I had gone minimal long before beginning my romantic relationship with Eric. I had purged my nonessentials, organized everything, my walls had only the décor I loved, and my bathroom had only the few products I used. It was a long, rewarding process that I had finally graduated from and I was super proud! And then BAM! Hurricane boyfriend hit. When he moved in, suddenly there were all of these clothes, movies, and posters to contend with. I was overwhelmed and frustrated. I had just simplified my home to the bare minimum and here I felt like the house was back to full capacity. There were many times when I wanted to just go rogue and discard the items that I felt like he didn’t need.
But did I?
I often times see those who have chosen to follow the path of minimalism struggling with partners who are not minimalists. I totally understand that struggle! But then I see that some people are trashing their partner’s belongings, hiding them, or other methods that I, personally, find counterproductive. I once had someone throw away my belongings and it ended up making me covet them more! What helped to keep me sane when I would get upset about Eric’s things was to remind myself that this was MY choice to let go of my stuff. No one forced me, it was all me, which is why it’s stuck so well. I also remind myself that I can only make decisions for myself in my life. When I came to that life changing moment of deciding to be mindful of my things, I made a personal decision. And how could it ever be my place to make a personal decision for another capable adult?
So, here I am in a new relationship, with a boyfriend who just moved in with a ton of stuff, most of which I never saw him use. He would occasionally remark about how little I had, and I would just tell him how it made me feel, how I came to realize I had had all of these things I didn’t need. He got to see how little laundry I had to do, and how I used damn near everything I owned. Over time, he started to compare what he had to what I had, and decided that it was time to relieve himself of about 100 tshirts he had been hauling around but not wearing. It was an awesome time. Because I hadn’t nagged him, and because he had the space to make his own decisions, he ended up starting to purge his belongings all by himself. I was nothing but encouraging, congratulating him often. The support really inspired him to continue his purging. I was astounded! Eric even sat and learned how I folded my tshirts and started organizing his dresser similar to how I have mine. All with no demanding.
Is he some supreme minimalist now? Nope. Do I expect that? Nope. He still buys little Donald Duck figurines and proudly puts them on display on all of the available shelf space we have, which drives me nuts. But this is our shared space, meaning he also gets to make this house feel as much his home as I do. I don’t hesitate to ask for his help with cleaning up around the house, but when it comes to judging what he finds important, that’s just not my place. We have found a nice compromise about our shared space (which is all of it), and it makes our lives so much easier. Besides, he supports all sorts of weird things that I do, so I enjoy supporting his love of anime memorabilia and collection of Primus shirts.