Moving in! What were your pitfalls? I’ve got one I’ve been thinking about…

My boyfriend is a neat freak. We’re going to move in soon and he is MUCH cleaner than I am. I can see it causing friction. There may be a pile of clothes on the floor, clean unfolded laundry on the bed, and a sinkful of dishes that I’ve left there for half a week. He, by contrast, is a two showers a day/laundry 2-3 times a week guy.

Anyhow, thinking about this, I brought it up to him and he 1) said it would probably be a problem. 2) He would be fine with general rules rather than assigning chores. However, when I said he would have to compromise and relax a little on cleanliness too, he balked. He said, “Well, I can just start on things and you come help me,” which seems fine but sometimes I’m tired and I don’t *want* to. He doesn’t seem that concerned about it how it’ll work but I don’t want to be policed all the time.

I do like a clean house, but coming from a messy family I’ve never really gotten in the habit of picking up as a go, so I feel it’s something I’m learning and he shouldn’t have such high expectations.

So here’s my question: What move-in problems did you have? And how did you handle them? Am I being unreasonable with my thoughts?

11 thoughts on “Moving in! What were your pitfalls? I’ve got one I’ve been thinking about…

  1. Happy Pants says:

    [I’ve never lived with a boyfriend, but I can tell you from living with roommates that I think eventually you will break your “messy” habits, or at least start becoming more aware of them. He will need to compromise a bit too, but if you’re not bothered by things being too clean (you said you like a clean house), and he’s really bothered by things being messy or dirty, I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t want to move closer to his way of doing things.

    My advice is not to try to do too much at once, if you do try to be cleaner around the house. Just make sure you don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink too long, and get in the habit of making the bed every morning, even if it’s just tossing the comforter back so it vaguely resembles a bed. Little things like that will turn into bigger things.

    Also, my POV on this is influenced by my brother and sister-in-law, neither of whom are neat freaks. My brother is a lot cleaner than my SIL, and insists on cleaning up the kitchen immediately after they cook, not leaving things around the house, etc. She’s gradually getting better about things. I think this is really one of those issues that is fairly easy to fix, and it’s much easier to bite the bullet and pick up after yourself than it be a point of contention between the two of you.

  2. ladiejoy says:

    [OK here’s the deal. I also struggle with the daily chores and having the motivation to clean things up as I go versus letting it sit there until my boyfriend gets fed up and starts getting pissy.

    It’s called laziness. Really, everything you describe screams LAZY.

    I started small: cleaning up as I go while cooking dinner. Making sure the dishwasher is at least loaded and running, even if it means a few dishes still stay in the sink. Folding the laundry while it’s still hot from the dryer. It’s a conscious effort to do these small things, as I was certainly not blessed with the clean freak gene. My boyfriend is such a minimalist that he’d have our house with two chairs and a set of dishes. It’s a balancing act… But it really does take work.

    It doesn’t sound like you really want to work at it. I took from your post that you like HIS efforts at keeping a clean house, but you don’t want to change your ways very much. I get that relationships are about compromise, and that’s why you expect compromise on his side too. Normally I’d agree with that, BUT I think in the case of house maintenance, it’s really going to have to be more effort from you than him. It’s kind of ridiculous to expect someone to be LESS CLEAN so you can continue your bad habits.

    It only took a couple of months of concentrated effort on my part to make these small household chores a habit. If I can do that, anyone can… but you really have to want to. Don’t you want to make him happy too? You’d be surprised how improving household cleanliness really affects how you feel about yourself, too.

  3. resullins says:

    [Ugh… cleaning is a BIG one. Me and my bf are both slightly messy, which makes for a BIG mess. I get sick of it and end up cleaning the whole house, while he leaves his socks on the recliner.

    Our biggest problem is probably cleanliness. Luckily, we see eye to eye on the money issues, and on most everything else…

  4. Joanna says:

    [While my boyfriend is much cleaner than I am, we tend to leave things built up and then we take the next day we’re both off and split the work up between us. We put on the stereo and just get to it. He tends to do more work than I do because he works faster and undertakes chores concerning gross stuff, like week-old dishes in the sink or cleaning the toilet. But this works out for the two of us.

  5. karlos says:

    [Well I’m a neat freak too. I have had housemates that are the exact opposite. Friction is going to occur, or in on case, things ended up being thrown in the trash, important things.

    The fact you’re dating may change that. But from what I’ve seen it’s just not possible to work to the lowest standards.

  6. Matt Sanchelli says:

    [Honestly, I think when it comes to couples first living together this is probably one of the top “conflicts” I hear about.

    In regards to your situation you definitely need to talk with your boyfriend and suggest an even compromise when it comes to the cleaning. He will need to lighten up from time to time and you may need to buckle down here and there. Find that Mr/Mrs Clean balance.

    My girlfriend and I lucked out with our balance. We are both relatively clean people but have our moments of being messing (isn’t everyone?). However, I’m fairly particular about a clean kitchen and she is particular about clean bathrooms. So, we each have a room we are “allowed” to be picky about.

    As for other living issues, to be frankly honest my girlfriend is pretty much the perfect roommate and the best person I’ve ever had the pleasure of living with. We mesh well. And a lot of that is the mutual respect we have for each other. That I think is the greatest variable when it comes to living with someone (anyone; romantic or platonic)…there has to be respect from both sides; without it things there will likely be friction.

  7. lilredbmw says:

    [I love this one! I think we all go through this when we move in with a significant other, on some level. I totally lucked out with my hubby as he is clean, and I am clean, so we generally compliment each other well. But, of course, there was a period of adjustment. For example, I like to decorate, and the decorative things are not to be used functionally. Okay, don’t judge me, I like it that way! But, this was something my hubby had to get used to. I sometimes leave wrappers in my car and when my hubby would drive my car, it would irritate him that they were there. So, long story short, you pick your battles. I don’t leave wrappers in the car, and he doesn’t use the decorative towels. Other things we compromise on. I don’t let his socks lying next to the bed bother me. He has gotten over the massive amounts of closet space I require. When you love someone and you are willing to take that next step, it goes with out saying that you will have to compromise. Get used to it…this is just one thing that you will learn to work on together. A relationship is a team effort!

  8. theattack says:

    [I’ve been on both sides of this issue (being MUCH cleaner than roommates I’ve had, but being a little too lax for my boyfriend on picking things up). Both of you are going to have to compromise, like you said. Have a conversation with him about what is his biggest cleaning priority, because you want to make an effort, but you know you will never be as clean as he is. If his priority is cleaning up dishes and food, then focus on that for now and ask him to overlook your collection of hoodies and blankets on the couch. He needs to know that you’re not going to snap into his lifestyle, and you don’t want him to think that you’re working towards being at his level or he’ll constantly be expecting you to improve. You don’t want to be judged over a lazy day or a busy week where you didn’t pick up.

  9. Eleanor Roosevelt says:

    [Compromise, compromise, compromise! Neither of you can expect the other to change their ways completely, or overnight. I think starting to work on these things before you move in is a great idea! Start with something small, like taking 10 minutes at the end of each day to put away your clothes, or straighten up the living room, or something small like that. Do SOMETHING each day instead of trying to do EVERYTHING in one day and that will help!

  10. MitziM. says:

    [I have to agree with everything said here, and I want to add that the give and take doesn’t just stop at keeping house.

    Things like money spending, how much time you spend away from home, when you have friends over, how things are decorated, etc. are all going to become shared decisions. Maybe not right away, as you will be acting more like two separate people living in a single residence, but as time goes on and you become more comfortable, these things will come up. You’ll notice him spending an awful lot of time out at ping pong tournaments or he’ll notice that you spend all your money on flyswatters (just guessing…) and you’ll have to talk about it.

    Keep the lines of communication open and always be willing to meet him in the middle, even if it means cutting back on something you love or forcing yourself to do something you hate (ie: the cleaning). Everyone runs into different problems when moving in with a partner, the only thing you can do is try and meet each others needs and hope for the best. The first year is the hardest, the second is the settling phase and by the third you’ll be a well oiled love-machine.

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