Dear Dr. Darcy,
My boyfriend and I have been in a relationship for numerous years. I have tried to live with him but he is a pack rat, there's not a lot of room for my stuff and he is somewhat controlling about how things in the house should be. Currently we take turns going to each other's homes on the weekends, which is the only time we see one another. I do not like being over his house as it is very cluttered. We have discussed my moving in again which I have told him I will not do until the things are more organized. He will not get rid of anything nor put anything in storage so we can rearrange the house.
I am getting tired of having a weekend relationship but have no control over the situation. This is not all him, I recently realized that I have a bit of a commitment phobia, so maybe that is why I am with him? I am at my wits end with this situation and would like to hear your thoughts.
Do you watch the show Hoarders? Each of those individuals started off as packrats. What eventually happens is that the things in the home take on a greater importance than the relationships that the homeowner has with people. The people in the homeowner’s life begin complaining about the clutter, the homeowner doesn’t improve the clutter because it’s their home and their prerogative to keep their home however they damn well please, and eventually visits from people dwindle. As those visits become less and less frequent, the clutter begins to grow. One room at a time becomes uninhabitable until none of the rooms are really inhabitable and the only clear areas are pathways for walking from one room to another. The clutter comes between the homeowner and the people in the homeowner’s life. And guess what? At some level, that’s just fine with the homeowner because the bigger issue is their inability to tolerate a healthy attachment to the people in their lives. The clutter is just a decoy, albeit, a big one.
So why would I take the time to describe your worst nightmare? Because as you stated above, this is not just about clutter and you also have issues with attachment. The pop psychology term is “commitment phobia” but it’s one and the same. You are attracted to people who are bound to present some legitimate reason why you can’t be in a relationship with them or why you can’t take your relationship to the next level.
As much as I love discussing clutter and the extent to which it’s a physical manifestation of the our internal chaos, your issue has little to do with him and everything to do with you, Commitment Phobe. And you know what’s coming, don’t you? Get your ass into therapy to sort out your issues or you’re going to have relationship after relationship result in failure.
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