Adulting tip: before you move in with someone, sit down and have a discussion about what a clean living space looks like. Doing this would have saved me so much aggravation in my life.

“But Jaqui,” I hear you asking, “why should we have to talk about it? Clean’s clean, right?” No, it’s not. And thinking cleanliness is a self-evident concept is a great way for screaming fights to happen down the line.

Here’s an example: to my mom, clean means that all the things in the space are not actively dirty, and are free of crumbs and food stains and the like. It doesn’t matter to her where you put your shit, so long as no one has to worry about bugs or stains or diseases. To my once-stepfather, clean meant that everything had a place where it belonged, and things were neat and organized, and there was no visible clutter. He gave less of a shit about crumbs under the microwave than he did about random papers on the coffee table. So she could spend all day working to make sure you could eat off every surface in the kitchen, and he would come home and be upset because she’d spent all that time and as far as he could tell, nothing was clean. Meanwhile, his obsessive organization drove my mom batshit because he would blithely organize away things that weren’t clean by her standards. Needless to say, that relationship did not end well.

So yeah. Have the talk, and figure out what your “augh, this is unlivable, we need to clean!” points are. You may not always be able to get a shared living space exactly as clean as you want it, but if you figure out what everyone needs to feel like they have a reasonably clean space, you’re much more likely to correctly conclude that, when someone makes an offhand comment about the mess getting to them, you’ll know they mean the dishes in the sink are bothering them, and that they don’t give a shit about the dust on the bookshelves, and can act accordingly.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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