A lot of my clients are single. This isn't a personality issue; my clients, as a rule, are lovely, sweet-natured, talented, bright people. Often, they are dating, but they can't seem to get the more permanent commitment they would like. It doesn't take a professional organizer to see why. Any married person could tell. There just isn't room for a second person in the house.
It starts with the bed. There needs to be enough room for two people to sleep there. Unfortunately, some of my people store clutter on their beds. Ideally, there would also be a night stand or semblance thereof on both sides. Everyone gets a reading lamp and somewhere to put a glass of water. Good luck with that, though. Flat surfaces are magnetically attractive and they quickly get buried.
The next question is, where would someone else put a change of clothes or a shower kit? Is there so much as a single empty drawer or shelf in the entire place? If this particular main squeeze is supposed to be around for the long term, is there an empty closet? Women often unfairly take over more than half of the available closet space, and every man I have ever talked to about it is resigned to this. What if your packed closet was the one true reason you're alone right now?
We don't always realize all the payoffs to the things we do. One of the many hidden payoffs of living with clutter is that we subconsciously create a buffer zone around ourselves. We guarantee a certain amount of privacy when there isn't physically room for anyone else. It took me a long time to realize that I kept finding myself in long-distance relationships because they allowed me to maintain my independence. I had to spend some time thinking that over and figuring out how my life would look if I let someone else in. Almost all of that emotional shift had to do with living space and schedules. How much was I willing to let someone else come in and decorate? How much private time would I be willing to give up to let love in?
Some people may realize that they prefer to be alone, when it comes right down to it. That's fine. It may even come as a relief to be able to make that decision. Do what you like.
Others of us, well, we get chilly at night. There is nothing like having the flu when you're alone to make you realize that 100% independence is an extreme position. Being alone means you never have to compromise on anything. It also means there's nobody to bring you a glass of water, scratch your back, go to the pharmacy for you, or check on that weird noise you now have to investigate by yourself. Other people are useful! Not to mention cuddly.
If only we could have a brief glimpse, on our loneliest single day, of our perfect person, somewhere out there, with a faint ETA. I remarried nine years after my divorce was finalized. That's a long time, but it gave me plenty of time to enjoy always picking what movie to watch, always going wherever I wanted for dinner, having rainbow colored sheets, and generally spoiling myself all the time. By the time I met my husband, I was ready to make room for someone - a family, really, as I became a wife and (step)mother on the same day. He was ready to get married, too, because he'd been to my house and it was much cozier than his.
You know a man is in love when he's willing to share his life with a parrot cage.
Everyone comes with baggage. For some of us, most of this baggage is physical. I happen to know that it takes us one hundred boxes to move, because we've already done it four times as a couple. We have moved some weird things together, including a Battle Bot, a unicycle, a crossbow, a brain-shaped Jell-O mold, a milk crate full of motors, and a partially knit double-headed sweater. We've downsized with each move, and some of these things have fallen by the wayside. After seven years of marriage, most of our stuff is "our" stuff now. Our bed, our couch, our towels, our dishes, etc. We can't be as territorial or emotionally attached to things once they aren't "mine" or "yours." It becomes a question of "are these towels too threadbare?" rather than "are you questioning my taste in towels?"
My people tend to pack triple the stuff in a standard amount of space. They don't make room for themselves, much less anyone else. More extreme cases, generally not at a stage of readiness for my kind of work, will encroach on their kids' closets or further into their rooms, staircases, hallways, bathrooms, and other constrained spaces where most people would not see a viable storage area. In some cases, getting rid of half their possessions would still not leave my clients with enough room for a mate.
There are three possibilities when it comes to evaluating the stuff of a new love interest. Either they have the same amount of stuff as you, they have less, or they have more. Simple, right? What if you fell in love with someone who had the same amount of stuff as you did? Add together the square footage of both your homes and check rents on homes of that size. Can you even afford to be together? You can also get estimates on how large a moving van you would need based on how many rooms are in your home and how full they are. Can the two of you handle the physical labor involved in moving your stuff in together? Sometimes being a perfect match tends to be more of a hindrance than a help.
Sadly, I've seen several instances when one of my charming, cute clients has had a flirtation going strong, and then the new love comes to visit, and soon it's over. The more serious people get about long-term love, the more pragmatic they become about practical considerations like money and home furnishings. Friends and relatives are pushing them to perform due diligence, meaning things like criminal background checks, psychiatric assessments, health records, and credit reports. What they really start looking at are things like personal hygiene, housekeeping and cooking skills, and, of course, interior design. Can I live with this person's toenail clippings / cat litter / greasy stovetop / favorite fugly chair? When we get married (or facsimile), we're marrying the person, the person's relatives, the person's children, the person's pets, the person's habits, the person's finances, and the person's stuff. It can be a lot to take on.
The compromises we make on Moving Day are just the beginning. Loving your snuggle bunny enough to share a roof involves a million decisions. That includes the potentially earth-shattering stuff like death and disfigurement, of course. It's the little stuff that gets us, though, like realizing that being together means I'll be lucky to get as much as 30% of the available space in the house. Or I'll have to look at someone else's stacks and piles every day. Or I'll have taped-up boxes in my world for the rest of my life. Or we'll be spending our vacation money on a storage unit. Or or or. My advice to anyone who is single and hating it is to look around and start chiseling out some space now. Make it inviting, the same way you would build a birdhouse. Imagine how nice it will be to have your sweetie sitting there, smiling at you. Hopefully not saying, "You know, I always hated that lamp."
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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