Is It Wrong to Expect A Boyfriend to Help Me With Laborious Tasks?

Is It Wrong to Expect A Boyfriend to Help Me With Laborious Tasks

I am a single mom of 5 children, (teens and very young adults). My BF and I have been together 4 years and he comes over almost every day. I rarely go to his house as I am a busy mom with work, kids, and sports. He has a daughter and visits with her every other weekend. My question is: should he help me with major projects around my house? I don’t expect him to pay anything out of pocket but to help. The main water line to our house broke and we’ve been without water for 2 weeks and to save money, my 2 older boys and I were digging/shoveling dirt and rock 2ft down and about 4ft across and my BF did not offer to help. He was watching the Warriors game in my house while we were outside doing some serious hard labor. I feel since he’s here almost every day that he should be a man and say, I got this babe let me help you. But he didn’t. It upset me and made me question his character….


I hope you’re alive to read this, since I answer emails a month or two late and you were already without water for two weeks. If you are, brace yourself for what may be a more nuanced answer than you want.

People (not just men) are selfish — by which I mean that we all seek to avoid pain and receive pleasure.
People (not just men) like to give and receive love in a variety of different ways.
People (not just men) aren’t mindreaders.
People (not just men) aren’t always going to agree on what’s appropriate behavior.

You with me so far? Good.

As a dating coach, I would be more likely to question why you have a boyfriend for four years and you’re not married, or why you have a boyfriend for 4 years and just realized that he’s selfish.

I can only guess that the kids make moving in/marriage too complicated so you both stay content with the status quo, and that he’s selfish in a lot of ways, but you’re only highlighting this one.

Next time, consider the time/money/frustration equation and see if you can have someone else fix the problem for you.

But again, that’s just a guess. I’m a professional husband and I can point to a dozen instances in which I recall being similarly selfish and my wife can point to three dozen more. My point is that this doesn’t seem to be about the water line; as you said, this seems to be about the very nature of his character.

Is this the norm, or is this an aberration? If the latter, you let him off the hook and perhaps ask him for his big manly help on this monster project. If the former, you have to assess whether his selfishness predominates enough for you to get rid of him entirely. Only you can answer that question.

I agree with you that sitting on the couch and watching TV while you’re sweating up a storm is somewhere between selfish and clueless. But unless you specifically asked him to lend you a hand and he pointedly said no, it’s not like he’s rejected your cry for help — he just didn’t offer to — probably because it’s much easier to watch the NBA than it is to dig into rock.

Personally, I would never dig into rock to fix your main water lines, nor would I let you dig into rock to do so. That’s what they invented plumbers for. Next time, consider the time/money/frustration equation and see if you can have someone else fix the problem for you — perhaps your generous new boyfriend will even throw in a few bucks to make it happen.

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  1. 1

    Hi Patty,   this is just my personal take on this since I’m in a similar situation. I have two sons over 18 who live with me. They are adults and both earn a paycheck. At different times both attend college also.   In order for my sons to live with me they can choose to pay a small monthly rent or do upkeep on the house. Btw, cable, water, Internet, heat, ac, etc is included in the monthly rent (I wish I had that deal). They have access to the laundry machines (they do all their own clothes, towels, bed linens). They keep their bathroom and bedrooms clean and if they cook something…well you get the idea. They alternate mowing and outdoor chores. If they don’t want to pay rent; they can choose from my house maintenance list (stuff like pressure washing, my oldest has rewired some plugs, put in pendant lighting, replaced rotted wood etc). This plumbing project-it’s sounds big. My oldest would definitely tackle it because he has the expertise, my youngest could do the unskilled labor. They’d tackle it because 1) I’m their mom 2) because they wouldn’t have to pay their nominal rent for months! I personally wouldn’t expect my boyfriend to do something that probably should be left up to a plumber (you know they have trenchers that could dig a 20′ long 2′ deep trench in minutes!). That being said, my guy consistently helps me with projects without asking. He’s volunteered to paint, move furniture to clean the carpets, etc.   In fact I broke up with him one time and he came over every week and edged and mowed my front lawn. I didn’t ask! He just knows it gets on my nerves not being just so and he said he wanted me to know he was thinking about me:)


  2. 2

    It sounds like you’re expecting more from the relationship than he’s voluntarily willing to give.

  3. 3

    He HAS to offer to help IF he is a Man at all.. a boyfriend who cares and a gentleman supposingly.. I would not be asking him specifically either.. To me there is No clueless- is exactly what you said – selfish and may be a User.. May be you do stuff for him while he is in your house,so he likes it and expects it and   do not think he shall bare some weight.. Or typical men / many men/ behaviour – I am the king and will just sit here lazying around while you work… Phu.. revolting. Get rid of him. If he did Not figure out for 4 years that he has to be a Man and   to care about his woman… he never will.

    1. 3.1

      Why though?   I don’t get it.   What if he doesn’t feel like helping right at that moment?   What if she just expected him to help her right then and there.  The idea of expecting a fully autonomous adult man to offer to help you at the drop of the hat is stunning to me.   Seriously, haven’t you ever just felt like doing nothing?   I would be P.O.ed if I was enjoying my time on the couch and my boyfriend *suddenly* needed me to dig up a freaking ditch with him. Also, the Warriors game?   She just decided to do this during a game that she probably knew he wanted to watch?   This sounds like something that could have easily been resolved with mutual planning.   And, yes, he has a right to request to put off digging a ditch after a  Warriors game.   Again, he is a fully autonomous human being who has full control over when he chooses to participate in hard labor.

      1. 3.1.1

        I agree with Lindsey. I really should be discussed. If AFTER discussion he does not want to help – considering he is sitting on your couch, watching your tv and presumably eating your food and using your toilet then yes, he is selfish and has to go.   Men (or women) aren’t mind readers. My ex-boyfriend asked me to do a lot of things for him but I never would have done them voluntarily, as I simply didn’t see them as needing to be done.   I did do things without asking as well. I am guilty in my marriage of often expecting my husband to do things without being asked – after all – he’s an adult, he should be able to see what needs doing and I’m not his damn mum.   Having to ask someone to ‘look after their own children’ or to clean their own house is pretty resentment building.   I did change and started asking and what that did when his excuse was ‘I’m not a mind reader” was show me just how incredibly selfish he was.   Instead of it then being MY fault for not asking it showed him to be truly selfish. So asking will either get you the help you desire or show them for who they really are.

        That being said – I had men putting down new carpet in my apartment and knowing I’m a single mum one of them fixed a picture frame that he could see was broken in my daughters room without being asked.   It’s weird how often men will do stuff like that for strangers (my ex husband is a good example – always doing favours for others) and yet for their own gfs or wives they can totally ignore it….   Maybe a man can explain that to me!

      2. 3.1.2


        you are definitely not a go getter.


        If he is coming over to spend time with her, why is he watching the warriors game? 2nd, it’s just common courtesy when you’re at either your friends or boyfriends house to help others when you see they are in need. He should have realized that it took her awhile to come back into the where is she? Instead, he probably knew and decided to not go outside to help because he’s lazy or she didn’t ask him because she knows he’s already going to say no or make excuses. After asking for help so many times,   you don’t wanna waste your breath asking someone anymore. Regardless, he’s suppose to be a “man”.

      3. 3.1.3
        Mrs. Schnyder

        The family did not have water. It doesn’t sound as though she suddenly decided to dig a trench. My bf is the same way. I don’t have to ask him for help, he doesn’t give me that chance…he tells me…I will help you after I’m done with my stuff. . I have to put my stuff on his list and my stuff goes on the bottom of the list. He will eventually get to it, but I do have to hold my breath. I’ve always stepped up to the plate to help him out. He’s never done that for me.

      4. 3.1.4

        They were without water for 2 weeks. She has children…. She did it when she built up enough courage to tackle it. I’m sure she didn’t want to do it… but if she didn’t then it wouldn’t of got done. You sound just as selfish as him!! Lol

  4. 4

    I was interested to read Evan’s response to this.   And though I agree that it is possible this guy is selfish, it is by no means certain.   To the OP, whose idea was this project?   Did you discuss it with him?   Did he agree that not hiring a professional was a good/reasonable idea?   Or did he disagree?


    I ask this because if the project was not discussed with him, it is not his responsibility.   It’s not his house, and he was not consulted.   And if it was discussed with him and he suggested you hire a professional – and you disagreed – then again it is no responsibility of his.
    Frankly, he’s not your husband so it’s not his responsibility one way or another, though him watching sports on TV at your house while you worked was bad form (unless he wasn’t consulted or disagreed, as above).   What I find most disturbing about your letter is that you believe he should “be a man and say I got this.”   This is an entitlement mentality.   The fact that he is a man does not entitle you to his indentured service just because you have a whim or project.   As a society, we’ve done a pretty good job of getting rid of the notion that women owe men anything (ie. sex) by virtue of being in a relationship.   But we’ve not done a good job at all of getting rid of the notion that men owe women anything (ie. labor, provisioning, service) by virtue of relationships.   Perhaps it is time to examine the reasonableness of your expectations?

    1. 4.1
      Emily, the original


      It is not his responsibility.   It’s not his house,

      Agreed. Plus, the job sounds too big and too complicated for an amateur.

      I have a friend who, if she has a large project that needs to be done, simply expects her boyfriend to be doing half of the work. If the leaves need to be raked or large numbers of dishes need to be wrapped up and packed or painting needs to be done, he gets lassoed in to the helping her. And she is a woman of some financial means who could pay a landscaper or handy man. They aren’t married and don’t live together. While it would be nice if he helped from time to time, she has what you referred to as an entitlement mentality. Simply because he’s her boyfriend and male doesn’t mean he’s her Mr. Fix It.

  5. 5


    Being a basketball fan, I may not have pitched in to help during the game, either, and especially if  two weeks without water was being managed already.  Perhaps waiting  one more  day to dig the trench may have been the compromise needed to get your boyfriend’s help. Or, maybe there were enough helpers, in his perspective, and one more would have been overkill.  I’m not suggesting his choice to watch TV instead of  coming to your rescue  is excusable. And, in order for him to meet your expectations,  making it  convenient (in his mind) to do so may have prevented you from getting upset and, worse, questioning his character.  If he’s not one to pitch in regularly, it may be time to assess what you really want or deserve in a partner.

    Until recently I never had a  partner who volunteered to do anything without being asked. Now, I find the trash bins inside the gate after trash pickup and, after a weekend away, I came home to a freshly painted  bathroom with new fixtures installed. Recently, I was  served dinner after a long day at work –  the dogs  were walked and fed, too. I adore and appreciate these gifts of service; I never knew it could be this way until it was. It’s possible for you, too.

  6. 6

    I have a question for all the male and female commenters?

    Evan said, “unless you specifically asked him to lend you a hand and he pointedly said no, it’s not like he’s rejected your cry for help — he just didn’t offer to —.”  

    Is there a difference between a direct rejection for support and rejection because of   ignorance to your plight due to your failure to ask for help? Or do you believe he should just support her without having to be asked?

    It reminds me about the old warning that many people give concerning relationships that states, “DON’T expect your partner to be a mind reader” or “DON’T fault your partner for not knowing what you were thinking or feeling without you actually telling them.”

    I am just trying to see where does everyone believe the line should be drawn when it pertains to a partner directly asking you or telling you about a problem, fear, or desire; verses a situation where you feel that your partner should have known, asked, or offered without you having to mention it.

    …    …    …

    If her boyfriend would have agreed with Evan about using professionals and told her no directly, than began to enjoy the game on the comfortable couch while she and her sons sweated under the hot sun, breaking their backs digging… Would anyone say that he was being a bad boyfriend, or would anyone say that he has the right to refuse to do something he doesn’t agree with and still maintain the title of a good boyfriend?

    Again, were would you draw the line between offering unconditional support as part of being in a relationship; verses each individual in a relationship having the freedom to make decisions that benefit themselves and not the relationship… without being negatively judged for it.

    1. 6.1

      “Is there a difference between a direct rejection for support and rejection because of   ignorance to your plight due to your failure to ask for help? Or do you believe he should just support her without having to be asked?”

      I believe there is a difference. Sometimes people don’t want help with whatever it is that they are trying to do. Should you always assume that the person wants help and offer even when it isn’t asked for? There are folks out there that would be perfectly fine with that. There are also folks that would call it condescending.

      I don’t like the OP’s though process of him “being a man and offering to help”. She didn’t ask for help, but is upset that he didn’t auto offer it. Perhaps he thinks she enjoys all of the labor since she has some many projects going on in her home. Maybe he thinks she is on top of it because she didn’t ask for help. Maybe he thinks she should call a plumber, but it’s her house, so it her call. He could even be on the couch just hoping that she doesn’t ask because he doesn’t want to do it. Hard to say. But I think personal accountability should keep her from getting upset. She is the one that never asked. Whether or not she feels that she should have to ask is irrelevant.

      If he is supposed to be a man and get on that hard labor, how would she feel about the flipside of this? She comes home and he is digging. He tells her to go sit down because it is man work. He is being a man and this is something that a woman cant’t handle or simply shouldn’t do – because penis. That would be ok right? Being a man = automatically doing the hard labor. Otherwise your character gets questioned.

    2. 6.2

      Adrian-to me (unless I read too much into it)it seems she is doing this because she doesn’t have the $$ for it!   Could you sit in HER house watching a game (maybe noshing on her food and beer) while she is out there toiling with her adult children? But we don’t know if she told him she was doing because it would stretch her budget to the walls. But I’d never believe my guy would be so clueless. Now, if she was basically supervising while her adult kids did this? Hmm, still pretty bad form. Btw, I’ve also had a financial catastrophe (I borrowed money from my sis for a couple of weeks)where my guy offered to lend it to me. I just couldn’t do that



      1. 6.2.1
        Emily, the original

        Hi Caroline,

        I could see him offering her a loan to call a plumber, but wouldn’t you say that something seems off about this letter? Or about this woman’s reasoning? Why is she out there digging the trenches herself? Some people like to create work for themselves and are constantly looking for projects. Or they make even the simplest tasks into traumas.

        1. GoWiththeFlow


          You can have a problem with electrical or plumbing in your house that is “misdiagnosed” and it takes awhile, and multiple “repairs” to get to the bottom of what the problem really is.

        2. Caroline

          All very true Emily.   But this isn’t a “project”. It’s not like they were cleaning the garage. Can you imagine being without water fir two weeks yourself? No shower, no cooking water? Yikes! Much doesn’t add up. He comes over almost every day but this “crisis” hasn’t come up? How do 3 adults shovel a 4′ long hole at the same time? If she has 5 dependents (I’m assuming) why doesn’t she call the dad to chip in or see if he can give advance some child support? Or is her whole brood over 18?!

          but honestly the most glaring thing is why if she’s known her guy for over 4 years, who she sees almost every other day-why doesn’t she just ask HIM?!   Geez -communication

          I still just can’t wrap myself around two young adult males not being able to dig a 4′ long hole 2′ deep. I live where we have what’s called gumbo clay embedded with all kinds of rock. We actually rented an auger when we built our fence to lay the posts it was so bad. I’m just picturing them out there with one crappy old shovel (probably with a dull edge) trying to dig into what was like concrete. The whole thing is crazy. But then again she has 5 teen to young adult dependents and herself in a house where there is no water for two weeks?

        3. Caroline

          Omg-not to mention not being able to flush the toilets with 6 people plus the bf! He didn’t notice this?

        4. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow and Caroline,

          In reading both your comments and the others on this post (particularly about not being able to flush the toilet for TWO WEEKS), I agree that there’s something wrong that the boyfriend doesn’t notice there’s a problem. Is he that self-absorbed?

          Let’s say as a hypothetical that this woman wants him to help but it has to be HER WAY of helping. Meaning: I’d much rather either loan someone the money or pitch in to help financially than go out there and shovel. Maybe she wouldn’t accept his money but would only accept him helping with the ditch digging. It’s a guess on my part, though. But I wouldn’t want to be guilted into shoveling because the other person wouldn’t accept my money.


      2. 6.2.2



        Exactly.   Caroline, exactly.   I mean there is a difference between some smaller problem and this sort of thing.   I think we all know people that are that selfish and bratty way, Em the original.   However, this does not appear that way.   Without water, really!!!     Think about that.   Tyrone, or whatever your name is, let us know to never ask you to be in a relationship with us.   Any of us.   Ha ha

  7. 7

    Mature adults ask for what they want. She could ask him how he thought this plumbing issue should be handled. DIY or hire a pro. It is not his house and therefore not his call, but he could advise and assist if she would ask. It would be wise when starting a relationship to sit down and discuss expectations and communication styles as well a requests. The guy could say, ” I would like to have sex three times per week.” The woman could request that they have a date night once per week, etc. Hidden expectations that are unvoiced always lead to disappointment.

    1. 7.1

      Agreed that it should be discussed, but from a female point of view, it is sometimes hard to bring these things up without annoying the man in question. Guys don’t always view ‘relationship type talks’ as pleasant.

  8. 8

    Sounds simple to me:   they didn’t have enough shovels to go around.   He was waiting for her to finish her shift so then he could use the shovel.   He was letting her do the easy part of the job (the topsoil) so he could take on the deep, dirty, and dangerous part.   Next time try communicating.

    1. 8.1

      Oh wait,,, this is why I’m still single

  9. 9

    Sitting on a couch enjoying one’s leisure while others labor nearby is like sitting down to dinner enjoying one’s food and not offering any to others sitting at the same table with no food. It’s not immoral, but it is totally rude. Would have been better form to relax at his own house, or the sports bar, or anywhere else, really.

    1. 9.1


      Exactly, dude should have made himself scarce regardless of how she ended up as site foreman.

  10. 10

    Presumably, he comes over to see her and spend time with her. If she is out digging in her yard, why is he not near her? Why is he watching TV in her house? If he just wants to watch TV, why can’t he go to his own?

  11. 11

    Not sure why a whole household of adults and teens would go without water for two weeks if there wasnt a financial issue. It really would have been a loving. and kind gesture to pitch in for a bit without asking. If my guys washer or dryer were out would I not offer to come over and let him use them. Maybe even just let him drop off a few loads that I could tackle while I do other things? Would I not offer to drop my guy off or pick him up to get his car fixed? Would I not offer to help babysit his grandchild? Would I not offer to help my guy with a landscaping project. (It’s my expertise). Would I not offer to help him figure out a problem with his router? Have I offered to input his sales orders on my computer while it was down?

    Ive done all of these things/or offered help without asking. And I sure wouldn’t be sitting in his house watching his tv while he was in need

    1. 11.1

      And btw-I can input his sakes orders in about 1/4 of the time he can. I’ve helped him out when he’s been hit by a landslide of work with a crazy deadline. Pretty similar situation. One person can dig trench in a fraction of the time. One person can process orders in a fraction of the time

  12. 12
    Runner Girl

    If after 4 years of being together, this guy spends nearly every day at her house (and is using her water, as well as her TV/electricity, among other things), and does not seem to care enough that his girlfriend and her 5 kids are going without water for 2 weeks, as well as is even wanting to help her fix the problem (which in my opinion she should never have to give asking him a thought – a kind, loving, caring boyfriend would want to offer), then he sounds like a selfish, lazy jerk, who is mooching off of her. He could lay on his own couch and watch the NBA in his own home on his own dime. He definitely needs to get the boot. If he is not showing her this long into a relationship that he cares enough about her and her well-being, especially since it appears that he practically lives there, to pitch in to help (whether with labor, money, or whatever), then he probably will be the same way as a husband. What she sees now is what she will get in the future. I learned that lesson the hard way. If he is using her amenities that cost her money, which is apparently tight (that is my guess, based on how long she has gone without water and having to try to fix it herself), then he can reciprocate/contribute financially and/or physically to help, period.

    1. 12.1

      I think you are inferring a lot based on the limited info being provided. He’s a lazy, selfish jerk/moocher? How do you know he doesn’t help her out with food or bills? Or do things for her 5 children. What if he has health issues? What if he just worked a long day and told her to call a plumber but she refused? What if she is just stubborn and doesn’t want to have it fixed because she feels like she knows that she can fix it herself for less money?

      I have an ex that I dated for several years. She told people that I didn’t help her much with some things like laundry, cleaning, pet care and lawn care. But she left out the bits about some other things that I did do, such as working many extra hours and paying her bills because she quit her job to go back to school part time. Or helping to take care of her children because their father wasn’t in the picture. I guess that means spending time over at her place made me a selfish lazy jerk in the eyes of the people she provided  that partial story to.

      I asked her why I would come over to her house and start cleaning and doing her laundry. She said that I should just want to do those things. Who just wants to do laundry? The rest of the conversation went downhill from there.

      1. 12.1.1
        Runner Girl

        Sorry to hear that things did not go so well with your ex – hence the reason she is your ex.

        As for your comment, yes, you are correct that not very much information was provided. So therefore, everyone who is commenting on the OP’s situation is likely using their best judgement, as well as own personal experience, in making a logical guess and offering their perspective as to what they think she should do.   Since I only know what you know, my guess as is good as yours. However, I am not coming up with all sorts of theories or suppositions as to why he did not help, such as you mentioned, because I really don’t know, so I am strickly sticking to the information that she provided.  I will surmise that her boyfriend is not suffering from health issues, since she not only did not mention them, but felt bad enough to take the time to write to a dating coach asking for advice, something she would not do if she knew that he was unable to physically assist. She never mentioned whether he helps out with her kids or pays for things, but based upon how often he stays at her home and how long she has gone without water, I would guess that she did not hire a plumber because she cannot afford to and that he did not offer to help her out financially to afford the cost, or she probably would not be upset and frustrated by the situation. Trust me, very few women (especially with kids living at home) would ever go so long without water unless it was a serious financial issue, and unless a woman is a handy type of girl or a master fix-it type, which is not very common, most women would not attempt to try to fix a major plumbing issue themselves without knowing what they were doing or what it entailed, and would therefore hire a professional to do the job. Plus, if she were the fix-it type of girl, then why would she wait two weeks to do so? Frankly, only the OP truly knows her situation, as we as readers do not. However, she wrote EMK asking for advice, so based upon the information that she provided, as well as logically trying to assess the situation (and putting myself into her shoes to try to understand her point of view), then all I have left is to see exactly what I stated in my earlier post.   Having more details about her situation would have definitely been helpful, though. I hope that whatever that she ended up doing, that it had a positive outcome.

        1. Tyrone

          My point was that many people are making speculations about the unmentioned things (why he didn’t help, why she didn’t have water for two weeks, etc.) rather than focusing on the actual question – Should he help with major projects around the house without being asked. She started doing some laborious task and wanted him to “be a man” and help without her having to ask. There are any number  of potential reasons as to why she could have done that. Just like there are any number of potential reasons that he didn’t come to her aid without being asked.

          If I had to guess as to why she wrote in, I’d say it was because she is having a feelings vs logic dilemma. She knows logically that she should ask for help, but feels that she should have to, causing her to feel conflicted on the matter.

          Regardless of how the situation played out, if she wants help with something and isn’t getting it, she needs to ask for it. If he then said no, I could buy the idea of him being lazy or selfish. But the only real info that we have is that she thinks less of his character because he didn’t “man up” and automatically offer aid when she was doing physical work. Do we want to stick with this idea that he needs to do this for no other reason than because he is a man? If so are we going to start telling women not to do physical work because they are women? Or think less of their character when they don’t “woman up” daily and automatically have dinner ready, have the house clean and the kids settled without having to be asked? I think that some women would take issue with that.

        2. Runner Girl

          Tyrone, thank you for the response. I get what your point is about poeple on here making speculations as to why he did not help, but I was not one of them. Your comment being a reply to my comment made me think that you were referring specifically to me. I stuck with the original poster’s question of asking her guy to help, in which I think that given the situation, that she should not even have had to ask, that he should have offered. I say this because (I will use examples from my life to illustrate how this can possible relate to the OP, so that it makes more sense):

          1. I myself feel uncomfortable asking for things from people – anyone! I feel as if I am being demanding and overbearing, and putting others in an awkward position where they would feel bad saying no, so they consent whether they want to or not. I know it is my own personal issue, and I understand that some people might not think that I need help because I do not ask for it (as they worry that they might offend me) or just really do not realize the magnitude of hard things are, so therefore don’t offer. However, those who are close to me know the way that I am, know what I can and cannot handle on my own, and usually offer to help with things. I am the exact same way with those whom I am close to. If I see that someone I care about is struggling with something, I do not wait to be asked, I offer to help. I feel that if someone even had to ask me, then I must have been pretty clueless to their struggles, and then I feel selfish and stupid – as I said, this is my own personal issue. Being a woman, and seeing the OP’s overall situation, I would feel bad if my guy did not offer to help. I really do not believe that someone can be so totally clueless as not to realize a person needs their assistance. This has nothing to do with being a man,  because if the tables were turned and it was my man who was out in the yard digging into rock to fix a 2 week long plumbing issue, you had better damned well believe that I would have offered immediate help, and done it together with him, despite the fact that I am a lot smaller and not as strong as him, I am not a little prissy wussie either, and certainly not above wanting to   help someone that I love, no matter how hard the project is. In my opinion, that is what people who care about each other do.

          2. I do not wish to come across as acting bossy and being someone’s mother. For 18 years, I used to have to ask my ex husband to help me out with things, and more often than not, he got mad, and it turned into an argument, because me asking him to do things to him felt like I was acting like his mother. No man wants to feel like he is being asked to do things, and feel as if he is been bossed around (even questions in some people’s minds come off as demands, where as I stated in number one above, the person might feel like they are expected to help, so then they feel as if it is implied that they are selfish or stupid, not good feelings to have.

          That is why I do not think that couples who are practically living together and/or married should have to ask for help, especially in a situation that has clearly gone on way too long and is a very tough (and stressful) situation to be in. That is also why I said what I did regarding the OP’s situation. On that sane token, my guy does not have to ask me to cook dinner, I always offer. In fact, I am spending the upcoming holiday weekend at his house, and I already asked him yesterday (4 days ahead) what he would like me to cook for him (and us – I eat too, LOL). He never expects me to cook, since I live 50 miles away and have to pack up and leave my home, have a demanding career, and have 3 kids to situate. I offer because I believe that couples should want to do nice things for each other. He always seems happy that I offer, and pays for all of the food. I enjoy doing stereotypically feminine things for him and he enjoys doing stereotypically masculine things for me, and we do help each other out with our respective tasks.

          Bottom line – I believe that couples need to have each other’s backs. If the OP’s 4 year boyfriend will not offer to assist until he has to be asked (and then there are no guarantees, which means that she has an even bigger issue to deal with), the he probably does not want to even help her to begin with. That is why I think she needs to find a better boyfriend.

        3. Tyrone

          1.         1.  She didn’t say that she was struggling with digging. Or struggling with other major projects around the house. Needing help and wanting help are not necessarily the same thing. If major projects are something that she does often, it might be something that she enjoys and is capable at performing and maybe he felt she did not need assistance. Who knows for sure? But it does have to do with being a man — at least in the OP’s letter. The OP wants him to “be a man” had help with the physical labor.
          2.         2. I don’t think asking for help is being bossy or acting like a mother. It’s communicating your wants/needs. If your ex-husband got mad when you asked him to do things, then maybe he was just selfish. I love to be asked to do things (within reason!). I enjoy feeling needed. What I don’t like is being asked to do things that someone is perfectly capable of doing themselves, and it’s obvious that they would just rather have me do it.
          I get what you are saying about couples not needing to ask one another for help. Sometimes both people are on the same page. No one needs it spelled out for them. Other times they are not. If the OP asked him to help out with her projects, the potential is there for him to say yes and everything could be fine (with this specific issue) going forward. If she changes nothing and continues not to ask and just hopes that he’ll start volunteering, it sounds like she could have quite the wait ahead of her. Doesn’t it make more sense to just ask rather than end the relationship (just based on the info in the OP’s letter)?
          Basically I am just trying to address the issue of expectation stated in the email. She expects him to voluntarily help. Several people share that sentiment. I think he should help as well (maybe monetarily, not physically with this plumbing situation though — unless he is a plumber). But I don’t think she should be getting upset at him not offering to help when she hasn’t asked for help on other major home projects.   To use your offering to cook for your boyfriend as an example of what I mean: He would get upset at you for not cooking (you offering to cook is not the issue. He would be expecting you to cook without being asked, regardless of your offer to do so) and the incident caused him to question your character because you should be a woman and say “Hey babe, I got a hot meal ready for you”.
          I also believe that couples should want to do nice things for each other. It sounds like you and your boyfriend have a great thing going. The OP didn’t say he wasn’t doing nice things for her. She just said that he wasn’t offering his unsolicited help on her home project and the digging. She didn’t mention anything about any other items that he may or may not be assisting her with. Maybe the guy is between selfish and clueless like Evan said. Maybe we don’t have enough facts from both sides to determine that just yet.
          Side note – I am getting a bit tired of hearing about how I’m expected to do all kinds of things because I am a man. Be the man and ask her out. Be the man and pay for/plan the first date. Be the man and make more money than her. Be the man and man her feel safe by being taller. Be a man and do laborious tasks. I’m not trying to change the world here. I don’t expect women to start asking me out. Certainly don’t expect them to start paying for our first dates as it has never happened before. But so many women would be upset if I said we should just start EXPECTING them to perform traditionally female tasks without ever having to be asked. A female CEO may like having the option to quit her job to stay home with the kids. But I don’t think she would like being told by her husband that she HAS to quit her job because he EXPECTS her to become a housewife. I EXPECT my woman to have the house clean when I get home from word. So on and so forth.

  13. 13

    I suspect as a single Mom of five kids she can’t afford to pay someone to fix it.   Otherwise I don’t understand why she would let her kids go that long with no water.   That being said it shows that this man is not a team player.   He may or may not be selfish I think he probably is but he’s clearly not on her team.   I would never sit there and watch my fiancée struggle alone with such a fear and he would not allow me to either.   Even if I was the slowest digger in the world I would do what I could.   If I had the financial means to and he did not I would pay to fix it or at minimum contribute come on he practically lives there!

  14. 14

    I am amused by the replies from a lot of the female side here. You know, I remember a certain thread on this blog, not so long ago, where most of the women seemed to feel it was beneath their dignity to do a man’s laundry and cleaning, cook meals for him, etc.etc. “How dare a man expect me to do that!” some of you cried, “I am NOT a slave!” The righteous indignation, that a man might expect you to do even a little of that, was palpable; why, you’re professional women, you said,   not some housemaid.

    How different your attitude is, when the shoe is on the other foot! Why, how dare a man fail to consent to be YOUR indentured laborer, galley slave, or beast of burden; he should gladly offer himself up for the task; cut your grass, fix your plumbing, even dig up a water line (which is a job for a professional plumber, BTW). Whatever m’lady demands, a man shall comply…or else! Really??? Double standards much, ladies? You can’t be bothered to cook and clean during your off hours from work, but he can lift, mow, even dig through rock, whenever you want, at your house, not his, on his day off? I’m calling hypocrisy on this one, big time! You wanted equality, you got equality! You “can do anything a man can do!” right? Isn’t that the claim? Okay feminists,   now you can mow, prune, rake, lift, and dig, just like a man! What a concept! You know something? I wouldn’t be so harsh about this, except for all the hyper-feminist misandry and ranting I’ve read here. As it is, I rejoice in your discomfort. Why? Some of you wanted all the supposed “privileges” of being a man, right? Well, digging in rocky ground in the summer heat is one of those. Ask, and ye shall receive! Welcome to the world of “male privilege”, ladies. After all the indignant comments about everything you shouldn’t be asked to do, in that other thread, LMAO! That’s not misogyny talking, either, just a man tired of the blatant misandrist hatred and hypocritical entitlement that pervades so much of feminist thought and writing these days…

    1. 14.1
      Runner Girl

      Wow, such anger, Buck 25!  Some chick(s) sure must have done a number on you! You are making assumptions that she does nothing for him, but dammit, he had better do something for her! Relationships are give and take, and this guy is clearly taking. I do things for my fiancé, like cook and clean, help him with his kids, run errands for him, drive 100 miles round trip to his house every weekend to see him, etc. and in return, he pays for all of my expenses when we are together, splits my gas money, takes my kids places, etc. See, we both work together, compromise, and give and take. I believe you are seriously confusing women who help out and get absolutely zero in return, then are angry because they feel like the maid, slave, etc., with women who are simply demanding and expecting too much. Most women are not so bad as you think, but apparently a few bad ones have given you the false impression that all women are bad – faulty logic with guilt by association. Sorry that you feel this way.

      1. 14.1.1

        I’m confusing nothing. The reference, (if you cared to actually read it) was to posts, right here on this blog, that suggested it was beneath any woman’s dignity to fix a man a sandwich, (much less a meal), help clean up his house, or anything else that required a little work from the woman involved. Nice job of projecting, but I never made reference to my own “life experience”, one way or another; I merely compared the attitude in women’s posts in that thread, to women’s posts in this one, and I’ll stand by the comparison I made. As for the “guilt by association” thing, funny how so many women on this blog think that’s an appropriate way to judge men, but don’t like even the hint of having the same done to themselves.

        1. Runner Girl

          1. Buck 25, I DID read your post.  No where in my comments were any references to any of the other women’s comments on this blog. I was merely sticking to the OP’s issue and referring to her situation.
          2. Apparently you did NOT clearly read my post, or you would have noticed that not only did I not refer to any other women’s comments, I related the OP’s situation to MY own personal experience. I never said you made any mention of your own personal experience.
          3. Regardless of what you are basing your opinions on (other women’s posts, other blogs, etc.),  I would have to believe that it does relate to your own personal experience. Why else would you feel this way? Just reading whatever is written or posted somewhere is not representative of women as a whole, so I am sure you must have had women in your life who treated you this way?
          4. You are angry. I can see it in your comments. I was empathizing with you (“I’m sorry you feel this way”) while disagreeing at the same time. In no way did I disparage you or put you down as you have done to me. I do not deserve your anger to be directed at me. I simply disagreed with you, and stated why I do, based on my experience. Basically, just because you feel that OTHER women come across as entitled feminists does not mean that all women are. I sure am not this way! That is what I was pointing out as a faulty assumption. Whether you are indicating that or not, that was how it came across to me, or do you feel that there are some women that are not like that?
          5. It is perfectly OK to disagree with others. These are opinions, so you can feel what ever way that you choose. However, just because you disagree with someone does not make them wrong and you right. I am not on here to start drama, only to try to offer my thoughts to be helpful to others in any way that I can, or at the very least offer things from a different perspective.
          6. I was offering my opinion on how I would feel if I were the OP and why I think her situation is one-sided. Yes, there ARE men who are “entitled” too – I was married to one of them, so it goes both ways. Men can be just as bad as women.
          7. Lastly, I do not know you and you do not know me, so I find it unfair of you to judge me. I was not “protecting” anyone. I was simply stating my experience, which is MY reality. As for your comment about women judging men, you just did the same thing by judging me, grouping me into the “women who don’t like a hint of having the same done to themselves.”   I never stated it was beneath my dignity to fix a man a sandwich (much less s meal), help him clean his house, or anything else that required work – I clearly stated how I do help my fiancé out (did you read that part?). For the record, I also help my fiancé with yard work, including digging holes with shovels in his yard to plant rose bushes, clipping his bushes, pulling weeds, etc. I may be “girly,” but I in no way conduct myself as an entitled princess. I do not do things to expect something in return, but my fiancé does things in return because HE wants to. Why would anyone be with another person who they themselves did things for who did not want to reciprocate? That is the point I made about give and take and compromising. One-sided relationships only lead to resentment, which kills a relationship.
          Best of luck in life and love. Again, sorry if any women have treated you as their “indentured laborer.”

    2. 14.2

      Hi Buck – I feel like a traitor to my gender, but I do agree with you.   I must admit that this utter CONTEMPT and DISDAIN for doing any traditional “feminine” things to make a man happy is just something I DO NOT understand.   Just a few days ago,   one of our board entitled princesses told me that I shouldn’t “tell women what to do”, right after she instructed a woman to never cook, clean or pay for a man.   WHAT THE HELL ?   Women’s rights are not going to be set back to the stone age, if you bring your guy a cold beer while he’s outside running the weed whacker for you.

      I can’t stand women who think men should change their tires, pay for all or most dates, change light bulbs, set up their computers, do all or most of the driving, buy her nice jewelry, but get so INDIGNANT at the thought of making him a sandwich.

      It’s not that I believe in rigid gender roles, but I do believe in RECIPROCITY.   Since humans have to eat every day, several times a day, and most couples take many meals together, it’s either dine out or eat in ?   So,   how is that to be split fairly ?   If a woman REFUSES to cook a meal (or prepare a raw meal, such as salad or a sandwich), then do they eat out ?   If so, does she expect the man to pay   all the time ?   Where’s the reciprocity ?   If a woman is to never cook, clean OR pay, how IS she supposed to reciprocate ?   Yard work perhaps ?   A massage maybe ?   Is she supposed to learn “manly skills” such as auto repair, just to prove how hip and liberated she is ?

      I LOVE doing things for my guy.   I surprised him on his birthday with a very special outing.   He told me that I totally “nailed it”.   He also LOVED the card I got for him, he scanned it to FB to show all his friends he loved it so much.   The smile on his face and the delight that I totally surprised him gave me the BEST feeling in the world.   I feel sorry for anyone, male or female who are only takers and find NO delight in giving.   I wonder how they even maintain same sex friendships with such an aversion togiving ?

      1. 14.2.1

        Buck & SE,

        The OP’s boyfriend hangs out at her house most days.   On the weekends he has his daughter, she is over at the girlfriend’s house as well.   Surely the boyfriend  is eating food she purchased and possibly prepared for her family.   Using her TV, internet, AC in the summer, heat in the winter.   She is entertaining him in her home, that is not doing nothing.   Please do not equate her behavior and words with those of commenters who’s stated selfishness you find objectionable.

        I came home from a week of vacation (on a Sunday) to a flooded house due to a slab leak that required turning off the water to the house for three days while it was repaired.   Another time our water had to be turned off for a day and a half because the cold water valve to the tub broke and we had a regular geyser shooting up to the ceiling.   No water supply means no  water to drink from the tap, no water to cook, no water to flush toilets, wash clothes, or take showers.   This has been the situation in this woman’s house for 2 weeks.

        She states that she and her kids were digging the trench (exposing the main pipe) to save money on the repair.   She doesn’t say it outright, but this suggests that finances are an issue.   A repair like this can run into the thousands.   One thing the OP  did state is that she did not expect her boyfriend to help her financially to repair the plumbing.

        So the boyfriend is sitting in his girlfriends house where the toilets can’t be flushed, and he is watching a basketball game on his girlfriend’s TV while she and her kids are doing what they have to do to get the plumbing repaired and get their lives back to normal.   This is where the “friend” part of boyfriend should have kicked in with him.

        Yes she could have asked him outright to help her.   But Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, if I spent most days at a boyfriend’s, a friend’s, or my mother’s house and I knew what dire straights their plumbing was in (because hell I’ve used said plumbing if I am over there so damn much) I would pitch in and help them.   That is what FRIENDS do for people they care about.   And if he didn’t care to help them, he should have gone home, not availed himself of their couch and TV.

        A water main leak is a once in a blue moon repair for a homeowner, so it’s not like he (or his girlfriend’s family) will have to do this every week.   The guy apparently enjoys his time at his girlfriend’s house, otherwise why would he be there so much.


        1. Tyrone

          All of those things are speculation. She never said whether or not she was  getting help with food or bills, her children, or anything else.   She didn’t say that she didn’t expect money from him, she just said she was going to did to save money. Those Aren’t necessarily the same thing. She didn’t even say if they stayed in the water-less house for any or all of the two week duration. What she did say is that she wanted him to”be a man” an offer to help with the labor and other home projects. That statement is what made this about gender roles.

          I might even argue that the multiple assumptions about her being tired, or struggling, supporting him or whatever, while he is just derping on the couch watching basketball and enjoying her hospitality are also gender based. If assumptions are going to be made, why are so many  of the assumptions more sympathetic to the woman? Why are people making these sympathetic assumptions that are based on a question that specifically mentions gender, then trying to disregard the portion about gender in their response?

          Maybe he offered money for a plumber and she said no. Maybe he brings groceries to her house since he is there a lot. Maybe he really wanted to watch this game and planned to help dig, but she decided to start digging right at that very moment. Maybe he does many other things that make her happy, but she didn’t bring them up because it wan’t the point of her question. Maybe she was pissy, he asked whats wrong, she said “nothing” and walked off and started digging – he figured he’d stay away to avoid a fight. Maybe he told them they could stay with him until they could afford a plumber and she declined for some reason. Or she accepted and wanted to work on the plumbing on that particular day. Those speculations are no more or less valid than any others.

          I mentioned an ex I had in one of my posts. She went around telling people about the things I didn’t do (her cleaning, her yardwork), while not mentioning the far more important things that I actually did (paying her bills, helping with her children, buying food). So those kinds of things do happen.

      2. 14.2.2

        I’m sorry Sparkling Emerald and Buck-I’ve never seen posts from female commentators saying they’d never cook/clean.   I don’t personally know any woman who hasn’t done such for her man the things SE described above. Buck, maybe you are projecting others attitudes onto the commenters? Yes, she is obviously poor at communicating. Yes, she should ask for help. But I think her question is really why her bf isn’t more giving in a crisis. Like other commentators I feel her post doesn’t quite add up. I honestly think she’s overwhelmed being a single mom of 5! Who has probably been able to keep her juggling act together but is exhausted. She’s frazzled and upset and probably at the end of her rope. Heck, she’s probably dehydrated to boot. Buck and SE-I’m saying this respectfully-it’s not about gender roles. It’s about supporting your partner. Not communicating is on her. Not attempting to somehow support your partner in a crisis is on him. I’m not saying it’s about expecting a man to do hard physical labor for you. Do you honestly not think he didn’t notice for two weeks/after watching the game in her house that maybe she wasnt making good decisions if he had to fill the toilet with a bucket of water to flush? Maybe he just ran home at half time.

      3. 14.2.3

        SE-the female commentator who made that remark is well, a troll. She certainly doesn’t reflect the majority of females commenting on here.   And quite frankly, planning and paying for a special outing and picking out a card (while us kind and thoughtful) its not quite along the lines of helping out when someone is truly in need. I’d put much more value in a person who was there when I needed their support when say my mom was ill than a friend who just threw a fun party that they enjoyed also. I hope you see the difference. Not picking on you. I think partners also reciprocate with the fun stuff too:)

        1. SparklingEmerald

          Caroline, that was just ONE example, of course I don’t just reciprocate with fun stuff.   Of course, our relationship is fairly new, and other than needing a ride to the garage when his car needed repairs, my honey hasn’t needed much of anything.   So our recripocation consists mostly of fun stuff.   Of course eating is a necessity, but since we both LOVE to cook, try new recipes etc. we cook together or alternated cooking for each other, so even this necessary task is fun.

    3. 14.3

      Btw-buck, just so you know (because I know you wouldn’t appreciate being lumped in a group of men who women thought were being clueless) I’m a landscape designer, contractor, and highly skilled at my work. At times I run a crew. I work year round and right now we have 100 degree heat index as the norm. I pruned a 60′ seawall on a ladder I moved through a pond last week. I take care of intensely planted gardens on acreage. its a fabulous job. And I’m 55.   I also cook, clean, and have used my two weeks vacation taking care of my mother who is seriously ill. Welcone to 2016. Seriously dude, reread the comments on this thread. Most the ladies tempered their feelings with “he could have just gone to a sports bar and watched or stayed at home”. It’s just thoughtless to project comments from another thread made by the commenters here. Did I say something offensive on that thread? Did GWTF? Did Emily?

      this is about communication and helping your partner. NOT old gender roles. I’m sure the woman/man who is so selfish/clueless that they see no need to be a partner in a relationship will undoubtedly remain single.

      1. 14.3.1


        You know how much you don’t appreciate the more or less misogynistic posts some men drop here from time to time? Well, I have a similar reaction to some of the radical feminist misandry that some female contributors like to spout here; it offends me. Now whether the poster you in that other thread   whose remark to SE   you reference is a troll or not, there were others in there who cosigned on her ideas; you might not, but some here clearly do. So when this topic came up, I found it a fitting place to respond to the claptrap drivel from the other day.

        In other words, if what I say about what ultra-feminist women demand from men, vs. what they are willing to give in return, doesn’t apply to you, don’t take it personally. Isn’t that what some of you like to tell men when the resident man-haters here paint us all with a broad brush?

        I have no idea about the situation the LW had. From what I read there, if it were someone I cared about, I’d have given her the money to have a professional do the water line repair, but that’s me. The original question though, was not about this specific relationship/situation; rather it was whether a woman in general had the right to expect/ demand hard labor from a boyfriend. That’s somewhat broader question, do you not agree? Maybe even on a par with whether a man has a right to expect/demand that a girlfriend cook and clean?

        I took a shot at militant feminism here; like I said, I am fed up with the misandry, the entitlement mentality, the hatred and the self-obsessed gender politics that pervade that part of it. If you or anyone else here isn’t speaking and acting that way, that message is not for you, and you should not take it personally. As for those radical harpies who come in here posting that drivel I hope they do read it, and I hope it hits them right between the eyes, because for them, I want it to stick and sting. I am not at war with women; but I don’t consider those radical feminists women except in the strict anatomical sense. There is nothing feminine about them. They are nothing but hateful, wannabe men, and I will therefore treat them, exactly as I would any hostile male; if it’s war they want, then war they shall have; war without quarter, mercy or restraint. From now on, whenever I see their misandrist ideology, I am going to expose it, attack it, undermine it, and live for the day when it is driven so far to the margins that it is mostly just ignored. If that produces some collateral damage, oh well…

        I’m here to discuss issues, not win a popularity contest.

        1. ScottH

          I remember the discussion about the Average-Joe and it left me scratching my head since I fall into that category and was left wondering about the validity of their comments.   If most women felt that way, I should go out and get some cats.   But really, those are the women who don’t make us feel good and those are the ones who aren’t learning their lessons and will have a harder time landing a happy healthy relationship.   So instead of extrapolating their positions to all of woman-kind, maybe we should disregard them and extrapolate the comments from the fine women here like GWTF, Caroline, Emily, Christine, SE, Sarah, etc…

        2. Callie

          Buck –   I asked this of you last week, but you didn’t answer, so I’m going to ask this of you again: are you okay? Because you are starting to get angrier and angrier. You came back to this site calm and with a clearer head of what you wanted and how you wanted to behave. And you have been such a positive force since then. But I have noticed in the last couple weeks the old Buck surfacing. The one with all the anger, the one who lashes out only at the women commenting, the one who makes sweeping negative generalisations about women.

          I am worried. I’m worried something is happening in your personal life that is stressing you out and I really hope that isn’t the case. And I am also worried that after taking a healthy break from dating sites,  that coming back and participating has slowly been eroding all the good work you’ve done for yourself. I worry the more you read here, the more upset you are getting, the more you are starting to feel angry and hopeless and upset with women. And I’m wondering if it might not be more healthy to just not participate on these kinds of sites.

          I realise this is me putting my nose where it doesn’t belong, I hope you don’t think I mean anything other than what I wrote: sincere concern for your well being.

        3. Christine

          Scott, thanks for including me among your “fine women”, that’s nice to hear!   I know how you feel about some comments, because that’s how I felt about some of the men’s comments here too (not all, but some).   But I think you have the right idea to only pay attention to whichever comments are most helpful.

          BTW, I’m starting on Attached.   Boy oh boy, it just confirmed that I made the right decision in leaving certain guys!

        4. ScottH

          Christine- I suggest reading Jeb Kinnison’s book about Bad Boyfriends, Using Attachment Theory to Find Mr or Ms Right.   It complements Attached really well.

        5. Caroline

          Buck-thank you for the response. I didn’t know we were talking in general-I was talking specifically about the op’s predicament and I am assuming her boyfriend of 4 years is someone who she cares about. If also think he’d have similar feelings for her. I’m really not talking about outdated gender roles. I’m speaking of the reciprocity you and SE were speaking of in relationships when you care about each other. It’s disheartening to think someone you care about couldn’t/wouldn’t be there in a time of need.   And I do know what you mean about painting with too broad a brush. Please note that I am many of the other ladies consistently pose questions personally addressing said misogynistic offenders. We don’t post comments painting all other male commenters so broadly-I hope! I try to post from my personal experience. I personally think lobbing your bomb at all females will just eliminate the ladies who understand/are trying to understand relationships from a male perspective. Resulting in a very polarized set of genders. Similar to our political parties. We centrists are tired of being mediators who end up as collateral damage because nobody can seem to make a compromise for everybody’s well being.

        6. Emily, the original


          from the fine women here like GWTF, Caroline, Emily, Christine, SE, Sarah, etc…

          Right back at you!     🙂

      2. 14.3.2

        “…I am worried…”

        @ Callie,

        Thanks for your concern; much appreciated, I assure you. I’ve been both working on a major business deal (I’m only semi-retired, remember?), and working on trying to rid myself of one last long-standing personal habit which does me no good. Good progress on both fronts, I’m happy to say, but the stress involved in the combination has made me rather irritable. It will pass.

        1. Callie

          Okay phew 🙂 . I’m glad to hear it. I mean . . . ugh . . . I don’t mean I’m glad to hear you’re stressed from the big business deal (I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!) and about the general working on oneself, but I am glad that it isn’t anything in particular and that you are self aware about it. It’s tough online because tone is so hard to read, but I’ll say it again, I was very sincere in my concern. And your reply has helped alleviate it 🙂 .

          It’s been an interesting summer hasn’t it? I have found it personally very stressful myself, but I’ve noticed I’m not the only one. I’m hopeful in the fall there’s a shift and in general people are feeling a little more grounded. I know I’d like that for myself 🙂 .

          Sending positive vibes!

    4. 14.4

      She expects him to help with physical tasks simply because he is a man. Yet I think we can all agree that she would be pretty  pissed if he told her that she should give him the shovel, go inside to make him a sandwich and then clean up the house –   because she is a woman.

  15. 15

    #1, do we have enough reliable information to judge the situation? Seems to me people leave out a lot of information when they relay these sorts of stories

    #2 Welcome to feminism ladies. With the old school rules he would certinaly be failing to deliver. But now? Who knows? I do know many men see women as equals and competitors in the professional realm and no longer see the point in digging ditches or what have you for their equals.   I see this as women wanting to have the old school rules and new school rules apply equally and at her choosing. And only her choosing. I  personally don’t care for the new rules, way to much confusion and what not, but ladies being upset about this seems like hypocrisy.

    I also would bet good money this turns into another series of female attitudes which will help explain why so many men are happier single.

    1. 15.1

      “Welcome to feminism ladies. With the old school rules he would certinaly be failing to deliver. But now? Who knows?”

      The OP is certainly taking care of her boyfriend.   He is at her house most days, and she has opened her home to his daughter as well when he has her.   If he’s there so much, I’m sure he’s eating food the OP has purchased and prepared.   He also is comfortable enough at her house that he will plop down on her couch and put an NBA game on that he wants to watch.

  16. 16


    Thanks! You know, some things I read here (if I take them at face value) just leave me confused. I see people of both genders worrying so much about giving more in a relationship than they get, that I wonder if they keep a scorecard or a ledger, just to make sure things are balanced.

    1. 16.1

      Hey Buck –

      I can’t speak for all women, but I can offer a perspective. I’ve cooked and done laundry for the man I married. I’ve also helped him with yard work (pulling weeds, watering, sawing apart a fallen tree, building a fence to replace one that rotted out).

      By an enormous margin, I preferred helping him with the yard work. This is not simply   a function of my disliking cooking, cleaning and laundry (although that’s true). I noticed that doing someone’s laundry was a solitary activity that had very little satisfaction (after all, you have to eat again and   the clothes are just going to get dirty again). I actually enjoyed the process of removing the tree and building the fence much more. At first I thought it was because it was a new environment – outdoors.

      But it was actually because in that process I felt I got a great deal out of it. I got to see my boyfriend initiate, direct and follow through on a project. I got to see and admire his capabilities. I learned about new things – why you don’t nail the boards, you use screws because they are less likely to pop out than nailheads. We worked side by side, for a common purpose. So much of the rest of our relationship felt distant, but that day it felt like we shared something, and it became a memory I treasured every time I saw the fence. It felt equal and not subservient in any way, as I sometimes felt when I knelt to pick up dirty laundry. It felt like a shared experience of mutual appreciation.

      Specific to the OP, I would guess that it is nothing new that she has failed to have appropriate boundaries, and therefore has a boyfriend that is in fact beyond the pale of what most would consider “pitching in for common good” in a non gender specific way. Failing to be personally responsible for what you want, failing to recognize one’s part in that process and externalizing cause is extremely common to both genders. In addition, the boyfriend was lacking in common courtesy and empathy for the difficult situation in which his loved one found herself. When we love someone, it is no great effort to relieve their hardship. That the boyfriend was not moved to so indicates an imbalance in the relationship that bodes ill long term, as it would if the girlfriend similarly was indifferent to the wants and needs of her loved one.

  17. 17


    Thank you for your sparkling post. You nailed it. I hope I find a woman like you.

    Men do not say that they don’t want to fix your car or mow the grass or fix the toilet because we feel it is demeaning to us as men. Good guys take care of their woman because they feel it is their job as men. Here is a secret ladies: Ask the guy to help you. Do not assume he knows better. Whenever a woman ask me for help, I love it. When a woman says she can’t lift something, I am happy to help. Instead of getting upset and writing a sarcastic response to this post, try it for yourself. It works. Ask and you shall receive. Don’t ask for what you want and remain frustrated.

    1. 17.1


      I’m not getting where the “dig your own ditch yourself, you darn feminist” response to THE OP, PATTY is coming from.   Her boyfriend is at her house daily.   On the days he has his daughter, she is welcome at the girlfriend’s house as well.   Surely if the boyfriend is hanging out so much there, he is being fed, has companionship, and it sounds like he gets to watch ball games he wants to watch on her TV.   He must be getting his needs met, and be satisfied with things if he’s over there so much.

      But I’m reading a lot of “How dare you expect him to help you when you won’t do anything for him!” comments.   Why?

      1. 17.1.1

        Why? Because it’s a common experience among men. In my case I am very careful of what I do and don’t do for girls. Experience has proven the more I do for a girl, the more unrealistic her expectations become and the worse she treats me. 4 years is about the longest I expect decent behavior from a girl.

        A goodly number of men have bad experiences with single mom’s pretty much exploiting them for free labour.

        Also in my experience, single mom’s are to busy with caring for her offspring to do much for her man. Could be the case here. Maybe not too.

        Clearly feminism has changed the social contract between men and women, and continues to do so at a fairly rapid pace…. well was doing so. Seems to kind of settled in somewhat. neither here nor there. My point being feminism has created a confusing set of operational conditions for men when it comes to interacting with women.

        The poisoned well that seems to be most folks dating pool has created it’s own chaos and confusion.


        All of that could be in play, or or none of it could be. He could have wanted to wait for the heat to break or the dude could be an @$$hole.

        We do not have enough information to make a sound judgement but given what I have observed, guys like that are either assholes or pretty well modernized and don’t see why he should do it when women are just as smart, capable and strong has him. So yeah, feminism


        1. Caroline

          Hello Other Tom- just a thought. Maybe if you dated women and not “girls” you could expect “decent” behavior for over 4 years. While I agree there are women who are desperate enough to hitch her wagon to a man in hopes he will somehow “save” her; the majority of both men and women are well intentioned. I dare say it’s hardly a poisoned well of a dating pool. Time to fish elsewhere.

        2. Denise

          The feminism claim really has no place here and sounds like an excuse that some want to throw out there for being selfish.   “I can be totally inconsiderate because feminism.”

          If someone needs help, you help them.   That’s what considerate people do.   It is really as simple as that.   As far as I understand, men are not so weak or clueless as to not know how to do their own laundry or cook their own food.   It is clear from this post that the issue is that the OP had a significantly physical undertaking that required additional assistance, and her boyfriend seemed completely unconcerned about it.   He was, however, receiving the benefit of *her* house, her TV, her furniture, likely her food, etc., in addition to whatever physical relationship they have.

          The only legitimate excuse he might have is that he really wanted to watch the game at that particular time.   But if this is the general pattern, then no, feminism doesn’t save him from being seen as very selfish and inconsiderate.

      2. 17.1.2

        Hi GWTF

        I am not saying that the woman should dig the ditch because she is a feminist. I don’t even know or care if she is a feminist. I’m not saying, “this is what she get for her desire to have equal rights with men.” I said that she should ASK him for help if she wants his help. Assuming he will help her because he eats at her house and uses her electricity, therefore he should help is not reality. I have had women tell me that I don’t appreciate them after a couple of years together. I asked her for examples. I was loving her in ways that didn’t mean anything to her. Once she confessed her resentment towards me for lack of appreciation and said what she wanted, I could give it to her. I couldn’t read her mind and she admitted that she wanted me to guess what she wanted. To us guys, this is frustrating. Ask for what you want. If you want more touching and less flowers, ASK for that. We men can be less aware of what a woman wants or anticipating what women need. That is the reality. If a man becomes too attuned to his woman, than he is too feminine and his woman starts to not “feel it” anymore. We have to stay stay men to be masculine. I cannot become someone who can tell what a woman is feeling, be hyper-expressive emotionally and still be who I am, which is a nasculine man.   I remember watching movies and hearing women talk when I was a teen and they wanted s more “sensitive” man. Well, when you get that from a man you lose something else called real masculinity. The point is ask for what you want.

        1. GoWiththeFlow

          Thank you John,

          Points made, and I learned something 🙂

  18. 18

    The problem here is that what we see is not all there is.   We were given very few details about the situation and we are making assumptions, not considering the things we do not know.   Here are a few potential confounders – things that, if we added them to the story, would radically alter our perception:

    1) Does this man have a history of health problems (heart condition, joint/back problems)   which make physical exertion difficult?

    2) Did this man offer to pay for a professional, and was this offer rejected by the woman?

    3) Did this man do work on his own house, during which time his GF offered no assistance?

    4) Does this man think that digging up a waterline without professional assistance is not a good idea, and might he have expressed that to this woman?

    5) Might this man have offered that his GF and her kids could stay at HIS HOUSE for a while until the watermain was fixed, and was this offer refused?


    It’s interesting that some commenters have stated that because he is over at her house all the time, he owes her for her hospitality.   But there is another potential aspect to that information – might this guy be somewhat resentful that this woman never makes the time to come to HIM?   That although her kids are teenagers and young adults (who can, ostensibly, be left alone for a few hours or even for a day), she never comes to his house, even when she has no water?   Is it that she is extending her hospitality to him, or is it that she is simply allowing him to insert himself into her life, without making provisions or compromises for him (as he sees it)?


    You see, for a man to sit on the couch watching sports while his GF is digging a trench, he must either be selfish, clueless, or (much more likely IMHO) feeling resentful/neglected.   We don’t know which is the case.   We don’t know what we don’t know.   We only know one thing – one general rule – that applies regardless of circumstances: The fact that you are in a relationship with this man does not entitle you to his indentured service!   The fact that you have a project to do does not mean HE has to do it.   We must rid ourselves of the idea that in order to be a man, a man must be useful to a woman and do her dirty-work for her.

    1. 18.1


      “We only know one thing — one general rule — that applies regardless of circumstances: The fact that you are in a relationship with this man does not entitle you to his indentured service!”

      I go by an older and simpler rule, the  Golden Rule:   Do unto others as you want them to do onto you.   It does not matter that this man is the OP’s boyfriend.   He could be her brother, cousin, or neighbor.   The woman and her family are in a once in once in a blue moon crisis.   If he is a friend who is that involved in her life, he should pitch in since he cares about her and is there.

      “It’s interesting that some commenters have stated that because he is over at her house all the time, he owes her for her hospitality.”

      No, it’s not about “owing” someone, it is about the give and take that makes a relationship healthy, and is indicative of the depth and extent of their relationship.

      “You see, for a man to sit on the couch watching sports while his GF is digging a trench, he must either be selfish, clueless, or (much more likely IMHO) feeling resentful/neglected.

      A person can feel many negative feelings during the course of a long term family relationship, close friendship, or romantic relationship.   But what in part forms the base of any deep relationship is the principle that you can count on someone when the chips are down.   Would this man sit in his best friend’s or his parent’s house and watch TV while they worked on something to fix a problem that affects everyone in said house?   It come back to that Golden Rule.

      1. 18.1.1

        GWTF, I think you are missing my point.   While I agree that following the golden rule is usually wise in a relationship, there is at least a decent chance that the reason this guy is sitting on the couch while she is digging is because SHE might not be following the golden rule in his eyes.


        You asked whether this man would sit on a friend’s couch while everyone else worked to fix a problem.   And the answer depends – please see the list of potential confounders I mentioned above, any of which would make the answer to that question “yes.”


        And, again, regarding the healthy give-and-take in relationships, it is entirely possible that this fellow feels he has given more than he has taken.   We don’t know that, but I find it likely.   Most men are raised with an overwhelming social conditioning to perform menial labor for women.   For a man to overcome his social conditioning, there must be pretty good reason.   Whereas if the genders were reversed, no one would bat an eyelash at a woman not offering to dig if her BF was digging a trench.   If she did offer she would be commended, but no one would be surprised if she did not offer.   It is a heavily gendered expectation.

    2. 18.2

      Those are such good questions! Well done you for bringing up the point that the boyfriend may in fact have made an offer of assistance which was not accepted.

      I think your point that he may be angry about another issue in the relationship and is expressing his anger by not helping with the water line is also valid.

      1. 18.2.1

        Nissa- I also agree those are valid points. Unfortunately it just points out that most likely, neither are very good at communicating. Since she is the one writing in, she may need to consider more effective ways of expressing her needs while also considering his. Partners.

    3. 18.3

      I totally agree.   Whether its your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, sister, best friend, these are favors and should be treated accordingly.   Nothing will destroy a relationship faster than “expecting” and “assuming” and “demanding” stuff.

  19. 19

    One thing that is GLARINGLY missing from this post, the man I would like to know more about is the father or fathers of these children.   Does the father (or fathers) not pay any child support ?   Do the children not spend time with their father (or fathers) ?   The mention of these 5 children’s father is strangely absent from this post.   What kind of FATHER would stand by and say NOTHING when his children had no running water for 2 weeks ?   What kind of mother wouldn’t ask the children’s FATHER for help in such a situation ?   (If anything, they could at least go take a shower at their fathers house)

    My ex hubby and I did not exactly have an amicable divorce, but he came by and checked up on me to see if I needed any “manly” chores done and chopped up a tree for me after a storm had blown it down.   (all completely voluntary on his part, I never asked him to do such things)

    Also, there is really no other information in this post about how other tasks/finances are shared.   We only know about the one water incident.   If she does all the cooking, cleaning and paying for this guy who is always at her house (doesn’t sound like they go out much) and this has been going on for FOUR years, then she should have dumped him long ago.

    I hope she called the utility company before she started digging.   That’s the sort of task that if you don’t know what you are doing, could be disastrous as a DIY project.

    MOST men will VOLUNTARILY help women with such things that require physical strength, even a total stranger.   (I THINK I know how to change a tire, but anytime I’ve started to change a tire myself on the road side, a kind male will stop and do it for me, and they do it much faster that I can)     Just as most women voluntarily reciprocate in relationships with the men they love ie: start paying for outings, cook, shop for gifts for weddings attended, care for children etc)

    My attitude is that this sort of help is always appreciated, never expected.   My finance does most of the typical “man” tasks for me voluntarily   but he told me hates yard work.   He lives in a condo association so he has no need to take care of his own lawn.   My lawn is HUGE, and I do not live in a condo.   I have no resentment that he does not do this “manly” task for me, and it is too much for me, (I have tried, and I just stink at yard work) so I hire that out.

    Caroline, I really admire the work you do. (I have a black thumb and can’t even grow a potted plant)   If I knew where you lived, I would probably hire you to do my lawn !

    I do think that the guy IN THIS PARTICULAR situation sounds somewhat like a dud (based on the limited info available)   Did he at least offer his shower to her and her family ?   But my comment above was specifically addressing women who are incensed at doing typical “female ” work, cooking, cleaning, but expect chivalry from men.   And yes, I’ve seen that attitude from SOME posters on this board (not all ) and I have met a FEW women IRL who display this attitude as well.



    1. 19.1

      SE-I thought the same thing about the dad/dads. I said it in a reply to 6.2.1 from Emily. My ex, with all his faults, has always done his best to make sure our kids had what they needed. That being said, she could be a widow or her ex lives abroad (i have a sis whose ex moved to Germany and only came back when he learned he had been gone long enough that my sister’s now husband could adopt their daughter) I also wonder about any emotional/physical/monetary support she could depend on from her own family. My first response to   her in the very first post, I just gotta wonder   if she has to get real about her finances like I did. I had a second job for the first five years of my divorce to earn a safety net of funds. turned off the completely unnecessary cable, refinanced debt, changed insurance, kept my old ratty car, if my son’s did not stay in school they were required to pay   a small rent to help with household expenses. I struggle with 2; I cannot imagine 5!   I tried hard to think of any friends who are incensed at doing any “female” work but expect chivalry from men. But thats probably why they’re friends😊

  20. 20

    I’m not sure it’s even a gender or romantic relationship thing.   If I were at a girlfriend’s house, just relaxing on her sofa, and she and her children were working hard trying to solve a crisis,   I would not just lie back and watch tv.    I would at least ask how I might help.   Isn’t that what you do when anybody is struggling and you’re right there in his/her home?   Isn’t that simply how a thoughtful person behaves?


    1. 20.1

      Yes Exactly.

      I myself could not sit in someones house no matter what and watch TV while they were actively working on averting a crisis.   My and most normal peoples response would be to enquire if there is anything they can do to help. Especially as a guest in the household.   Who wouldn’t do that?   I can’t imagine ANY scenario where a crisis is happening and it being OK to pretend it isn’t happening so I can continue to watch TV.

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