Skip Nav
34 of the Most Romantic Films on Netflix This Month
Women's Health
Should You Go Commando? Here's What You Need to Know
The Groom Surprised His Bachelor-Obsessed Bride in the Cutest Way at the Altar

You Asked: I'm Tired of Being His Maid

You Asked: I'm Tired of Being His Maid

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years and living together for the past two. From what he has told me, he grew up in a house that was a disaster, which became a way of life for him. There were dishes and clothes everywhere and dirt all over the house — nobody cared to clean and he grew comfortable with that.

I, on the other hand, come from a family of neat freaks. I grew up vacuuming and dusting nearly every single day. My mom was very strict about how we kept our bedrooms and as a young adult, I adopted some habits of my mother's compulsive cleanliness. I'm by no means as harsh as she was but I like the common areas of our apartment to be clean. I like when trash goes in the trash can, paperwork is on the table (not the floor), and food isn't spread all over the countertops.

My boyfriend and I have had numerous, calm discussions about keeping things clean and he's agreed to help, but that hasn't happened. I find myself frustrated to the point where I end up throwing a fit about his disgusting living habits. I am at the point where I'm about to move out. I'm tired of acting like a slave and feeling unappreciated for keeping things tidy. What should I do? I still want to live with him because I love him, but I'm tired of being the maid!

— Clean and Tidy Cate

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Clean and Tidy Cate,

Cleanliness is a huge factor when it comes to being able to live with someone harmoniously, especially if that someone is your significant other. Obviously you've tried discussing this with your boyfriend to no avail but before you pack your bags, try bringing it to his attention again, this time with a clear set of instructions.

Write out a list of the things that need to be done every day and then another list for things that need to be done each week. Be fair — you may have to make some sacrifices, too, so only list the things that really matter to you. Sit down with your boyfriend and break the list in half, working together to divvy up the chores. Get in the habit of cleaning together to make sure things are completed. It seems juvenile, but I do think that cleaning can be learned over time.

When you do sit down and talk to him, don't be afraid to tell him that you're at your wits end. He may need to really hear that you're planning on moving out if things don't change. Likewise, keep in mind that he was raised in a completely different lifestyle than you — he might not even know how to clean! — and just as you're stuck in your ways, he is too. Be patient with each other and be ready to compromise.


Join The Conversation
micherries micherries 8 years
i WISH i could sit down with some list of chores and calmly have a discussion with my boyfriend. he gets so defensive immediately and has "don't tell me what to do" issues. when i bring up a situation about cleaning or get flustered, he manipulates the situation with retorts like, "hey, look at yourself, i was just sitting her watching tv and you're the one that started an argument about cleaning. i'm not doing anything." this is makes me so livid! and the best is when he tells me that since I WANT things clean, it's my problem and why should he help knowing that i get annoyed when things are dirty. if we live together, i thought it might be nice if he knows how much things being clean mean to me, he might pitch in once in awhile. just like i try to compromise but accepting that he doesn't mind if things are messy. i try not to take his mess personally, as if he left it for me to clean it, but it's infuriating sometimes when he knows what tidy means to me and he never seems to tap into how i feel. and the things i get annoyed at are not just clothes on the floor-dirty dishes that pile up in the sink b/c the dishwasher is full of clean dishes that he can't be bothered to put away (and puts away all in the wrong places even though he uses them everyday?), piled-up recylcing, nail clippings in the bathroom, and now the new thing-he started using clippers and now there are little hairs EVERYWHERE in the bathroom. i just feel like this is insolent, immature behavior. when does a 31 year old man stop acting like a stubborn child and actually pick up after himself? i feel like now he does these things on purpose to prove himself. but is asking for him to clean up his nail clippings and hairs everywhere is too much to ask for? i can't imagine that his friends that live with his girlfriends would be slobs like this. i just don't get how a 32 year old guy doesn't see how babyish he is being! and the cleaning lady doesn't help-there are days in between she doesn't come that all of this doesn't happen. i guess i will try to seriously leave him out of my cleaning and let his mess pile up? desperate for solution!
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
So, you didn't think about this BEFORE you signed a lease??? no sympathy. this is how he is. like Tidalwave said, he probably just doesn't know how to clean. so, ms. neat freak, show him. or move out.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I don't think that talking to him is going to make a big difference. It's something that is ingrained in you from when you're little and it's really hard to change. I definitely think that if he's not willing to do it for himself that he's not going to be able to do it. I say you clean your messes and when he needs clean socks and underwear and has none he'll have to figure it out. I know how to clean and don't find that it's the most important thing. My house is not dirty just a little cluttered and when it gets dirty then it's time to clean. I get that. Maybe you should relax a little. If you can't than you need to hire someone to come in and clean. It's just as much your issue as his. You're the one who can't deal with some mess when everything else seems to be fine.
sunnyheart sunnyheart 9 years
I think DearSugar's advice is right on, as long as you're careful. A lot of people who grew up in chaotic households (like me) know they are messy and are upset by themselves, too. It's taken me a long time to "learn" to clean, and the truth is, I feel so much better when things are clean! As long as you aren't nagging, helping someone learn isn't a bad thing if it bugs them, too.
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 9 years
Time to stop being calm, get his ass in check! That's what i'd do, not be mean but say this a little ridic.
ehadams ehadams 9 years
Make him pay for a housekeeper to come once a week or so, if he isn't willing to help at all. My boyfriend and I both work a lot, and we do what we can to keep things tidy, but we still split the bill for a housekeeper to come once a month for the deep cleaning. It has really helped our relationship.
ckeller825 ckeller825 9 years
OMG this is the story of my life!
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Ooo Bengal good idea about making him pay for it too! :)
bengalspice bengalspice 9 years
Sounds like my boyfriend ... except that he actually grew up in a cleaner house than my own. In fact, I've always been the messy one in my family. However, I always end up picking up after my boyfriend because he never seems to get around to cleaning. I say, get a cleaning service and charge it to him, and when he complains about the waste of money tell him he could have saved the money if he would just take the time to learn to clean things himself.
pinkprincess1101 pinkprincess1101 9 years
a man will only treat you like a maid/slave/punching bag/sex slave if you allow him too, my ex husband was all of the above because i allowed that behaviour, now with my fiance from the beginning i made it clear i dont and will not allow you to treat me like a piece of garbage, and 3 1/2 years later going strong, very fortunate to have the man i do
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 9 years
At my house, we both have bad cleaning habits and I can't stand it, I used to be able to keep my apartment sparkling when I lived alone... but then I didn't work and only had to clean up after myself. I had adjusted to just not making a mess in the first place. Finally, after just about throwing away everything in my way, we sat down and made a chore sheet. We dedicate just a little time everyday doing chores (sometimes they get finished in the time allotted and sometimes they don't, but we don't sweat that) as long as some of it gets done and we spend the time on it. We've found that even though the house is not sparkling and lemon'y fresh, the house is clean and uncluttered and easily scrubbed if necessary. For us, two grown people need a chore chart. Keeps the confusion down about who will do what and when.
jillerin457 jillerin457 9 years
To me, this is a dealbreaker. It's too big of a personality trait to change easily, and even if you can nag him in to living like a human and not a zoo animal, he'll probably resent you for it. My bf now is not a slob, but he's disorganized, and it drives me crazy. If he were actually *nasty* dirty, I would be out of there so fast. It's bad enough just trying to stay on top of laundry and piles of papers/receipts/checks from his work. I'm getting agitated just thinking about it!
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
TidalWave - you hit the nail on the head for me! I grew up never needing to help out around the house (I know, I know) because my parents shared it all equally and then I moved out at 16! My first house was horrible because I had no idea how to clean. I didn't know which liquids were used for what and I would regularly be found using antiseptic spray for the counter tops on a spill on the floor... shameful but nobody had told me any different! My ex used to go crazy because I couldn't wash up "properly". I would do it and leave soap suds (they're just suds, big deal) on the plates and then leave them on the rack. This didn't bother me but it apparently bothers him and a lot of other people. So maybe your boyfriends intentions are good but he has no idea where to begin? The thought of trying to clean the bathroom makes me want to cry because I wouldn't know which liquid to use for what and which sponges and how to do it properly. =S It's shameful but still! Start him out slowly with small tasks. Maybe ask him to vacuum up or put his dirty washing in the basket. Then gradually add more things to the rota, praising him as he goes. Positive encouragement instead of breaking down and screaming about something he probably feels helpless about is the ONLY way you are going to get through to him. Good luck!
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
A lot of it is, honestly, not knowing how to clean. I know this sounds weird, but a lot of people don't really know how or care. When I lived with an ex, I would clean but nothing would be cleanclean enough to his liking. I didn't use the right sponges or cleaning liquid. I never rinsed out the dishes well enough before putting them in the dishwasher. why? because it was the first time in my life i had used them! You have had, let's say, 15 years of cleaning practice between yourself and watching your mother clean. Myself, like your husband, never had any of that!! How well could you clean a house when you were 10 years old?!
cjmara805 cjmara805 9 years
If he hasn't established good housekeeping habits by now, he never will. Either hire a maid service, deal with his mess, or dump him. Dearsugar's advice is good, but it won't last.
dreamlover823 dreamlover823 9 years
I am blessed that I have someone that comes to my home every two weeks and cleans/picks up after MY HUSBAND. Im sure those of you who have seen me around the sugar network have heard me rant about how lucky I am that I have the PERFECT husband... I do... BUT he is as messy as this guy described here. SAME EXACT STORY. Horribly messy home, no discipline, etc. I try to clean up in between visists from the housekeeper and still havent found a way to get him to cooperate, but then again there is not much to expect considering his parents current home!
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Welcome to the club :OY: Save yourselves years worth of arguments and just break down and hire yourselves a maid/housekeeper. They're worth it just so you guys wont fight anymore. I think one of the things that you just cannot change about people is their level of cleanliness.
violinladyfreak violinladyfreak 9 years
I had a similar situation where my hubby had a habit like that from the horrible experiences from his childhood living in a squalor of a house. At first it was really hard to get him to clean up nicer so he doesn't have to waste 10 minutes in the mornings trying to find his keys. Then I just kept my habits without touching his stuff, piling his dirty clothes in a corner when he refused to clean it up, eventually he caught onto the better habit a little bit. The biggest breakthrough was just a big fight over some misplaced paperwork that was very important to the both of us. He recognized the problem when I threatened to move out if he can't find it, which lead to my current organized house. I suggest you just leave his stuff alone and clean up only after yourself instead of both of you. Only cook and do the chores for yourself and leave him in his mess until he'll realize very quickly that at least some moderation of tidiness is actually necessary. Men won't listen to us nagging, they would only listen to themselves and learn from mistakes
joesbabygirl joesbabygirl 9 years
I would sit him down and tell him you can't live like this. You have to have help. Relationships are 50/50 all the matter what the problem is.
What Men Want in a Girlfriend
Should I Cheat?
Male Birth Control | Video
How to Stay Married
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds