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He won't unpack

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 30, 2011 08:44 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

I'm writing with a question about my boyfriend. We've been together just under a year and things are great. He's funny, smart, cute, etc., and I know there's serious long-term potential.

Recently, my boyfriend bought a condo. We've talked about our future together and it's pretty much assumed that I'll move in with him when my lease is up next year.

My problem is about the fact that we're total opposites. I'm super organized and like to tackle things right away, whereas my boyfriend has a more laid-back approach. He's been moved in for a few weeks and has no problem with the boxes in the spare bedroom, or the fact that he doesn't have a living room set. We were supposed to take a big Target/Home Depot trip for the new place, but when the day came he mentioned that he didn't want to go out in the rain (this was more than a week before the hurricane) and that it wasn't a big deal. Well, it was a big deal to me.

I know it's not my condo, but I'm there quite a bit and I'm the type of person who just wants things settled. I'm wondering why he's dragging his feet, and he's thinking he has all the time in the world. And he does; this is going to be his house for a long time. But it's also going to be my home someday and I just want to see it start to look like one. I know he has time and that it's his place to do what he wants with it, and that this is really more about a difference in our personalities, but is there anything I can say to him to let me help? Any advice is appreciated!

– Just Trying to Help, JP


A: Relationships require patience, JTTH, so please, pick a battle. One battle. The living room set thing sounds super annoying, so focus on that. Tell him that all you want to do is get a couch so that you have something to sit on while you watch TV. Fifty tasks are overwhelming but one is manageable. Just help him go down the list one at a time. And make the task fun. Go shopping before a great dinner, or after a good movie.

And know this: Most people have boxes in their spare room a few weeks after buying a condo. The process of buying property is sort of overwhelming. It might take him a few weeks to catch his breath. I know that you're uncomfortable, but you need to maintain your empathy. It might take him a few weeks to sleep off the fact that he just signed a document with a lot of zeros on it.

It seems like it's going to be a nice weekend, right? Tell him you want to take him to dinner and then play around on living room sets at furniture stores. Go to IKEA and reenact that scene from "500 Days of Summer." And when you start to loose your mind over the next few weeks, allow yourself to do little things around the place so that you feel like you're moving forward. Wash the dishes. Hook up electronic equipment. Clean behind the toilet. Buy hooks and racks and hangers. Find the middle ground.

If he hasn't unpacked after three months, you're allowed to nag a little. But not yet. One thing at a time until your name is on the mailbox.

Readers? How can an organized person put up with a partner who has boxes in his spare room? Is she allowed to step in and organize his stuff if it's assumed that she's moving in next year? Am I right about all of this being overwhelming? Should she tell him that this is driving her crazy? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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