There Are 4 Types Of Messy People — Which One Are You?

When you know your own clutter style, you can prevent a lot of fights.

Couple decluttering SanneBerg, Kostikova, Damian Lugowski | Canva 

We’ve all been there. You go to throw something away, and your partner freaks out while asking, “What’s in those bags? I hope you’re not getting rid of anything important!”

The reason you can’t seem to agree on what to do with all that extra stuff might be due to your different “clutter personality” types. Organizing and de-cluttering can create conflict in your marriage, so it’s vital to recognize which type you and your spouse are so you can work out a way to make you both happy (and your house clean!)


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Here are the four main messy personality types & how to deal with each

1. The Sentimentalist 

What they think: “Oh, the little darling. Isn’t that cute? I saved every drawing each of my children made from preschool up through college.” The sentimentalist wants to make sure all their memories are stored for safekeeping, and that usually means storing tons of boxes filled with photos, souvenirs, and sometimes completely useless things.

How you can deal: Help them become more selective with the mementos they choose to save. Select the best photos or trip souvenirs, then take a picture of the rest. Remember, memories are intangible. You will remember that trip to Hawaii, but you don’t need to save the napkin.


RELATED: Why Your Messy House Might Be Killing Your Love Life

2. The Emergency-Saver 

What they think: “I might need this someday.” If there are cabinets stuffed with egg cartons and margarine tubs––you (or your spouse) may have hoarding tendencies. Hoarding sometimes comes from feeling like you may not have the resources to buy what you need later on, so these feelings translate into a house full of duplicate items.

How you can deal: Remind them they can always get what they need if when they need it. There are plenty of resources to find what you need: yard sales, antique shops, and the library. You’ll be able to replace the item, so (gently) encourage them to take the plunge and dump the extras.



3. The Planner & The Perfectionist 

What they think: “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Procrastinators and perfectionists often go together. A perfectionist wants to do everything perfectly, so if you haven’t thought of the perfect organizing system yet, it’s hard to get started without getting overwhelmed.


How you can deal: Start by organizing the first 20% of the clutter together right away. Make sure you let them know you need to start sometime, so you might as well start today. Once they get going, they’ll take over and finish the job.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Start Decluttering When You're Feeling Too Overwhelmed By The Mess

4. The Rebel

What they think: “I don’t want to, and you can’t make me!” It’s our parents’ fault, right? We had to tidy up all of our lives, so now, as adults we don’t need to take orders anymore.

How you deal: Make sure your spouse understands you value them and their decisions, but also remind them you both work together to make your household run smoothly. No one likes to do everything on their own, but if you make your concerns known, they’re bound to decide to help you out.


I’ll never forget early in marriage, I was emptying our home of boxes, and I tossed a ton of magazines I thought were unimportant. When my husband came home, he was upset to find out I had thrown out his stuff.

Growing up in a divorced home where I shuttled back and forth between houses, I learned not to grow too attached to any physical object.

My husband, on the other hand, was a sentimentalist. When we first moved into our home, his parents gladly gave us many boxes filled with his possessions that had taken up space in their storage closet.

We learned from our first organization conflict that we often feel we are “one” with our spouse and forget “we” are made of two individuals with unique stories and preferences. This phenomenon is called symbiosis. “Why don’t you love ice cream? It’s so delicious!” “I cannot believe that you don’t like pizza. Who doesn’t like pizza?” We get so close to someone we can’t believe they don’t like the same things we do.


Instead of letting this come between us, we learned to be more compassionate and curious about how each other works. My husband showed compassion for the adult child of divorce that I was, and I became curious about his sentimental nature. We could cross the bridge into each other’s worlds and learn to speak each other’s language.

Like any issue in a marriage, organizing can be a source of conflict, if you both put in the effort to recognize and appreciate your different “clutter personality” types, you’ll be better equipped to take on your home’s organizational challenges together.



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Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Imago Relationship Therapist (Advanced Clinician), and an ordained Rabbi. He works with couples to empower them to develop a conscious and connected relationship through learning communication skills and rediscovering love. Rabbi Slatkin is also the best-selling author of The 5-Step Action Plan to a Happy & Healthy Marriage.