I was just reading this thread to see what was happening, and I wanted to say: don't panic!
You have asked a question here on a board where people really, truly know what it is like to be a hoarder, or to live with one, or to have grown up with one. And if there's anyone out there who found it a fabulous and life-enhancing experience, they haven't posted here! So you have received clear and direct replies, from people who are sincere in their wish to be open and truthful to you.
I hope you will keep reading and find thoughts and ideas which will help you decide which way you want to go in your relationship with this man. I think we sometimes overvalue love, and believe it must overcome, or clear the path, or mean everything will turn out alright - but love is not enough, really. Other things have to be there as well.
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful advice. Many of your are reiterating what I have sensed after doing reading and research on this subject. It is good to have some people who can help me put that in the context of my life.
I know that I can't live in squalor. And I don't deserve to have my needs ignored. He is in denial about the issue, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Ultimately, I did want marriage. We have a lot of fun together and the past few months, I've debated whether this could be a marriage where we have separate finances and separate houses. But, you all are right about his issue in-cringing on my organized and clean life. That's already happening in small, annoying little ways. And unless he realizes that he has a problem and deals with it, it is only going to get worse.
Many of you mentioned professional resources. My two best friends are a licensed psychologist and a social worker. It was my social worker friend who brought to my attention that this may be a hording disorder. At first I thought it was a shopping addiction, but I've come to realize that he is a horder-acquirer. I also have a professional counselor who I have paid in the past to work through issues like this and will be contacting her again. But, the bottom line is that I know that I"m probably heading for a break-up. I've been a bit depressed about it the past week or so.
I've thought about giving the "Buried Treasure" book to my boyfriend. As many of you are recovering horders, what do you think of that idea? Do you have any ideas for what might prompt him to realize that he has a problem? I know it may be a longshot, but I'm willing to try anything that might work.
Hey there Sailor Girl, Reading this thread I thought of a book that might be helpful to you as I read it when encouraged on a different forum in my relationships. I was complaining about not having someone wanting to move forward together towards marriage and all those ideals, it was easy to say it was the other party, but then I got the book. And had to re evaluate the type of people I was chosing. I chose relationships with built in distance, which can be our own mechanism for dealing with commitment issues. Its a great book! I think could be helpful for you. "Hes Scared, Shes Scared"
Post by sailorgirl on Jul 27, 2012 20:11:39 GMT -5
Hi Layla, I've read a couple of books by Carter and Sokol on the topic of commitmentphobia. Over the years, I've looked for this issue in myself and I don't think this is my problem. 14 years ago, I thought it was his problem. When I got back together with him two years ago, I thought he was finally ready for a committed relationship that would lead to marriage. And we are in a committed exclusive relationship. I just don't think I can live in the same house as his stuff. As I told him, I'd live with him, but not his stuff.
But, these two writers have written some good books. And I appreciate the thought.
Post by dtesposito on Jul 27, 2012 20:36:47 GMT -5
Sailorgirl, have you guys ever watched an episode of Hoarders together? I think it's helpful for hoarders to hear the people on those programs say the same things and use the same logic that they themselves have used. Sometimes that's a lightbulb moment, the very beginning of realizing how someone else might see them.
I believe that hearing and reading the "truths" that we all have to face, multiple times over a long period of time, lets them start sinking into our brains and begins the process of change. BUT, the person has to be ready to change, or else all the truths in the world will fall on deaf ears.
I feel for you, it has to be frustrating that he's unaware of what he's doing. But, we've all been there. And in my own case, I had to get sick of the way I was living before I decided to change things--I don't think anyone could have made me change before I was ready.
I haven't replied until now because I haven't known how to say things tactfully. Tact isn't a strong point with me.
Lizzie's right. No one on this board has posted that it's a fabulous experience to a) live with a hoarder or b) be a hoarder. It's not.
Being a hoarder and not admitting to it is like being an alcoholic and not admitting to it. The change has to come from your boyfriend. AND YOU CAN'T CHANGE A MAN ! (you can't change anyone for that matter). My advice at this point in time, and people may criticise me for saying this, is don't move in with him. It will create an incredible amount of stress. I've seen this with 2 friends of mine. One hoarder one tidy. Hoarder (he) & Tidy (she), met at a bbq. Tidy owned own house, Hoarder did not. Tidy & Hoarder rented a new place together & Tidy told me they had decided to keep Tidy's house and rent it out.
3 months after they had moved in together Tidy said to me "you'd think we'd be organised by now. He doesn't want to unpack and go through things and there's more stuff coming in." Long story short. I was witness to many a screaming row. About 6 months later Tidy arrived on my door step at 4am one morning in an absolute distressed state. Result? They split up. Hoarder was still in denial. Tidy got so stressed because she would have a nice tidy room and he would just dump stuff in it. He managed to fill the double garage. There were goat tracks in the bedroom. The first big fight came over the kitchen which Tidy had to take over. Tidy announced to Hoarder 'this is my kitchen & if you mess it up .... '. Hoarder would get very angry when she tried to clean up.
In the end she moved out because he got violent one evening. 'I love him but I can't live with him' she said. My view is that you don't have to live with someone you love.
Sweetie, unfortunately love is not enough, as Lizzie said. You both have to be able to cope living in/sharing the same space.
So what's happened with Hoarder & Tidy? Well after the split Hoarder got worse. Tidy moved back to her own house. She refused to have any contact with him. Still doesn't. Hoarder now arrives on my doorstep at inappropriate times like dinner time during the week & I've had to tell him very directly 'No'. He will still do it. It's called a phone, either mobile or fixed, I point out to him. Ring first. He still wants to see Tidy.
Sometimes we have re-runs of 'How Clean Is Your House' on tv & one time Hoarder arrived and this time I let him in, gave him dinner & said, "I've found this fascinating tv program we can watch it together". DH gave me one of those weird looks. Hoarder said 'oh gee, those places are dreadful. I love the before & after shots'. I said it's just like your place but there's no 'after'. I told him he was a messy & a hoarder. How Clean Is Your House is available on YouTube & I was able to do a screen capture of a couple of scenes. I also had taken pics of his place when he & Tidy were still together & he at work. I showed him the pics of his place. He made the remark "oh we've got the same table in our lounge room". I said "It is your lounge room. You live in absolute s.h**i.t. No wonder Tidy left." Told you I had no tact.
He's lost another partner because of his messie/hoarder lifestyle. But he 'wants Tidy back' he told me. She doesn't want you, I said. He is still in denial.
Tidy was also hoping for marriage. She was very very sad. Hoarder often asks me does Tidy have a boyfriend/partner yet? My reply is "I wouldn't tell you even if I knew". He's still hopeful, and that's also sad for him.
Bottom line. Messies/hoarders & tidies can't live together. It's like someone who is anal retentive living with someone who is definately not. It stresses out both people.
Post by stackattack on Jul 28, 2012 11:50:24 GMT -5
Rededen, That is a good description of the story. Sad, but I can't help still laughing at the nicknames Hoarder and Tidy.
Sailorgirl, I really admire you for being open-minded and positive enough to look for help through different eyes, and maybe some suggestions or an approach that you haven't thought of.
I liked your idea of giving him a book. Reading a book at the right time can be life-changing. But I suspect it won't be helpful for him until he becomes open and receptive to the idea of change. But he might leave it laying around the house and find it when he needs it.
Right now he sounds like he is happily acquiring, and has no reason to stop because he has not suffered any discomfort from doing so. Having you back away (if you choose to do so) may be the first negative consequence he suffers.
At the rate he is going, it may not be long before he starts to have difficulties because of excessive stuff. Like, how will he feel if he has a problem and has to call a plumber or have heating/ac serviced? Sooner or later he will have to face the idea of dealing with people other than you, and their opinions.
I really like the way you're trying to be fair and try everything you can think of to make this work before giving up. I feel bad that we haven't been able to give you more hope of working things out.
If you want to keep casually dating him while you consider your options, that might be OK, but I hope you don't look for ways to live together at this time.
Post by sailorgirl on Jul 28, 2012 19:43:20 GMT -5
Love the story Redenden! I've been accused of being blunt myself. I have trouble tippy toeying and beating around the bush, so I just say what I mean. I love that you do too, and the names in the story are great. I can totally relate. I'm going to read it to my girlfriend because this is exactly what my boyfriend did to her for the 12 years we were apart, but he wasn't a horder then. That's a story for another group.
But, goat tracks??? How did they get there. He isn't a goat rescuer too, is he?
Post by sailorgirl on Jul 28, 2012 19:59:09 GMT -5
I like the idea of watching an episode of Horders together or a UTube video. Worth a try...
My dad was a horder too, and he was always telling me and everyone else what a clean person he was. He was a clean person before he and my mom got divorced (I was an adult, so I never lived with this issue) But, when he moved out, he became the worst horder, I've ever seen, tracks through the tall piles of stuff, gross stuff in the piles and everything you read about in the horder books, to the extreme. But, he totally didn't get that he was a horder. He now lives in an nursing home and they threw out all his stuff.
I'm willing to try the video, but like "Horder" in the story, I'm not sure he'd make the connection. My boyfriend is not as bad a my dad yet, and I hope he never goes there.
And I don't plan on marrying or moving in with him, unless he cleans up his act, for good. I am just sad because I know that I have to give up on that hope and dream because of his hording. I think you all have answered my question well. It's very unlikely that he will stop until the hording causes him great pain. The biggest pain I can give him is our breakup, but I think he'll probably need more than that. And after we breakup, he will keep calling and visiting my girlfriend and asking about me. She will need to not tell him anything, or ignore him.
Post by dtesposito on Jul 28, 2012 20:48:21 GMT -5
It's very unlikely that he will stop until the hording causes him great pain.
I don't know that it's necessary for him to have something really traumatic happen, I think there just comes a time when you've been thinking about your life and home for a while and decide you want something different. In my own situation, I just started losing patience with the problems I was having--not being able to find things, bumping into things, not being able to invite people in--I just got sick of it. One day I just decided that enough was enough and I really, really wanted to live differently. After that, it took a few years of periodic work (I was working a full-time, demanding job then) to get rid of a large percentage of my stuff. And I didn't even have an extreme situation like some, I always had paths through all rooms, good wide paths. I didn't have stuff up to the ceiling, either. It wasn't so much the physical work of getting rid of stuff, it was the mental process of forcing myself to look at things in a more realistic way.
I don't think it would hurt to stay in contact and talk to him about his situation, provided you do it in a non-confrontational way. I'm thinking that if a person never hears any questioning of his situation he may take longer to want to change it--on the other hand, if he hears too much or is told in the wrong way, that can cause resistance. But until you start hearing those "truths" I always talk about, they can't start sinking in.
Post by sailorgirl on Jul 28, 2012 23:04:52 GMT -5
Thanks Diane, you're right. None of us really knows if, when and how he will realize that it's a problem. It may not be in a traumatic way. Of course, I wish he'd realize it sooner, rather than later.
But, I guess the reason I'm here is because I've realized that the problem has a name, called hoarding, and that it's a problem for me that will keep me from moving forward with this relationship, unless he addresses it.
I just watched an episode of "Hoarders" where a girlfriend helped her boyfriend clean out his apartment. It looked really painful. And the Psychologist told her that it was her job to call it to his attention when he starts hoarding again. I don't want to be his mommy. Does the tidy one really have to play that role?
It is only another persons job, if you agreed to that. You set the parameters and boundaries in any relationship. I do not mean to offend anyone here, but many relationships with hoarders are not healthy or independent. They are often co-dependent. A good marriage or relationship is interdependent.
I divorced after 28 years of marriage. My ex had no hoarding, in fact he was very neat and tidy. We had other issues, but this I know, you can not change someone who doesn't want to. If your BF doesn't want to change, he won't. IF he values you, the relationship and the future of it, he will. He has not done the work, or will not change he doesn't value you. It is that simple. You will get resentful and angry.
I believe that you have hope because he was not this way 10 years ago. AND I caught this, your BF dated your friend for the period you were not together and he did not hoard. You said that this is story for another board. You are in your late 40's and so is he. He sounds like he likes the relationship the way it is, and this is blunt, he doesn't have to do much. He doesn't want to change. Draw a line in the sand, figure out why you would settle for this, and what the future looks like for you. Believe this, there are other options for you. He may have this barrier of stuff to keep from committing. If you want a good relationship and marriage, there are millions of good men out there. Work on you and figure out why you would settle. I get that he is a good guy, but this is going to be heartache. Tell him how you feel, and he either does it or he doesn't. Set a time frame. I wish you the best, this is very hard. Good be a deal breaker is what a therapist will tell you!
Post by littleengine on Jul 29, 2012 15:04:50 GMT -5
Sailorgirl, I agree with everything the others have said here. I don't have anything to add--just wanted to send you a hug. Your situation is so hard. :-(
You mentioned you watched a Hoarders episode. I'd encourage you to watch a bunch more. Try Hoarding instead of Hoarders...it gets more into the hoarder's mind and is less sensationalist. If you're contemplating a breakup, this will help you be really clear on why you can't stay with him. I hate watching the terrible damage hoarding does to spouses and children. It causes terrible emotional pain. You deserve a guy who will care more about you than about his stuff.