Living with Your Mate’s Clutter

There are many wonderful things about living with others, but dealing with their clutter is most certainly not one of them. Living with my partner (and before that, roommates) has always been a special challenge during times of emotional stress.

You see, when I’m sailing through life, everything finds its way back to its place quickly because I put everything away as soon as I use it. However, when I’m feeling chaotic, you can’t see the bedroom floor and nothing goes back where it belongs. I nest using clothes and papers.

When I lived alone, it didn’t bother me. When I was feeling this way, I’d just wade through the clothes to find the bed, knowing that I’d get out of the funk and get things cleaned up sooner or later.

Now that I live with my partner in a very tiny apartment, I can’t let the chaos take over too much.

We’re both human, though, and the chaos does hit, sometimes at the same time but usually at different moments (meaning one wants to clean while the other is in a nesting mode).

Living with others offers a challenge to staying organized because if one person is feeling chaotic, their clutter encourages others to let their own organizing slack off: If his stuff is all over the place, why should I clean up mine?

Say you’re in a chaotic moment and your partner starts ranting at you about the mess you’re leaving around. What would you do? In my case, my inner teenager comes out and I want to make the mess even worse just to get back at the unfair authority-figure ranting.

Let’s say however, that you’re more mature than I am, and recognize the ranting is not an attack on your intrinsic goodness. Instead, you use it to move yourself out of the chaos, dealing with the physical side first and letting the emotional clutter clear itself out. How wonderful, no?

But what happens if it’s your companion(s) that let the clutter take over? How do you deal with it?

Here are 3 Definitely Don’t and 3 Possibly Do actions.

Definitely Don’t:

• Don’t nag. It’ll just bring out the inner teenager and they might rebel and do things on purpose just to piss you off.

• Don’t get judgmental. People in a negative state don’t need negative reinforcement. Besides, it’s not like you’ve never had moments of clutter, hmmm???

• You can re-order the place yourself, but don’t do it with a “how great am I?” nor with a martyr attitude. Do it because you want to or not at all. A superiority complex will only cause more problems in the end.

Possibly Do:

• Live with the chaos and hope that the person will snap out of it soon. After all, you go through chaotic periods too, I’m sure.

• Suggest an order the house day and make it a big fun event. Put on music, dress up in maid outfits (or at least tie funny colored scarves on your head) and do a re-ordering.

• Re-order the place on your own and hope that the calm space will bring calm to the other person/people.

Now it’s your turn. How do you deal with the clutter in the home caused by multiple people experiencing the ups and downs of life at different rates? provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.

By Alex Fayle, Intent


Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for the information

Elaine Pischke
Elaine Pischke5 years ago

Is it bad that I sometimes fantasize about what I would do with all my husband's stuff if he were to die? I don't really want that to happen, of course, but there is that upside that I could finally get rid of everything. He rarely parts with anything. And I am not a neatnik by any means, but the chaos and clutter make me anxious and I hate for anyone to come to our house and see it. On the bright side, since he lost his job 4 1/2 years ago, we are too broke to be buying much of anything, so at least he is no longer adding to the clutter very much.

Elizabeth P.
.6 years ago

organizing some points for the animals ...

Bon L.
Bon L7 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Scott Vonwolf
Scott haakon7 years ago

Whoa that "junk" could be very valuable! There are collector that pay for those old things. Many time very valuable items are within the pile so First have them appraised. If you have no idea then inventory them. Don't be the one who sold a $250000 item for 4bucks!!

Scott Vonwolf
Scott haakon7 years ago

Just to start fights ed? I am a messy have been and always will be. I have things where i can find what i want quickly the floor is where i sort. There is not enough space anyway And I move too much to waste money on furniture.
This is not for a happy relationship at all.

Ann Eastman
Ann Eastman7 years ago

We have a couple of designated no clutter zones to support sanity. Other spots are not as lucky!

Angela C.
Angela C.7 years ago

Very good advice! These are definitely things I have learned the hard way.

Unpredictable depth
Fariha Iftikhar7 years ago


Heather A.
Heather A8 years ago

i'm always cleaning and organizing my boyfriends room... he's grateful for it and i personally love to clean so it's win-win