You be the judge: is it ever OK to put eggshells back in the box?

The prosecution: Cat
Is it ever OK to put eggshells back in the box? I find it disgusting to have them sitting in the cupboard

I remember the first time Ben put eggshells back in the box, and the box back in the cupboard. I went a bit mad: “Why are you doing that? Put them straight in the bin!”

On one occasion there was an egg box with six empty shells in it. I thought that was disgusting because those shells were sitting in the cupboard for ages, growing bacteria. I told him it was a bad idea to mix raw food with fresh food, and that it was lazy not to dispose of them right away.

Ben’s reasoning for doing it was something like: “It would make more mess to carry the dripping shells over to the bin in my hands – and would slow me down because I would have to get all the way to the bin across the room.”

I often find empty packets in the fridge, and he doesn’t put a lot of stuff straight in the bin, whereas I do
But that annoyed me as it just didn’t make sense – the bin is close by as we have a really small kitchen. It makes sense to him as he’s a man of convenience, but it’s not something I’d ever do because I am naturally a lot tidier than he is.

I guess my reaction is probably a bit more extreme because of my relationship with eggs. I hate eggs. I’ve got a phobia of them. I can’t stand eating them, looking at them or smelling them. If I’m with someone who is eating eggs I will tactically cover my eyes or look away so I don’t have to watch the eggs going into their mouth. It’s a bit difficult as Ben loves eggs and often has them for breakfast and will add them to other meals, too.

We met five years ago and have been living together for three – and we’ve mostly adapted to each other, but Ben does have some funny habits in the kitchen, and his messy cooking still grates. He doesn’t tidy up as he goes – I often find empty packets of things in the fridge, for example, and he doesn’t put a lot of stuff straight in the bin, whereas I do.

Because of the way he cooks, there’s always more for me to do when it’s my turn to wash up. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s no excuse for the empty shell habit.

The defence: Ben
Rather than carry them, dripping, to the bin, I put the shells back in the box: she thinks it’s lazy but it comes from a good place

So, the eggshell thing: I only put the shells back in the box and back in the cupboard if I’m in a rush, or I’m feeling lazy. To me it makes perfect sense. You put the shells back in the box and let them accumulate until you have time to get to the bin.

When I crack the eggs into the pan, I then have to get the shells across the kitchen into our bin in my hands. I don’t want to carry them as they might drip, and that will get me into a bit of trouble: I’ll have to clean up the mess, and that wastes time when I’m cooking. So I stick the shells back in the box and the box in the cupboard to deal with later.

I don’t think it’s that unhygienic as we don’t have other raw foods in the cupboard. I do most of the cooking – it’s part of my method.

I put the extractor fan on when I cook eggs so there are no smells, and wash everything up thoroughly
When Cat saw I’d been putting shells back in the cupboard the first time, she wasn’t too impressed and we had a disagreement about it. She told me it was unhygienic and lazy, but my defence was that, honestly, it came from a good place – saving time in the long run and avoiding mess in the short term. She’s told me not to do it again but it’s happened a few times since, and she’s kicked off.

I love eggs. I like to eat them in some form on most days – scrambled, poached, whatever. I will add an egg to absolutely anything and they have been my go-to breakfast during lockdowns.

But when I’m cooking them, Cat won’t stay in the kitchen because they make her feel sick. I have to put the extractor fan on so there’s no lingering smell, and also wash everything up thoroughly. Maybe this is why she hates my eggshell habit so much.

I am trying to stop but is it really that big a deal? I’m definitely not trying to wind her up – I’m just not that focused on cleaning up when I’m in the middle of cooking something good.

And I won’t be giving up my eggs any time soon.

The jury of Guardian readers
There’s an eggsistential incompatibility here. Unless as a couple they decide to become vegans (and we probably all should), I think Cat should work on her phobia – with therapy if necessary. Eggshells in the box aren’t a hygiene risk, but dripped raw egg is. Personally, I would eggzonerate Ben.
Clare, 64

Cat is right. Ben’s argument that putting shells back in the box saves time (how many seconds can it take?) is weak, and he doesn’t show much empathy towards Cat’s egg phobia.
David, 53

My grandad used to turn the shell of an eaten boiled egg upside-down, put it back in the egg cup, then trick us over breakfast. But in this case, no one is cracking up. Although Ben claims to have good intentions, the proximity to the bin smacks of laziness. Given Cat’s repulsion for eggs, she definitely wins the argument. Sorry Ben.
Alicia, 24

I ultimately agree with Cat. Putting the eggshells in the bin saves more time than putting them back in the cupboard. She said their kitchen is small so it’s a simple task.
Susan, 28

Ostensibly the argument is about the couple’s different attitudes, but Cat may be using this to express dissatisfaction about something else in the relationship, leaving Ben in “defence” mode. I think Cat needs to express, with greater self-awareness, what she’s really trying to communicate to Ben.
Bernadette, 64