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Why Doesn't He Do Some Housecleaning?

Dear Philippa,

I've just met the love of my life, but there's one problem. He lives like a pig and I can't stand it. I'm not just talking about leaving stuff around. His bathroom and kitchen are just gross. When I mention it he just shrugs and says it doesn't bother him. What should I do?

�Leslie, Chicago, IL


Dear Leslie,

I was thinking about titling this letter, "Why do men live like pigs?" But to be fair some guys are very neat and I've also known some women who live in pigsties. They're the ones who have the perfect dress and makeup but their apartments look like a bomb hit.

I asked some of my single male acquaintances about this phenomenon and they said that they only think about housecleaning when things reach a critical mass�translation: it smells or looks so bad even they can't stand it. The other reason a guy really cleans his place is when he's met a new woman whom he wants to invite over�translation: hormones motivate housecleaning.

I once dated a guy who owned an incredible condo directly overlooking the ocean. I emphasize the setting because you would think that it was equally stunning inside. The trouble was that he lived like your boyfriend. It got so bad that one day I cleaned his whole condo. Looking back I can't believe I was that stupid. This guy could have afforded a cleaning service. I don't remember him being that grateful either. I would certainly handle things differently today.

You have several options. The first is don't spend any more time at his place. If he wants to know why, let him know you can't handle the mess and dirt. If he misses you being there and the physical intimacy you share he may be motivated to address the grunge. The next option is to set a day aside to work on cleaning stuff together. He could wash and polish your car while you help clean his kitchen. Or you could do some housecleaning together and then you could give each other a massage, and cook dinner together. This way you've given a positive association to doing chores together. The last option, if he can afford it, is to encourage him to hire a cleaning service. I personally like the sharing option best because this is how a couple in a real relationship behaves.

But don't get so hung up on the matter of doing chores that you miss the bigger issues here. If you and this guy got married and he never saw the need to change his dirty habits how would you feel? You don't want to live your life with someone you feel you have to change. And you certainly don't want to become the stereotypical nagging wife either.

My husband was a single dad when I met him and I liked how he tried to make a home for his son. This showed me he was family-oriented which was very important to me. It's funny but many guys don't realize that women can be as attracted to a guy who maintains a pleasing home as one who drives a flashy car. Your boyfriend needs to know that the desire to please someone, like getting a place cleaned up because it's important to the lady you're dating, is a gesture that will impress the heck out of any woman.

The question is not what you can do about your boyfriend. He has the right to live any way he wants. The question is what do YOU need to be happy in a relationship�a partner who mirrors your cleanliness, someone who shares the chores? Don't con yourself into saying that's not really important, if underneath you know it is. You don't have to settle. What we fail to remember when we're dating someone is that being compatible in our living styles is as important as the romantic feelings. After the excitement of early dating, the way you get on with someone at the basic, day-to-day level will make or break your chances for sustaining a long-term relationship.




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