Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ask Amy: I’m afraid to move in with my collector boyfriend

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Dear Amy: “Dave” and I have been together for four years. We love each other and are both committed to our relationship. Although we both agreed not to marry, after surviving devastating divorces, we talked at length about consolidating our homes and moving in together. My apprehension completely paralyzed me.

Dave is a professional who earns an extremely good living. He is very particular about his dress and grooming. But his house is a nightmare! I believe he is an extreme collector. He lives in overwhelming disorder in every room (as well as his multiple garages). He has bank statements from the last 25 years, old expired food and pharmaceuticals, moldy books and papers, and so on. Although divorced for a decade, he has yet to give up his ex-wife’s clothes and books (she told him she didn’t want those things).

We had discussed the possibility of him moving in with me. I keep my house pretty clean and organized. I’m very afraid that he will turn my house into his. I also fear that my impatience with his disorganized habits will ultimately lead to the breakdown of our relationship.

We’ve also considered the idea of ​​selling both of our homes and jointly purchasing a townhouse or condominium in a gated community and making a fresh start, although my concerns about his lifestyle persist. However, real estate brokers told him that in its current state, his house cannot even be shown to potential buyers. He can’t seem to find time to accomplish this task, despite the fact that he has reduced his work schedule to give him two days off per week.

I find it very unlikely that our relationship will ever progress beyond what it currently is, and I am terribly frustrated and disappointed. Your advice?

Concerned: Your description of “Dave’s” house indicates that he suffers from severe hoarding disorder. And no, you absolutely should not “combine” households unless he is receiving effective treatment and demonstrates that he is in long-term remission. Living with a collector is extremely stressful and unhealthy, for all the reasons you’re already experiencing.

If he moves in with you or you move to a new place together, Dave will likely keep his house and storage buildings (because he won’t be able to part with his belongings and his property is unsellable). He will then expand his hoarding to any household you share.

Hoarding is not a character flaw, but a heartbreaking mental health disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness associates hoarding with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Hoarding Cleanup provides a directory of (paid) cleaning services and mental health providers who specialize in hoarding behavior.

Dear Amy: My wife and I are staying with my sister and her family for a while as our house is being renovated. Staying with them, of course, we witnessed their way of doing things, and I have a serious problem with the way my sister raises her children, who are 10 and 7 years old.

They’re pretty nice kids, but honestly, so far in life, they’re pretty useless. My sister and I grew up on a farm, and because of our age, we were extremely skilled at taking care of ourselves. We also did household chores after school. Her children don’t really do anything to help the family at home. They don’t make their own bed (my sister does), don’t prepare their school lunches (my sister does), and only take care of the dog when an adult reminds them to.

I’m convinced she’s raising them to be useless, entitled people. I think maybe it’s my duty as their older brother (and their uncle) to be honest about this. My wife disagrees. We agreed to put this before you.

Uncle: It’s the height of entitlement to criticize your sister’s parenting choices, while remaining a guest in her home. I suggest you reflect on your own noble attitude (while accepting your sister’s hospitality) and keep your thoughts to yourself.

Dear Amy: I was surprised by your response to “Uncle worried”, who was about to take in his teenage niece who vaped a lot. You suggested he shouldn’t “monitor” her for vaping products. I do not agree; “the police” is exactly what this girl needs.

Disappointed: The uncle had already stated the “no vaping” rule at his house. That should be enough.

© 2024 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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