in with my midlife soul mate, he fretted that I didn’t have a car. (Haven’t had one since 2009, when I gave mine to my daughter and son-in-law because they were moving to Arizona. At the time I lived in Seattle, within two blocks of three bus lines.) He frequently offered to have me drive him to work so I would have access to wheels, even though there’s a bus stop about half a mile away and I have no mobility issues. Every now and then he would ask, respectfully and kindly, whether I felt too isolated/housebound (I’m a writer) and what could he do to help if that were the case.

        That’s the kind of thing a true partner does: Keep the other person’s needs and comforts in mind instead of making it all about himself/herself. I wish with all my heart that you can get out of that painful place you’re in and into a comfortable, calm, you-curated space where you will be able to heal and grow.

        1. Yep. My brother and his girlfriend moved from a moderate sized city to a very small town where you basically need a car to get around. She didn’t have a license. So he… made every effort to drive her everywhere she needed or wanted to go, helped arrange alternate transportation when he wasn’t around, and offered to pay for driving lessons if she wanted them. That’s what a decent person does. Using transportation to control a partner is so, so shitty.

          1. “Using transportation to control a partner is so, so shitty.”

            THIS. I was in a relationship once where I sold my paid-off car to cover some emergency bills. At the time that I agreed to sell my car, my “partner” promised that they would drive me wherever I wanted to go. That never really happened, but we lived in an area where the bus system was mostly good enough, so the gaps in transportation didn’t seem like a big deal. Then we moved to a neighborhood that was poorly served by public transportation. My bus route to work only ran once an hour. If I needed a ride (missed my bus, had to go in early, or the bus ghosted), partner grumbled the whole time they drove me. Then partner started doing (flexible) errands before work so that they “couldn’t” drive me, even if I was going to be late for work. They said things like, “you can’t ask me for a ride last-minute” but then refused to talk about it when I tried to make plans in advance for a ride. They also got upset when I got rides from other people, because it “made them look bad”. When I finally had enough and started saving for a cheap used car, they started talking about wanting to trade their (perfectly serviceable and adequate to their needs) car in for a different type of car they wanted. They looked stunned when I insisted that the next car purchase in our household was going to be for me.

            For years after I finally left, I would get into a panic if I didn’t have a functioning vehicle available to me, even when I had good public transportation options.

  29. LW, you spend like 150 words explaining/apologising for being an organised person. THIS IS NOT STUFF YOU NEED TO APOLOGISE FOR. Go and live somewhere where your natural self doesn’t feel like a pathology that needs to be excused.

    1. This x1000.
      You have mad living with another person skills! You’re exactly the kind of person who makes a great roomie. You know who doesn’t? The person who doesn’t recognize that household chores need to get done. The person who has to be nagged to keep up their half of basic household tasks. The person who can’t be trusted to do what they’ve committed to doing.

      You deserve better.

    2. It amazes me how our society is set up so the most competent, worthy people get made to feel ashamed of that fact (and also have elections stolen from them.) If I had a dollar for every time I heard the term “untrustworthy” applied…and what made her untrustworthy was her organization and competence!

      How did we end up in a situation where being clean and trustworthy and capable were debits in the ledger?

      1. Being a capable, clean, trustworthy, organized WOMAN is a crime because it makes the dudes feel incapable, slobby, and untrustworthy.

        1. Yeah, it gives the impression that maybe sometimes men rely on women and aren’t omnipotent godlike figures – and worse, maybe women might be okay without men if they got the chance. We can’t have that.

      2. I don’t know if I quite like the word “worthy” here, because you’re just as worthy a person if you’re not super-organised or a good cook! But the OP definitely shouldn’t be apologising for it.

  30. LW, I don’t have anything super insightful to add except that you seem like a really cool person, and I want you to have a partner who is equally cool!

    I used to have a boyfriend who was an essentially nice guy I think he was both attracted to and resentful of my kinda Type-A personality. He both used my emotional support and organizational skills to improve his life and somehow managed to make it feel like a huge burden whenever I wanted to improve my own life by…going outside, making new friends, pursuing my academic goals, listening to anything other than Rush. It was exhausting.

    And the thing is, we’re both SO much happier now! He can go find a Super Chill Girl who will listen to him talk only about classic rock over endless takeout pizzas, and I can make dinner with my hot boyfriend while we listen to cheesy pop music and support each other’s ambitions.

    I really, really don’t want you to have to do laundry in secret and worry about your clothes going missing in your own home (!!). I want you have a partner who’s not just struggling to reach the bare minimum. I want a partner for you who not only does household chores, but also is excited about your life and your accomplishments. You fucking ROCK and I want you to find a partner who fucking knows it.

    1. Are you sure you didn’t used to date my husband? Because this sounds just like him, especially the Rush part.

      1. OK, I’m now concerned that both of you also dated my high school boyfriend, right down to the classic rock and the right-wing talk radio.

  31. LW, your boyfriend is probably acting this way out of guilt. He feels bad, he knows he keeps failing, and he blames you for letting him fail to do something, and thinks it’s your responsibility to ensure he does it, or give him more of a chance to succeed at his share of the work. Which is a valid way to feel about housework when you can’t get it together and know you need to do better, it’s better than “mleh, I’m just hopelessly bad at that housework stuff, roommate is good at it, I’ll leave it to her to take care of things while I play video games and act like a beached whale on my bed.”

    That said, while his feelings of guilt might be valid, the way he’s handling them is immature and terrible; he’s unleashing his frustration and making it your job to manage his emotions. I know, I used to throw pity parties when someone would do something I should have taken care of, but at 28, I know better. The way to react when someone does a chore that was assigned to you, because you forgot, (or does something you’d been meaning to do or planned to, or didn’t even think of until they did it and then you realized you never do it) is to thank them for doing the thing and then promise to do it next time, offer to do something of theirs to make it an even trade for now, and at some point apologize for forgetting and say you’ll try harder to remember next time. And then find a way to remember your shit! Do not rely on the person (or people) you live with to both assign chores and then remind you to do them, that’s your responsibility.

    I wouldn’t blame you for leaving this dude, but if you want to salvage things, you can explain that you know it makes him feel bad when you take charge of certain things he was supposed to do, but he needs to stop throwing tantrums and find more mature ways to handle and express that guilt.

    In the long run, however, you should be with someone who shares your views on what a household should generally look like and how it should run. If you’re honestly okay being be the one who does all the work, that’s fine (but keep in mind that after while, it can get exhausting). If you want things clean and he’s fine living in squalor, and doesn’t think people should bother to keep their homes clean, that is a compatibility issue. You also deserve to be with someone you’re sexually compatible with, that’s really important.

    1. And speaking as someone who still occasionally gets guilt-mopey about not keeping up their end of the chores, there’s a difference between “agh, why am I not better at adulting?” and “why are you not making me be a better adult even though a) that’s not your job, b) I expect you to magically intuit what’s needed to motivate me, and c) even if you could figure that out, experience suggests it still likely wouldn’t result in me handling this in a timely/competent fashion?”

      LW, I know you care about this guy. I know it’s difficult to imagine life without him, from both an emotional and logistical standpoint. But you have done your best to portray him as sympathetically as possible (no, really, you have; please don’t try to convince yourself you’ve given us the wrong idea about him because you left out that one time he bought you something nice or the way he doesn’t judge your disability or any of the other bare minimum expectations you should have of anyone you associate with), and we’re all still standing here open-mouthed in horror at the fire-breathing bee-velociraptor hybrids you’ve surrounded yourself with. At the very least, please stop hiding the fact that you’re having to work around his issues because he’d rather blame you for not managing them the way he wants them managed than take some personal responsibility, or even just admit he’s never actually going to step up and leave you to it. Not arguing about it isn’t going to make the problem go away, and if the arguments are that draining…well, maybe you do need to revisit how much he’s really adding to your life.

  32. LW, you should probably leave this guy. I’ll let the rest of the comments on that make the case. The other part of your question, though – moving out when you have merged your living situation. This is a more and more common problem, given modern relationship dynamics, and one we don’t talk about enough. The “we live together” of your situation is really what makes it make SO. MUCH. SENSE. because that is exactly how you end up in a relationship that’s going this left and not end it yesterday.

    Disentangling your life from someone else’s once it’s been freshly entangled is something most folks would try to avoid, if they can. Here’s the thing, though – it’s never as hard or as unpleasant as we think it’s going to be. You lived a place and did things before you lived with him! You can/will do so again. I’m not under-selling your very valid fears about what this could mean; I’m only setting the stage for some practical suggestions. Practical suggestions:

    1. First, breathe. This is annoying logistically and may require lots of spoons, but it’s also not something you need to accomplish in a single day. Remember that, like everything else, you will take this one day at a time – and eventually, after completing a sufficient amount of those days, you will be in another living and relationship situation and it will be over. Unlike other unpleasant things, this is really just a kind of long and irritating to-do list. There’s not a whole lot of cosmic uncertainty, just a bunch of irritating DMV-like tasks.

    2. Make a list of everything you’d need to do to move out comfortably. Do this before you move out – do you need a short-term storage unit? Maybe a place to stay? To look into ride-sharing options with coworkers and friends? A new budget that you outline and track? To reconnect with some friends and family to build Team You? You sound like an excellent planner, so apply this here. Try to eliminate as much mystery from the situation as you can, so once you ARE breaking up you have time and space to deal with the emotional part.

    3. Resolve, as much as you can, not to give into tantrums or manipulation. He sounds like a mess, so he will probably try to put a lot of this on you. Remember that you only have to worry about yourself; if his choices result in him needing to overpay for rent or missing a deadline and crashing on someone’s couch or some other foreseeable misfortune, then he will need to figure that out. Practice:

    “Yikes, that sounds hard. What do you think you’ll do?”
    “I’m sorry to hear that. Anyway, I’ve arranged to pick up my stuff on the 10th. See you then.”
    “You should talk to [Family or Friend] about that. They might be able to help.”

    If his disorganization devolves into a slow-motion break-up wherein he “needs time” to get his things or “find a place” and can he just still have a key or store his stuff or crash on the couch, etc. then you come up with a set deadline that actually exists in time and space, communicate it (via text and e-mail as well, if possible, to have a written record) and then that’s the deadline. If he can’t get it together by then, you’re going to ‘x’ (donate what’s left? change the locks? whatever it is, know what it is and stick to it.)

    4. Come up with a few small things to look forward to that you like and aren’t expensive or time-consuming – a hot bath, a glass of wine, a new book, an episode of your favorite show, a phone call with a friend. Try to do one of those things every single day during this period. Plan a few bigger ones as rewards for the especially annoying or emotional stuff. One of my fave pieces of break-up advice is to plan something fun with an understanding friend approximately one hour or so after you plan to have the Break Up Talk. It prevents things from devolving, gives you somewhere to go so the conversation isn’t endless, and builds in support when you need it. Remember, the break up talk and the logistics talk can and should be different talks.

    Best of luck! This is hard, but if anyone sounds like they’ve really got it – you’ve got it! I am a mess and not organized at all and lived states away from any family or friends and somehow muddled through this more than once. Not because I’m especially great, but because at the end of the day it’s just a couple of weird weeks.

    Jedi hugs if you want them.

    1. ^ ALL OF THIS. It sucks, but it is completely doable. I will add, if you have available Team You in the area, mobilize them! They can do helpful things like let you sleep in their spare rooms/ sofas/ floors or help you pack your/ his stuff or help you hunt for a new place to live or reassure you that you can do it or pour you a large glass of wine/ coffee/ water.

    2. This is an awesome guide! The only thing I would add is–if this is a list you keep physically, HIDE IT. If it’s on a computer, password-protect it. If it’s in the cloud, make sure the account has a secure password he doesn’t know.

      My observation of attempting to leave people who think they’ve got you stuck is that when they realize you’re trying to leave, they will make your life miserable. The ideal timing of “STB Ex finds out I’m done” is AFTER you’ve already got out, in my opinion.

    3. This list is great. And I want to reiterate – having an exit strategy does not mean you have to leave! It means that then you have a choice about whether you want to stay. Feeling trapped when things aren’t going well is awful.
      In addition to the above, I am going to suggest a safety plan. I hope you’ll never need it. But it can give you a lot of peace of mind just to know that you can leave on a moment’s notice if things get weird. This would entail:
      – a previously prepared “go bag” with anything you can’t live without – like medicine, money, clean underwear, toothbrush critical mementos
      – a plan of where to go with no notice – like to the house of a friend or family member who has agreed to this and will not bring it up to your partner
      – a plan of how to get there – you mentioned you can’t drive, so maybe a taxi

    4. “going this left”? o.0 as a lefthanded person, that makes me feel weird and icky. but maybe it was just autocorrect acting up?

      your list is awesome though. 🙂 I’d add to #2: does he have access to any of your bank accounts/cards/etc? or any of your passwords?

    5. Yep. And if disabilities and financial issues make leaving more complicated, it’ll help to start your research before you’ve decided you’re sure you want to leave. You have the advantage of being a highly competent person who’ll at least know what questions to ask.

      There’s no downside to an exit plan. If you guys manage to work things out, you’ll know you’re staying with him because you want to and not because you have to. If you’re still on the fence, you can take comfort in the knowledge that you have options.

  33. Dear LW,

    Add me to the chorus of Please Leave Him.

    Not marrying can be a good thing – it is a good thing if you don’t want to marry.

    Saying he thinks you shouldn’t marry because his type of person shouldn’t marry yours is . It probably indicates bigoted beliefs, and contempt for your “type of person” in general and you in particular.

    His tantrums are also contempt in action.

    I don’t think living with someone who feels contempt for you is sustainable.

    Please listen to your therapist.

    And the Captain.

    It’s not you.

    Jedi hugs if you want them.

    1. Also, since LW mentioned being okay with Boyfriend sinking or swimming on his own stuff (“hey, it’s not my credit rating”) and wanting to handle joint household things:

      LW, if you married this guy, there would be a lot more joint household things to take care of. Maybe you could handle keeping up with everything for him, and keep tiptoeing around the great laundry meltdowns, and shovelling up his leftovers and garbage, but do you really want to be in a position where it will cost you extra time and money and effort to be able to leave this guy?

  34. Hi, moderation will be slow/slight for a couple hours, I have class. I’ll fish everything out later this afternoon so if something gets trapped don’t worry!

        1. i think Slow Lorist meant that you always have class as in, you’re always classy — turning it around and punny, as it were 😉

  35. Boyfriend has tantrums because he wishes he were a different sort of person, wishes he was someone who could remember to set the table and doesn’t know how to make that happen. It’s like the toddler who throws a tantrum at being put to bed because he wishes he weren’t a 3 year old who gets cranky when tired, wishes he could stay awake where the adults are having fun.

    You suggest that you’re being hyper-controlling because of the way you were brought up and your childhood formative experiences. Some perspective on that: Everything you described you do as far as planning and housekeeping and budgeting and entertaining is just part of normal adulting. There’s nothing hypervigilant about it. Hypervigilent is obsessing over a single appointment for months and showing up 6 hours early. Writing it on the calendar, knowing what time you have to get ready to leave the house and getting there on time is ordinary. There’s nothing normal about the chaos and forgetfulness Boyfriend lives in. I had a far more standard upbringing which involved teenage messiness and early errors in spending money. I live in a household where some of us are a little messier about some things and neater about others and one where everyone forgets some things sometimes, but it doesn’t approach what you’re describing. We share chores, help each other, take care of our own messes, thank each other when we’re given timely reminders, and all that goes under the umbrella of being adults.

    The question you didn’t ask is the one I think needs answering: I’m disabled and broke, can’t drive and in need of emotional and financial support. How do I get those on my own, or how do I get those without paying for them in the form of sneaking around to do my own laundry? What do I do for transportation and money? I can’t tell you how to handle each of those without knowing your exact situation. I can tell you that they’re all possible, and they’ll become more possible when you’re not wasting so much energy wondering what to do about Boyfriend’s laundry and tantrums.

  36. Oh, LW, it just broke my heart that you are identifying the problem here as *you* being too controlling and needing to chill out. That is NOT what is needed – what is needed is for this guy to not be such a manipulative jerk and, ideally, for him to be far, far away from you so that he can’t take such horrible advantage of you anymore. I 1000% understand how hard and awful leaving a live-in relationship is. I did it about a year and a half ago, and getting up the nerve to do it was one of the most difficult things I’ve done – and then I immediately felt such incredible lightness and relief (I am financially stable but have a chronic disability, but, honestly, managing my ex’s issues ended up being so much more draining than whatever support I received from him, and I felt like I had so much more energy to deal with my own stuff when I wasn’t being bogged down with his crap.) I hope that you are able to get out of this situation soon and, if it’s what you want, that you find a partner who appreciates you and doesn’t make you walk on eggshells all the time in your own home! You sound awesome and capable. Good luck!!

    1. High Five from a fellow chronic illness sufferer who ditched the ex full of baggage and suddenly found life to be much more manageable! (Mine was only a couple weeks ago, but life is already so much easier).

      1. subliminalflicker, we seem to be twins! I saw your comment downthread – my thank-god-I’m-out-of-there relationship was just shy of 6 years. I’m so glad you’re out and are feeling better!

        1. Thanks!! Part of me feels bad for feeling so good, but it’s hard not to be happy with the way my life has changed drastically in such a short amount of time! 😊

  37. Dear LW, I know this is all incredibly hard. And that money and disability are things.

    But this person has you questioning your choices about things you use to define yourself: that you are organized, that you are capable.

    He does not want you to be who you are. He wants you to be some version of you that matches the version in his head.

    Please, please, please listen to your therapist. Listen to the Captain. Don’t make excuses for him, and stop living with this Beehive.

    You know who you are. Be that person. Love yourself first.

    1. (sidenote: Mormons call 12-13-year-old girls Beehives. I know you meant “this situation is so full of bees there’s a hive of them” but I also read it as “stop living with this 12-year-old girl,” which made me laugh.)

      1. Both interpretations are equally valid, for some values of “12-year-old girl”, because the boyfriend sounds like he never got out of the teen angst stage.

  38. LW, dear one, if you were living with a messy, forgetful guy and decided to take over the housework and he noticed and said, ‘Thank you! This is great! Lucky me getting a clean house without having to do housework! How can I show my appreciation?’ …THAT would you be ‘being enough of a grown-up to put in the work’.

    This is you being put in a no-win, unworkable situation. Your choices are to let him leave things bad enough that your stuff starts to vanish, for as long and as often as he sees fit, taking no action to change things for the better even if it ‘better’ means ‘better for both of you’ … or sneak around, or get yelled at. These are not good choices. But they’re the only ones he’s offering.

    I mean, I am not great at housework and things can get on top of me, and if my partner took on a task I’d promised to do, I’d probably be embarrassed. What I would not do is take that out on them. On the contrary, I’d feel obliged to make it up to them by being extra nice. A partner who cheerfully takes on all the domestic work is many people’s dream!

    This guy does not sound like he’s able to manage a live-in relationship. He’s not making your life nice.

    You say you had a chaotic childhood, which sucks, hat off to you for coming out of it so well. But do you think that your bar for how people can be expected to treat you might have got set too low by that experience? Because you sound great, and you deserve a much less stressful living arrangement than this. It’s perfectly reasonable to have had all the chaos you can stomach and feel like a clean, cosy home with no one making you tiptoe around them is on your list of non- negotiables.

  39. LW, I think you need to remember that you have been the grown-up in this situation. Maybe your boyfriend is happy to eat really late or skip dinner some nights, and doesn’t really care about rubbish in the house. You prefer something different, so you’ve made it clear that you’re happy to take on those things if he’ll take on stuff you really don’t like to do. You are the one who identified that you have different standards and tried to find a way to work around that which would benefit the both of you without either of you needing to fight over it. He’s the one who has refused to even try the compromise. It’s not even that he’s not living up to his end of the compromise, it’s that he doesn’t want it to be there at all.

    In my relationship I’ll sometimes take on certain organizational stuff I like to do while boyfriend takes out the trash and handles other smelly things because I just can’t take certain smells. So for him he hasn’t had to take the lead on things when he genuinely hasn’t got the time, and I don’t have to deal with smells. And we’re grateful for the ways we make each other’s lives easier. Your boyfriend’s been sullen that you’ve been trying to make both your lives more pleasant because he’s too immature to see that that’s what you’re offering into your partnership.

    And that’s before the clothes. Seriously. Has a clothes fairy been dropping things off at his for the charity shop for years now?

    You’ve been the mature one. You’ve been the one trying to compromise, and he hasn’t responded like an adult. You deserve someone who sees your offer to cook and maintain the house and answers with “That would be amazing. I’m really lucky. Tell me what you need me to do for you?”

  40. LW, you need to do less, not more: right now, you seem to be doing 150% of the work, and your boyfriend does -50%: he saps your energy by having tantrums, he creates negative clean clothes by losing them/throwing them away/donating them/whatever (and how did he not move heaven and earth to get them back or replace them if it HAD been an honest mistake?????) and you get accused of ‘being controlling’ when you do so much of the work and make very few, and very reasonable demands.

    Don’t put your energy into doing all the housework AND having to suffer his tantrums AND losing your belongings AND walking on eggshells over just how much you ought to remind him to do chores or whether his ego will suffer if you do your laundry now. Build Team You, get your belongings to safety, and leave him. You tried to make it work, but a relationship takes two, and he doesn’t seem to be interested in a partnership at all.

    He’s also giving you a very clear signal when he says that ‘people like you shouldn’t marry’: he thinks your relationship is inferior to marriage, and you will never, ever clear THAT bar. That’s very different from two people deciding that marrying isn’t for them: marrying IS for him, just not with people like you. That’s pretty much a declaration of intent to break up as soon as you’re no longer convenient for him. Cut that short and get out.

  41. I’m ADHD and probably more like the boyfriend than the LW… and I think LW should leave him. It’s possible for a very organized person and a chronically disorganized person to live together in harmony for many years. My relationship is proof of that. But I would never throw a temper tantrum if my beloved did something that I didn’t get around to, I’d just feel embarrassed that he had to. I most certainly wouldn’t give his clothes away to charity. Okay, we’re different genders and sized and there is no way I’d ever mistake his clothes for mine, but still.
    It’s possible that he was constantly nagged and criticized for his disorganization growing up, and that’s where the anger is coming from, but it’s not LW’s job to fix that.

    1. I also have ADHD and agree he has some telltale signs…and also agree with the underlying theme you had that, even if he DOES has something like ADHD, he needs to first figure out that his behavior is a problem he needs to fix – not to mention one he might need help with – BY HIMSELF. You actually cannot be diagnosed with most of the commonly suggested diagnoses in comment sections if you DO NOT THINK YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.

      I think temper tantrums in and of themselves aren’t a deal breaker. But a good partner recognizes them as unreasonable (particularly with the feather light triggers boyfriend’s had), no matter where they came from, and attempts to address them. In the case of tantrums OP should not even have to tell boyfriend they are a problem, like I may suggest for the not paying bills/not doing laundry issues. OP is further not responsible for any shame he might be feeling that’s leading to these outbursts, especially since any shame is only ever expressed as anger at OP.

      When I went through a bout of depression, my problems stacked and weakened me into (I’m ashamed to admit) a couple tantrums. The difference is I was aware of them and how they were hurting my husband, actively took steps to treat what was causing them, and apologized each time. Profusely. With [husband’s favorite love languages] and substantiative action. He did the same after he yelled at me a couple times in a time of severe burnout.

      We did as much as we could to minimize our mental burden on each other, which is ultimately our own burden to bear. Understanding is a very loving thing for a partner to choose to do – and OP’s done loads more than any reasonable person would even ask for if you ask me – but remember, that’s your air your boyfriend’s smoking into. If you’re getting to the point where you can’t breathe, and your boyfriend won’t even try to stop smoking, it is absolutely OK for you to step away.

      1. I agree, lurker. I also have ADHD as do many members of my family. That some of how I exist in the world can be tied back to an insurance billing code doesn’t mean that anyone is contractually obligated to keep me in the life as a friend or partner. Aside from anything else, it is totally possible to have ADHD (or any other diagnosis mentioned in comments) AND be an umitigated asshole.

        Excessive hand-wringing about whether or not an abuser might have one condition or another does nothing but create an additional emotional burden for the target(s) of their abuse and further stigmatize these conditions.

        I could not possibly care less what is going on with this guy. I am not his psychiatrist, his chaplain, or his friend. I care only about what he is doing, which is emotionally manipulating the LW and behaving in controlling and frightening ways. And I care about the bigoted beliefs he is espousing.

        LW deserves SO much better than this.

  42. “We aren’t sexually compatible.”
    “I’m a politically active antifa SJW, whereas he comes from a pretty conservative culture and is fairly ‘meh’ about politics.”
    “He tends to monologue, and I find this exhausting.”
    “He doesn’t think ‘people like us’ should get married — think ‘I don’t think a Muslim and a Jew should get married’, though that’s not our specific demographics — and I’m still fairly saddened by this, both because I would love to get married and because I think this reveals a disturbing level of internalised bigotry.”

    Dearest LW, any one of the reasons you cited above would be enough for me to say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t see this working out,” entirely apart from everything else in your letter.

    And then there’s everything else in your letter, which ramps this up from “I don’t see this working out” to “This is an emergency and you should do everything in your power to leave this situation as quickly as possible without causing undue harm to yourself.”

    Boyfriend isn’t going to change. This relationship isn’t fixable and you can lose yourself trying. Far better to close this door — gently if possible, but GET IT CLOSED — and start exploring the rest of your life without this grown child holding you back.

    I’m sorry, I really am, because it sounds like you so desperately want to be happy without disrupting your current life, and I don’t think that’s possible.

    Jedi hugs if you would like them, and a pair of Jedi upraised middle fingers to your almost-ex, who doesn’t appreciate what a prize you are and how hard he should be working to create an environment you both want to live in.

    1. Wow, I missed that after reading far enough to conclude they were fundamentally extremely incompatible *only in the organization sense* and skipping to the answer. (In a way that’s the boyfriend’s fault if anything, if OP is reading)

      I hope OP has success finding a stable environment away from this guy and agree they should do so with haste.

  43. I am enjoy order and organization as well LW and I have a couple of thoughts for you.

    I see a difference between competence and neatness/organization. In my mind getting to an appointment on time is competence, neatness/organization is folding your clothes and putting them in the designated drawer. Is BF able to get to work on time, get tasks done appropriately and competently at his workplace? If so, why would this level of competence not translate to his life with you? If he functions well at work it is because he sees his job as having a certain level of importance, does he see his life with you at a different level of importance? To me leaving the laundry on the floor is a different level of neatness/organization, losing your laundry could be a level of competence or a choice.

    Another thought I have is about you doing all of the cooking, cleaning, bills, reminding, choosing – emotional and physical labour of the relationship. You are OK with it now and only you can decide, but I have found that over time (for myself) it can create a level of resentment which has to be sorted out later. The enjoyment of managing most of the physical and emotional labour of a relationship became very wearing over time and created a dynamic in my relationship that I could not overcome later. I’m not saying that will happen in your case but just something that happened to me.

    LW please believe that your needs, to not loose your laundry or have a set table or whatever are valid and that compromise involves both parties making changes.

    1. A lot of people use the term “organized” to describe people who can remember to pay their bills, get places on time, etc., I think it they mean mentally organized rather than physically organized. My room is in disarray a lot of the time, but I remember to make my lunch for work, set my alarm, etc. before bed, and some may call that being organized. Whereas someone who doesn’t really think ahead, can’t remember things, can’t plan their day, is not organized.

    2. I like this distinction between competence and organisation/neatness. That’s something I’ll be ruminating on this afternoon…

  44. I just left a six+ year relationship that sounds very familiar to what you just described. Let me just say, it doesn’t sound like this is going to get better, and it will probably just get worse.

    Your needs or comfort, at least within the sphere of domestic duties like cleaning and eating don’t seem to be respected here. You shouldn’t have to be the one to do all the compromising – that’s not actually how compromise should work. And it sounds like he’s just going to do whatever he wants regardless of you.

    Doesn’t sound like a very fulfilling relationship, even without the whole ideological differences.

  45. What kills me is “how do I tell the difference between us not being compatible and me not being enough of a grown-up to put in the work?” And “Most of the ways it’s not going well are problems on my end.”

    Boyfriend does not do chores, throws tantrums, and generally does not have his act together, and LW thinks that maybe the problem is that SHE is not enough of a grown-up.

    LW, you seem to have internalized the idea that these problems are your fault, or at least that you are responsible for fixing them. You are bending over backwards to solve things–to the point of not only doing all the chores, but doing them in secret lest you awake the Tantrum Kraken. Meanwhile Boyfriend is making no apparent effort to improve at housework, or negotiate a system that both of you can live with, or even work through his own feelings about the housework without throwing blame at you for doing your own damn laundry. Before you contemplate putting even more work into this relationship, consider whether Boyfriend is doing any at all.

      1. Maybe so. But LW seems to be thinking that because she is the one who is unhappy with the situation, it’s entirely on her to handle it, freeing Boyfriend of all responsibility for creating a situation where LW is unfairly burdened.

      2. He isn’t bothered – so long as she’s walking on eggshells, doing exactly what he wants, not visibly washing her own clothes or picking up his slack, not bothering him, not asking him to do more, not putting time pressure on him to do chores…

  46. Oh ye gods and little fishes.

    There’s one thing here that makes me want to reach through the screen and yank you to safety:

    ” ‘Boyfriend’s night to cook’ which often turns into ‘it’s late at night and there’s nothing to eat in the house because Boyfriend forgot and LW only reminded Boyfriend twice rather than three times, and somehow it’s LW who goes to the store and ends up making dinner anyway.”


    If you could not go to the store, LW, all my bets would be on ‘you’d go hungry and it would be made into your fault because there was not a 3rd reminder.’ This brings this from emotional abuse halfway over the short bridge into physical abuse.

    You do NOT need to chill out when what is at stake is whether or not you get to eat that night.

    1. Ex mentioned upthread would agree, or at least not disagree, to be responsible for dinner one night a week. (He was in school, I was working full-time, our son was, at all times relevant, ten years old or younger.) It would last the first week, forgotten by the next week.

      Later, when he was with his subsequent ex, my son would tell me about the good meals his father would cook.

        1. ooops, I actually forgot to cook – or rather, I’ve been repeatedly failing to escape the internet. I have spoons left, but apparently no forks to give. 😉

          but I keep a stash of quick backup meals for these occasions. planning FTW! 🙂 …and actually, my original plan might still be fast enough to finish before my husband gets home 🙂 (..er, he may have forgotten to leave work actually.. lol)

          1. Exactly! An adult who gives half a tinplated fuck about their partner can accept their own limitations and work *around* them.
            I get tired, unexpectedly. Some nights I just don’t have it in me to make the meal. So a couple of times a month, I spend the afternoon making some really tasty soups, or sauces, or stews, or freezable pasta meals, and I portion them out into gallon baggies and I pop ’em in the freezer so that Future Me has an easier time when she’s having a tired day. It costs so little effort to do, in comparison with the effort I’d be spending to produce something edible on one of those bad days. That’s how I function–everyone else needs to find their own way, of course, and to some folks spending five hours cooking one day a month really is not possible. But those folks get to navigate their own roads, and as long as everyone’s getting to the right destination (food on plate), it’s cool. This dude ain’t leaving the station.

    2. Given the “people like us” comment, I’m not sure he really considers her a person, inside. And if she’s not a person, then it doesn’t matter if she eats or not, and she needs to GTFO as soon as she can.

  47. LW, you sound amazing–don’t underestimate how incredibly valuable your organizational skills are as an employee _and_ as a roommate. People like you make the world go round, and many MANY people will love and value you for it.

    Seriously, if you lived anywhere near me I would 100% trade paying rent for housework help. (Really I guess what I mean to say is–you have options. Options that don’t include living with, much less dating, this complete toolbag.)

  48. LW, you sound like a good, kind, empathetic person who 10,000% deserves to be in a far better situation than you’re in. Your BF is not just “disorganized” or “messy”. I am both of those things. But here’s the difference. When a housemate cleans up something I should have, I do feel guilty. But I don’t get angry at them, I try to do better next time. And over time, I have improved with things.

    This guy shows zero interest in improving, and the clothes donation incident, and the fact that you have secret laundry (!) shows that if anything it’s getting worse. You are incompatible sexually, politically, and he thinks your relationship is INHERENTLY WRONG. Add in the emotional fragility and your fear of his tantrums, and whatever enjoyment you get out of the relationship is NOT worth all the bullshit.

    1. Yes! When my roommate cleans up after me, I feel like a jerk – because she shouldn’t have to do that. So I make an effort to notice and do better. On the few times she’s had to ask me to change a behavior (something very difficult for her to do), you can bet I changed my behavior and – other than a rare slip if I’m exhausted – it has been a permanent change. Because when you care about somebody and you want their life to be pleasant, you don’t make your forgetfulness about something their problem. You put in the effort.

      I won’t even address the rest of the relationship stuff, because this is a common courtesy that we extend to anybody sharing our living space, not just those we are romantically involved with. This is base level courtesy, a bar so low an ant could trip over it. LW, you deserve somebody who wants to make sure your life is as comfortable as possible. Do you trust this person to remember to pick up salt because you’re out of it, or make sure you’re stocked up on your cold remedy of choice when you start to sniffle? Would he put out a coffee cup on a Sunday night because he knows you’ve got something early on Monday? Or would he mean to and then get mad when you have to do it yourself, making what could have been just a routine task into a tap dance routine of all the ways he’s tired of you pointing out his failures by simply doing what you need to do?

      Having him around might take away some tasks that you might not have spoons for sometimes, but how many spoons do you spend dealing with his tantrums? I suspect if you calculated it, you’d find you have fewer spoons for things you need because you’re having to manage his emotions, and that’s not fair to you at all.

      1. fail to do something, feel like a jerk, endeavour to do better -> something that others can often work with.
        fail to do something, feel like a jerk, lash out against whatever and whomever was involved in what you failed to do, because you should never have to feel bad -> others should RUN.

        LW, your boyfriend is making you completely responsible for his emotional state, and he is using that to control you, get you to accept many unacceptable aspects of your situation, and wear you down to nothing. His behaviour is not something you can organize into being better, and any apparent lovely temperament at other times is due to a Dorian Gray trick: he can be chill because he’s put all the stress and blame on you.

  49. LW, imagine there is a future out there for you that includes not having to hide everyday chores, a schedule that works FOR YOU and includes meals when you need them, and exactly the amount of mess you are OK with in your living space. It could even include a partner who you are sexually compatible with, who supports your political views, and who doesn’t annoy you when they talk.

    I don’t think this man is compatible with a good future for you. It’s not your fault and there’s nothing you can do to make it work, because you’re not the problem in this scenario, and your boyfriend has shown over the past 3 years that he’s not going to change.

  50. “I know from Boyfriend’s perspective, I’m being controlling.” Hold up. He freaks out if you do your own laundry, and yet somehow *you* are supposedly the controlling one? Let me ask that again with slightly different words: He throws a tantrum if you displease him by taking out the trash…but *YOU* are controlling? HULK SMASH. Your boyfriend is gaslighting you. HE is the controlling one. His tantrums are a control tactic. But he his turning it around on you and accusing YOU of doing what HE is doing. This is why you feel so messed up and confused. This is a very common tactic of abusers, by the way. Whatever they are doing, they project onto their partners and accuse them of doing it.

  51. Okay, I think above everyone has made a good case for “leave” and “how to leave,” so here’s my advice regarding how to deal with your boyfriend’s tantrums/meltdowns (this is assuming however, that your boyfriend isn’t dangerous during these emotional outbursts) while your getting set up to go:

    1. Stop doing a damn thing in secret.

    2. When your boyfriend has his outburst about you not trusting that he can do anything and wah wah wah say in a calm neutral voice “I figured you’d do it later, but I wanted it done now.”/”I know you can do it, but I wanted to” Repeat as necessary (in law, the tell us to say or ask something three times, and then people usually concede the point). Own that you are doing the chore because you want it done, right at that moment, by you. He can find you controlling if he wants to and to that “I do like to have things a certain way.” Your boyfriend is making your actions a referendum on him (either because he feels like that sincerely or not-so-sincerely), and since they’re not, own them. It’s going to be much harder to argue the forced self-referendum he’s making everything into if you make your own self-referendum.

    3. Otherwise IGNORE COMPLETELY the tantrum. Continue setting the table, doing the laundry, etc. When he asks why you’re not paying attention? Calmly say “I’d like to talk to you when you’re not [elements of tantruming]” “I’m not [tantruming, while obviously tantruming]” You: “Regardless I don’t want to have this conversation now, do you want to set a time later?” Look adults and children have tantrums for extremely similar reasons. They don’t feel like they are capable of getting an emotional need met because they have framed that emotional need in a very specific limited way and they will make a fuss until this occurs. Again whether he’s on the path to abuse on not, making you anxious and more willing to discuss the matter on HIS terms is 100% the point. Disengage. Hold firm to NOT having the discussion while he’s on that emotional level.

    A lot of time this, if your boyfriend is just emotional constipated/uncertain/etc, will reset how useful this reaction is, and might reset his frequency.
    Caveat: abusive personalities will escalate emotional manipulation or psychological manipulation in response, so please beware of that. if more of your things go “missing” or “accidentally destroyed” you’re in danger, tbh. Good luck, OP.

    1. I am not sure that adult tantrums should be compared with child tantrums.

      Children have (usually) low to zero power, limited communication skills and are still developing emotional skills. Every example that I have seen (and I am admittedly no expert) results from frustration at not being able to communicate; perhaps lack of words or lack of listening from the other side for whatever reason. There may be other situations; perhaps being unwell or another trigger, but mostly I think it is frustration.

      In an adult we might frame this as manipulative behaviour, but I am not sure that we ought to think that a kind of calculating manipulation is a function of a childhood tantrum, or that ignoring a child having a tantrum is going to help them develop more effective communication skills.

      A child may have no other way of communicating feelings resulting from a combination of extreme distress, zero power and zero abilty to communicate. An adult has a wide range of choices, and from that wide range chooses rage. The behaviours may look the same, but they are really very different. An adult with zero power does not throw a tantrum. An adult tantrum is made from a position of assumed power, not powerlessness. It is the behaviour of a controller, not someone without power or control.

      Adults who throw a tantrum are not (I think) frustrated about not being able to communicate. It looks far more as if they are angry because the world is not behaving the way they want it to. Perhaps a request to behave with consideration results in an exaggerated angry, hurt, upset, etc reaction which deflects blame and changes the focus in the hope that any reasonable human being within arms reach will default to comforting them. This creates a victim and rescuer dynamic, and triangulation immediately forces the person calling out the bad behaviour into the position of perpetrator/accuser.

      It looks as if the LW has internalised her role as perpetrator, even though what she is perpetrating is clean washing; she is trying to find a way to not ‘control’ the BF when he is the one who is gaslighting. I can’t see any way to happiness in this relationship. I wish I could, but I really can’t.

      It is very fortunate that project management skills are highly transferable. Time to create a plan; 12 month, 6 month, 2 weeks;; the choice is yours, LW. I wish you well.

      1. Not only do there exist adults with limited or unreliable communication skills as Halpful said above, it’s a bit silly to suggest that because adults generally have better communication skills they also are capable of communicating specific feelings (or even to a large extent that they have a wide range of responses, that assumes a whole bunch about learned responses that may or may not be true. Many many adults are carrying responses they learned from childhood into adulthood so this explicit distinction you’re making is ignoring that).

        Moreover I’m not extending intent to mindsets (there are definitely contexts in which adults have tantrums to be manipulative and ways in which they don’t, and furthermore I would question the assumption you’re making that manipulation isn’t a frustration of purpose, just one which I would qualify as unethical), which would frame children as manipulative, you are.

        Lastly, while I would not encourage anyone to ignore the source or trigger of a child’s tantrum, (in fact I would encourage a person to get to the source as quickly as possible), it’s not frankly a sound idea to appease the actual tantrum itself either.

  52. LW, it’s not only his laziness around the house, and his expectations that you nag him repeatedly into getting him to do anything (and his asshole behavior when you don’t repeatedly ask him), it’s that he expects you to be responsible for yourself, and for him. That’s a fuckton of emotional labor, and he acts like an entitled dick when you don’t perform it?! You deserve better.

    The fact that he gave away your clothing, which I’m going to assume doesn’t look like his clothing, makes me think really horribly of him. I mean, FFS, he refuses to do any chores or think about any chores, yet he can get it together to make a Goodwill run? That just sounds spiteful, IMO. The fact that he acts so angry and abusive when you wash your own laundry scares me.

    LW, I know you have a disability and don’t drive, but honestly, Uber and cabs exist, and Paratransit, and a bunch of other services. You don’t need this guy in your life.

  53. LW, please, run away. GET OUT OF THERE. This is, as previously mentioned so many times, a hive of bees and you can do so, so much better.

    He doesn’t respect you. He doesn’t consider you are worthy of paying enough attention to make sure you eat dinner. He’s told you he doesn’t want to be married to you, because you’re not the right type of person. I’m not sure he really considers you a person, the way he treats you.

    If he can successfully hold down a job, which he presumably did before you moved in together and you weren’t handling all the emotional labor he’s dropped on you, then he can manage to do things like laundry, cooking dinner, washing up, etc., like a responsible adult rather than an angry toddler.

    He is doing this ON PURPOSE. And you deserve so much better. I know that getting out once you’ve moved in together is hard, especially when you’ve got disability issues, but you need to do this for you. For your sanity. For your health. For your survival.

  54. Ooooooooooof. LW, sorry, i wish I had some better insight to offer but I really think you need to break up with this guy. None of this is okay.

  55. LW, as a fellow person living with disability, I get why you first see yourself as the problem here. Ableism is so pervasive, we’re told (particularly if we’re women) that we’re broken and worthless, s we’re lucky ANYONE would want to be in a romantic relationship with us. So it’s easy to attract those who think we’re a sure thing, and will put up with whatever and be grateful. But that is BULLSHIT. You deserve so much better than this. Please unleash your clearly amazing organizing/managing skills and leave him. We’re all rooting for you.

    1. Another disabled person, seconding this. When you have to navigate life with a disability, and need specific support from others around you, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of apologising for it pre-emptively, because a lot of societal messages (subtle, and less so) are telling us we should. You can feel like you have to provide… added value… in whatever situation you’re in just to make up for your specific support needs, and that can be true even in situations where nobody else involved is saying so. Obviously we can’t fix the whole of ableism in one go, but it’s worth being aware of how that narrative can seep into our thinking and making us expect more of ourselves than is fair. But being fully supported both as a partner and a disabled person are baseline things we should be able to expect in relationships and in general, not optional extras.

  56. I am really wondering what happened when the boyfriend had a meltdown over the table setting incident. It’s not clear from the letter whether the friends were there when it happened, or if the boyfriend waited until the friends were gone to have his meltdown. The boyfriend’s behavior is way out of bounds either way, I’m just wondering: If the meltdown happened in front of the friends, how did the friends respond? I really hope there are friends in the LW’s life who see what’s happening and/or would have her back if she told them about it. If I witnessed one of my friends’ partners behave like that, and then later my friend was like, “I think I need out of this relationship but I’m not sure I can get by without some of the support my boyfriend provides,” I would put my entire life on hold to help my friend. They could live with me. I would drive them around. If I had money I would give it to them. I would do whatever it took to help get them set up in a life away from this man. LW, do you have friends who will be there for you? You sound awesome — I bet you have awesome friends. Time to assemble Team You, no?

    1. And if the meltdown didn’t happen in front of the friends, what does that tell LW about Boyfriend’s ability to recognize the adult response to a situation and manage it appropriately when the alternative might have negative consequences for him, versus what he does when the only person who might wind up hurt by his actions and reactions is her?

    2. My best friend was present during 2 (of the many) fights I had with my Ex, Darth Gaslight. It was super embarrassing at the time, but I am so so so incredibly thankful she witnessed it, because she was able to tell me that I was not crazy, that I was not being unreasonable, that the comment I made did not warrant the reaction I got, and how he kept just pushing and pushing and pushing the argument. If she had not been there, I would have believed (and for many of our other arguments did) that it was all my fault and that I was wrong to have the feelings that I did, etc., and it was only in retrospect I was able to see that every argument was the same.

      Anyway, just seconding supportive friends = awesome.

  57. LW, I understand where you are coming from as I’ve been there before and it’s a tough place to be in. I know it’s so easy to say get out now but the sooner you can, the better. It can be tough to do but as you are a planner. start developing a plan of how this could work as even if you’re not ready today, it will make it easier when you are ready to do it. For me, It took a major incident of cheating/treating me like shit to open my eyes that having a lease/being broke/liking him/not liking change wasn’t worth staying in that relationship. I stopped doing the things I loved (like cooking) because he wouldn’t eat what I made or he wouldn’t help clean up and I was exhausted with having to beg someone to be an active partner in our relationship and I just kind of gave up. This was the same with cleaning our house and spread into other areas of our lives. After we broke up, I felt pretty broken and I let his actions play upon my low self-esteem and I’m still working on building that back. My house was a mess for months afterward as I just felt so defeated as I felt like I tried so hard to make it work. I had to have family come in to help as I just couldn’t dig myself out of the hole I was in. I wish I had seen the writing on the wall a year into the relationship as I think I could have saved myself so much energy and unhappiness if I had just been confident enough to leave. Any of the support wasn’t worth the years of feeling unloved/unwanted/unappreciated.

    When I read your example about table setting meltdown, I was taken back the first major meltdown where I was too “controlling” in my relationship. Taking care of the landscaping (for our very small year) was the only thing I ever really asked him to do as I can’t really do a lot of outdoors stuff with my illness. I didn’t even ask him to do it himself, I told him he could pay someone to do it, I just wasn’t’ dealing with. After months of not dealing with, I secretly hired someone to do it (because the previous “discussions” hadn’t gone well and I didn’t want to cause waves) and I asked them to come after he left for work so I wouldn’t have to talk about it with him. Well, of course, they came early and we got into a huge fight about it. Not a fight about him not doing the one thing I asked him to do 8 billion times but that I didn’t give him a chance (after 5 months!) to do it and that I was a controlling person. So not only did I have to pay someone to do something that he could have done or paid someone a long time ago to do but I had to hear about how I was controlling/not giving him a chance/an awful person for not telling him/other not very nice things. Let me tell you, this happened time and time again with different things. If he wants to change, he will, but you can’t influence that and it seems like he’s given you plenty of examples of when he could have made a different decision but didn’t. You aren’t his parent and you aren’t his assistant so he needs to learn how to do those things himself as he’s an adult and that’s what adults do.

    Stay strong and think about what would make you happy in regards to a living arrangement, a partner, and your happiness and decide if you can make it work with how he’s behaved so far.

  58. (He doesn’t think ‘people like us’ should get married — think ‘I don’t think a Muslim and a Jew should get married’, though that’s not our specific demographics — and I’m still fairly saddened by this, both because I would love to get married and because I think this reveals a disturbing level of internalised bigotry.)

    He doesn’t think you should get married, and like the Captain has said, this is as good as it’s going to get. I can’t advise continuing to pour more energy and effort into a relationship that is not going to improve and is only going to last as long as he finds it convenient. You deserve better. Even my actual children, both of whom are under the age of ten, would take one look at his behavior and tell you the same thing.

  59. What IS compatible or lovely about him? It ain’t the freakouts, it ain’t the sex, it ain’t values… so…? Why?

    I am sadly inclined to be like your boyfriend. If I weren’t doing something I said I was going to do and say, a roommate did it, I would feel bad for being a screwup. I would not freak out? What even is the complaint? You were supposed to remind him to do it? What? Homeboy needs to work on himself because this is an excessive response.

  60. After two years of living with someone (after decades of being single), I’m still trying to navigate the world of ‘Who is responsible for which chores’. It’s not easy, but it has taught me enough to know that I would be tripping over myself to live with you! So many people have commented on his negative aspects, and I agree with them and the Captain, but please also keep in mind that you seem to be way better than the average roomie. If nothing else, he doesn’t deserve you! Only leave him if you want to, and on your timeline, but if finances are an issue then maybe consider room-mates – and if you do then be sure to find ones that are happy to compensate you for any extra work that you do! (as per some of CA’s previous suggestions, you could probably have a more manageable financial situation if you offered to do the chores and be compensated).

    I know he can be a nice guy, but everyone can be like that sometimes, and you need to find someone who is more supportive of your awesomeness!

    1. Oh yeah! I lived with someone like LW — it was kind of a dorm situation, there were I think 9 of us, and there was one guy who cared that we kept the place reasonably clean and so he did, basically, all of the cleaning. (Not things like washing all the dishes, that was do your own, things like mopping the kitchen floor.) I don’t think I appreciated it enough at the time. People who care about cleanliness and express that by doing extra cleaning? That’s like winning the jackpot, roommate-wise. (Um, people who care about cleanliness and express it by initiating conversations about division of chores are pretty cool too.)

      1. +1000000 to both the above. I support my sister financially and in exchange she homeschools my kids and cooks dinner and IN THEORY does House Stuff but in reality the house is a super mega mess and it can be pretty frustrating to come home to. Yet, I still am very appreciative of all the work she does! But I can tell you, if I walked home into a clean kitchen and had my laundry done for me and the bathroom floor was mopped, I would be singing from the rooftops every day. That’s a HUGE benefit LW is bringing to the table!

  61. I think the Captain’s advice (and the commenters’) has been spot-on, and I don’t have anything to add to that other than another voice in the chorus of “leave him, this is Super F-ed Up”

    A note on this line, though:
    “whereas he comes from a pretty conservative culture and is fairly ‘meh’ about politics.”
    Juxtaposed with this little gem of garbage:
    “He doesn’t think ‘people like us’ should get married — think ‘I don’t think a Muslim and a Jew should get married’, though that’s not our specific demographics”

    IME*, people who go ‘I don’t really care about politics, but [insert dog whistle for odious political view]’ are not being entirely truthful about the first part. They may not be able to name any of their local politicians and probably aren’t even registered to vote, but they have politics and they care about them A LOT. Boyfriend may be laid-back compared to his family, but don’t mistake that for not sharing their views. The ‘I don’t really care about politics’ apathy exists to disguise/distance him from beliefs he knows are wrong/unpopular, but that he definitely believes in.

    Also, this is in there: “He tends to monologue, and I find this exhausting.” Sandwiched between the lines I quoted above.
    WTF is up with that? How can he be ‘meh’ about politics but still have so much to say about them and who should marry whom? I’m unilaterally adding that to the pile of evidence that he has politics, he just downplays them when asked directly.

    *Regrettably, I was that person once upon a time. One of my brothers still is. It’s hard to shake that attitude of ‘person who cares the least wins, and is therefore objectively right’.

    1. I was thinking something along these lines. BF sounds like secret MRA liable to start spouting crap about LWs SJWness being what’s REALLY wrong with the relationship/country/world/universe in the near future. This will not be a new way of thinking, it will be him wearing LW down enough that he thinks he can finally say what he really thinks.

    2. “IME*, people who go ‘I don’t really care about politics, but [insert dog whistle for odious political view]’ are not being entirely truthful about the first part.”

      THIS THING A MILLION TIMES. “I don’t really care about politics” is too often used as a cover for people who wish to espouse shitty views but not be held accountable for them.

      1. Or people who think those shitty views aren’t “political” ones because they’re just how the world is. Or people for whom “not caring about politics” is the larger-scale version of “not picking a side” in conflicts whose importance they dismiss.

    3. I read it as saying that he monologues about non-political subjects. Which is yet another sign that lovely LW does not occupy the place in his attention that she should: he isn’t making conversational room for her, or emotional and practical room for her needs.

      Still, you’re right that if he makes choices as major as who to marry based on politics, he’s definitely political. (Plus it sounds like he has the highly political attitude that making a home and relationship work is entirely the woman’s job.)

      Reasonable people and unreasonable people shouldn’t marry. THAT’s the incompatibility.

  62. Doooooooon’t marry this guy! I say so because I’m afraid all that business about which kinds of people don’t marry what other kind might fall by the wayside if you tell him you want to leave.

  63. Hey LW,

    A lot of people are kind of disorganized or messy, and if you’re a very neat and organized person there’s a good chance that any given relationship you end up in will be with someone who is less organized and neat than you are, and you will have to do a little bit of learning to live with it or doing more than your share of chores. However, you have a very high likelihood of finding someone who: 1) doesn’t set fires in the kitchen more than once, 2) doesn’t miss any important doctor’s appointments, 3) doesn’t lose any bills (even if that means doing them all online where there’s nothing to lose), 4) doesn’t give your stuff to charity even by accident (or at minimum pays you back or replaces it) 5) can figure out how to do chores without being reminded over and over and 6) says sorry and/or thank you when you set the table because he forgot, rather than getting mad at you. That’s not even getting into the sexual and political incompatibility.

    Going forward it can be helpful to break this sort of thing down into what you need, what you want, and what would be icing on the cake. (For instance, is “is an OK cook” something you need in a partner, something you’d strongly prefer but could live without, or just a nice extra?) This sorting can help you figure out compatibility relatively early on and figure out when to end things vs when to try harder — if something you need isn’t there, and isn’t going to be there, that’s when it’s time to let go.

    On the disabled and broke note, if you’re eligible for services that you don’t currently take advantage of because you have a live-in partner who helps you out, well, I don’t think you should be ashamed of taking advantage of any such services. If you’re self-conscious about it, look at it this way: surely the emotional, mental, and physical energy you’re putting into managing this relationship could be used to make your life more stable and productive, so taking advantage of help now will leave you better placed to need help less and be able to give back more in the future. You sound very much worth investing in. Ditto for any help from friends/family that you’re able to scrounge up.

  64. Honestly I thought from “I’m really, really neat” and “these problems are my fault” (BTW, you are giving him the gift of blaming yourself, another of the many many many responsibilities you are taking on) intro this would turn out to be, perhaps, an unreasonable standards letter. But it’s not! You’re willing to do all the things! That is the most reasonable of all possible standards. It is, “I will keep our place Martha Stewart level lovely and you don’t have to do a thing”. Do you know how many lazy ass men would love that? Listen, I’m a lazy person, but I’m not an ungrateful dick, and if someone was doing this much work for me, I sure wouldn’t be an ass about it.

    I do not think it is the most pressing issue here, at all (though you spent a fair amount of time on it so I think you know it doesn’t completely add up!), but the clothes going missing is genuinely fascinating to me! This feels to me like we can solve this little mystery, like it’ll have one of those easy little explanations, it’s from one of those books where Sherlock Holmes solves little crimes and you have to read the answer at the end of the chapter upside down to figure out what was the /one clue/ that gave it away, you know?

    a few times when Boyfriend has done our joint laundry, a bunch of my clothes vanished into the waist-deep chaos that is his bedroom (and then as near as we can tell, he later donated them to a charity shop, not realising they were mine???)

    The clues:
    Boyfriend cannot do simple tasks without being asked repeatedly, yet actually delivers (MULTIPLE, maybe?!?!?!) loads of clothes to a charity shop (CLAIM DUBIOUS)
    Boyfriend wants to do joint laundry yet inexplicably gets so confused and dismayed by presence of OP’s clothes that they get donated to a store without a word to OP about these mysterious, dismaying clothes? If so, RATIOCINATION SKILLS OF BF SUSPICIOUSLY LOW
    Boyfriend’s room is CHAOS LEVEL FIVE yet most plausible explanation “we” come up with is that, her clothes got washed, sorted and donated?

    Boyfriend accidentally messed up your clothes in laundry and says he “donated” them as a cover up – Kindest possible explanation, by which he is still a incompetent, aggressively so, man with integrity issues.
    Boyfriend purposefully donated clothes, either to get out of laundry duties (does not appear to be his game, although may be a side benefit) or to exert financial control over you by ruining nice things of yours.
    Clothes are still in Boyfriend’s knee-deep layers of clothes, yet somehow during the conversation you had he decided he preferred story of “donated clothes” perhaps because it makes it sound like he actually did something?

    Anyways, I deeply want to know how the conversation where you guys settled on the theory of ‘he accidentally donated your clothes” went.

    1. You know, I’m willing to believe that this guy has trouble doing chores for other people, but has no issue cleaning up his own room when he feels like being productive. He can’t get himself to the doctor because he doesn’t wanna go to the doctor, but his room? That benefits him in a fairly obvious way, and he doesn’t care if he accidentally gets rid of someone else’s stuff in the process.

  65. LW, a person who treats you this way and acts this way is NOT “a lovely person.” He’s just not.

  66. LW – you deserve to be appreciated for who you are, but instead this schmoe *resents* you for it. How small are you willing to make yourself to fit into his life?

    These things about you which are unique and special and valuable and of use – in a relationship, they should be understood, fostered, encouraged. And relationships take work, yes, but that work should be satisfying and rewarding, and should feel like you’re building something better than what you each could’ve built alone.

  67. LW, I see in your letter example after example of your boyfriend controlling you. He doesn’t let you do normal stuff like setting the table, doing laundry or take out the trash. That’s a major problem, not some minor annoyance. Towards the end of your letter, you suggests that the answer might be to “just chill out”. Actually, I was so surprised to read your letter and see description after description of your boyfriend having meltdowns and throw tantrums, yet you seem to manage your calm. I’m already livid on your behalf! Your boyfriend is so disrespectful of you on every level. If somebody had given away my clothes, I’d been super angry. You don’t need to be angry if you don’t want to, but you don’t need to be chill, either. Your life matters!

    I’m sorry I don’t have any practical advice for you. Let me just say that having your own space where you can do your dishes or fold you clothes is totally worth all the stress of getting there. Good luck!

  68. Hello! Long time reader first time commenter. I am your boyfriend. Okay, I am probably slightly better than your boyfriend because I try to be way more considerate than he is clearly being.

    Your boyfriend absolutely without a doubt has severe ADHD or some closely related mental illness.

    In our household how it works is that my wife does all the chores and cooking, and I do all the shopping (including takeout on days when she doesn’t want to cook) and make all our social arrangements. The exceptions would be anything that really needs two humans to carry stuff, and then she coordinates and I follow her explicit direction.

    But the key is I am every day grateful for all the work she does for me (she had to ban me from surprising her with flowers as a thank you for all her work around the house because I did it so many times that it wasn’t fun for her anymore), and it is a lot of work.

    Your boyfriend is not acting grateful. That’s a problem.

    This is a really low friction solution and I would suggest something like it to you if you want to continue with this guy, and I would suggest you present it as an ultimatum. “Boyfriend, our current arrangement is not working out, from now on I will do the chores, and you will contribute x amount extra to the rent because I am doing the chores. If you are not open to this idea we will move into separate apartments.”

    Having said that, you also give a number of really fundamental incompatibilities including being an sjw when he is conservative, sexual incompatibility, and him not being willing to marry you. My assessment after hearing that is that breaking up with him probably is the right course (especially if you are monogamous, because hanging out with him will prevent you from meeting a person you can marry); but if you don’t want to do that, I would certainly extricate yourself from the living together thing as soon as you possibly can, although I recognize this is hard if you are disabled and broke.

    1. Just a reminder, diagnosing strangers is against the site policies.

      I would be 💯 unsurprised if there is an impairment around executive function going on somewhere with boyfriend but let’s focus on reactions and behaviors (like tantrums) and overall compatibility! Thank you.

    2. Nooooooooo. No, sorry. It’s great that you and your wife came up with a solution that works for you. Unless you have magical Internet Diagnosing X-Ray Vision, you have no basis for deciding LW’s boyfriend has some combination of conditions that explains and/or excuses his behavior. Maybe he does. It really doesn’t matter, because this situation is not working for her.

      Also, personally, I don’t consider throwing down an ultimatum to “do X or I move out” to someone you live with as a “low friction solution.” That’s kind of a nuclear option. (I’m also not sure in what sort of word ultimatums=’low friction solution’ but you do you, I guess.)

      1. Yep. As mentioned above, my abusive ex pulled shit like LW’s boyfriend. He’s a chronic alcoholic with mental health issues that (I later found out from his sister after he’d been stalking me for 10 years and I had to get the police involved) actually got him fired from his job because his behaviour was so erratic.

        But you know what? NONE of that excused him emotionally, mentally and – in the end – physically abusing me for over 3 years. It takes a particular kind of premeditation to deliberately destroy, damage or simply “disappear” someone’s stuff (the LW’s clothes in this case). It is not the LW’s duty to manage his behaviour; the onus is on HIM to sort his shit out here. Regardless of any mental issue going on here, how the LW’s boyfriend chooses to treat her is not an illness – it is abuse, pure and simple. And there is zero onus on the LW to put up with that abuse or stick around so it can progress to a worse level.

  69. Finance and disability wise, and sorry if someone already said this, but, okay, here’s the thing: it’s valuable for you to be the most competent person in the room, I 100% feel that. But, getting out of an emotionally abusive partnership when disabled is so much easier if you can gather up your Team You.

    I’ll bet you have a lot of loving friends who’d help you in a heartbeat. Maybe even friends who’d be greatful for a chance to express their gratitude for what you’ve done for them by getting a chance to help you out. So if you need someone to drive you places, or you need to borrow money, or you need a safe place to sleep, please don’t hesitate to ask your friends.

    If you’re worried about depending too much on a single person, spread the asks out around different people. You know which of your friends is best for emotional support, and who has the most time to drive and so on. In my experience as a disabled woman, I’ve found that I don’t feel guilty asking as long as 1. I’m not asking the same person all the time and 2. I’m fine with that person saying “no” because I have a plan b, so I know I’m not guilting them or putting undue pressure.

    I hope you find what you need. ❤ good luck.

    1. Dear LW, you mentioned that your relationship used to be a LDR which makes me worried that you may be in a new place without a strong local team you. If that is the case, don’t discount your geographically distant team you. Also whether you think of your experience as abuse or not, a domestic abuse hotline may be able to help with local resource suggestions, an exit plan and safety plan. I’m glad that you have a therapist on team you. Take care.

  70. Oh, LW. I was shaking my head throughout the whole letter and then I got to that last paragraph, where you just tack on all this extra horrifying stuff as an afterthought, and I’m just… my heart is breaking for you over here. You sound like an AMAZING, incredibly competent, awesome-at-adulting person. This is not a problem of you not being grown up enough. You are going above and beyond at being a grown up. You are a master-class adult. You have got your shit together and then some, my friend. But this guy has got your perspective so twisted up with his tantrums and losing your clothes (???) and his utter disregard for your time and feelings and wants and basic freaking HUMANITY, with his attitudes about “people like you” not marrying “people like him.” He’s not treating you like an equal, and he’s not behaving like an equal partner in this relationship.

    And I get it, I know that breaking out and moving out seems terrifying, when I was with a lowkey version of this dude it took me eight goddamn months to get from “I think I want to break up” to “I am saying to this person, out loud, that I want to break up,” and then ANOTHER nine months before the ex moved out. But let me tell you something. The day after my ex moved out, when all their things were gone and it was just me and my stuff and my space and my blissful fucking quiet? It was happiness and relief like I hadn’t known in years.

    Breaking up and moving out both seem terrifying and impossible, and maybe they are terrifying but they’re not impossible, not for you. Not based on how you’ve described yourself. People up-thread have a lot more great advice on specifics of how to make the move out happen, but… you’re good at this stuff. You’re good at planning and organizing and thinking things through. You can do this. And please believe me, when you finally get out, you’re going to feel so, so much better.

    You deserve that. You deserve so, so much better than this.

  71. Ok, my first (v unhelpful) reaction was for me to start yelling like a koala that’s been pushed out of a tree once I got to the end of the letter. I am so sorry, LW!

    I was just talking about this with a friend the other day: the attitude to household labour not getting done really counts. We each have had chore division issues in our respective households, and what frustrates us isn’t necessarily things going unwashed etc, but people not acknowledging the impact it has on others. We have Brain Issues, too, so we know firsthand that stuff can’t always be done immediately, but we try.

    It’s understandable and to fall behind. As long as you’re apologetic and gradually get it done at your own pace, that is fine. It’s ok even if things get tense, because living situations are important and dirt and mess and cleaning can bring up strong feelings of shame. I get that. But as long as you try and things get cleaned semi-regularly and are tidied away from the waist-deep filth vortex, that’s well within the acceptable range of behaviour.

    So now I’m doing my laundry in secret to avoid a Boyfriend!meltdown? Which is probably my own fault, but also kind of sucks?

    This? This… STUFF that your boyfriend is dumping on you and the house? This is completely beyond what is acceptable and is definitely not your fault. This situation was manufactured by your boyfriend.

    Also, LW, I know you didn’t ask, but… it doesn’t matter why he’s like that, I promise you. I mention this because, whether you decide to break up or try to fix it, the Why might come up, and he may well be that way for Sad Childhood Reasons. That’s sad, but either way: 1) that’s not your responsibility 2) he is punishing you! he would use any reason at all to punish you and it’s not your fault and you don’t deserve this. I just wanted to cover this angle because this is a very common excuse for mistreating partners.

    LW, I really hope you’ve got friends to support you. You need people on your side who accept the fullness of you, not the slip of a person your partner’s trying to make you with his tantrums. There is someone out there who doesn’t constantly punish you for being yourself and who doesn’t constantly set the kitchen on fire.

  72. LW, your partner, like you, is an adult. Which means he is capable of exercising a certain amount of personal will and control, and accepting a certain amount of accountability.

    It is not your job to remind him *enough times* in *enough ways* to do a thing that needs to be done. It is not your job to manage his feelings around his inability to launder your clothes without *accidentally donating them to charity what?* (Seriously what did he think they were if not yours or his? How many random people’s laundry do you two do? Is it usual for him to find the clothes of total strangers in his room? And to then donate those clothes without attempting to locate the owner or even having a very basic conversation with the person he lives with about the identity of the owner of the clothes?)

    LW. How is it apparently normal in your home now that you manage your own emotions and reactions and feelings around his continuous fuck-ups in order to preserve and protect his emotional state, but also normal for him to just have a full-on melt-down whenever he feels like it? How is his meltdown at you *doing something completely reasonable* apparently your fault? Your burden to bear?

    LW, I suspect you already know the answer. I’m sorry this dude can’t be the person you need him to be, which is, a reasonable adult who deals with their own limitations like an adult and also learns to make more effort and do better at things in order to be a fair partner. Maybe it’s not “can’t”. Maybe it’s “won’t”. But either way, the problem here is categorically Not You.

  73. Jedi hugs if you want them, dear LW. It’s extra special douchbaggery to make you do extra emotional labor around him either doing his stuff or alternatively doing everything AND the emotional toll/labor of meltdown (what? WHAT??)

  74. Oh OP, I feel for you.

    Captain is right. This is his BEST look. My ex-husband once had a go at me because my going back to school was “interfering with his [vague, unplanned, nebulous] plans to live abroad” and when I was like “oh actually I can take this remotely so we can definitely travel, but like, we don’t have any money or travel plans right now? Also my work is paying for it so it’s not preventing us saving!” he pouted at me continually anyway because I suspect I was expected to drop everything and make his dreams happen.

    That was who he was. And has-a-meltdown-because-you-set-the-table is who your boyfriend is. Mine is ex. Save yourself now, it won’t get better.

    I let “oh no I don’t have money!” stop me so many times, but the fact is if you move to smaller place with good transit to your work that is always clean and you eat every night at a reasonable hour that will feel 70000000x better than all the rides and rotten trash and temper tantrums, no matter how lovely your boyfriend is (when he’s not yelling at you about doing chores).

    Like, so much better that I’m super excited for you to make a plan and GTFO. Plenty of people without big salaries and with disabilities live independently, and soon you will be one of them and it will be awesome. (Also, there is no shame part of your GTFO plan being pursuing any available government or employer benefits with regard to transportation or finances that you qualify for, if you aren’t already. You don’t owe society staying with this bag of douche solution for performative ‘sure I have a disability, but I take care of myself!’ reasons.)

  75. I think you need to break up/end the relationship. Try to make a plan to get assistance with your disability and finances. Maybe there are assistance programs in your area.

    OP, You are having to do your laundry IN SECRET because your boyfriend gets mad at you for DOING YOUR OWN LAUNDRY. He threw a FIT because you SET THE TABLE.

  76. It seems rare that a comments section is this unanimous. Sorry OP, it’ll be better once you rip off that band-aid.

  77. LW, honey, your boyfriend is the one who needs to grow up, chill out, and do more of the work. Sadly, I predict he will do none of those things. Please get out of there.

  78. Oh hey, my ex found a new girlfriend. I’m so sorry LW, but it doesn’t get better from here. RUN, run now. You are not the controlling one, he is trying to control you with these meltdowns and emotional outbursts. He is already causing you to modify your behaviour! When you feel like doing laundry in secret is easier than dealing with his meltdowns, it’s time to get out.

  79. The issue isn’t so much that he’s not good at getting his shit together–the issue is that he is a goddamned dick about it. Most people would fall on their knees with gratitude to have a partner who would willingly do all of the chores for them without expecting equality or even helping out, but this guy pitches a fit? And gets rid of your stuff?

    I really hope you’re in a position to leave him someday. I know with a disability it may or may not be doable, but this is abuser territory.

  80. My sibling lives with a boyfriend who is very much the Competent One to zir Lazy Slob. He likes to cook, he likes to clean, he doesn’t mind doing most of the chores. Ze is a bad cook, finds chores draining, and isn’t good at remembering things.
    This is a fine dynamic. The thing is, when there’s something he would like zir to do – say, put on a load of laundry – they have a system where he asks once, ze confirms that this is, indeed, a fair thing to ask, and then states a time frame after which he should feel free to remind zir again. When the time frame passes, the job is either done, or he gently reminds zir one more time, and ze admits it should be done already, gets off zir ass, and does it.
    And, of course, neither one of them throws temper tantrums over the chores the other does or does not do.

    This is a story about how mismatched clean/messy types can cohabit in happiness, written to demonstrate that you do not need to ‘put in more work’ or ‘chill out’. You’re putting in a fine amount of work and/or chill. BF seems to be putting in none of either.

  81. Leave! Leave!
    Its super hard with the disability and the finances, but the longer you stay the more discouraged you’ll be, and leaving will get harder.

  82. Noperocket?

    LW, feel free to hop that noperocket to Outtatheresville. You two certainly seem to be fundamentally incompatible. I think your therapist is right: you need to leave this man.

    Wishing you the best. Jedi hugs if you want them.

  83. You wrote: “Most of the ways it’s not going well are problems on my end, though, and they’re all pretty minor”

    No no no no no. This is not a problem that you are contributing to in any way, LW. This is a problem he is creating and it’s hurting you.

    Let’s look at the list. Boyfriend:

    Doesn’t adult in even the most basic ways (paying bills, remembering appointments, NOT setting the kitchen on fire)
    Is a slob
    Throws tantrums
    Offers to do things, doesn’t do them, throws tantrums when YOU do chores he said he’d do
    Isn’t sexually or politically compatible with you
    Has pretty explicitly said he will never marry you because “people like you” (as you called it, internalized bigotry)
    Gave away your clothes
    Throws tantrums when you do YOUR OWN laundry

    These are not problems on your end. It is perfectly appropriate for you to expect your partner to act like an adult.

    Kids throw tantrums when they are emotionally out of control and don’t know how to calm down. Adults who throw tantrums are emotionally manipulating you to do and/or feel what they want you to by making you desperate to avoid yet another tantrum. I grew up with a parent who did this, and it took me a long time to figure it out (so tantrums of any kind would absolutely be a deal-breaker for me).

    Wanting your home to be clean and organized is a perfectly reasonable expectation — even more so, given your background. You should always feel safe in your home, and if you feel like have to sneak around to do your laundry, that doesn’t say “safe” to me.

    Good luck getting to a better place.

  84. LW, when describing this guy, you really don’t make him sound like a great person. Even when defending him, your words are lukewarm. I don’t think you like him that much anymore, and with good reason.

    I know how frustrating it can be to find a long distance partner is hard to live with because of organizational incompatibility. My partner and I suddenly started living together in a foreign country, and it turned out they have a lot of problems with cleaning and chores. But they work hard to try to make up for their weaknesses. They let me handle the things that would stress me out if they were messed up (food, mostly) and when I ask them to do something they forgot to do, they do it. We butt heads occasionally but it’s never insurmountable. If you can’t reach a compromise like that, even with you taking on most of the chores, this guy isn’t doing his part. He is actively making things worse with his tantrums.

    Your self description is great: a badass, antifa social justice warrior. Is this guy good enough for you?

  85. Just for context, here are some singular reasons I would break up/ have broken up with a partner:
    Forgets to feed me/ lets me down, repeatedly
    Has a tantrum at me
    Causes something valuable of mine to disappear without replacing it
    Thinks I’m controlling
    Is not sexually compatible with me
    Monologues at me
    Doesn’t want to marry me
    Lovely person or not, any of these are a deal breaker for me.

  86. Oh LW. I know I’m going to be echoing a lot of the 200+ comments already here when I say this, but I’m so angry on your behalf that I want to add my voice to the chorus.

    I am so MAD that your boyfriend has somehow managed to convince you that you are the person in this relationship who is not “grown up” enough. I am so furious that he’s made you think that you’re the one not putting enough “work” into this relationship. It makes me so sad that you believe that you’re the one who needs to “chill out”. I am absolutely seething, hopping, beserker RAGING at the fact that this man has led you to believe that you are the “controlling” one in this relationship.

    LW, you didn’t write to the Captain to ask “hey, how do I get my shitbag boyfriend to pull his weight in our shared household?” Instead you asked “how can I be more chill about the fact that my boyfriend screams at me every time I try to do basic chores?” Hopefully now that you have it laid out in writing, you can see that this line of thinking is utterly twisted. It’s not your fault – you seem like a good, kind, conscientious person; your boyfriend has taken advantage of this fact and manipulated into a corner where he can scream at you for setting the table and you come of of that situation feeling like the bad guy.

    LW, the problems in your relationship go way beyond “incompatibilities” and there’s no amount of “work” you can do to fix them. Get out of there as soon as you safely and securely can. It will be one of the best decisions you ever make.

  87. “I’m doing my laundry in secret to avoid a Boyfriend!meltdown”

    You are doing your laundry in secret to avoid a Boyfriend meltdown.

    *You* are doing *your* laundry, your very own laundry, IN SECRET. IN SECRET. TO AVOID A BOYFRIEND MELTDOWN. My head is exploding that is so many types of wrong. What the actual fuck is wrong with him? It doesn’t matter because he is existentially fucked up if he attacks you for washing your own clothes.
    There is nothing you can do to make this work. This guy will suck the life out of you if you don’t get out of there. He has already injured you terribly, by fucking up your head so badly that you actually said “I’m doing my laundry in secret to avoid a Boyfriend!meltdown”

    “I’m doing my laundry in secret to avoid a Boyfriend!meltdown”
    Oh my fucking god.

    LW, you are an amazing person. You’re so awesome you make me regret I’m not into ladies. You are a badass rockstar of an adult who deserves someone who goes to sleep each night smiling at how lucky they are and wakes up thrilled at the thought of another day with you.

  88. Dear Letter Writer,

    As the ex-girlfriend of Broken Glass Guy, I would like to extend a warm invitation to join the Cabal of the Ex-Girlfriends. Meetings are every third Tuesday of the month and comprise whatever beverage of your choice, and are fuelled by the energy we remarkably recover from not having to deal with our ex-boyfriends’ bullshit any longer.

    In all seriousness though, you sound like a remarkably strong, capable lady who is kicking ass at home and work in the face of disability and financial challenges. That’s NOT easy. I wish I could be like that and I sincerely admire you and want you to continue to kick ass and have the life that you deserve.

    But what I do know is that life is so much harder when you’re being dragged down by someone like my ex, or from what you’ve described in your letter, someone who makes you doubt yourself, who (because of their own laziness) makes you do all the work by default (including SECRET LAUNDRY ADVENTURES), who inspires you to write these sorts of letters to Captain Awkward: ‘Am I crazy/wrong/too much/too organised/too controlling/not enough/not doing enough/missing something here, or is this relationship genuinely bad?’

    As someone who also had a rough start (though nowhere near as rough as you, and I didn’t conquer it nearly as well as you did): when we’re young, in complex or tough family circumstances, we can grow up walking on eggshells. Sometimes we don’t realise how weird it is to have to do perfectly normal, healthy things, or to make regular old mistakes, or to basically just LIVE, in secret or in timorousness out of fear of other people’s anger. You deserve to do your laundry, set your table, cook your food, whenever or wherever the hell you want. You deserve to take care of yourself without question or concern. If you have a partner, you deserve a partner who will HELP you in your endeavours of self-care, daily life and the mundane, not someone who adds a funky gross layer of anxiety, self-doubt, and general tiresomeness and unpleasantness and angst and anger and tantrums and meltdowns over basic life tasks.

    As others have said in this thread, whatever financial and disability threads impact your decision-making (and I do believe you that they are concerns, and I am sorry that they are factors that potentially leave you in this situation for longer), I want to promise you that finances and disability are NOT helped by the kind of boyfriend you’ve described above, not in the long-term. Not if your own health and wellbeing gets wrecked because of the lifestyle you are enduring when you are living with them. Not when your mental real estate is being so taken up by such nonsense and your ideas of what’s normal and acceptable are at risk of being warped to reflect a strange alternative reality where you doing your own laundry is you acting against your boyfriend.

    Like the Captain and others, I don’t know if you’re in a break-up place yet, but if/when you arrive at this place, there are others here and we will welcome you with open arms, and you will be OK in the long run, I promise. And if you’re not at that place yet, that’s OK too – please just take the Captain’s response and all these comments as validation, endorsement and signoff of your own perceptions, feelings and rights, and put YOURSELF first, whatever that looks like just now.

    1. YES. About walking on eggshells – when I was in a terrible relationship, one of the warning signs that I managed to notice and understand while I was still in the relationship was that, when I got home from class, I would feel relieved if my then-boyfriend was still out. It meant I would have some time to actually relax. Then I noticed that I was NEVER relaxed when he was home. I was constantly trying to figure out what to say and do to make him happy, or at least not put him in a bad mood (because … his moods were totally my responsibility …).

      Since I broke up with him 9 years ago, I’ve come to understand many more things about that relationship that were fucked up and abusive. 3 years ago, I started dated a new person, who is a wonderful, flawed, terrifyingly amazing human being. I just realised a few months ago that sometime over the last year or two, without noticing, I’d stopped walking on eggshells with my new partner. It had finally sunk in that I don’t have to anymore.

      I want that for you, LW. I want it for all of us.

      *jedi hugs* if you want them.

    2. Hello lx-nay! I’m SO glad you have shed Broken Glass Guy, may he wander forever over crunchy glass, enjoying the freedom from society’s constraints that would deny him the joy of walking on literal shards of broken glass I can’t.

      Here’s to a long and happy life free of Broken Glass Guy and his ilk!

  89. LW once I… destroyed a load of my SO’s (then boyfriend, now husband) laundry. I managed to pour bleach on it :O And without going into details about my peculiarities that made that be a mistake I can unintentionally make, let me tell you I /bought him new clothes/ since, y’know, I felt like I should replace what I destroyed. If this guy is financially better off and didn’t somehow try to replace the clothes he lost? Kinda weird to me.
    Again, me and my hubby, aren’t perfect. Sometimes we forget to do things. Sometimes we get a little snippy if one does the thing where the other does it instead in a huff. But it’s not the norm; yes I have to relax and have it be OK if things aren’t done exactly the way I want it done Right Now. But neither of us insists on more than one request or reminder; if we forget, we say “sorry” and try to get it done, try not to make it a habit. Y’know?
    LW, what you write here sounds like your boyfriend forgets, then sulks, then blames you. If this is really happening a lot that is not cool. Forgetting can happen innocently, the rest is bad news. Start calling him on it until you can get out (if you want to get out). By which I mean, no tiptoeing. No reminders. One ask, if it’s not done, do it. If he mopes, make it weird. “Is this about me making dinner?” [But I was gonna do it / etc etc ] “OK but it’s 8 and I’m hungry; I’m just going to go ahead and fix myself something when that happens.” Go do your laundry (in the open! as if it’s a normal thing to do! Because it is!), and if he asks, “I prefer to do my own laundry, thanks!” If he throws a fit “uhhh, why can’t I do my own laundry?” etc etc.
    That’s my best advice LW, reset the dynamic now by making it normal for you to do normal things. I think this relationship does not sound good and not because you did anything wrong but it’s up to you if/when you want to get out.

    1. The not replacing her clothes that he threw out stood out to me too. I had a partner that would shrink my shit regularly. He was also completely incapable of buying me the right replacements because he didn’t know why the thin grey shirt that he bought me to replace my cashmere sweater wasn’t right? So… when we paid rent for the month after he’d fucked up an item of my clothing, sometimes his rent was $80 bucks higher that month because I replaced the dress he ruined, and that was that. When someone thoughtful ane aware who is financially capable (like LW’S partner) of fixing something they broke, they do so without complaint, and they definitely don’t throw a tantrum about having broken the item in the first place. And if the person isn’t financially able to make restitution they express a lot of remorse and offer to help out with something non-monetary as recompense, because that is what you do when you ruin someone else’s stuff if you aren’t a completely self centered person.

  90. Some advice I got from a beautiful coworker: “Sometimes the problem just isn’t you.”

    Good luck, LW.

  91. Here’s my perspective, LW:

    It’s totally possible to be in a committed, cohabitating relationship where the two (or whatever) partners have COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ideas and habits around organization, AND where each partner treats a good deal of the shared stuff and their own stuff at whatever their organization level is mostly. It is definitely more work, but it can absolutely be happy and healthy. And you’re right to assume that it’s more work for the more organized partner! But that additional work looks NOTHING like the additional work you have to do in THIS relationship.

    In the healthy version of that, the partners have an upfront conversation about what deviations from their alone defaults they’re willing to make. Both partners agree to some deviations. Both partners propose their own ideas at those deviations and put in the same amount of emotional work to figure out and manage the deviations, even though the messy partner’s chore deviations will be more actual work for them. In your case, it seems like you haven’t had a conversation, which usually leads to not doing the right deviations and the cleanly partner quietly resenting the extra work, but since you seem to be fine doing all the extra physical work, the conversation is probably unlikely to help your problem–since quiet resentment isn’t your proboem.

    In healthy relationships like this, the messier partner probably does feel a bit of guilt about some of the compromise that have been made. For example, my husband and I are both clean/messy opposites with respect to different categories of stuff. He is fine with living out of boxes rather than putting stuff away, but is enraged by anything on the floor. I am fine with stuff on the floor, but can’t stand having to hunt for stuff in deep containers (and when forced to do so, will dump the box on the floor, and not want to rebox anything). He was in no rush to unpack, but wasn’t okay with “bringing mess into the new place” by dumping boxes on the floor. The compromise we reached was: I would do the bulk of the work unpacking because I care more that stuff gets unpacked, but because I was the one putting in 75% of the unpacking work, to the extent I still needed to hunt through boxes until unpacking was done, he would have to live with stuff on the floor unless he wanted to put in significantly more unpacking time. He felt guilty while I was unpacking and sometimes was obviously bothered by stuff on the floor, but he took neither of those things out on me–he quietly cursed, went to his office, played a GPS for a bit, and came out with not tantrum whatsoever. Similarly, sometimes I would be really annoyed that stuff was still in boxes, but I didn’t yell at him even though the problem would have been solved if he helped more. I would feel twinge of guilt when I saw him cleaning things from floor to box after I’d hunted for something before work, but I wouldn’t throw a tantrum about how I would have done that if he’d just reminded me–instead, I would channel that guilt into unpacking faster so that the unpleasant guilt would be gone. Your boyfriend clearly feels guilty that you are doing more of the work… and instead of channeling that guilt into figuring out how to get rid of the extra work, he is channeling it into blaming you for making him feel guilty when you fix his mistakes. He thinks that the solution to his guilt about you doing extra work (that doesn’t even bother you) is for the extra work to stop. Actual solutions would be a conversation about you being fine with the extra work and him believing you, him deciding that he is willing to help more because it seems like deep down he knows he should, him hiring a maid, or maybe jointly creating some sort of written materials. He doesn’t seem to be interested in any of those solutions (which would be more work for him)–he’s only interested in the solution where you decide you don’t care if he loses your stuff and you starve on the nights he is supposed to cook.

    There is no amount of work that YOU can do to solve this. The problem isn’t that YOU aren’t doing work. The problem is that he sees you doing work and blames YOU for his own guilt that you’re working harder. No amount of work on your part is going to make that go away–and as you do more work, it may actually get worse. The only work you can do is tell him he needs to stop throwing tantrums when you fix his mistakes and just accept that this will be the division of labor or actually be helpful (and probably both, ideally). You cannot solve his tendency to blame you when his own actions make him feel bad with any amount of work.

  92. LW, from your description it sounds like your upbringing taught you – on a very deep level – that it’s normal and expected for others around you to be chaotic and unreliable, and that taking Super Organization Mode onto yourself was the only way to survive, let alone be happy. You also seem to have absorbed a message that a having a not-chaotic life is your responsibility and yours alone, with zero expectations for others.

    And it seems as though that may have warped your perception of how abnormal, dysfunctional and controlling your boyfriend’s behavior is. He is messing with your ability to eat food, for crying out loud, and throwing out clothes you can’t afford to replace (and which he doesn’t offer to replace). He refuses to take care of himself and acts like a thwarted toddler when you try to take care of yourself. He does not allow you to live in a minimally clean home. He does not permit you to remind him of things he should be doing. He punishes you when you try to protect your own property from his careless actions.

    “But I love him” doesn’t justify his actions. It isn’t a ‘pro’ to all the other ‘cons’ you list about him. It isn’t a rebuttal to your therapist. Imagine if you phrased it the other way around: He financially and emotionally supports me, but he’s incapable of functioning on a minimal level. He’s a lovely person, but he has a meltdown if I do my own laundry to keep him from losing it. We’ve been together three years but things are just getting worse and worse.

    1. I was about to say the same thing. LW, you don’t go into a whole lot of detail about your childhood, but any situation in which a child is responsible for getting themselves and their younger sibling fed is neglect. It’s not OK.

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that this situation is probably less shitty than some of the other situations you’ve lived through, and that is why you are so sure that you can make this work while everyone else is trying to scream over the overwhelming sound of angry bees that you should leave. That you have survived shitty situations and not only lived to tell the tale, but actively made them better for yourself and your brother through your actions, is testament to your fortitude and compassion. I have no doubt that you could survive this dude and make the most of this; but you shouldn’t have to. You deserve so much better than a living situation that is just less shitty than the most shitty thing that you have lived through.

  93. I once accidentally destroyed 8 pairs of my boyfriend’s wool dress pants.
    I gathered up all the laundry in our room, not realizing that one of the piles was his dryclean pile. I washed and dried everything without reading the labels and only realized my mistake when I took the clothes out of the dryer.
    I felt really bad about this and apologized the same day. He was really, really nice about it.
    Anyway I’ve always read clothing labels ever since and boyfriend and I are still together too.
    When it comes to household chores I am the less competent one, but the most important thing for me is to not make this his problem.
    LW, you sound like an amazing person. I’ll take your word for it that he’s lovely despite his faults, but he sure does sound exhausting. He’s making his problems into your problems and that’s unfair.
    You asked what more you can do and frankly there is absolutely nothing you can do alone. You’re already doing what you should and then some relationship-wise.
    My only suggestion is couple’s therapy, if this is possible. The aim would be to resolve whatever issues cause boyfriend to have a meltdown when he sees you do basic household chores. For your peace of mind (and his), these meltdowns need to end.
    If also possible, I would recommend taking a short vacation first by staying at a friend’s or relative’s for a couple weeks to recalibrate and relax.
    From this side of the internet he’s too much damn work already but only you can make the call if he’s really worth it! Best of luck LW. ❤

  94. The thing with “suck it or up compromise” is there has to be something *there* for you to suck up. In regards to cooking, the problem isn’t that he’s making very bland food, or some kind of spaghetti-and-sauce dish every single time, he doesn’t make food AT ALL. That is a pretty big problem. If you want kids, then you need to forcibly take away all his food-making rights, because you cannot make kids go hungry because he forgot all about eating. Even getting a joint pet is going to be a pretty big (and animal-welfare related) problem.

    And it seems like you’re in a lose-lose situation, either you go hungry, or you need to nag him the exact amount of times (which I reckon is not going to stay static, and you should just magically know what the right amount is), or you take it into your own hands and have to deal with a tantrum cause HE was *totally* gonna do it in just a little bit, why you gotta be like that.

    It is also beyond unfair that the responsibility for making him do this basic task falls squarely on you. What would happen if you DIDN’T step up and make dinner, but just made something solely for yourself and let him fend for himself? If he’d take it out on you, that is not acceptable. He doesn’t get to blame you for his own shortcomings.

    I also think that all of his tantrums and freakouts are because he sees them as criticisms of his behavior, which he KNOWS are not really acceptable. He might even have had other people tell him about his manchild-like traits before but instead of trying to fix that issue, he’s become hyper-sensitive and hyper-defensive (resulting in tantrums) about it. He knows that there is a problem with his behavior, but he either doesn’t have the incentive or the self-insight to fix it.

    One of the biggest (if not THE biggest) reasons people get divorced today is because of finances. It doesn’t sound like you are able to trust him whatsoever in regards to that. Some other major – MAJOR! – reasons for divorce are sexual incompatibility, political incompatibility, and inequal split in the amount of housework each person does. Even stay-at-home parent-spouses become resentful if they have to do all the chores all the time.

    You don’t HAVE to break up with him straight away either if you decide that actually, you deserve better than to keep up with all this bullcrap for the rest of your life (because seriously, you do deserve better), you can talk to him and see if he makes a good-faith effort to change (but don’t give him talk after talk and chance after chance, because that’s just the road to Empty Promises and Resentment Breeding Grounds), and you can stay put while you put together a plan that means that when you break up, you won’t end up homeless or starving because of it.

    If that feels mean and cold-heartedly, please know that making sure that you are able to stay warm and fed after your relationship status changes needs to be your number 1 priority, and should ALWAYS be listed above his feelings.

  95. Dear LW,

    I am adding my voice to the chorus – please make plans to leave your bf as a way of taking care of future you.

    From my own experience I remember it can take a lot of external validation to overcome the effects of gaslighting.

    Please take the time to look at how many commenters are supporting you and rejecting the idea that you are the problem in this relationship.
    Let that sink in.

    You sound like a wonderful and resilient person with whom it is a privilege to have a relationship.

    Trust me when I say that what you are currently experiencing is an abusive relationship with a person who is not worthy of your love and attention and respect.

    It can be confronting to acknowledge that one is somehow in an abusive relationship. But please believe me – accepting that you are being abused is one step along the path to getting the heck out of there and making your life a safer, happier and more fulfilling one.

    The longer I stayed in my abusive relationship the more my energy was depleted, and my physical health deteriorated. You are already living with a disability, so please be kind to your future self by getting away from the stress of living with this Darth bf.

    All the hugs to you. You don’t deserve to be treated this way by any person. You are worthy of love, kindness, consideration, excellent sex, promises kept, and food when you need it. May you soon be free from listening to the monologues of this abusive and gross individual.

  96. LW, you’re wondering if you and your boyfriend and are incompatible. You are. Everything from “people like us shouldn’t get married” to acting like a typical 12-year-old when faced with you being better at household chores shows it. He is dead weight and he knows it, that’s why he’s trying to control you.

  97. At 333 comments I’m sure this has been said but HE GAVE AWAY YOUR CLOTHES??? What the fuck?! How stupid does a person have to be to find clean clothes that don’t belong to him and not think to at least put them on his girlfriend’s side of the bed? “Oh guess I’ll give em away” he’s either trapped in his own navel or he did it on purpose, LW.

  98. Don’t light a match, LW, because I smell gas from all the gaslighting and controlling that your boyfriend is doing. He has convinced you that it is normal to have a hissy fit over you setting the table. I have metldowns myself from autism and anxiety and I don’t do that!

  99. Many commenters have mentioned important signs that this is actually a relationship in which he is being controlling and abusive. I want to mention another one (though maybe someone said this, too) that I think applies. When a competent, good-hearted person such as yourself is thinking that most of the problems are on your end and could be solved by your trying harder, being more mature, more chill, learning to live with chaos, stuffing your preferences…these are good enough signs that you need to get away.

    I married a man I never should have by telling myself the same sort of things. Did he act kinda scary and unpredictable? I should be more adventurous. Was he distant? I should be more grown-up and not so needy. Did he mess with my stuff? I should be more generous and not so picky. Was he embarrassing? Well, it would be good to not worry what other people think, anyway. He didn’t hold down a job very well? Sheesh, I’m so materialistic.

    When a reasonable, capable, well-intentioned person is suffering in a relationship and always trying to suck it up and self-improve, I’d put money on their being gaslighted.

    1. Hm, just realized I said that *I told myself* the same sort of things. The fact is, he was telling me those things to deflect responsibility and isolating me so that I had no reasonable, caring person to hold up a mirror. You see? I still am quick to accept the blame, having had decades of practice. It’s not you, LW.

    2. (Hope this doesn’t end up as a repeat. First try seems to have been eaten.) I realized that I said “telling myself.” Actually, he was subtly telling me those things to avoid responsibility. I ended up quite well trained to take the blame on myself. Don’t do the same; it’s not you, LW.

    3. When a competent, good-hearted person such as yourself is thinking that most of the problems are on your end and could be solved by your trying harder, being more mature, more chill, learning to live with chaos, stuffing your preferences…these are good enough signs that you need to get away.

      + One billion

  100. At first I was thinking “well just another conveniently household tasks incompetent dude, maybe they can work it out”. But of course that wasn’t it or it wouldn’t be a letter for Captain awkward 😅
    The part that infuriates me the most is that he is making you feel “controlling” when you actually sell to be the exact opposite. Doing everything yourself and not bothering him about it is literally the opposite of controlling….

  101. I have a disability, as does my partner. We both felt that before we met, living alone as a single person was exhausting. I remember how my chaotic childhood impacted my ability to deal with navigating adulthood when I was poor. I can understand why you might feel like you’ve sunk so much into this relationship that you need to make it work.

    Thing is, a person who loved you would see that your health limits your energy reserves. They’d find ways to make your life relaxing, ways they could consistently show their love for you. They’d find an aspect of homemaking and life admin that they could be trusted with and then they’d get on with it graciously. If they upset you, they’d seek to understand why and then have sufficient respect for you that they quit doing upsetting things. The love might not be effortless but on a basic level, you could rely on your partner to care about your needs because having needs is ok. You wouldn’t habe to analyse which needs are too needy. You could trust yourself and your partner. You deserve to be loved that way.

    My partner has a wildly different approach to chores and money than I do. We do share basic values like patience, thoughtfulness, having a clean space to relax in, paying bills on time. Sure, he doesn’t love the idea bank online (I do) and I don’t require my socks to be mismatched and my undies folded (he does). He’s a night owl, I’m a lark, he’s a planner and I am by-the-seat-of-my-pants improviser. But I do fold his boxers because it’s a way to show him that he matter that costs me very little in the way of time. And he will do our banking online so I can see our bills statements and not freak out that we are going to get into debt. I know that he wants to give me piece of mind where he can.

    Find someone who is generous with their love. You deserve it.

    1. He requires his socks to be mismatched? Is he Dobby? Cool! Please tell me this is not a typo, because it is too cool.

      Actually, I have a set of socks, three of them, that all come from the same skein of multi-colored yarn, so they all “match,” even though none of them are the same as any of the others. I call them my Dobby Socks, and Iove them.

      1. I think he is, it’s uncomfortable for him that they match. He’ll go through a mismatch them even if it makes him late. Part of his own self care was to buy soft socks that help him deal with foot pain (he gets foot pain anyway and was living in old scratchy socks with holes in) and so I realised then that socks and sock preferences make a difference. His preference is mismatched and so I do that.

        1. That is awesome! It makes me very happy.

          Granted, almost all of my socks are matched, but I am so PROUD of my Dobby socks. I think, actually, that more people are willing to embrace a preference for mis-matched socks and wear them in public, thanks to that well-beloved character.

    1. I didn’t think it was possible to love el giants more than I did but thanks for proving me wrong

  102. Dump him. Dump him now. He does not care about your life together, and it will only get worse, not better. Cut your losses.

  103. I haven’t read all the comments, so I hope I’m not repeating what others have said (though I may well be).

    LW, I hear you when you say that you would prefer to do all the chores. That’s not a thing that I personally would choose and I’ve seen it cause a lot of issues over the long run in most households, but ultimately, it’s a choice that each person absolutely has the right to make.

    It is sounds like you’re a well-functioning adult, and whatever traits or habits you choose to work on, you need to choose them yourself, not be pushed into them. However, a relationship isn’t just about you being a functional adult – it’s about both of you being functional adults. However, I do want you to consider three things.

    1) Coping mechanisms aren’t universal. It seems like you were required to be very self-sufficient at a very young age, and it makes sense that you’d feel comfortable continuing that now. However, coping mechanisms we develop in unusual and stressful circumstances are often not coping mechanisms that work in more typical and benign circumstances. Having to carefully plan as a child to make sure that you and your brother didn’t go hungry absolutely falls into that category. That doesn’t mean that you are wrong or uptight – I don’t think you are! – but it does mean that the “I’ll do it myself because I don’t want to go hungry/live in squalor/whatever” is not a frame of mind that’s necessarily healthy in an adult relationship.

    2) This isn’t just about you. You say that you don’t mind doing the chores. Great – but if that’s going to be your position, I think you should keep in mind that the flip side of you doing all the chores is that you will be with a partner who does none of the chores and is okay with that – or at least, is okay enough with it to not change. The vast, vast majority of people who are okay with their partner(s) doing most or all of the chores, particularly if everyone involved has external obligations (e.g., work, school, etc) are not super considerate partners in ways that tend to ultimately extend well beyond chores, even if that’s not the case right now.

    3) There’s a difference between “I choose to” and “I have to.” If you choose to do the bulk or even all of the chores, great – but it sounds like this isn’t a genuine “I choose to” situation, it’s an “I have to” situation, and there’s a big difference. “I choose to” means that you have the space to comfortably renegotiate the agreement without significant emotional labor and anxiety over whether the chores will get done. Just because you’re okay doing it now doesn’t mean you’ll always be okay with doing it. What happens when you stop having the time and energy that you have right now? You could start a second job to give you more in the way of financial resources. You could start volunteering for a political/social cause you believe in. You could get the flu. You could join a book club or start taking yoga. You could just burn or decide that you want help without any obvious external factor.

    It is very, very likely that one of those hypotheticals or something similar to them will happen at some point, and at a certain point, your preference to do the chores will be overridden by your need to have more time to spend on other things (which includes relaxation time!). When it does, what happens? It sounds like the chores won’t get done and you’ll be left in an actively unsafe situation (not eating enough, kitchen fires, mold, tripping hazards). That’s not you choosing to do the chores – that’s you having to do the chores, and that’s definitely not a healthy dynamic.

    In closing: I think that this is a relationship that is not ultimately going to work for you. Emotional support isn’t just about hugging you when you feel bad or listening to you vent. Acute, performative emotional support can often be the easiest support to give, especially over the short term, because it’s most likely to come with immediate gratification and least likely to require significant inconvenience or sustained effort.

    That kind of emotional support isn’t all or even the majority of emotional support we should expect to be getting out of relationships, though. Emotional support is also making someone’s life easier over the long run by taking some of the burden of life off their shoulders. It’s making them feel safe and comfortable in their own home rather than making them feel like they need to walk on eggshells or sneak around to do chores to avoid a fight.

    That’s not to say that we always do a perfect job – of course we don’t, and everyone screws up occasionally. However, the issues you’re talking about seem pretty broad-reaching rather than an occasional overreaction, and it doesn’t sound like your boyfriend really has any desire to work on them. And that is a problem, and not one that I’m confident you can solve.

  104. I just want to add: LW, thank you for asking this question. I think a lot of people struggle with wondering: Is this what a healthy relationship looks like? Is this how it should feel? It’s especially true if we didn’t have healthy relationships modeled around us, growing up. You don’t know what “normal” looks like, all you know is that you’re unhappy, but you’re not sure whether it’s a “you” problem or a “them” problem. From the outside looking in, this is 100% not a “you” problem.

  105. Hello, LW. I am sorry that things are so rough and so frustrating.

    It sounds to me as though a common thread through a lot of this is that your boyfriend doesn’t actually care about what you want or need. It’s definitely the case with you having clean clothes (!), and with your getting to eat appropriate food at appropriate times (!!!); it sounds like it’s the case with your long-term desires including (but presumably not limited to) marriage; I can’t help but wonder if this also underlies your sexual incompatibility (does he… just not care what you enjoy? and you’re confident enough to not go along with it? because GO YOU.).

    You don’t need to do more work, or be more of a grown-up, or chill out, about committing this much of your time and energy to someone who… doesn’t seem to care about materially and consistently contributing to your comfort and convenience.

    (I mentioned upthread that I am prone to Very Loud Emotions and also general overwhelm, and that as a result I have meltdowns/tantrums. My worst defensive tantrum about laundry happened because partner went “oh, all my work trousers are in the wash :-(” and I snapped at him about how I’d been wondering when he’d notice the laundry needed doing. Because: I’d been well aware that all his work trousers were in the wash, for a variety of reasons I was at that point feeling unwanted and unappreciated and resentful and had been deliberately Not Doing The Laundry because I ~wanted to see how bad it would have to get~ before he’d actually do it, and then I felt super fucking guilty about having ~sabotaged him~ and was expecting him to be cross with me so hard that I… lashed out at him in response to a comment that was actually 100% him sadfacing at himself for his lack of executive function and ability to track the world, at that point. Whereupon he understandably freaked the fuck out, on the grounds that if I was being that resentful and passive-aggressive and uncommunicative things were clearly completely fucked and if he’d been in my shoes he’d be working out options for leaving, so what was going on that meant that I wasn’t so miserable that we should just break out — and we talked about it. It turns out! That we had super different thresholds in general for when laundry need doing, in that he prefers to sort by colour and I preferred to do a load as soon as I had enough clothes to make a full load regardless of colour because my disabilities mean that laundry is Hard for me and that’s the most reliable way to get it done at all ever, which means that on my schedule the laundry basket never ended up more than half full and on his it ended up full, on top of which he was Really Quite Ill and neither of us realised and he didn’t get his medication sorted out until Some Time Later. But… we talked about the mismatched expectations, and about how to make it clear to each other that we notice and value labour the other does, and how to communicate more effectively and usefully in ways that set us off less, and how to negotiate care for each other, and this all happened well over 18 months ago and this specific issue has never been a problem since. Like, we keep finding new and exciting ways to fuck up and set each other off! … and we keep levelling the hell up in noticing and mitigating it. It’s good. You get to have better than this.)

  106. What about living in different homes? If you think it would work well for you, the two of you could live apart and do things together as a long-term plan. You would have to be happy with his being late and not doing what he said he would do when he said he would do it. Some couples find this enjoyable.

    If not, then what folks in the comments above say. Your approach to life is fine and there are very nice people with the same approach. Find someone you enjoy being with who enjoys being with you in a non-tantrumy way..

    1. I forgot to say, there are probably very nice people out there who would feel just as pampered, safe, and happy as I would if my partner actually liked doing all the things you like to do in your home. Some of them might, as I would, want to reciprocate by doing things you would like – planting a beautiful garden, taking the cars for their tune-ups, and making an effort to be on time, for example.

    2. Living in separate homes is a very valid option for people, you’re right – it is definitely a way of handling the need for more personal space, or wildly different approaches to cleanliness and organization.

      But this doesn’t address all the very real incompatibilities between LW and her bf.

      Nor would it necessarily lead to a balanced and healthy relationship, because bf just doesn’t care about LW’s comfort or wellbeing.

    3. You would have to be happy with his being late and not doing what he said he would do when he said he would do it. Some couples find this enjoyable.

      I…….wha……huh? Those must be some very unique couples indeed, Pibble, to enjoy someone who is late all the time and doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do.

      I personally would be 100% fine with being married to someone and living in separate houses, like Tim Burton and his (now ex-wife’s) adjoining townhomes. Most people do not feel that way. I don’t think LW lives that way.

      Sometimes you just have an SO who is not a great roommate. I have to kind of keep after mine and he often inspires a lot of eye-rolling moments (just this afternoon he got curious about a container of face powder in my bathroom, picked up without realizing the top came off, an POOF! face powder everywhere) but they’re just momentarily annoying. He is not <gaslighting me like the LW’s boyfriend is doing to her. There is a world of difference between my well-meaning, sweet but often klutzy boyfriend and LW’s.

  107. I understand the financial stress. Please look into finding a compatible roommate with whom you can share the bills (and is willing to drive you). There really are a lot of adults out there with whom you could be compatible in all ways but sexual. So, don’t date them. Keep your sex life separate from your living arrangements, until you actually fall in love with a person who loves you right back AND is compatible. In the meantime, by all means, date someone who doesn’t live with you, and their living-compatibility isn’t an issue.

    When interviewing a new roommate, make sure they know about your organizational ways, routines, and needs. They don’t need to be neat and organized the same way, but they do need to respect yours.

    It sounds like this guy even has his own room, anyway, so you’re already in a room-mate situation, except that sex is involved. You’re already working with someone having his own space/finances, so it’s not that different from a room-mate situation. You already know what to do.

    Good luck! And here’s hoping you find a “Golden Girls” situation, soon.

  108. The setting the table thing with dinner guests jumped out at me.

    What did he want to happen here? Did he want LW to call everyone to dinner and just plop the food down on the table, and have them eat with their hands and slurp from the bottle? Or did he want LW to look like a rotten hostess because she neglected to set the table, and the guests don’t know it was BF’s job? And when she set the table, she disrupted his plan to humiliate her?

    Also, did he have the melt-down there, in front of the guests, or did he wait until after they were gone before he “lost control”?

    1. Or did he want LW to look like a rotten hostess because she neglected to set the table, and the guests don’t know it was BF’s job?

      Oof, yeah, and gendered expectations about the division of labor would’ve helped him there. Yet another straight dude knowing he can get away with not doing his share around the house because the guests/in-laws/whoever will assume those tasks were his partner’s job.

    2. All of the above and I’ll throw in another one: put LW into the social role of the “no-fun nag” had she interrupted him to tell him to do it. He knows that in that situation his friends wouldn’t think he had been wrong not to lay the table, they’d think that she was in the wrong for interrupting the fun when she could have laid the table herself.

  109. On the off-chance that you, LW, think this letter actually really overstates the bad things and you forgot to mention he *did* give you $ to replace the new clothes and he apologized for the meltdown and there’s a bunch of other good stuff he does kindly and generously without any expectation of reward or praise and you feel like we’re seeing things *all wrong*… Or for someone else who might be reading this and seeing some echoes of these dynamics in their relationship…

    You have the right to take up space.

    You have the right to do things in your home, both fun things and responsible things, both for yourself and for your partner and for others. You have the right to do things alone, or with others. Because I’m seeing you talk about making yourself smaller and smaller to not “bother” your boyfriend, and about being uncomfortable doing your own chores in your own living place.

    What would happen if he said “why are you doing the laundry? I can do the laundry!” And you said, “I decided I wanted to wash them myself.” And shrugged and walked on? And if he pushed it, you said, “I live here, I can use the washing machine if I want, there are plenty of other chores you can do if you want to be helpful. But I need clean clothes so I’m washing them.”

    And when he’s not making dinner, you make *yourself* a sandwich and say “you didn’t seem to be hungry so I had a snack to tide me over”. “Oh, I didn’t know when dinner would be, so I had something to eat.” Or, “Hey, hon, when were you planning to start dinner? If there isn’t something ready by 8 I’m going to eat a sandwich.” Matter-of-factly, because you have the right to take care of yourself and you are not in charge of making sure he eats. Or of making sure he feels good about himself regardless of his actions. And maybe one night you’re tired and say, “hey babe, I don’t have energy for cooking tonight, can we each just fend for ourselves?” And see what happens. Let him be responsible for himself sometimes. Make it less frictionless for him to just sponge.

    But first *imagine* those conversations. What do you see?

    Really think about his past behavior and what he’s done before. Will he be sad and a bit grumpy? Sulk for maybe an hour and then get over it and do his own thing? Then try it. Have the conversation and see if it starts to shake something loose. ( Things I’ve said to good effect in my first years living on my own: “It is not my job to be the owner of the calendar, you can check if we have plans on Saturday as well as I can.” “I don’t ‘like’ dealing with moldy Tupperware either! It is a *chore*. I am not somehow more fond of it than you are.”)

    But. If you imagine that conversation, do you get scared and feel like you’re doing something foolish and risky by antagonizing him? Will he try to intimidate you? Do you think maybe if you do that more of your stuff will disappear or be destroyed by him being careless (or “careless on purpose”) in a bad mood? Is he going to tell you you’re worthless and try to browbeat you into compliance? If so, you need to leave and to make a PLAN FOR YOUR SAFETY for when you leave. You don’t need any “justification” or “proof” for your fear, just the fact that you – who know him best and whose subconscious has had the time to pick up on all the little things – are afraid he would do something destructive is enough. Don’t let him know you’re working on leaving, but make your plans in secret. Domestic Violence hotlines are a good resource for making a safety plan and leaving (even if he’s not being violent toward you! It’s a reasonable fear to have and a reasonable set of precautions to take.).

  110. The only prize for being the most accommodating person in the world is more shit to accommodate. If this is a safe relationship you then it should be ok to say ‘you must not have met Me, I’m not putting up with any of that.’ When confronted with mould and tantrums. If not safe smile, nod and get out

  111. I’ve found a great way to cope when my partner’s promised to cook and he doesn’t: I cook for me. Just me. I’ll throw together something really easy, like scrambled eggs or tinned soup or a frozen meal, but basically, I feed myself without taking over his share of the work. It felt awful the first couple of times I did it, because couples are supposed to feed each other, so obviously I was an awful person for preparing food for just me, but it’s been amazingly effective at removing my anger and sense of helplessness when he doesn’t cook.

    1. I should add that I agree wholeheartedly that LW should leave boyfriend – LW, you don’t deserve to put up with another tantrum over setting the table ever again, or to always be the one in the kitchen cooking while your boyfriend gets to talk to your guests. But until that becomes possible, this might be a helpful tactic for your health and emotional wellbeing.

      1. What I noticed about this was the framing of “‘cooking dinner’ and ‘entertaining guests’ are both tasks that need to be done” which, no. Cooking dinner means that you’re doing work on your own in the kitchen, and there’s quite a lot of actual work, some of it not very fun. ‘Entertaining guests’ on the other hand, unless you’re trying to schmooze your boss so you can get a promotion probably IS the fun bit and the main reason why you invited those guests in the first place: you want to talk to them.

        So something is wrong here: either having these people over isn’t fun, in which case, who invited them, and why isn’t that person minimising the work for their partner, or LW is being gaslit into seeing cooking (and, at a guess, washing up) as an equal chore to ‘having to entertain the guests’.

  112. LW, you’ve only known this guy for 3 years. And most of that time was long distance. You said he moved in recently. You made it on your own financially before him, you can do it again. You’ve been taking care of yourself since you were a kid, and you’re incredibly good at it.

    There’s a million options for increasing your financial support. Do you know how many people would love to have a housemate who cooks, cleans, and does laundry? People will pay extra to house share with someone like that. You have a job, you have friends, you have activist work. You have networks! Use them to set up an affordable, emotionally healthy living situation for yourself.

    Then go fall in love with someone who’s as kickass organized and easygoing and non-racist as you are, and with whom you have mindblowing sex. Then marry that person. Then live happily ever after.

  113. Hi, it’s me, the Captain Awkward respondent who is in therapy for cleaning problems. Not only do I have ADD with executive dysfunction, I also had bad childhood experiences including cleaning violence and now have what sure looks like cleaning PTSD!


    Look, I’m not trying to internet diagnose him with brain problems, but *I* have brain problems, and you know what’s okay? Taking responsibility for them, working to access treatment/professional support that’s within my means, and being frank with my partner about how this affects my life. (Things this looks like for us: she “helps” by sitting in one place where I can see her and reading a book while _I_ clean – because, um, movement out of the corner of my eye while I’m trying to clean makes me shaky – and we live in separate apartments so that she has a clean place that she controls and our issues aren’t mashed together. One of my therapy goals is getting my cleaning issues under control enough that we can live together, but for us, as ourselves, this is a “not yet” thing and that is so far fine. I would be disappointed if this is never under control enough for us to live closer than opposite-sides-of-a-duplex, but the rest of our relationship is going really well by both of our discussed standards so it doesn’t feel like a huge sacrifice to have this one thing be not-yet.)

    What is not okay behavior, by my standards: externalizing my problems onto my partner, flipping out, and then trying to control my partner out of living her own life to the standard that she needs to feel happy and okay. What is happening here with the LW is some very close control of your ability to live your own life! I don’t care what it’s about or why he’s doing it, frankly, it’s control.

    As someone with brain probs who loves someone with brain probs and lives in community with lots of other people with brain probs, the line for me is “can someone take responsibility for their own problems, or do they externalize them onto others and then punish or control those others”. That for me is the safe-versus-unsafe line. You are already willing to cross a line that would be a dealbreaker for lots of other people – just doing the tasks he can’t or won’t do – and you’re getting punished for it. I mean, this is as if instead of asking him to drive you insisted that either you drive unsafely or no one goes anywhere. Bleh! LW, you deserve a good happy life, and this guy does not sound like he’s currently able to be part of it. I wish you all luck and all the best and a clean kitchen with a nice meal in it that you eat while in possession of your own forks and sweaters.

  114. LW, as a disabled person in relationships I feel for you. I would also like to let you know, just as a reality-check, that this behavior is not okay.

    Does my girlfriend sometimes forget to do a thing I asked because depression/hyperfocus/that video game was just so engrossing? Yes. That’s human.

    If I ask her about it, does she *occasionally* have a shame spiral because she realized she forgot? Yup. (These are usually not that frequent but happen more often when everyone is crangry.)

    Are there days when she just does the thing or I forget or no one shame spiral? Also yes.

    If we hit “repeated instances of uncomfortable thing happening”, do we talk about it? Yes. Until everyone feels better, and usually there is crying because Feels, but then we make up and everyone tries to avoid the emotional landmines we’re hopefully better aware of.

    But like… this sounds like ALL of the labor is on you. The doing the laundry, the managing of feels about said laundry. That sucks.

    I know that as a disabled person it can feel like maybe no one will love you because internalized ableism about being a “burden”. I just want to say, if any of that is keeping you stuck around unhealthy people? It’s not true. (Like, I can attest, because I’m polyamorous and disabled and being open about access needs is a really great way to weed out some of the assholes and I’m still polysaturated. So. Seriously. If you want to leave, you got this.)

  115. OP, are you suffering from a sunk-cost fallacy? The rest of your life should not be sacrificed based on the last three years of relationship work. I know that the bulk of your letter was discussing with the organization thing, but I’m really concerned about the last part. Your boyfriend doesn’t share your political views, monologues at you, you don’t have a good sex life, and he’s a bigot who has explicitly communicated that he will not marry you.

    Listen. I’m a religious Jew. I live a Jewish life, have a Jewish home, and will raise Jewish children. I would only marry a man who wants that, too. But! I do not give one flying fuck if a different Jewish woman wants to marry a Muslim man, because love is grand and more importantly I’m not a bigot. Also important: I wouldn’t start a relationship with a Muslim man, move in and expect him to take care of everything, be mad at him for not letting me lose his stuff in the laundry, have below-average sex, and then say, “By the way, Ahmad, Jews shouldn’t be with Muslims.” I would not do this, because I am not a massive hypocrite, and I want Ahmad to find someone who shares his values, is a good partner, and loves him to distraction.

    Your guy’s total lack of ability to take care of daily household tasks (which is a big deal, in my books) and tantrums (which is a HUGE deal) aside, it sounds like you’re fundamentally incompatible. He doesn’t share your values. You don’t want the same things.

    I want to get married too, and I have a mildly-but-if-it-flares-up-then-seriously disabling illness. Trust is a Really Big Deal, so here are some questions I ask myself about a prospective partner that you might want to consider (bear in mind, I’m monogamous, heretosexual, and want children, so some of these may not be applicable to you):

    Do I trust him with my house? Will he share in the household labour? If I’m incapacitated, will he be able to care for our home and possessions? If your disability worsens–heck, if you catch the flu–do you trust your partner to do the groceries, make sure children/pets/plant babies get fed, walked, and watered?

    Do I trust him with my money? In your case, the answer is no–are you ok with asking him to sign a pre-nup, and keeping your finances separate forever? Are you ok with paying for everything if he’s irresponsible with money? Will you be ok if you can’t work as much as you plan to?

    Do I trust him with my children? Will he want to share parenting equally? Will he be a good role model for our children? Will he model with me the kind of loving, respectful relationship I hope my children will find? If I’m incapacitated, do I trust him to take on the greater share of parenting work? Of household management?

    Do I trust him with my body? Do I trust him to make medical decisions on my behalf if I’m unable to? Does he trust my own judgement with regard to my body’s disabilities and limitations? Will our bedroom be safe, fun, and satisfying?

    Do I trust him with my feelings? Is he emotionally stable and supportive? Can he care for his own mental and emotional wellness, or does he expect me to do all of the emotional labour? Can I unburden myself to him? Life is long, and bad things happen–the people I love will someday die. Do I trust him to support me through those times? What if something terrible happens? Will tragedy push us closer together, or farther apart? If something wasn’t working, would our relationship be reparable? Would he go to therapy himself, or to marriage counseling with me? Will he always strive towards being a better partner to me, as I will to him?

    I think, OP, that the answers to a lot of these questions are in your letter, and the answer is “no.” You sound like an incredibly capable and mature person, and you deserve someone that will be an equal partner to you. That doesn’t have to mean that everything is divided 50/50 100% of the time, but that there is balance and back-and-forth in the relationship so that one person is not doing 80-100% of the work 100% of the time.

    1. Hannah, I love your list – and I realise that my partners from my two serious relationships don’t make the grade – which makes me feel better about my consistent ambivalence. I’d called it ‘reluctance’ to commit – in reality it was – “I don’t trust you enough”. Huh.

  116. So I agree with everyone else that this guy is a whole slew of problems and the LW is *certainly* grown-up enough; that is not the problem at all.

    But I also wanted to say, for the record, re: this: “Captain, how do I tell the difference between us not being compatible and me not being enough of a grown-up to put in the work?”

    …There is no difference. Let’s say that this relationship really could work if you put in a certain kind of work, but that you are not in a place in your life to put in that work. *That’s what being not compatible looks like.*

    An incompatibility is not anybody’s fault, it’s just a fact. And maybe framing it that way for yourself will help you to think about whether this relationship is going to work for you, freed from moral judgments.

  117. I 100% agree with the Captain’s advice: leave this guy ASAP.

    Being poor at planning and time management are not automatic dealbreakers for many people (okay too if they are!) but the way your boyfriend responds when this happens is extremely telling. There is some contradictory combination here of him holding you responsible for him following through (telling you you didn’t remind him enough times) while also being offended that you don’t trust him enough that he will follow through.

    For those in less extreme situations, I do have some advice. If you have a partner who struggles with time management, I do recommend letting them take responsibility for themselves while asking questions like, “How are you going to remember that next time?” or “How are you going to remember when to start dinner?” We live in a wonderful age of technology where your partner likely has a phone with programmable alarms and if they have proven time and time again that they will not do important things when they need to, there are plenty of ways to offload that work onto a device. Something else I do with my own partner, who has some weaknesses in this area, is when they are in charge of planning something I ask questions that sort of lead them to do more pre-planning than they would have done on their own. For example: “How are we getting there?” “When should we leave?” I like this because I’m not telling them they need to plan ahead, I’m just requesting information that I want to know (but also kind of tricking them into planning ahead).

  118. Married for 14-years person here. My husband & I both have ADHD. He is better with relationship stuff like spending time with people and giving the kids his full attention. I am better with clocks, calendars, to-do lists, routines, etc.

    Sometimes I have to take care of a routine task that he forgot, like cleaning the kitchen or taking out the trash. He often has Feelings about that, because it makes him feel criticized, he feels guilty and ashamed for letting me down, etc.

    I sometimes do get aggravated about having to do this follow-up, and that ramps up his Feelings with defensiveness (and early on, insecurity that I might get fed up and leave).

    But tantrums? Meltdowns? No. Some complaints. Some minor arguments or brief huffiness. Mostly just some sad conversations expressing those Feelings with, ya know, words. And above all, acknowledgement that the task does need doing and he’s sorry for not coming through for us.

    “Relationship work” is stuff like exercising impulse control to be as kind as you can when your partner is doing something annoying but not objectively wrong. Distinguishing between thoughtlessness and selfishness. Choosing to express yourself as clearly and thoughtfully as you can, instead of blurting out the first angry response that comes into your head.

    Or telling the truth about really vulnerable and confusing feelings, even when they make you look bad.

    Or showing up & supporting the thing your partner loves, even if it bores you.

    Or diligently making sure their concerns and values are given equal weight in your long-term planning.

    Or making practical changes to your habits so you can actually stop doing the thing they (reasonably) asked you to stop.

    Or taking extra care to communicate things that they have a right to know, big and small.

    It does not mean tying yourself into knots to avoid tantrums. Or pretending things don’t bother you when they do. Or pretending anything, really. Or being responsible for reminding them to do things they promised to do. Or reducing your standard of daily living just to protect their bubble of denial.

    You are not being “controlling” by taking care of your own stuff or making sure the ordinary necessities of life get done. If you were taking away his choices about things of his own, or nitpicking the way he did it, or not allowing him any input or choices about the way he lives, that would be controlling.

    Wanting to eat food, with utensils, at regular intervals, and not have anything decomposing in your living space? Not controlling.

    If there were no other problems and this were on a minor level, I might suggest things like explicitly saying, “This thing needs to happen by X time/day. If you want to do it, that is your timeframe. Otherwise I’m going to do it, because I am not willing to put up with (consequence).”

    But honestly, it sounds like you’re way beyond that already.

    Take care of yourself in a way that creates the environment you want. If your partner can’t cope with his feelings in an appropriate or constructive way, then he will have to go create his chaos somewhere else.

  119. LW, you are so much stronger and resourceful than you think you are. You are being taken advantage of by a man who will not take care of himself. The help you need from him can come from others.

    I am so sorry that my solution is “more work” by finding these people to replace a man you love, I wish life was easier.

  120. I want to chime in with the “You shouldn’t have to apologize for being awesome” group and say…a friend of mine broke my heart today. She said she had finally started paying someone to clean the (large!) house her partner owns and she lives with him in. I was so happy, this was something she’d been needing to do (and could afford) and it would take a bunch of stress off her shoulders…

    Until she added that she had to hide this from her partner because he adamantly said NO, she couldn’t do it (in “his” house, which…) and has been hiding it for two months and feels so guilty.

    You should never have to feel guilty for doing things that improve your surroundings and don’t hurt the other person living with you. You just shouldn’t. And you sound like a wonderful person for not even minding the extra work you have to do.

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