Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend and I hosted a party, our first joint hosting stint since moving in together a few months ago. The party was his idea, and most of our guests were his close friends.
Yet he did almost nothing to help me get ready for the party. We split up the tasks beforehand, but he "ran out of time" to do his and I ended up having to rush through them at the end. Then halfway through the night he got tired and disappeared to the bedroom to play on his phone while I made sure everyone was still having a good time.
I'm really upset about all of this, as I feel that a few short months in, he's already taking me for granted as a housemate and assuming I'm going to do the "women's work" of hosting. If he were to ask me to redo that party next year, I would definitely say no — there was nothing in it for me, just work and expenses.
I'm still too angry to talk to him about it, but whenever I do, what's the right message to send here?
Hangover: “Are you going to do your half, or am I going to pack my half? Because this never happens again.”
Yes, that’s an ultimatum, which I always advise never to resort to, along with never using “never” or “always.”
Why here? Because it’s so clear-cut: If he gets it, truly gets it, then this will have been the most useful crappy party of your life. If he doesn’t get it — truly get it — then do indeed pack up.
No one is worth a sacrifice that you find demoralizing and offensive.
By the way, you’ve already subtly consented to this sacrifice by referring to “next year.” There is no next week unless and until you’re confident there’s no “next”: No next dumping of all the work on you, no next assuming you’ll just do it, no next reduction of you to a role. Internalize this. Beyond parties and into everything.
There is of course the possibility your boyfriend just got himself out of his depth. Maybe he lacks both the practical time-budgeting skills necessary to accomplish his half of a to-do list on a deadline and the social skills to stay “on” as a host for hours on end.
These shortfalls (and shortcomings) warrant sympathy for sure. But true maturity would have been to make sure these stayed his problem; instead he made them yours when he opted to run and hide instead of admitting he’d overreached.
To make them your problem — without any awareness, apparently, that he was dumping extra work on you or taking you for granted — was to betray his comfort with letting you carry the load.
Had he gotten up the next day and apologized for not following through with his own big idea, and admitted that he got in over his head, then I expect we wouldn’t be having this little chat. He didn’t, so we are, so you need to. Good luck.