What Co-Habitation has Taught me

I’m very happy to be living with my boyfriend. He is hilarious and cute and super helpful when it comes to carrying heavy things. He’s also really smart and an excellent problem-solver. Seriously, anything I suggest needs improvement (condo-related), he will find a solution for. Like when I said I wished our place had more storage space, he built shelves into our closets, which might not sound that difficult, but he had to lift the dryer off the washer (stackable units) all by himself and drill stuff into walls. I can’t say enough good things about him.

So I’ll stop with the good things.

Men and women really aren’t that different. My boyfriend loves to make fun of the things I’m particular about. As if it’s weird that I scrub my hands vigorously after I’ve thrown something in the trash can (I feel like the trash can has an aura of dirtiness, it’s not just the contents — it’s the surrounding atmosphere). The only difference is my vocalness about those things. I will flat out say, “Ew, gross, I need to wash my hands — I just threw something in the trash can.” But my boyfriend is just as particular, he just doesn’t state it. For instance, if you walked into our closet, his pants are all hung individually on hangers with the label facing left. His polos are hung with the collars straightened and buttons facing left. There is also an eerily equal amount of space between each item. That’s pretty particular, right? There is nothing particular about the way my clothes appear in the closet — if I’m motivated enough to get them on a hanger, it’s worth a celebration. But since I openly wash my hands after being near the trash can, I’m the freak.

As much as men contest it, men bitch and complain just as much as women do. Again, it’s all about how we do it that differs. When I complain about something or point out one of my boyfriend’s flaws (such as his inability to dry off standing water on the counter after he’s splashed the liquid everywhere but the sink itself or wipe away the crumbs in the kitchen that are remnants of his breakfast, lunch and dinner), I’m usually posing it as a question, like, “Hey sweetheart, I know you were in a rush today, but do you think you could dry off the counter after washing your hands next time? I’m worried the standing water will seep into the counter somehow and warp it.” To me, I’m using this sweet, innocent tone to make a request and then give a reason why that request is logical — I thought that was important to men — and I throw in a “sweetheart” to make it sound like I 1) admire him and 2) am weak and need his help, and his help only, to accomplish this amazing feat of dry and clean counters. To him, that’s bitchy, and he will retaliate with, “Is there anything you don’t complain about?”

However, when I do something that he doesn’t like, he’ll use a tone that suggests he’s just joking, when in all actuality, he’s annoyed. For instance, (think of a sarcastic tone here and picture annoying hand gestures and facial expressions — I can do a pretty accurate impersonation if necessary) “Hey, Lindsey, I know you need to spend hours doing your hair in the morning, but I’d really appreciate having a little counter space in the bathroom [presumably so he can splash water on it] — maybe you could put these curling and straightening utensils back into the drawer once you’re done  instead of leaving them out like this?”

When you’re just reading it, he sounds just as bitchy — if not more, since you’ll notice there were no lovey-dovey words like I used — as I do when I make my request, but because of the tone he uses and the facial expressions and hand gestures, it comes across as a joke. So then when I turn to him and say, “Complain much?” he can retaliate, “Geez, Lindsey, it was just a joke. Lighten up!” He will also tie it to one of my earlier complaints by adding, “I’m just worried that if you leave these heated utensils on the counter, the heat will seep into the counter and cause it to warp.”

Because he is impossible to beat, I have ceased my complaints that require him to change these easy-to-work-around habits. I have learned — from many, many women — that I must choose my battles, because there will be a lot of them, for the rest of eternity, and that he will probably never wipe off the crumbs or dry off the puddles of water.


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