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Kristin, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 454
Experience:  Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 11+ years specialist in mental health. Expertise and insight!
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My boyfriend recently moved accross the country to be with me, transferred his job, and mo

Customer Question

My boyfriend recently moved accross the country to be with me, transferred his job, and moved into my apartment. Before he moved here, his place was always clean. Now that he has been here a while, he has stopped cleaning and picking up after himself entirely. When I ask him nicely, he says "Oh I guess I can't do anything right". He is 24. We also have a puppy, and because of his sloppiness, our puppy has eaten so many things that he has left out that has gotten him sick. He also doesn't watch the dog and doesnt clean up when he has an accident indoors.
Is it unrealistic to hope that he will grow out of it? and realize that the way he lives is completely unsanitary? I'm so exhausted from cleaning up after both of us. How do I handle this?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kristin replied 6 years ago.

Hello and thank you for your question.


How frustrating this must be for you! What does he say when you ask him why his place was always clean when he lived alone and now he is so messy??

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Because he didn't want me to see how messy and dirty he was. He also used to have a maid come once a week, whose hard cleaning would only last a day. He doesn't put anything away, he makes coffee, leaves the milk on the counter, leaves his clothes alll over the place, and if I say anything, he shuts down and plays the victim card, like I'm so demanding just because I don't want to live in his filth. He knows I am mad about his messy ways, but no matter how I say it to him, he doesn't understand that this is a deal-breaker. I will not live like this forever.
Expert:  Kristin replied 6 years ago.

Okay thank you for the additional information. It allows me to know if this is how he always has been or if he changed, expecting you to be the one to clean. It is the way he is, however he is certainly old enough to understand that he is messy and needs to change and help out with the housework.


You have already tried so many tactics and it's bewildering that nothing has helped.

You could ask him what chores he would like to take care of and allow him to pick. And then make up a list with a schedule and that when the chore is done, he puts a check next to it. If he can't pick then you divide it up yourself and again with the checks.


If he does clean up, be sure to tell him that you appreciate it. However, if he doesn't change at all and just doesn't even try or only shows a minimal effort, I would let him know (and you may even want to let him know now) that if he doesn't put in the effort, this is a deal-breaker for you. T

hat it actually shows not just that he is messy but more importantly that he doesn't seem to be able to reach any kind of middle ground or take your feelings seriously and show through behavior that your needs and happiness matters too! It could show up in other areas I mean where he is going to be stubborn over changing or reaching a middle ground.

So in summary don't hesitate to let him know exactly how much it bothers you and that you are seriously considering that this may be a deal breaker. Then see if that makes a difference to him.

Please click ACCEPT button for this answer, and feel free to continue the discussion with me even after clicking accept. Thank you!

Kristin and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Actually I did let him choose this chores. He only chose 2, and I was even ok with that, just to have him actually pitching in. He never does those chores.
His parents got divorced when he was a kid, and he explains that his mother was so controlling, and bitched his father around, and after a few years, he wouldn't take it anymore. I get the feeling he intentionally doesn't do things I would like him to, because he knows that I would like him to do them, just to "show that he won't be bitched around". I've met his mother... and it is true, she is extremely demanding, even to strangers. But I hate that he won't do things I want (this extends beyond cleaning) just to "prove" that he is "in control". I'm sure he doesn't realize I've made the connection. Will he ever get over this? I feel I have to tread lightly or he'll just shut down, or leave the room, a lot of avoidance.
Expert:  Kristin replied 6 years ago.

Okay so this does go deeper than just him being messy and is more about him (maybe) exerting his own will and control. It could be that since he couldn't rebel against his Mom, he can now do that with you, but this is misplaced and won't work.


You can let him know that your relationship is your own, not his parent's. If you are already feeling like you need to tread lightly or he will shut down, then it sounds more like his issue that he needs to resolve on his own, and it's about more than the cleaning etc. Like when he said, I guess I can't do anything right. Be sure to tell him the things that he does that you really like etc. and you can even ask him (gently) if maybe he is worried that you will boss him around like his mom did to his dad. And if that has anything to do with his resistance. His avoidance and leaving the room are okay but only if he returns to then talk about the issue and not just hope that in avoidance you will just let it go.

He has to see the consequences and then maybe that will make him change. best wishes!