One man recently took to Reddit’s “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) forum for relationship advice, after his girlfriend told him she was sick of “babying [him]” by doing all of their housework and cooking. The post generated nearly 10,000 upvotes and 2,100 comments in about 24 hours, as readers contemplated one of the most common conflicts in modern-day relationships—the division of labor.
The anonymous Redditor, known only as u/throwawaydiffgf, began by explaining that he and his girlfriend had been together for three years—but that “she has changed a lot” in “the past [two] days.” Despite not being married, he described her as a “SAHW” (stay-at-home-wife) who maintains their household while he works.
“She was very good at it over the last year,” he wrote. “Did all the chores and cooked amazing food, so I was fine with it. I make enough and have inheritance for the both of us anyways.”
However, things took a turn on Friday, when he arrived home and found his “dirty clothes on the couch” and “no food,” as she had already cooked and eaten for herself. “I was surprised at this,” he wrote.
When he asked her why she reportedly told him that she was “she was sick of babying [him].” Upon further questioning, she revealed that “she talked to her friend who talked sense into her.” According to the Redditor, his girlfriend’s friend told her that “she was raising a ‘man child'” and that she was acting like “a replacement of [his] mother.”
He wrote that “since she does everything, all the household stuff, cooking, cleaning, laundry etc…and I hardly know [how] to do that…I was just being a leech and using her as a maid.”
“I was shocked that she believed all this crap, and we had a huge fight,” he explained. “Next morning, nothing changed. We kept fighting and Saturday evening…I told her that she would have 10 days to leave the apartment and find herself a place.”
“I told her I [wouldn’t] be her father anymore by paying for everything and she would have to make arrangements if she was going to continue behaving that way. We fought and she left to her [friend’s] place.” He added: “Some friends told me I might have been doing a bit too much by kicking her out.”
For the most part, the Reddit community appeared to back u/throwawaydiffgf in his dilemma, arguing that if he works and financially provides for her, then she should contribute to their relationship by maintaining their household. “NTA. You pay the bills and she does the household stuff. If she doesn’t contribute she doesn’t need to live in the place you pay for,” wrote u/EndOk2329 in a top-voted comment. “Why does she think she [gets] a free pass in life?”
“He has a job, he goes out to work. SHE has a job, she takes care of the home. If she no longer wants to do her job, she can go out to work,” echoed u/Pinchyfeets. “This current arrangement was consensual and not uncommon.”
However, others took issue with how quickly the Redditor escalated the situation, by essentially ending their three-year relationship over the conflict. “There should have been better communication on both sides before each side resorted to the ‘nuclear option,'” wrote u/briefwittyphrase.
Several more felt that the Redditor’s retelling of the saga may have been one-sided—or that he should know, at the very least, how to perform basic household chores.
“Your girlfriend was really good and then she automatically changed?” questioned u/CrazyPumpkin524. “Nobody automatically changes for no reason. My guess is your treatment and view towards her might have changed and how you live in your house might have changed.”
“She’s been doing this well for three years. You spend one weekend without it and you lose your mind. Also, you need to learn how to do laundry, holy cow,” added EveHarrington50. “Even if I was a SAHW I would be bothered if my partner didn’t even know how to do basic chores. No wonder she feels like your mother—and that’s a big turn-off.”
While the Redditor did not respond to Newsweek’s request for comment, he did provide an update to his post, revealing that, despite the vicious argument, he and his girlfriend have made amends: “She came home,” he wrote, adding that “she cried” and the two apologized to one another. “She said she would cut off the friend…and asked me to forgive her.”
“She says she was just tired of being at home doing nothing…we might be getting a pet,” he concluded.
While the situation ended happily for the couple, conflicts surrounding the division of labor can cause serious strain in relationships, especially given the historical associations with gender roles present in heterosexual relationships. According to a 2019 report in Greater Good Magazine, “the division of labor often [disadvantages] women” which “has consequences for their well-being.”
“While housework is unpleasant for people of both genders, women who are overloaded by it actually experience more depressive symptoms,” they added. “This may be due to the emotional burdens rather than the physical burdens of managing social life and childcare.”