What You Should Know If You're A Neat-Freak Dating A Messy Partner

There are blissful moments in a relationship where everything feels magical, and then there are moments you feel like you're walking on eggshells around your partner. Because you're two individuals who've decided to come together and merge your lives, each of you is bringing your habits to the relationship. They're not always considered deal breakers, but they do have the ability to test your patience. This is especially true if you're a neat freak dating a messy partner. 

You've probably asked yourself if opposites actually attract throughout your relationship, and the short answer is yes. However, learning how to be okay with the obvious fact you and your partner have different cleaning habits can be tricky to navigate, if not irritating. If you're struggling to find common ground with your partner and it feels like a glaring issue that keeps appearing, there are a couple of things you should know before moving forward.

Remember you're different people

For reasons that make sense to you and your partner, there's something about each other that sparked an undeniable attraction. Even if it wasn't love at first sight, it was enough for the two of you to decide to pursue a romantic relationship. With each passing moment, you probably began to notice each other's habits but decided your attraction and commitment to each other were enough to cause you to ignore things you didn't like — until you couldn't.

Due to your frustration with their cleaning habits — or lack thereof — you may have tried to get your partner to make better choices which may not have gone the way you wanted. It can be challenging to date someone whose tendencies are different from yours, especially when cohabitating, but trying to force them to change based on your perception can cause more frustration and stress. In an interview with Brit + Co, counselor Lauren Freier said, "Mutual understanding and respect is a really helpful place to start." As hard as it may be, understanding that your partner isn't meant to be like you in all areas will help you handle conversations with them about cleaning more easily.

Honest and respectful conversations are necessary

Having repetitive conversations with your partner about cleaning up has the potential to make you feel even more frustrated, but it's important for a few reasons. You get to explain why your partner's messiness makes you feel stressed and also listen to them to learn why they may not prioritize being as organized or clean as you are. Darby Saxbe, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, told Real Simple, "One of the things that make people have a physiological stress response is feeling a sense of overload." At the same time, the things you say as a result of this stress can cause your partner to shut down if you speak from a place of irritation or frustration.

It's why it's essential to understand things from their point of view instead of making assumptions about why you think they refuse to be neat or organized. While the way you feel matters, you should keep in mind your partner has feelings that need to be respected as well. As annoying as their disorganization or messes can be, finding a way to reach common ground is more important than you being right.

How to make things work

Once you and your partner are at a place where you can have honest and respectful conversations about your differences, it's time to find ways to live with them. This will take effort from both of you instead of allowing the responsibility of cleaning to fall on one person. One way you can do this is by coming up with a schedule that will enable you and your partner to do various tasks. For example, your partner may not pick up their socks from the living room floor, but they could enjoy washing dishes. You can come up with an agreement that allows them to take on that task. In an interview with HuffPost, psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina said this method is helpful because it's about "letting the family, kids included, choose their own time to knock out their responsibilities." Again, no one likes to feel pressured, especially in the comfort of their home.

And remember — your partner isn't your enemy, even if your differences feel like they're creating a wedge between you. Having regular conversations about chores and household expectations can help the two of you stay aligned, which you need if you're going to peacefully inhabit the same living space.