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Anyone else live with a hoarder?

(274 Posts)
WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 15:30:06

Dh is a lovely man and I am very lucky to have him but the hoarding is driving me crazy.

He has the ability to clutter a room within seconds. When we moved into this house the agreement was the loft room is his to use as he pleases (ie fill with useless shit).
He struggles to throw anything away, is a world class procrastinator and seems to see the value in every bit of tat and random item of paper work imaginable. Any hint that I may organise or heaven forbid throw something away is extremely stressful for him.

What really pisses me off is that if we have people round they must not be allowed upstairs incase they see his ever expanding messy hoard. Why is it ok for me and dd to put up with this but others can't be allowed to see it?

Grrr. Anyway we are making small amounts of progress tidying up and he is even ebaying some stuff.

Is anyone else in the same boat?

nomdesw2 Sun 30-Jun-13 15:55:08

Yep. Me. Married 18 months, together a year before that, and it is becoming clear this is serious.

Not only that, but the "tidying" he does seems to have the effect of making my stuff unlocatable whilst not actually making anything any tidier...

No answers, sorry, but I share your pain. Half the house has disappeared behing boxes/piles of stuff...

I am a hoarder. We don't really recover, but we find ways of managing and mine is for the most part under control.

Step 1 is getting him to admit its a problem. Hoarders thrive on denial.

Step 2 is discovering the emotinal reasons behind his hoarding through counselling.

Step 3 is putting coping mechanisms in place to allow him to throw things away without turmoil.

nomdesw2 Sun 30-Jun-13 17:10:55

Can you expand on no 3 please teacake? How does a partner help, practically speaking?

(Feel a bit encouraged that we may have made some progress with 1)

Whenshe, is actual ebay selling happening? Or just preparatory cleaning/photographing/shuffling? You sound stressed

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 17:11:38

Yes, don't get me started angry

My advice would be to nip it in the bud ASAP. I wish I had sad

DH really struggles to throw anything away in case it might be useful. I've seriously pissed him off in the past by charity shopping or throwing things away, so now I pick my moments and gently suggest getting rid. I wouldn't mind so much if everything had a home, but it just 'floats' around the house.

He's adopted, and he now recognises that he gains comfort through attachments to objects and things. This is half the battle as said up thread.

And I can't deny that sometimes it's useful. He always can find just the right size of screw, or piece of plastic, or tub for our needs. But an awful lot is kept 'just in case' and without a home and the downside is a shit load of stuff unfortunately.

I think I've over compensated by getting rid of disproportionately more off my stuff, which makes me a little sad tbh.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 17:35:41

Sorry you are all suffering too but kind of glad it's not just me.

nomdes I am a bit stressed, am 23 weeks pregnant with dc2 and we need the space. We have a room for the new but it is full of crap at the moment. The good news is he actually has put stuff on eBay and we have had bids, so with any luck the stuff will actually leave the house.

princess it's good to hear from a hoarder, you can help us muster up some sympathy when the hoarding is really pissing us off.

I like your 3 step program idea. I think it has highlighted for me that I am pushing him into step 3 without addressing step 1 and 2 at all.

jeansthatfit Sun 30-Jun-13 17:43:20

Yes. I tend to think of him as an 'accumulator' rather than a hoarder, only because hoarding to me implies some sort of thought and decision behind it. I know that's not the definition of it - but I think DP's accumulating is a mix of keeping things for some vague, unspecified future purpose (thus giving what it basically rubbish some sort of value, which keeps it from the bin) - it is partly that he does not sort through or organise things. So things that have real value (bank statements, family photographs, receipts) are lost in huge piles of old newspapers, empty envelopes, old fliers, notes, old invitations, broken electrical items etc etc. This stops him from easily just putting things in the recycling or the bin.

He also tends not to put clothes away, dumping them in heaps. And he has a lot of clothes.

I think he also has some intention of getting round to it all one day. When I challenge him about why he is keeping things, or why there are just great heaps of rubbish in his room, he always gets angry and tells me he's just been too busy to sort it all out. But he has boxes of things from college days 20 years ago that he has just moved from one address to another. No time to sort through it all in all of twenty years?

The 'not letting people upstairs' is something I've experienced. I too have tried to limit the accumulating to DP's work room, and the shed - but it just takes over. It happens on a 'micro' level as well as largescale. So surfaces are littered with scraps of paper - receipts that don't need to be kept and should go straight in the bin - handfuls of loose change, as he does not use a wallet so constantly empties his pockets whenever he walsk into the house - odd scraps and lids and pens and screws and batteries and endless, endless pieces of paper. A leaflet for a church someone has given him in the street, a charity letter he hasn't opened, etc etc. It just gets left there, and then more things arrive next to it or on top of it, and then it becomes a Pile Of Stuff, and apparently part of the architecture of our home.

We have been together for ten years and are in our second house now. The house move was extremely traumatic, as I made it clear that we were not just moving heaps of rubbish from one house to the next. I think I was only able to insist on this as nearly all of the money behind the move was mine, IYSWIM. He did throw some things away - he also just boxed up a lot of things, and they are currently sitting in his new work room. Where new piles of stuff are accumulating on top of them.

DP has a history of chronic depression but always refused to go for counselling or therapy, preferring just to take high doses of antidepressants. A few years ago he decided he was not depressed anymore, and stopped taking them. I think he is probably right, but who am I to know. I do think that he still has many 'habits' and thought patterns/responses etc of a depressed person, and I think the inability to manage his possessions and environment is part of that.

Which does leave me with a big problem - if he never sort help for his depression, he won't go for help with hoarding. As he doesn't even recognise it as such. It's just that he's 'too busy' to sort through things and throw stuff away.

I tried a few years ago to help by buying him some storage stuff from ikea. He was complaining that he didn't have anywhere to put things, and if he did then it would all be tidier, and he'd be able to find things. So I bought him the units he wanted. He started trying to sort through things ihis room, which admittedly was a huge task - then ground to a halt. Weeks later, I opened a drawer in his storage units, just to see if he had put anything in it. It was full of rubbish. As in, he had just scooped up some of the piles of crap lying around his room and stuffed it in the drawers. Hadn't sorted or thrown anything away.

I wish I had seen this problem for what it was earlier. I believed him when he said it was just lack of time, or that he was going to get round to it. But after ten years, I can see this will never happen. It isn't a containable problem, either. It's like a creeping fungus or damp, that comes out of his room and into every living space. I wish I knew what to do. As it is, all I do is periodically lose my temper, or scoop up a load of things, and just dump them in his room. Which can't really hold much more, it is crammed as it is.

Any thoughts? anyone else manage to do anything positive about this problem?

jeansthatfit Sun 30-Jun-13 17:44:30

teacake, I missed your post. I'd be grateful for any thoughts you have.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 17:45:57

horsemad re don't get me started grin and nip it in the bud sad it's far too late for that.

bill a lot of dh's stuff floats around the house too, the rest is buried under piles of crap so will never be used angry

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 17:53:37

jeans poor you (and poor me I identified with a lot in that post (not the depression though)). I remember when we moved house he actually moved a huge box of glass bottles and tin cans to our new house - it was all rubbish meant to be recycled angry

When we lived in a rented house I used to fanaticise about the house burning down and destroying all his crap.

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 30-Jun-13 17:56:34

Throw stuff out when they're not home? Even just sneaking out 1 carrier bag every time they are out would help. And if they've got too much crap to fit in their room/shed, tough - they need to let something go.

fridayfreedom Sun 30-Jun-13 18:00:44

Mine accumulates stuff too, mainly tools and stacks of paper. Gets mega stroppy when I make him sort it out!
I make sure that all the 'crap' goes to his garage , which is full but at least it isn't in the house,
I also lose stuff to the tip when he isn't here.
We moved boxes of his rubbish when we moved in, put it in the attic but I have gradually reduced it over the years!
What makes me really mad is that when his parents died he and his sister sorted the house . There was stuff she said should be kept but not in her three bed house, she lives alone! So guess who's attic it is in???

fridayfreedom Sun 30-Jun-13 18:01:54

Hopeful... I dream about skip hire!!

Blessyou Sun 30-Jun-13 18:07:03

Me, too. I have clutter tendencies but am not nearly as bad as him. I'm working on it.

One suggestion I had for him was we will put all DVDs (in this case) in a plastic box in the loft, sealed with a paper wrap which has the date on. If we don't open it for the next year, it can go to charity. This is working better than giving it straight over to charity. Not sure how he'll feel when the year is up, but I won't let him open it and look through, I will just take it without discussing with him! The agreement has been made.

googietheegg Sun 30-Jun-13 18:11:41

One of the best things we bought was an incinerator from b&q - only about £50 and its been great at motivating DH to burn stuff he doesn't actually need like old receipts etc. there's a whole man like fire thing it taps into I think and stops the piles growing toooooo much confused

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 18:16:27

If I'd known how bad it would be I'd never have married him.

I can't stand it. Feel like one day I'll flip and set fire to the lot.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 18:30:03

I can very much sympathise and relate to what you have written.

DP is very much a keeper of things. I think in his case it is very much hereditary. His mother's house is like the ones you see on the tv programmes about hoarding. Our house is full of things gathering dust which I am constantly itching to throw away. Similarly to you I find myself periodically losing my temper and then things get thrown away.

DP has recently not had very much work. This has actually been a godsend. I have insisted that he spends his time at home sorting out his stuff and to his credit, he is really trying.

I don't really have any answers for you though. I am very much a minimalist at heart. I find it extremely difficult to understand how a person can become so emotionally attached to "stuff."

You aren't alone though, I think it's far more common than most people think. smile

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:37:38

Why don't you all just throw stuff away?

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 18:47:51

Believe me, I have thrown things away.

He gets so angry and upset about it that I let him keep a lot of things just for the sake of a quiet life. You can guarantee that whatever I throw away he will go looking for the following day because he desperately needs it for some reason and then we have the mother of all rows!

We have reached a point now where if a newspaper gets to over a fortnight old I can throw it away and any receipts and train tickets for less than 10.00 are fair game as well. confused

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:52:35

Can't you just throw stuff away sneakily. If he can't find stuff just bluff and say it's there somewhere.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:53:14

I'd be fucked if I kept a newspaper longer than 24 hours, never mind a fortnight

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:55:28

Sorry to be unhelpful, i'm just trying to understand the condition. It puzzles me how it starts. I mEAN, with the newspaper for example, how were you ever persuaded NOT to throw the very first old newspaper away?

My STBXH was a hoarder. Every room was full of his stuff. He had boxes and boxes of videos he wouldn't get rid of, even though we didn't have a video player. He kept clothes that were 10years + old. He wouldn't throw away anything - it was a nightmare to be honest. Our garage was heaving after only living together for year.

I'm completely the opposite and found it very stressful to live with. I spent so much time looking for things (as did he in all truth), and whenever he went away with work I used to go into the garage or in his wardrobe and carefully 'weed' things out to try and keep on top of the problem.

Anyway, I live on my own now (we didn't split because of the hoarding I hasten to add) and I absolutely do not miss the huge amounts of crap he used to keep everywhere. Anyone who lives with someone like this has my full sympathy because it can be very stressful.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 19:05:31

Some stuff I can throw away sneakily and believe me, when a chance presents itself I do.

With the newspapers as an example, when we first got together I found the previous days paper left out on the arm of the chair and I revved it in the recycling. He gets home from work,
"Where's my paper?"
"What paper?"
"The one I left on my chair."
"In the bin."
"I'd not finished the sudoku. Don't throw my stuff away. Rah rah rah."

A week later there are five newspapers, so I say right I'm throwing these out. He wants to keep at least two of them so he can finish his bastard sudokus and then hang onto them "just in case."
When pressed for a reason for the "just in case" he normally comes up with something like wrapping up broken glass or packing stuff to sell on eBay.
You can always guarantee as well that if I get my way and all the newspapers get thrown out then I will break a glass the next day and have nothing to wrap it in. Cue "I told you so. Why do you always have to throw stuff away?" Aaaaarrrgghhh!!

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