I wish I could tell you love conquers clutter, but merging homes takes a lot of compromise. Be warned: You are most likely about to have duplicates of everything. Who decides who gets to keep what? Sometimes the things in better condition win, but it’s also possible that your styles don’t exactly match. Maybe you’re a saver and your significant other is a tosser.
My friend, Lanny, the proverbial bachelor and tiniest of pack rats, just moved in with his girlfriend after living alone for 14 years. I wanted to get his point of view on the matter, so I asked about the hardest part of decluttering for the move:
“Living alone for so many years skews your perception of what is an appropriate amount of stuff to keep, store, and save,” he said. “When you’re not sharing closets with somebody, who cares! I had VHS tapes, high school yearbooks, photos from childhood, and random souvenirs from around the world. I am the kind of guy who saves bubblewrap and says, ‘What if I need to package something one day?’ Except I apply that to everything, plus I’m a bit sentimental. Shakespeare was wise beyond his years in saying, ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow.’ It was really hard for me to admit defeat and let things go, but then you feel an inherent proverbial and literal weight lifted.”
In the end, having an organized girlfriend helped him see the great opportunity to donate clothes he hadn’t worn in ages and throw out stuff he had been hoarding for years. His story got me thinking of ways that all of us can be as supportive as possible when treading these new, uncertain waters with our loved ones.