Dear Dr. Darcy:
My girlfriend of 9 months is now living with me. We never discussed who would do what in terms of household chores, and now I regret not having brought it up before she moved in. I feel like her maid! I do all the cooking and cleaning and I’m constantly picking up after her. She works as a bartender so she’s home all day long, making a mess of the place (or at least not cleaning up), and when I get home I want to bang my head into a wall I’m so angry. My mother thinks I need to change my expectations. What do you think?
I think you’re between a rock and a hard place. It’s frustrating to feel like you’re being taken advantage of, but what’s worse is that giving in to that line of thinking erodes the foundation of the relationship—not to mention the speed with which it kills the passion. So stop the madness. Stop looking to her to fix your discomfort. Know that she was put in your path so that you can learn more about yourself and adopt the 100% – 0% principle. Using this theory, you take 100 percent responsibility for meeting your needs in the relationship, and you look to her for zero percent. If you want to radically change the dynamics of your relationship, try it for 30 days and watch what happens.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Determine what will make the relationship work, then do it. Demonstrate respect and kindness to her, whether she deserves it or not.
Step 2: Expect nothing in return. Zero.
Step 3: Focus on peace. Refuse to allow anything she says or does to provoke you into conflict. Don’t take the bait. Presume that her motives are good and innocent.
Step 4: Be persistent with your graciousness and kindness. Often we give up too soon, especially when others don’t respond in kind. Remember to expect nothing in return.
The days of looking for a 50 percent contribution from our partners need to be history. That model, as you see, only works when both partners are pulling equal weight (which is virtually never), and having that expectation is a recipe for comparisons and pointing fingers. Focus on yourself—on what you can do to fix this relationship—and let me know how things are in a month.