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I’m Hear

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Dear Liv,
I believe I’ve found my soul mate. I’m a 42 year old divorced male who’s been looking for quite some time now, but I think I’ve finally found the woman of my dreams! We have so much in common. We both have good jobs which we enjoy. We love good music. We love to dance. We enjoy cooking together, entertaining friends, and dining out at quality restaurants. We both have grown children whom we get along with very nicely. I could go on and on.

There is one thing I’m pretty concerned about though. She’s a perfectionist. I’m not just talking wanting things straightened up and looking nice, I’m talking certain things have to be a certain way, or she goes crazy. Everything has its place. If you move a pillow, she’ll make sure to move it back. When you come in the door, if the rug gets moved an eighth of an inch, she’ll fuss with the rug for five minutes to make it right. If you use a fork or spoon to take a bite of food from the refrigerator, you can’t leave it in the sink, even if it’s the only thing in the sink. It must be washed immediately.

I wasn’t too bothered by her “quirkiness” in the beginning of our relationship, as I love a clean house too, and of course, I didn’t live with her. About six months ago we moved in together. I own several condominiums, so we picked one that was available and moved in. I guess I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but now it’s driving me insane! I feel like I can’t do anything right. And even if I try to clean up after myself, or put something back that I moved, it’s never good enough.

I consider myself cleaner than the average guy. I’ve always had nice things and have kept my place very organized. I’m happy to try even harder, but her need to keep everything to this degree of perfection, is really starting to affect me.

Again, I really love this woman. She means the world to me. But I don’t know what I should do about this. Do I talk to her about it? Should I ignore her? I don’t want to make her angry, however, I really don’t know if I can do this for the rest of my life. I’ve been biting my tongue for the past couple of months, but I can feel I’m about to explode. I don’t want to blow up at her, but something has to give. PLEASE help me!!!

Mr. “Not THAT Perfect”

Dear Mr. “Not THAT Perfect,”
Take a deep, calming breath, and understand that this isn’t about your cleanliness or organizational skills; it’s about an obsessive behavior that belongs to your girlfriend. There are various levels of this type of behavior, and the behavior often derives from some sort of anxiety that settled in way before your time. In more severe cases, it’s referred to as OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).

In many cases, those who have some level of OCD, have an average to high IQ. As a result, people with this disorder are usually completely aware of their behavior, which in turn, makes them even more anxious about those exact behaviors. This makes talking to them about it a bit tricky, but not impossible.

Be gentle in your discussion. Tell her how much you love her, your relationship, the thought of spending the rest of your life with her, but also express your true feelings regarding how uncomfortable you feel in the home you’re trying to build together. In all reality, she has probably had this discussion before; most likely with her ex-partner, children, and perhaps even friends. This is most likely something that has followed her from her youth, and is not something that can be “fixed” in a day.

Please know that she may not wish to change her pattern. This may be who she is, and she’s okay with that. I do think that if your relationship is as great as it sounds, she’ll be willing to share with you (if she knows) how this all began, and how she feels about it. If she’s frustrated with it too, this might be the opportune time to seek a therapist and address the issue. Perhaps she’s never felt the support she would need to make such a change. Perhaps YOU are that support. You won’t know if you don’t talk to her about it. Just be gentle. Make sure she knows you aren’t trying to attack her.

Clearly you want to make your relationship as harmonious as possible, or you wouldn’t be writing to me. Discussing an important issue like this is paramount. You won’t be able to continue the relationship as it is, because you’re already starting to feel overwhelmed. You’re on the right road though, so that’s something to feel very positive about. Go ahead and make the effort to chat with her, and see what she has to say. I have a feeling everything will fall into place just PERFECTLY.

Live and Learn

If you would like to ask Liv for advice for possible consideration for a future column, send a short email to livannelern@gmail.com.

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