How to remove the doormat/nagging conflict from a relationship


woman doing housekeeping

Today I realized that I was a doormat in my relationship. He hated washing the dishes, so I washed them. He said he would clean the bathroom tomorrow, so I cleaned it. He left his dirty clothes on the ground, so I washed them while I was washing mine. I did it all thinking that it was what a cool woman did, keeping the peace. 

Cool women don’t nag their Significant Others. Cool women understand that men hate certain activities, and so it’s about finding what they do like to do, like cook the occasional pizza and make a huge mess, or code code code. Cool women see that it’s not worth fighting about the small stuff because they hate having arguments over so-called “stupid shit”. Cool women know that mundane activities are actually an opportunity to practice mindfulness.

My sister was definitely not a cool women. She was training her man so that he would follow orders. He was washing dishes, ironing clothes and mowing the lawn, instead of writing songs and practicing piano. She is so mean, I thought. He needs time to create. She is going to lose her man if she isn’t careful.

Where did I get these ideas from? Who was I? Why was I so fucking NICE? And where’s the balance between being a nagging bitch, and being a doormat? I cared about having a clean house and wished I didn’t. My SO just didn’t care and didn’t care that he didn’t. If he could use that cleaning time to code, why couldn’t I use the cleaning time to write?

My solution-vention? [Apart from breaking up and resolving never to get into a serious relationship with a man ever again…]

– Live separately a.k.a Simone de Beauvoir

– If that’s not possible, hire someone to clean the dishes, wash the laundry and mow the lawn. Because it’s not worth trying to find a balance. 

What do you think? Am I just falling in love with the wrong men? You can tell me. I can take it.

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19 thoughts on “How to remove the doormat/nagging conflict from a relationship

  1. You are just dating immature dudes. Good news is that some of them will grow up at some point and realize that life it’s not just about doing only the stuff that they want to do like coding. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though, because there’s no set time table for when that will happen.

    1. Wow, you blogged back at me! That’s super cool 🙂

      I like what you are saying – I am giving, expecting something in return, and then pissed off when I don’t get anything. So in future if I give, then it has to be a free gift.

      That sounds good in theory, but as you mentioned – Steve wants to live in a pigsty. I don’t, and I don’t want to keep giving free gifts of cleaning… so what happens when I have to live with someone who doesn’t share the same desire for cleanliness? How do you guys manage?

      [Sorry I didn’t approve your comment earlier – I wasn’t logging in :)]

      1. Thanks Ellen for the reply and yeah this issue is super close to my heart (expectations) and I think if we (man and woman kind) could solve this then just about anything else could be solved.

        Ok I agree with you on your issue of wanting someone that will assist you in your goal to have a clean place. Steve is a bit cleaner than me but we are not so fussy (we’re blokey blokes).
        So I think some possible solution/s for you are one or more of the following:
        1. Make sure you let him know your level of cleanliness on your first date
        (no bait and switch)
        2. Or in an existing rel get an agreement with him on how you will share duties
        (re-evaluate the agreement, at the end of the week, at a specific time, rather than dribs and drabs of nagging throughout the week)
        3. or Let him know how serious this issue is to you that it is a real “deal breaker”.
        4. or Come to an agreement on an acceptable cleanliness level
        5. or Live separately
        6. or Live with a gay guy 😉

        Ultimately I think that if a team/couple does not have similar systems for forming agreements on any subject (especially workloads) then they are destined to have conflict and fail. As I have mentioned in my reply post we have agreed to replace expectations with explanations. If I am not getting the desired results then I need to explain better until I do. ie It is not that they are not listening but that I am not explaining well enough.

      2. I generally form these types agreements/ take time to explain issues when working in a team… I think… I just hate to waste time on such ‘trivial’ matters like cleanliness (obviously not so trivial in hindsight ;)…

        I think I’m going to do the living alone + paying for a cleaner for the foreseeable future 🙂 and just make sure I’m not bringing my doormat tendencies into other areas of my life.

        Thanks for your comments. Looking forward to thinking more about these expectations in future…

  2. Hey Ellen I think I may have worked out the real issue in this Doormat and Expectations discussion. Just shooting off the hip here but if your man is not satisfying you in the kitchen and you were letting him get away with it then maybe it also applies to the bedroom also? Anyway…just a thought.

    1. Call me naive, but I assumed after a 10 year relationship, and a breast cancer episode, that I couldn’t expect sex to be like it is at the beginning of a relationship, hence why we looked elsewhere for a while. I read things like this and it validated my theory.

      Perhaps if I had talked about it sooner, I would have realised things weren’t great and done things differently.

      But it’s still not easy, at least for me, to talk about sex, perhaps in case my parents might find out *shock horror* that I would participate in such a thing.

      1. Hi Naive, (well you did tell me to call you that). First I had a look at your presentation and my jaw dropped. Very impressed with your thinking, actions and candidness. Funny, but the only relationship I have ever had was an experiment that lasted 2 years and it allowed me to write my book Rethink Perfect (self published). I am hoping to have one more relationship to test out my new theories.

        But back to your last point about “shock horror” that our parents would think we do sex.
        I think we also have “shock horror” that our parents ever do it. So I decided to break the mould or shackles. by asking my mum if she ever faked an orgasm. I had been asking lots of women this question on my travels and it finally dawned upon me that my mother was a woman and I could ask her also.

        While giving my mum a lift to bingo with my brother Steve in the car I decided to ask her a question.
        “Mum, have you ever faked an orgasm?” After some protest and my explaining that it was her 30 year old son asking his mum for the facts of life, all be it a bit late, she finally replied:
        “Well….since the hysterectomy it hasn’t been the same”
        After that point I thanked her, understanding her jist and not wanting to go any further with the delicate topic, and move on to a more palatable subject (pun intended).
        “What do you think of oral sex mum?”, I calmly asked like I was asking her about the weather.
        “What’s that ” she innocently replied. “You know….” I assured her.
        “If that is that 96 the I don’t like it!” She exclaimed. After a few chuckles from me and Steve I concluded. ” Have you ever tried it?”
        “No”.
        “Then how do you know that you don’t like it?” I rhetorically blurted out.
        And with that we were all save by arriving at her destination..

        I figured this conversation would some day be beneficial for me and I find it quite useful to find out about other peoples values when I tell it.

        Any feedback?

  3. Hi Ellen, now I know that I can be a bit of a pest but I was just wondering why there was zero, zip, zilch feedback on my last reply. I feel that it sort of leaves me out in the cold.

    1. Sorry, didn’t remember to respond. I haven’t been writing on the blog these last few weeks, and it’s not in my email inbox to remind me.

      I think you need a lot more than just one 2 year relationship to figure all this stuff out, but I’m sure you know that.

      Good for you about asking your mom all that stuff. I wouldn’t be so bold as to ask mine. Perhaps I feel it’s an invasion of privacy, and when you are asking something like that in person, as opposed to in email, you are almost forcing her to answer. I don’t think I would like to be put in such a scenario – or at least I would like to be given the option to answer. And I definitely wouldn’t appreciate you telling other people about my responses.

      Does that tell you more about my values?

      I also don’t think comment forms are a good conversation medium. But maybe they should be.

  4. Yeah I am not sure how good the medium is also but if you want to suggest another one I am open. BTW I think I should disclose that I have had a couple of chance conversations with Adrian at the Startbucks on Pedro de Valdivia, before I commented on your blog. In fact I even gave him a copy of my 90 page, self published book/manual on what I learned from my experimental relationship and other experiences. (it took 12 years after the experience to be able to put the data together into, what I consider a pretty good analysis and solution to relationship problems, so if you would like to borrow it let me know)

  5. I’m a man. And I feel like a doormat right now. I feel my significant other just keeps me around to take care of her kid as well as keep her from being lonely. I didn’t feel this way in the beginning. I’m a man that would do for my woman whatever she needed or wanted. Of course I am talking about a woman that is real, and not so obviously outward a user. It’s hard to detect someone that doesn’t have the same feelings or values as you do,,,,,,,it’s very easy for the most wise person to be reduced to being naive. I’m proof of that. Just when I thought I found the “soulmate”, I’ve discovered that all I’ve done is given my soul to my mate. It takes too long to wait for karma and life has a time stamp on it. Can’t I just find someone that would deeply love and appreciate me for who and what I am?? Looks and other physical things are not an issue, I’m handsome and capable from what I’ve been told over and over. As it was said,,,,the goodness and the “shine” of a person comes from within,,,,,,,,I’m not at all shallow, nor selfish,,nor greedy. I guess I’ve ranted enough, but people that suffer at someone else’s inconsideration should be taken quite seriously. Life is too short. Where are you loving caring soulmate?

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