How to deal with a MESSY partner

posted 8 years ago in Relationships
Post # 3
681 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2018

I think that we might be married to the same person! Add–leaving house keys in the door overnight and having up to 4 pairs of shoes in the living room at a time.

Sadly, I don’t have a solution either. Just thought that you might need someone to commiserate with.

I have thought about taking all of the things that he leaves out and collecting them in a box for a week so that he can see everything that is left out over a 7 day period.

Post # 4
527 posts
Busy bee

As a messy person (OK not as messy as your SO, but messy nonetheless) I know that nagging does not work on me.  It just makes me super irritated and more stubborn.  I have a tendency to leave my shoes, clothes and art supplies everywhere.  Mister started doing a daily delivery and dumping it all right in front of my closet in a sweet and loving way.  When it started to pile up, I felt so guilty.  Here he was, without complaint, bringing my mess to me everyday.  Out of guilt I began to clean up after myself.  I almost started to feel like I was not respecting the space I share with the man I love with all of my mess. I’m not nearly up to his type-A standards yet, but I’m getting better.

Sometimes a little positive reinforcement goes a long way.  Maybe on the once in a while chance he does clean up after himself you can give him a big kiss and hug and tell him “thank you soooo much for doing x.”  Somehow my mister has found a way for it to work on meSmile

Post # 7
2214 posts
Buzzing bee

My ex was like this. I tried everything I could think of to get him to change his ways, but he never changed, and this was one of the main reasons we broke up. I am a very neat and clean person, and I just couldn’t live like that the rest of my life. I also have no patience to clean up after a grown man.  I’m his partner, not his mother or maid.  It sounds bad, but I definitely made the right decision choosing my clean lifestyle over him and his mess.  I’m now with an amazing, CLEAN and NEAT man. Smile

Post # 8
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Same guy here (not quite as bad, but still annoying).

What makes it worse is that sometimes he goes way above and beyond to make up for the 100 little times he doesn’t do it.

I got pissed at him yesterday morning because he didn’t put away items that I had washed the night before and put on the counter to air dry, instead he moved them off of the towel so he could use it and then just threw the towel onto the counter next to the dried pots and pans.

So last night I get home, he had cooked dinner, emptied the dishwasher, taken out the garbage and put the laundry in the dryer.

This morning I went to leave for work: pots and pans on the counter with the wet towel sitting next to them.


Post # 9
76 posts
Worker bee

maggierose I think you have just described in detail how my future will be living with my SO haha! He loses his keys and wallet daily because he cannot just put it in one place. Guess I’ll have to keep the box trick in mind so I don’t go crazy…

Post # 10
1253 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I am soooo going to start collecting my SO’s junk and delivering it to him! It sucks, because most of the time he is really good with helping me out. He doesn’t often do dishes or cook or clean, but he does his own laundry so thats one less thing for me to do (Stayathome mom here) But I absolutely can’t stand it when he puts garbage in the sink. It belongs in the freaking garbage!!! And then it gets all wet and gross and I am then one who has to scoop it all into the garbage, sick. Once in awhile he’ll go on a cleaning binge, and then I’m just supposed to be so grateful that he cleaned it’s like his excuse to be messy for the rest of the month.

Post # 11
1684 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

Holy crap, you just described my Fiance to a T! Are you sure we aren’t engaged to the same person?? (except the lights thing; we both do that but we don’t pay for hydro, so its a moot point).

I swear, the man has never heard of a garbage can. Dude, its under the sink, TWO FEET from where you left your garbage!! ITS NOT HARD! And when he changes to take a shower in the morning he leaves his PJs (fine, his underwear) on the bathroom floor. !! My dear, there is a laundry basket JUST outside the bathroom door FOR THAT EXACT PURPOSE! USE IT! And he hangs his jackets on the doorknob all the time, which just looks messy and slovenly – Arrgh! DOORKNOB DOES NOT EQUAL HANGER. !!!

First I nagged. Then I got resentful. Now I live in a state of acceptance (we’ve been living together for just under two & a half years) mixed with occasional annoyance. I figured out that if I was cleaning while he was just sitting there I got incredibly resentful & angry, so now I try to clean when he isn’t home. We’ve had a few (okay, A LOT of) talks and when I notice him trying harder I make sure to compliment him on it and tell him how much I appreciate it.

Pick your battles: The cupboard door thing isn’t worth fighting over. Yes, it’s annoying, very much so. But just go into the kitchen and close the doors yourself. Trust me. So much better. Also, with the cereal; just put it away yourself. You’re more than permitted to sigh with exasperation while doing so, however.

The keys/wallet issue? Get him to take it out of his pants the moment he gets home. When you see it lying around, pick it up and casually ask him to put them away (in the bowl, in your case). Eventually he’ll get used to putting his stuff in the same place everyday and it’ll be rare that he can’t find his stuff.

I’ve never had to deal with leaving food out issue, but I would probably deal with it by not buying that item the next time you go grocery shopping. Explain it’s just wasted money even if you do buy it, so you’d rather not. OR, buy multiple cartons of a smaller amount (like milk); that way if he leaves it out you only waste a little, and not a 4L jug.

The clothes thing I haven’t figured out yet. It drives me bonkers. I have gotten him to put them in specific places around the apartment though – like on the back of a chair or ontop of his dresser, instead of leaving them on the floor. I go around once or twice a week and pick up all the clothes, but it’s still really, really annoying. What about -at first – letting him leave his clothes on the floor in, say, the bedroom, but nowhere else? And if he does leave them in the living room, just ask him to pick it up before he goes to bed. Ask once when you notice it and then remind him before going to bed. If its still there in the morning, ask him again. Something along the lines of “I would really appreciate it if you took the time to pick up your clothes today. Could you please do it by such-and-such a time?” Etc and so forth. (

For us and the clothes on the (teensy-tiny) bathroom floor issue, I go over and ask where this stuff goes. He inevitably answers “in the laundry basket” – and I reply – “well, then, could you  please put it where it belongs then?” and hand it to him.
He’s gotten better at remembering that clothes = hamper, not floor).

Remember to notice his efforts & praise him often. Compliments/appreciation work wonders; remember, he loves you! All he wants is to make and see you be happy. If you show that you are because he’s cleaning up after himself, he’s more likely to keep following through with it. All of this in In My Humble Opinion, of course.

If all else fails, before you buy a house, make him sign something that says he agrees to pay for a maid service! Seriously! Ah! :)Good luck!

Post # 12
22 posts
  • Wedding: August 2010

Have you read this article? 

I think it takes a lot of time and patience to make incremental progress, but positive reinforcement definitely works πŸ™‚ The hard part is to not react to the bad habits..

Post # 13
2321 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I think most of us are married to the same man! (Well not married YET but you know what I mean!)

Mine is not as messy but still very much so. He will put the food items back in the fridge. But then just forget about them. They rot there eventually. (I don’t live wit him so I can’t really keep an eye out.) If I visit and I need something to eat, etc. I will open the fridge and I am immediately greeted with garbage! The upside? It doesn’t stink AS much because it’s chilled.

I haven’t yet put together any plan of action since we are not living together 24/7 yet. But I definitely will be keeping an eye on this post so ladies, keep ’em coming!

Post # 15
22 posts
  • Wedding: August 2010

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve recommended that article to friends πŸ™‚

One thing I’ve noticed – I think it helps to know your partner’s “love language” (I think there’s a book or something, but if you google “5 love languages” you’ll see what I’m talking about). Basically, people will feel loved in different ways (words, touch, gifts, etc). I think the reward system should be based on how your man feel most loved/appreciated. Luckily for me, a hug does wonders for my husband. πŸ™‚

Good luck!

Post # 16
365 posts
Helper bee

I have a really good solution.  It works.  I’ve done it.

Everything that is left out and not put away goes into a box.  But the box doesn’t go in front of the closet, the box goes outside.  You dont just spring this on him though, you tell him.  “I have begged, pleaded, asked nicely, and you don’t listen.  You’re not respecting OUR space.  If you can’t put things away then I will put them in a box and put them outside.  If you want them then bring them in and put them away or maybe someone who values your things will take them and give them a home”.

Anyone who acts like a 5 year old can be treated like one.

I’m still wondering what to do about fridge doors open.  I’d just ignore it, let it beep, let the food go rotten.  Then serve him rotten food.

Sometimes you just have to get tough πŸ™‚

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