Neat Freaks Livin' With Slobs (or, I may be heading for disaster)

So, the boyfriend and I are taking the plunge. No, not that plunge, we’re moving in together.

While I was excited at first, I’m now becoming more and more anxious as each day goes by. Or to put it more bluntly, I’m starting to freak right the fuck out.

You see, the boyfriend is a bit of a neat freak. Let’s just say, my nickname for him is “princess.” I, on the other hand, am not so much of a neat freak. Some, because they are just jealous I’m certain, have ventured to describe me as a bit of a slob. Hard to believe, I know.

I knew about the boyfriends preference for all things neat when we first got together and it kind of put me off at first. I didn’t want to be hearing some Martha Stewart wannabe bitching about my place all the damn time. But, we soon started spending a great deal of time together and got to the point where he was essentially living with me here in my humble abode. The complaints became fewer and further in between so I thought “hey, it’s not that bad, we’re more compatible than I thought!”

But now that we’re getting closer to the move, he’s been dropping little comments along the lines of “this kinda shit cannot be happening in the new place…” about things I don’t even think about, such as stripping down and leaving a pile of clothes beside the bed at night. What can I say, undressing all prim and proper and putting each garmet in its proper place before getting in bed? Not so sexy. And it’s not like he doesn’t have his own quirks that drive me nuts. For example, don’t even get me started on the trail o’ waterglasses that boy leaves behind him or his chronic inability to lock, or for that matter, close, a damn door.

But I digress. I’m starting to freak that once we get into “our” place, he’ll become a whole new kinda anal retentive. And a new War of the Roses shall begin. I’m willing to make some adjustments, but I am only human. Again, hard to believe, I know. And shouldn’t he be expected to make some adjustments as well? This is a 50/50 deal here, no one person should be solely responsible for changing their way of living to please the other person. We should be meeting somewhere in the middle. He doesn’t seem too open to that, though. As far as cleanliness and neatnes goes, he seems to believe it should be his way or the highway. Silly boy.

So, I’m looking for some advice and opinions here. I’m sure there’s some slobs and neatfreaks cohabitating somewhere out there. What kinds of things went down when you first lived together? What issues arose? How did you resolve them? Do you think this is going to be a disaster? How can I stop it from becoming a disaster?


I can’t help you. One of the reasons I’m not seeing my last g.f. is that her less than stellar housekeeping habits would drive me up the freaking wall if we moved in together. And I’m not a neat freak per se… So okay, I can’t leave the house knowing the bed is not made or that things aren’t basically tidied and in their place. Is that so wrong? :stuck_out_tongue:

This is not about couples moving in together, but rather about my family. My mother is the neat one; the other four of us are slobs. Put us together unchecked and it’s like a tornado with a tidal wave with a hurricane with an earthquake with a rain of frogs. Mom tried to teach us to be neat, but it just wasn’t there – her tenure as a weather goddess was short.

Things have gotten better as we’ve gotten older because we’ve finally grokked onto the “a place for everything and everything in its place” thing. Mom also just learned to live with some clutter: books in progress on the coffeetable, empty glasses, my knitting basket in the living room, her children’s rooms may not look organized but they actually are, blah blah blah. There are some things, though, that everyone agrees are taboo. For example, my brother can sort his toolbox in the kitchen, but small engines are out of the question. If I sew in the living room, I have to vaccuum.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re going to have to make compromises to make it work. Mom realized she wasn’t going to turn us into domestic doyennes and we realized that a relatively neat house was better than a mother in Miss Havisham mode. You’re going to have start being a little tidier (tossing your clothes in the hamper before bed) and your boyfriend’s going to have to realize that your slobbishness is part of the package. Sit down and talk about it. It’s not going to go away without some effort on both your parts.

My best friend is a slob, and his wife is a neat freak. They’ve been married for 13 years (living together for closer to 20), and she tells me that to this day the most serious fights they have are about that issue. But otherwise they have a very good relationship, and have seemed to come to terms with the fact that sometimes she’s going to be frustrated as hell and sometimes he’s going to be nagged to death. So it can work, if everything else is good. :slight_smile:

If the worst thing you have to disagree about after moving in together are matters of tidiness, I wish you many years of happy disagreement.

I’m a slob who resides with a neat freak. Aside from the occasional nagging, it’s working out just fine. How much of a neat freak is this guy exactly? Is he so obsessive that he can’t share his space with the woman he loves because she has less than pristine house keeping habits? I suppose I really don’t have a good answer to this question, but I don’t think it will be that big of a deal unless the guy’s a complete freak, in which case I would ask you why you’re moving in with him.

Mrs. madcossack, perhaps known in the future as mellowcossack, is the neat freak in our house. Together 3+ years, and it still bugs us both a bit that we are so different.

My best advice: laugh about it. I tease her about her obsessive ways, like how everything needs to be cleaned up before the housekeeper gets there. She teases me about my sloppy ways, like putting all the used glasses from around the house at my place on the kitchen table before she goes to bed.

We both get the point, and try to moderate our habits.

except when I’m thirsty

Is something preventing you from making the bed yourself? Arm injury?

See, this is the type of thinking that worries me about my boyfriend. He bitches that the bed’s not made every day. Yeah? That messy bed bug you? Make it, then. I’m willing to compromise and do my part to clean up after myself, sure. But in all of my 27 years, I have never made the bed. My mother never made the bed. I’m sure her mother never made the bed. It’s just not in the genes, man. It only takes one person to make the bed. Why is it suddenly me? If he’s so hell-bent on making the bed every day, I’m not going to stop him. But he seems to think that because he demands a spotless kitchen and a made bed every day, that demands that I make those things happen. That, is what I’m concerned with.

You’re both going to have to compromise. He’ll have to accept that you’re not going to become a neat freak, and you’ll have to accept that he’s not going to become a slob.

What you will need to do is be honest with each other about the things that would be nice vs. the things that are dealbreakers. Your example re: the bed is a good example. You’re not going to make the bed. His choices are to make the bed or to live with it unmade.

I’m sure there’s something similar in the opposite direction – if he really wants your clothes not on the floor before going to bed, for example, you’ll have to figure out if you want to throw them in a hamper or take the time to fold them or whatever.

Figure out as much of this ahead of time as you can. Discuss realistic workarounds when possible. Be honest about what will be dealbreakers, and if you come across too many that are really at cross purposes, figure out workarounds – or reconsider moving in together.

Perhaps most importantly, realize that you won’t be able to figure out everything ahead of time, and accept that you’ll have to continue to communicate and make new compromises.

Note that neither of you is wrong – you just have different styles, and you have to figure out how to make them work.

tell him that.

I’m a cluttered person as well. One of the compromises with my wife is that certain areas are mine - hands off and no bitching. My study area is a complete mess where I can find everything. So don’t freakin’ touch it or bitch about. In turn, I make a serious effort at some of the neatness stuff she’s big on.

He’s not too bad. He usually just teases me about it until it gets too bad (in his opinion), then he “freaks out.” Thing is, his idea of clean and my idea of clean vary significantly. I think that’s a big part of the problem. It’s not like I’m a total pig, I clean my apartment every Saturday morning, like clockwork. One day a week, this place looks great. And more often than not, he’s the first one to start spreading the clutter after I’ve cleaned. See, he’s recently been living in his mothers house, who happens to be a clean freak herself. Hell, the woman’s hobby is cleaning. So he’s used to a pristine house all of the time. Thing is, half the mess here is his, a fact he convienently ignores. Which I’m sure results from the mom-factor. You put something down in his mothers house and 20 minutes later it’s gone. You put something down in my house and a week later, it’s gone (if you’re lucky). He’s used to someone cleaning up after him all the time. For example, he’ll think nothing of the fact that the coffee table is, as I sit here and type this, totally covered with his shit. Or the fact that half the clothes on the bedroom floor right now are his. These are the things causing me to think he’s expecting full-time maid service when we officially live together and things will take a turn for the worst after his painful reunion with reality. I’m not his retired mother. I’m a third year law student working two jobs. I don’t have time to spend every day cleaning up after the two of us. But this seems to be what he expects.

I’m totally willing to compromise. I’ll stop throwing my clothes on the floor every night if he’ll stop dropping shit on the coffee table when he walks in and not picking it up. That’s okay. It’s just things like cleaning and organizing the refridgerator or making the bed every day that he seems to believe are somehow my responsibility. These are things I don’t think I can do on a regular basis, I just don’t have the time or the desire. These are the things that I think will result in some colorful arguments.

Good lord, I think I’d pay good money if my housemates would do this. And I’m not even freakishly neat! (Just anal about kitchenware.)

OK, this is a big problem. If he were being meticulous about cleaning up after himself but teasing/complaining about your habits, it would be much easier to come to a compromise. You’ve got to be very blunt with him – things don’t put themselves away and clean themselves and you are not going to be responsible for all of his mess and yours no matter what standards you agree on. You’re more than a full time student now and will be a professional when you graduate; it’s totally unreasonable for him to expect you to keep in check all the disorder he causes. He may very well not realize how much of a mess he makes or that he de facto assumes that some one else will clean it up, but if you can’t make him aware of this I think you will always at best be extremely annoyed by this problem.

I think this is the core of the problem. You’re not actually living with a neat freak. You’re living with, well…a princess. (You’re the one who called him that :).)

My two longest-lasting roommates are neat freaks. I’m not one. Because of these roommates, I am now much neater than I used to be. We basically survived very happily (these are my two best friends) because we had agreements. Kitchen and bath were always in the “reasonably clean to very clean” part of the spectrum. My office/study area was a mess. My room was a mess. Other common areas could get messy, but at some point, we just up and cleaned. BOTH OF US. They were always the ones who declared it “cleaning day” while I reluctantly went along.

I think you’ve identified the problem. He wants it neat, but won’t clean. You need to have a specific agreement about this. Sounds like you know the choices you need to present him with. You’ll probably stumble your way to a workable agreement and get into more disagreements about this issue, but (as others have said) if this is your only big problem, it’s definitely something that can be overcome. As long as you’re both willing to work at it.

Good luck!!


Good god, lezlers! :eek: :eek: :eek: Never made a bed?

You know I love ya’, right? Remember, I provided some encouragement in a thread at the beginning of this relationship. But never made the bed?

This co-habitation is going to take some adjusting on both of your parts. I’m a slob and the missus is a clutter-bug. These two things are not synonymous, but we have managed to work around the differences.

I do suggest that you sit Mr. Clean down and have a talk. Discuss the issues you’ve brought up in this thread. He’s not going to enjoy hearing it, but tell him you’re not going to keep house like his mom does, and be sure to explain that you’ll be expecting HIM to make the bed. I mean, no way you’re going to break a family tradition of three generations, right?

Good luck!

John Carter of Mars! My one fan! How you doin’?

Okay, so I may have been exagerrating just a tad. I’ve made the bed before, I’ve just never done it regularly. For example, I make it every Saturday when I clean. Something about a messy bed in a clean apartment, kind of goes agains tthe theme, you know? I just don’t see the point of making the bed every day. It’s time consuming and you’re just going to get back in and mess it up again, you know? Waste of time, if you ask me.

Anyhoo, turns out my masta plan of leaving my laptop open where he’d see it and my plight worked. He assured me he didn’t expect me to make the bed or anything like that and we’d compromise and yadda yadda yadda. So we’ll see. Move in date is next Saturday. :eek:

How about the difference between mess and filth? A mess is like me, a few books left open and other non-dirty things. Filth is different. That is unwashed dishes, and other “nasty” stuff left around.

A mess is ok. It can be cleaned up and doesn’t stink up the place. Filth is another story. I’m sure most people would rather take 5 opened books on the coffee table versus 5 days of unwashed dishes.

I am fairly neat. I have a fairly neat mother, a slob father, and a slob sister who is married to a slob. However, a little mess doesn’t bother me. I like the bed made, so I make it. I like closet doors closed, dirty clothes in the hamper, and no more than four dishes left in the sink at any one time. (Any more and I wash them, rather than bitch about the unwashed dishes. Hell, I wash dishes for relaxation. Sometimes I’ll start washing them without even thinking about it.) I don’t like things strewn all over the place. The one concession to messiness is that I tend to let the trash can get kind of full, unless there’s food in it, which is taken out immediately, because that would be nasty otherwise. (But the trash can has a lid on it, so the mess is basically concealed. The bathroom trash can, however, is emptied much more frequently, because it has no lid.)

Anyway, I’ve never lived with anyone except for a couple of roommates, whose messiness drove me crazy. However, that is a personal quirk of mine. You’re the messier one, so you may have to neaten up a little. I don’t get the impression, though, that your SO is really a neat freak. As you said, he sounds like a “princess.” If the mess bothers him that much, he can do what I do–clean it up.

Couldn’t be better! Every day’s a holiday and every meal is a freakin’ feast.

(bolding mine)

Now see, that’s just another indication that you are One Cool Chick. My faith is renewed, you’re gonna win!

Again, good luck, but I don’t think you need luck. Some famous sum-bitch once said luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. You’ve got the mo-jo, girl, you don’t need luck. :wink:

Just some tips.
I’m a medium level, semi-reformed slob and I’ve found two things that required minimal effort on my part and made a huge difference. The mindset is difficult to attain and it’s easy to slack but even if you only manage to do it 50% of the time it will make a world of difference.

  1. Wash your dishes immediately after you dirty them.
  2. When you’re done with something put it back in its place.