Deepak Chopra wrote a story in which the wizard Merlin said to young Arthur: “I once walked around like you, and when I looked at a person, all I saw was a form of flesh and bones. But after a while I noticed that a person lives in a house that extends that body — unhappy people with messy emotions live in messy houses; happy, contented people live in orderly houses. When I see a house, I am actually seeing more of that person.” From this article.
I recently broke it off (after 3 dates) with a lovely woman whom I liked very much. When I visited her home, I knew I could never be compatible with her. It was a mess, and she had warned me that it was so. Still, I went over, knowing that it would allow me to see her at her most honest self. And I knew I wouldn't be able to get past it. I was torn, should I just tell her that we could continue to date but that I couldn't go to her house because of my allergies (when it really was the pet smells and the general state of the place)? Oh, believe me, I thought about it. Did I say she was a lovely woman? She was. And I knew that to continue to date her, giving her false hope, was deeply wrong.
I wrote her the most honest, yet diplomatic, email I could. Yes, email. Somewhere in our conversations she had mentioned that she prefers this method of breaking up -- and I was kind but truthful.
On the flip side, if I went to a date's house and they were a neat freak and OCD about their surroundings, I would break it off with them as well. I require cleanliness and order, but not at the expense of living a life enslaved by my domestic proclivities.
When my daughter was little and I was a single mom, the state of my house was the least of my worries. I chose not to fret about it. Bed left unmade? Who cares? Dishes piled in the sink? I'll get to them in the morning. I wasn't going to let it drive me crazy, and that was fine for that time in my life.
But now...I'm a growed up woman, and I'm dating growed up women, and I expect a certain level of order in their homes (and in mine). Does that make me shallow? Or am I just being real about what environments reflect about the people who live in them? And I know what I want, and what I don't.
This dear woman may find a compatible partner who is not bothered at all about the house. I hope she does - she deserves someone to love. She has many great qualities about her. Holding out hope for her, and I am proud of myself for not pretending it wasn't an issue. Pretty good for a serious co-dependent who shies away from difficult conversations for fear of hurting someone's feelings. And she deserves someone who really likes all the parts of her.