A friend of mine, let's call him Bob, is in a relationship with a girl, Sarah. He is 24, she is 19. They live together with her 4 year old child. They often struggle financially and I, as I'm better off financially, try to help where I can.

Sarah has now repeatedly asked me for help with Bob, as he is reeeeeeally lazy. He does next to nothing in the household, leaving all chores to Sarah.
When she brings up specific things she told him to do, which he didn't, he gets defensive and offended. We're talking about small things here, like washing some dishes, close the shutters etc.

As if this wasn't enough already, he tends to be manipulative, trying to make her feel guilty for pressuring him.

For the first ~10 months they lived together, he didn't have any money and did not try to find a job or anything. He really hasn't got his life under control. Luckily, he has got a full time job for about a month now. She lives on welfare as she has to take care of her son.

I think his behaviour is unacceptable and needs changing, but I'm reluctant to speak to him, as I'm afraid he will just get offended again and nothing will change. And even if I get him to agree with me, the past has shown that this will not help much and not for long.

How do I tell him that his behaviour will cost him his girlfriend, in a way that he will at least try to act on it?

  • You write that Bob didn't have a job for the first ~10 months. Has this changed now? Has he been living on welfare as well? – Flo Aug 2 at 12:09
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    @DonThermidor_LobsterMobster as is written in the question Bob didnt have a job for 10 months and hence no money. He just recently got a full time job. – Ontamu Aug 2 at 12:26
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    Is it their son or her son only? – CPHPython Aug 2 at 13:59
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    If he's lived this way for four years and nothing is pressuring him to change, he probably believes that he can keep doing what he's already doing and everything will be fine. Try attacking it from that angle. – Pyritie Aug 2 at 14:32
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    @CPHPython He is not the father – NotTelling Aug 2 at 14:46
up vote 8 down vote accepted

she is at wit's end and I am one of the few persons, Bob takes advice from, I feel obligated to help her and him

Listening to your advice is an additional advantage that his girlfriend may have lost already. However, if you mention that you talked to her about their household problems he may see that as a back-stab or side-picking and you may lose that advantage.

You could mention your last encounter with her and describe how she seemed sad, or exhausted, or exasperated, or [other descriptive adjective] in order to make him realize that his help is really needed to alleviate her burden.

If he mentions again that you or her are pressuring him, you can let him see the whole picture: "a woman taking care of an household by herself, another adult (food/clothes), and a baby without being rewarded the entire time will eventually deplete her entire energy. It seems to me like a dead-end to any relationship, but that's your call to make".

You could also focus some questions on her son, in order to understand how much interaction he has with him and to point out that at this age (4 y.o.) he requires a lot of attention, not just for food and hygiene but for playtime as well. Example: "it can be surprisingly fun to play with kids this age, or even helping them out in various tasks, they will remember you for a lifetime... They will also never forget about you if you decide to ignore them (blaming you for their screwed up childhood when they grow up)."

If this is a person I have respect for, I'd sit him down and give him a speech similar to this:

Hey, Bob, I know it's none of my business, but I care about you, and I care about Sarah and her son, and I wanted to let you know what it looks like from my perspective. I know I don't have the full picture here, but it looks like Sarah's doing all the heavy lifting around the house and with the kid, and it doesn't look like the present circumstances are good for anyone. Her resentment can't feel good or be good for your relationship, or for the kid. Is there anything going on with you that I don't know about, that's making it especially difficult to pull your weight around the house? Have you talked to Sarah about it? Would it be helpful to just make a schedule of who does which chores on which nights? If this continues, I'm scared you'll be at risk of losing them both - is that something you're okay with?

If at any point in that conversation he indicates that he does not want to have this conversation with you, don't press it. It really isn't your business, but if you do have a strong friendship with mutual respect, he might be open to it, and it might be what he needs to hear.

If I were friendly with Sarah, I'd also address the situation with her, and ask her how bad it is from her perspective - if she wants out, or what she wants to change, if things are worse or better than they seem to you.

Remember that people can be very stubbornly blind to their own bad behavior, and it is possible that none of your intervening will do any good, but rather simply strain your own relationship with Bob.

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