Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for a few months, and have been spending more time together recently in one another’s apartments. His place is…not at all clean, and he doesn’t seem to understand why this bothers me. I’m not obsessively clean by any means, but we’re both almost 30. I think it is time he stops living in an environment that is reminiscent of a frat house. How do I tell him I would like him to keep a cleaner place without seeming like an anal b**ch?”
A: This has nothing to do with you question, but I feel obligated to tell you that you should refrain from using the words “anal” and “bitch” in the same sentence; especially next to each other. There are immature people out there (like me I guess, and I’m about to give you advice!) who will just start giggling because “anal” is a homonym.
Onward: At first blush, it seems like this shouldn’t be a big issue at all. You should just be able to kindly ask your boyfriend to clean up his act a little bit, because you’re more comfortable in a clean, well-kept environment devoid of lava lamps and beer bongs, right? And then he should say something like, “Sure, babe, I’ll make sure it’s cleaner, especially when you’re going to be around, because we’re a couple and we should do things for each other once and a while.
But it’s not always that simple. Us guys have a tendency to view this ostensibly simple request as much more than it is. If you were to ask him to clean more, your boyfriend might get defensive, because he is comfortable in the way he lives and has likely been living that way since way, way before he met you. And there are people out there who are just messy individuals. For some reason, they take a bizarre amount of pride in their penchant for having clothing strewn about all over their bedroom, empty beer cans decorating the coffee table, and the fact that they have never once purchased a toilet bowl brush.
Dudes tend to have an aversion to changing for a girl, even if the change would undeniably be a positive one. He may get the impression you’re trying to control him or something, and that can make a man feel emasculated. (Believe it or not, guys are just as bizarre as girls sometimes when it comes to analyzing and dissecting aspects of a relationship. We just tend to internalize things more.)
When you broach this topic with him, make sure you don’t come off as nagging. I learned by watching my parents interact for two decades that men do not respond very positively when they feel like they’re being nagged. Instead of simply asking him to clean more, tell him your reasonable desires for wanting him to do so, and the myriad benefits of living in a clean environment (#nodustbunniesnomercy). Be sure to tell him this is not you trying to change the person he is, and it’s not you trying to exercise some kind of control over him.
Then offer to help him out with the cleaning every once in a while. (Just be sure not to do the lion’s share of it when you do.)
To add motivation, you may want to add a little quid pro quo perk. Like tell him that if you were, theoretically, to walk into his apartment for your next hangout and discover it to be immaculate and spotless, you will reward him in some way. A married couple I’m friends with work this system a lot and they seem reasonable happy. They deal mostly in exchange of oral pleasure, but go with whatever works for you.
Best of luck. I hope you’re successful in getting your boyfriend to bust out his Swiffer more regularly. Or to purchase a Swiffer if he doesn’t have one yet.