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Redditor Hit With Backlash After Trying To Force Their Boyfriend To Wash His Face In A Sink To Conquer His Fear

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The premise for the subReddit Am I The A**hole (AITA) is:

“A catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s been bothering you. Tell us about any non-violent conflict you have experienced; give us both sides of the story, and find out if you’re right, or you’re the a**hole.”

Redditor throowayaysy was facing just such a conundrum so they asked:

“AITA for making my boyfriend wash his face under a sink?”

The Original Poster (OP) matter of factly explained their odd question.

“So my boyfriend was abused as a child and he has a big fear of putting his face near sinks because his mom used to semi drown him as punishment by putting his head under the kitchen sink.”

After that casual intro, the OP got to the important—to them—part of the situation.

“I’m a big believer of washing your face twice a day and while he does wash it in the shower, that means he only washes his face once per day and he breaks out often because of it. I told him today that he has to start washing his face in the sink and that he can just splash water on it to make it easier.”

Their boyfriend rejected the idea of reliving their childhood trauma to satisfy their significant other’s grooming standards.

“He rejected and said he wouldn’t do it at all.”

So OP thought an ultimatum was in order.

“I told him that I wouldn’t be going to get groceries with him if he didn’t because I think his fear needs to be dealt with once and for all because I’m sure we’re both tired of it.”

The threat didn’t go over well.

With their feelings hurt, the OP decided to complain to their sister…

“He got really upset and told me to leave for a bit and so I did. He was really rude about it and it hurt.”

“I told my sister and she said I’m the asshole in this but I genuinely did it out of love and want for him to get over his fears.”

…who was less than sympathetic.

So they asked Reddit:


The OP’s story quickly spread to three other subReddits: Dropped Your Red Flag, Am I The Devil and Am I The Angel.

It was shared with a slightly different title than the OP’s each time.

“Forcing your boyfriend to do something that triggers his childhood trauma because you need to control how many times he washes his face?”

“AITA for making my bf relive childhood trauma so he can [wash] his face?”

“AITA for trying to torture my boyfriend?”

But OP came to the AITA forum, so it was time for their fellow Redditors to weigh in.

Ordinarily there would be a variety of responses, but this wasn’t even close.

“YTA (You’re The A**hole) – no, you didn’t do it out of love, you did it because you are controlling and because you think your way to do things is the only acceptable way.”

“Hint: I wash my face once a day, in the shower, and have zero issue with acne. His breakouts have less to do with his face washing regimen than with the stress of living with a controlling a**hole who doesn’t give a sh*t about his mental health.”

“You’re basically being his mom all over again, only with social leverage instead of physical force.” ~ avast2006

“YTA, what is wrong with you?”

“1. Normal people don’t wash their face by sticking their heads under the faucet.”

“2. Who died and made you queen of hygiene? Washing your face twice a day isn’t necessary. You wash it once a day or again when it gets dirty or to remove makeup.”

“People with super dry skin are seriously cringing over the idea of washing it twice for no good reason. Stop imposing your own silly personal beliefs on others.”

“You aren’t a dermatologist, stop pretending like you know what’s best for his skin. You don’t.”

“3. You aren’t a therapist and what you are trying to make your boyfriend do is absolutely cruel knowing the context of his abuse. So on top of being unnecessary (see point 2), you are continuing the abuse he suffered as a child.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It doesn’t matter that you’re ‘doing it out of love’, you’re causing him harm and that absolutely makes you an AH.”

“4. Withholding the groceries for not giving into your insanely petty and stupid demands is manipulative and something an abusive partner does.” ~ your_moms_a_clone

“YTA. Big time.”

“You think bullying your boyfriend into reliving a childhood trauma is OK because you think he should wash his face more often? Even trained therapists who are a lot smarter and apparently empathetic than you are divided on the effectiveness of this kind of therapy.”

“Your sister is right. You’re a selfish, horrible person who cares more about ‘I think people should wash their face twice and he only does it once’ than the fact his mother used to waterboard him‽‽”

“I feel so bad for you since clearly his childhood trauma is so tiresome for you. Someone needs to tell him to RUN away from you.” ~ LakotaGrl

“YTA. At the moment it’s ‘only’ on the level of being incredibly thoughtless, shallow and selfish. If you persist with this—if you continue to try to make him re-live his abuse for what amounts to a whim—you’ll be a legitimate, not-even-kidding-here monster.”

“You owe him an apology and a reassurance that you will never repeat this behaviour.”

“You’re also wrong, but you’ve already been thoroughly schooled on that by much more qualified people.” ~ Babbit_B

“YTA – Do… you know that there is more than 2 ways to wash your face (you mentioned he washes in the shower, then you jumped right to putting his face in the sink) he could use a warm wash cloth and some facial soap (I did this for years) that way he isn’t required to put his face near the sink.”

“The fact that you state that you knew he was abused, but still suggested he use this method to wash speaks volumes.” ~ Danxoln

“So you want him to confront his trauma head on every single day so that his face can be cleaned twice daily because you’ve arbitrarily decided that it’s required? Once is enough and the fact that you’d put this minor thing ahead of his well-being is truly cooked.”

“Ask yourself: is this the hill I want to die on? Is it appropriate to make the person that I love confront their trauma for something so minor? If you answer yes, you are indeed [The A**hole].” ~ Comfortable-Coconut

“YTA. So much.”

“This isn’t coming from a place of love. This is coming from a place of control. He told you no, and that should’ve been the end of it.”

“But it wasn’t. You threatened him with a withdrawal of affection if he didn’t comply (believe it or not, grocery shopping together as a couple is a thing that comes from a place of love).”

“Threats aren’t love. Forcing someone to do something isn’t love. You’re just embarrassed about his appearance.”

“If you genuinely wanted him to get over his fears, you’d encourage him to see a therapist. And if he didn’t want to see a therapist, you’d let him be. But you’re not doing that, you’re just punishing him for not wanting to do something that reminds him of his childhood abuse.”

“Shame on you.” ~ Maxxxie74

“YTA – That was beyond cruel. As the grown child of an incredibly abusive father, I nearly burst into tears reading this. If you truly loved him, you’d never make a demand like that.”

“Obviously, you don’t get what a trigger a sink is to him and that’s fine because that means that you’re lucky enough not to know what parental abuse does to a person, but you never, NEVER force someone to face head-on something that equaled abuse to them until THEY are ready.”

“Then to deny him FOOD because of it? You LITERALLY punished him with the sink…just like his mother.”

“I’ve had exes do things like this to me for the same ridiculous reason, so I can almost guarantee I know what went through his head: anger, hurt, betrayal, trauma memories, pain, and what’s worse is that now another woman who said they loved him hurt him.”

“I know that it is difficult to love someone who had an abusive childhood; I put my boyfriend through a lot, jumping at random things or getting hurt by an innocuous comment, but he’s patient with me and he’s helping me deal with things at my pace.”

“My exes are exes because they did things like this to me. I felt like they didn’t care and I couldn’t trust them with something so personal because they’d use it as a tool to hurt me…just like my abuser did.”

“You really, really need to read up on how to communicate with an adult who was the victim of childhood abuse because there are certain things you simply don’t do and this was a BIG one.”

“I know that to you, it is just a sink, but to him, it’s a torture device and holds nothing but fear, anguish, trauma, and the worst…utter and complete helplessness.” 

“My heart really hurts for this guy right now. Yours should, too.” ~ BoudeBoo

Of the over 1,000 comments, no one thought the OP wasn’t the a**hole. Hopefully they’ll take their judgment and apply it to their life.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.