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.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

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.