Many of us have trouble letting go of special mementos. It is not uncommon to have a messy bedroom or a cluttered desk. Others proudly display collections of elegant or eclectic items in their homes. Even if a person prefers a sleeker, less crowded ambiance in their own home or office the typical spectrum of “neat freak” to “slightly sloppy” can be tolerated in family members, friends, coworkers, and love interests.

But some people have a problem with holding on to “stuff” that has little intrinsic value to themselves or others. What may have started as a collection turns into an obsession. Frequently there is no rhyme or reason to the items kept. It is not so much a compilation of meaningful things as it is a crazy mishmash of objects the person cannot move on and away from. The things begin to occupy every surface and corner of every room. No desire or plan to reduce the inventory is part of the person’s psyche. The person cannot discard anything, seems unaffected by the clutter, and actually spend time and money acquiring additional articles. This is a description of a hoarder.

Could you date such a person? This is not just the subject of television “picker” shows or reality interventions. Hoarders are estimated to total over a million individuals in the United States. Both men and women can hoard. Hoarders are often fearful of losing items that might have future usefulness or sentimental value, but the sheer volume and lack of actual usage set them apart.

This Man or Woman May Appear Completely Normal

If you meet a hoarder away from their cache of saved items, you may have no clue. It is only after you are invited to their home or apartment that you may be stunned by the stacks of papers, closets bulging, and even paths through towers of stockpiled items.

Your Reaction To “The Reveal” Will Be The Key

When the person you are dating, or considering as a potential mate allows you into their jam-packed lair, they are looking at you for a reaction. You also should pay special attention to how you feel when confronted with evidence of their hoarding behavior. If it is off-putting know that is a strong indication that this facet of your date’s behavior will be a sticking point. And also, realize it will not be as easy as changing a brand of toothpaste or even relocating to a new city for this potential love to alter the behavior for you if you cannot tolerate it.

Not That Bugged By A Little Mess?

If your tolerance for clutter and disorder is high, you may be able to make it work. Some couples have peacefully co-existed if the hoarder can limit the behavior and its evidence to one room or an outbuilding. Shared areas can be declared horde-free zones and can offer respite for both. When you are willing to give the relationship a try consider these types of possibilities. Only time will tell if the relationship is stronger than the compulsion. And both your feelings concerning the intersection of hoarding and loving.

Know That Hoarding Can Be Considered A Mental Illness

Usually viewed as a form of obsessive compulsive behavior, hoarders will need significant therapy. Other treatments could also be used to change their ways. Even with top-notch help many hoarders cannot manage to move beyond their compulsions. You will need to fully comprehend this as you develop you relationship with a hoarder. If your potential mate is truly a hoarder it may be very difficult for him or her to seek help or to follow through on therapy. It may seem that your hoarder cares more about the relationship he or she has with objects that the relationship with you. Think very carefully about whether you can take second place to a house full of stuff.