Weaponized incompetence—or strategic incompetence—is the deliberate feigning of ineptitude to avoid tasks or responsibilities. Children learn to use this method of avoidance fairly early in life but eventually are conditioned by societal pressure into binary gendered behavior patterns.
By adulthood, relationship experts found weaponized incompetence is more often used by men to avoid chores like household responsibilities, trip/holiday planning, gift purchasing and parenting tasks. Likewise, women use it to avoid gender stereotyped tasks like vehicle maintenance, home repairs and manual labor.
But how does a person know if their significant other is truly inept or using weaponized incompetence to push responsibilities onto them?
A woman found herself with this conundrum and turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
“AITA for going on vacation without my husband?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My husband (32, male) and I (29, female) planned a week vacation to New Orleans (in the United States). We (but mostly I) have been planning this for months.”
“Back in March, I told him I would plan most of it, where to go, and what to do, all he has to do was make sure he had the week off and buy the plane tickets.”
“I spent the last few months researching what to do. I booked the hotel room, made reservations at places we wanted to try, I made a list of all the sites I wanted to see.”
“Every few weeks, I would check in with my husband to see if he had asked off and bought the tickets yet, he would say he was waiting for the plane ticket prices to go down.”
“Three weeks ago, I reminded him again and he said he had got off of work for the days but had forgotten to get the tickets. He looked online and the tickets were close to $1500/ticket.”
“He said he was going to wait some more to see if they would go down.”
“Last week, I asked if he had bought them yet and he said no. We looked again and the prices were still high.”
“He said he wasn’t willing to spend that much on them and asked how much money I would lose if I just canceled everything instead. He offered to have a nice staycation instead.”
“I told him I was not willing to cancel everything because I spent so much time planning it. We argued and we didn’t come to a conclusion.”
“I wound up buying just one ticket for myself and when I flew out Saturday, I told him I was still going and he acted all surprised that I didn’t want to stay home with him.”
“I am in New Orleans now and he is blowing up my phone saying that I am an AH for still going without him. He was trying to get a ticket to come too but I told him if he came, he is getting his own hotel room because this is now my vacation away from him.”
The OP clarified what might make her an a**hole.
“I would be the AH because I went on vacation without him even though we never agreed on me going, and then I told him not to come when he tried to join me.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
The majority of Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA) with many commenting simply “weaponized incompetence.”
“Weaponized incompetence at it’s finest.” ~ LuluLittle2020
“My ex was like this. He literally just couldn’t/wouldn’t complete simple tasks and we missed out on trips and meals and tons of things unless I was 100% in charge of everything.”
“After almost missing a train once because he couldn’t figure it out, we met up with his brother and he fully said ‘if you want to do anything with X, you have to plan everything like I do with him. So get ready for that responsibility!’.”
“I broke up with him shortly after. He taught me the definition of ‘weaponized incompetence’ and the real wake up call was that he did it to everyone in his life.”
“OP was probably the first person to give her husband a wake up call that his failures aren’t hers and if he fails to complete tasks then he will fail to progress in life.”
“Sounds like OP scaffolds this man the same way myself and my ex’s family scaffolded him. I’m happy she is experiencing life and not letting him lower her to his level.” ~ whowearstshirts
“NTA. Have a fantastic time!”
“(Now ex) husband liked my idea of a trip up to Victoria, BC. I told him he’ll need to renew his passport. Literally the only thing I asked him to do, because only he can do it. And he’s supposedly an adult.”
“Me: ‘Did you renew your passport? I want to get dates nailed down’.”
“Him: ‘Oh, no, I’ll do that’.”
“Me: ‘Did you renew your passport? I have dates in mind and you need to do it now so you have it in time’.”
“Him: ‘Oh no, I’ll do that right away’.”
“Me: ‘Did you send in your passport renewal so I can get this stuff booked?'”
“Him: ‘I’ll get right on it…’.”
“Him: ‘Whatever happened to that trip?'”
“Me: ‘Did you renew your passport? No? That’s what happened to that trip’.”
“Him: ‘What’s up with that trip to Victoria?'”
“Me: ‘I have no idea’.”
“He weaponized incompetence on the regular. He’s an ex. I’m taking the trip solo next spring and I can’t wait. Solo travel is the best.” ~ plutosdarling
“NTA. He literally had 2 tasks and plenty of time to complete them, plus reminders.”
“I’d honestly be irritated that he dropped the ball and then didn’t own up to it by buying the tickets at the high price.”
“Consider that a procrastination tax and a lesson.” ~ throawagschmoaway
“NTA – Enjoy your vacation! If you choose to plan a vacation again with your husband, please don’t let him be in charge of the flights!!” ~ Flimsy_Field_8837
“Isn’t that so sad though?! Like he couldn’t do 2 simple tasks!!” ~ Regular-Confection56
“NTA. This literally happened to my husband and I for our Japan trip. I did all the planning and all he had to do was book the hotels.”
“We were going during cherry blossom season so I knew things would fill up fast, so I reminded him a year before, six months before, and three months before.”
“Guess who finally checked hotels a month before and found that everything was booked? The difference is, my husband didn’t try and get me to cancel the trip.”
“He ended up booking five-star hotels and ate the cost because it was 100% his fault that we couldn’t get more reasonably priced accommodations—we weren’t married at the time, so he wasn’t using ‘our’ money to pay for the five-star hotels.”
“OP’s husband should’ve gotten the more expensive tickets and paid for the difference because it was his fault he waited so long to get his one task done.” ~ emi_lgr
“Has he never flown before?”
“You don’t wait for flights to come down .. you buy the tickets ASAP before they go UP. Inevitably. Virtually always.”
“Airline ticket prices are supply and demand, nothing else. When a trip is two months out, the planes are still booked as almost empty, the supplies high, and the cost is low. When the trip is 10 days away the planes are almost full, and the supply is short, ergo the price is high. This is the way it has always worked.”
“NTA. Enjoy the Big Easy.” ~ CalendarDad
A few voted OP was the a**hole (YTA), but then included both parties in their justification.
“There’s absolutely nothing to keep you from purchasing two tickets if you were passive aggressive enough to buy your own ticket. YTA.”
“Couples are together for a reason, and often good couples are better together. Not you two.”
“You two are going to set your feet in concrete, and wonder why you’re divorced two years from now.”
“Please stay together no matter what!! Someone else may end up with one of you.” ~ lacoff
But when both parties are a**holes, the voting rules say to use ESH—everyone sucks here.
Some did match their vote to their reason.
“ESH – he made a dumb mistake but you’re being spiteful. This is your husband not your mortal enemy. If you want to make it work you need to remember that.” ~ saddi444
“I’m going with ESH. OP reddit might give the necessary validation that you seek but know that your marriage is going down the drain.”
“Get couples counselling when you get back because there is slim chance that your husband is gonna let this slide.” ~ vamosCarajosuii
“ESH. Probably should’ve spent the money on divorce lawyers instead, because this is where it’s headed. Do you guys even like each other?”
“Both acting pretty childish and immature for being married. This marriage is on its way out if you’re not already planning a divorce.” ~ Winter188
“ESH. You both sound tiresome.” ~ No_Stay4471
While the OP may have a good time in New Orleans without her husband, it seems they need to have a serious discussion when she gets home.