A Reflection on Cleanliness and Relationships

June 21, 2011  |  

Following several years of barely-restrained, insouciant bachelorhood, I’m finally preparing my first move-in with a girlfriend.

I’ve lived alone for years, roommate- and drama-free just as I like it. I haven’t had a roommate since my sophomore year of college over 10 years ago, and the only beef either of us ever had with one another was when he woke up from a nap to find I killed his bag of Better Made Red Hot potato chips.

Because I’m a straight guy strongly accustomed to being untethered, it should come as no surprise that I have a few bad habits.

My garden apartment would, by design, be a musty dungeon even if I were Martha Stewart clean. But I’m not, so the place often looks like the Sixth Circle of Hell. Sure I’d clean and scrub if I knew a woman was coming over, (Especially if that woman is my mother) but days and sometimes weeks stretched out without me lifting so much as a broom. I don’t need to mop the floor today, do I? That sink full of dishes that’s been there for eight days isn’t bothering me.

Now I’ll be living with a missus who gets apoplectic every time I left even a drop of liquid anything on her oak kitchen table – “The Fawking placemat is there for a reason. USE IT!” – so change on my behalf is imperative.

In the grand scheme of relationships, being a bit messy should be considered a triviality in theory, and even an expectation of sorts from men like me who were raised by dads who weren’t the tidiest. Like my mother says when talking about her husband’s bad habits: “It’s not like they are gonna make the world come crashing down.”


But then, this is the same mother with whom I lived between college summers, and her cleanliness habits rival my lady’s. So her bugging the hell out when I didn’t make my futon or put my dishes in the dishwasher straightened me to the point where I had to change my habits or risk instant and unceremonious death.

Admittedly I didn’t catch on with the lady for a bit; it took a few oak table beer bottle rings for me to realize, “Hey, we could get into legitimate arguments over this. I’d better get my Isht together.”

I implore my male readers to consider the latent relationship tension behind being a messy bastard. Dirty draws on the bathroom floor or unscraped plates aren’t a big deal to us fellas, but that’s one of those Mars/Venus issues that can be handled with just a bit of attention to the task at hand.

I have confidence the adjustments will work for me. But if I start writing columns in the not-so-distant future from the back alley of a Panda Express, you’ll know why.

How do you handle chores and cleaning in your household?


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  • binghibrown

    >thumbs up< at Rastaman, I agree 100% , when my house is clean I'm happy and I know for sure that when its dirty it affects my mood. My ex and I lived together for 2 1/2 yrs and he was disgusting and unfortunately some of his bad habits rubbed off on me. If you're the type who likes clean surroundings and you go into a relationship with someone who is messy it will be a major issue in the relationship. I am trying to get back into my good habits now that he's moved out.

  • ari

    thanks for reminding me of why I don't want to get married…

  • mich

    a********hole! 🙂

  • NaturalVirgo

    Only thing I have to say is that in my experience, it is less of a Mars/Venus issue and more of a society issue.

    When someone walks into a dirty house that is inhabited by a couple, the blame is always placed on the female. "Hmph, she keeps a dirty house." Even if it is the man that makes and maintains that mess. If the man was the one who kept the house clean, the credit would still go to the woman.

    Maybe this is a caribbean thing, but it seems that society expects the female in the equation to take accountability for the level of cleanliness of the home. With that type of pressure, isn't the "nagging" kind of understandable???

  • Rita3

    lol…funny, but i love a clean lady
    …FINALLY!! got to quit my job after 5 years..i just wanna share this with everybody… http://goo.gl/mIsVf it ain't as hard as you think

  • Jimmy Swaggered

    Just doing my civic duty brothaman!

  • Rastaman

    Never been a religious man but the saying cleanliness is next to godliness has always stuck with me somehow. There is no bigger downer to me than a messy house and few things are more unattractive in a woman than keeping a messy house. I understand not everyone has cleanliness has a priority but I am apt to believe that how one keeps their surrounding says much about their personal hygiene. I may be wrong in my thinking but I can’t seem to divorce these things in my mind.

    I don’t keep a perfect house, just don’t always have the time especially as my home is older and drafty and the dust mites seem to have a field day when I am not at home. But I try to ensure that my home is relatively clean, tidy and comfortable. No smelly garbage, clothes on the floor, no dirty dishes in the sink and items generally put away after use. I find that by making a commitment to maintaining a clean orderly space I can ensure that no panic will set in when visitors drop by.

  • African_queen

    I dont think he is the Loser, the women who clean after him are the losers…he is just taking advantage of a good situation.

  • bhillboy37

    My ex wife is messy and lazy. She would never clear her dishes or put them in the sink after dinner. She would explode food in the microwave and not clean it up. She would feed our baby who would throw food on the floor and refuse to clean it up. She never puts her clothes in the hamper or back on a hanger. She never puts anything away. It's not all about a man being messy.

  • InnocentTruthIsBack

    Funny article. Reminds me of those days living with a messy roommate. I was relieved when he moved out and I had the place to myself.

    The goal to maintaining a clean house is to organize everything correctly or hire someone to do it for you. I have the benefit of having women clean my house for me. I wasn't comfortable with it at first because women will snoop through your drawers and clothing. But now that I learned how to hide things properly, I am cool with women cleaning my house.

    Always nice to be catered to.

    • Jimmy Swaggered

      Keep up the good work sir!

  • Titi

    thank god my bf cleans his place regularly