That just might work.
Or even just being introverted can be the issue. I’m naturally introverted, and can overlook the world around me for hours a day, because the world inside my head can seem more real than the world around me. I work in information technology, and my observation is that over half the other techies I’ve worked with are also introverted.
Then again, I have ADHD but wasn’t diagnosed until 2 years ago, when I was 45. (Still, with good medication to help manage my attention, my introversion is still a major factor.)
Many men respond better to an external authority for accountability than they do to their partner.
- Some chalk it up to patriarchy or other social influence, but I just think it’s basic male psychology. In general, males tend to respond well to a coach, mentor, or group leader who is also male.
- I’m generally untidy, myself. My dad is even moreso (he’s definitely got ADHD traits, though he’s never been diagnosed). But when I was about 20 and living with my parents while attending college, my dad could just make a mild but direct request that I clean up the kitchen for my mom (or wash her car, or whatever), and I would jump to it out of respect towards my dad and love for my mom.
Does your boyfriend have anyone that’s a mentor (father figure, leader of the pack, etc) who he can look to for external accountability like that? Maybe his dad or grandfather? Or if you both attend church, does he have a relationship with the minister like that?
Maybe relationship counseling or a life coach can help. Or hiring a professional organizer to come to your home and through tidying best practices with the both of you. Again, this turns the focus to an outside authority figure to promote the tidiness that you need.
(Note, not every man responds well to authority figures. It’s just more common than not.)
At work, it’s always been easier to keep the overall work environment clean… All except my own desk, which will wind up cluttered just a few days after I clean it. Yet shared workspaces are easy for me to keep tidy, just due to general workplace expectations.
Change is hard. I have packrat tendencies, so my mess tends to gather in specific places out of sight until it overflows. But I got used to overlooking my dad’s messiness, and I do the same with my kids’ mess.
I’m recently divorced and have custody of my kids half the time. When they are here with me, me youngest makes a mess everywhere, and her brother adds a little to it. (He’s more like me, count training his clutter to his own spaces. His sister just leaves things out everywhere.)
Since I’m now the only parent in my home, I’m more aware of the mess, and I’m much more prone to clean it up. I’m also trying to teach my kids to help keep the house clean. With my son, it’s easier. With my daughter, if I’m not working alongside her, then she will stop at the first distraction. (I wonder where she gets that distractibility… Oh yeah, me!)
- I’m forming a good habit with the dishes, washing them twice a day instead of once every two days when the sink is piled high. I think that building one new habit at a time will help me keep my house clean more easily.
Clare, maybe ask your partner to take five minutes a day and clean with you. (You tidy your mess, and he can tidy his own.) Set a timer, and when it goes off, be done. Then, thank him and complement him on some desirable progress that he made.
- If he responds well to verbal praise, then make a regular practice of thanking and praising him for and pretty progress he makes.