A woman who hit back at her boyfriend after he began deliberately doing housework badly has been praised for her “genius” response to his lackluster efforts.
The distribution of household chores is an ongoing source of debate and frustration among couples and families the world over.
While studies suggest men do more housework today than they did over 50 years ago, analysis by University College London from 2019 shows women do approximately 16 hours of chores per week compared to men, who do around six.
Women were also found to take on the bulk of the domestic duties in 93 percent of the 8,500 British heterosexual couples studied.
In this particular instance, the woman involved had more reason than most for being unhappy.
Writing in a post published to Reddit’s “Am I The A**hole” forum, which has been upvoted 26,000 times, she explained that her boyfriend had begun “pretending” to be bad at “basic” life tasks like washing dishes and cleaning clothes.
She initially confronted him over the situation, reminding him that he had always been “very competent” when he lived alone and had to take on chores like this for himself.
The woman said he had repeatedly “refused” to do the dishes “until he finally did them wrong.”
When asked about it, her boyfriend rejected any suggestion he was doing housework badly on purpose and insisted he was “trying his best.” He told her she had “impossibly high standards” and he simply “couldn’t win.”
After the conversation, she decided to put his claims to the test by going along with his insipid efforts in order to show up his underwhelming work.
For example, after her boyfriend bleach stained her “favorite little black dress,” rather than “getting mad,” she decided to wear it to a big family event. “He said he really thought it looked bad and I said if he wants he could Sharpie [black pen] on the white spots real quick in the Uber,” she wrote. “It ended up looking even worse.”
On another occasion, he loaded their dishwasher incorrectly, resulting in several cups and bowls coming out of the wash dirty. Rather than wash them again, the woman served food in them. He told her the dishes were “dirty” and serving food in them was “disgusting” but the woman told him it was “really no biggie” and she was getting over her “impossibly high cleanliness standards.”
She also shared another example in which she asked her boyfriend to refrigerate some leftovers from a meal served the night before. He failed to do so, with the dish left out overnight. When she suggested the food would “probably be fine to eat” he apparently got “frustrated” and told her “you can’t serve meat left out overnight.”
The approach ended up having the desired effect. According to the woman posting online: “He’s stopped being so lazy about chores after he realized I seem totally okay with leaving stuff done badly and that he’ll be living with it.”
The woman said she felt “petty” for having to be “dishonest” in order to get her point across—but the majority of those responding to the post disagreed.
“You’re a genius,” Jaded-Chip343 wrote. “It’s not petty. It’s refusing to let him externalize the costs of his behavior to you. I think it’s brilliant and you should keep doing it whenever this comes up.” Fallen_Star_2319 agreed: “It also taught him weaponized incompetence isn’t going to work, so he shouldn’t try. All it’ll do is make his life less comfortable.”
Thistleandpeony branded her actions “malicious compliance at its finest.”
“She went along with his little game and made him deal with the consequences like an adult has to do, rather than saving him from himself as if she was his mommy,” they wrote. Delightfuldilpickle claimed that the truth about the man being deliberately lazy was revealed “the minute he complained about having to use the wishes that he had washed.”
“If he really didn’t know he was doing it wrong, he would have been fine with using them,” they said.
Pcnauta, meanwhile, felt that her lesson failed to address the “bigger issue” presented by his behavior. They asked: “If he’s going to lie and go to lengths to get out of putting dishes in the dishwasher the right way, what is he going to do when they hit a real problem?”
Household chores may be a source of frustration to some, but undertaking them may have previously unheralded health benefits.
A study published in the journal BMC Geriatrics back in April found that performing routine household chores like doing the laundry, vacuuming, and gardening had a positive association with brain volume and cognition in older age groups.
Researchers from the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Hospital in Ontario, Canada, examined the links between household chores, brain volume and cognition in a group of 66 cognitively healthy older adults.
Participants were asked about the time they spent on household chores, with the researchers finding that the older adults who spent more time engaging in these activities had greater brain volume, regardless of how much exercise they did.
This was observed specifically in the hippocampus, which plays a key role in functions like memory and learning, and also the frontal lobe, which influences aspects of cognition.
In a reversal of the story featured above, one man earned the backing of fans online after detailing the circumstances that led him to kick his girlfriend out of their apartment after she refused to cook or clean for him.
Another online debate saw a mom-of-three gain support on Reddit after explaining how she refused to let her husband go to her brother’s wedding alone after he suggested she stay at home and look after their kids while he made the trip.