I’ve always been the one to prepare healthy, beautiful meals, organize schedules, clean the apartment, plan vacations, and buy gifts. My boyfriend enjoys all of these things but doesn’t seem to care if they get done. Why not?—Elizabeth
The way that your common and boring gender dynamic tends to get characterized is just so indicative of everything that’s wrong with everything: Men are lazy, incompetent beasts and women are shrill, bossy harpies. You seem fine-ish about all this now, but the who-does-what stuff almost always gets worse with the stability of marriage and the 24/7 screaming festival of young children—and then you’ll start thinking of him as a lazy, incompetent beast, and he of you as a shrill, bossy harpy.
Of course, that is all very “anti-erotic,” which is my favourite new phrase from Toronto-based therapist Sara Dimerman. She says, “You say that he doesn’t seem to care if the chores get done or not, [but] have you really challenged that? Have you ever not been the primary organizer? Women tend to do a really good job of taking on the lion’s share, and even preventing men from doing things their own way, or making them afraid to try to do it our way, in case we come down too hard on them.” Dimerman is the co-author, with J.M. Kearns, of How Can I Be Your Lover When I’m Too Busy Being Your Mother? (It’s a hilarious title, but I’m deep into the book and I don’t, like, have this problem.) In it, the ways in which women mom their men include acting as a “cleaning lady,” “cook,” “manager,” and “appearance and etiquette coach.” (Actually, yeah, I have a problem with that last one, in that I do it professionally.) All of this is an untenable bummer.
So here are your options: You could stop caring about that stuff being accomplished with speed and grace, tell your boyfriend that you need help, and then don’t criticize him when he cuts the flower stems at the wrong angle (I have done this; don’t do this). Dimerman says, “Appeal to his sense of fairness. Assuming that you both work for a living, why wouldn’t each of you do your fair share of work at home? If he really wants to be your equal partner, he will likely be more willing than you think.” You could get bitchcore and implement an on-paper agreement and gold-star system, but that’s horrible. Or you could leave him, and begin another relationship by impressing upon a man that you will never—ever—act like his mother, and then don’t. New guy will like that better, too.
A personable young lady came in to my office to apply for a job. She said upfront that she has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a blog. She was turned down because we were concerned she would be checking these accounts instead of working. Should she have been told why she was not hired?—Michael
You’re asking if you did the right thing by not telling her why she wasn’t hired, to which the answer is no, don’t shame-explain to someone already in a vulnerable position. But what you should be asking (twist!) is whether you did the right thing by not hiring her. And the answer to that is: You’re old.
Using the Internet in a way that is entirely typical of thirtyishes doesn’t constitute an obsession. A guy whose happiness is contingent on his number of Twitter followers, yeah, that’s bananas. But just having all those accounts doesn’t suggest anything other than a facility with social media that most small companies evidently do not have and do need; it doesn’t indicate that she’d abuse company time, policy, or expectations with her iPhone. This job applicant mentioned her accounts because talking about skills is what you do in an interview, and knowing how to operate multiple Internet platforms is a social and technological skill. If she was otherwise well qualified, you made a mistake, but not the one you thought.
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