His take… on minimalism & decluttering

And with “he” I mean, obviously, my boyfriend.

A few months ago I started telling him about the blogs I have been reading, about minimalism, and these people who “decluttered” their home, sold half of their possessions and donated the other half, leave a 9-to-5 job in the cubicle to write full time, moved in a smaller house, cut the expenses… instead of looking at me like I needed to be admitted in a mental hospital, he reacted like he (almost) always does when I put something new on the table (it’s actually one of his best qualities). He got interested, wanted to go deeper and showed a great deal of enthusiasm. A different reaction from his part, and many (maybe all) of the changes we made in the last few months wouldn’t have happened – probably this blog would’t have seen the light of day either. Let him say what his take is was the least I could do, and he decided to do it through an interview (I’m guessing he’s getting a bit big-headed…). My comments between brackets 🙂

Which part of the minimalist proposal got you interested, and made you think “We can do this!”?

I’ll go back to high school memories and quote Socrates, who thought a philosopher’s duty is “to extract” from his pupils things they already know (I know this! It’s called “The Socratic Method”!). For me it’s been something like that: when you told me about this lifestyle, I didn’t think “They’re crazy”; they seemed perfectly normal to me. [I hope I won’t be ending up like Socrates]

I’m painfully aware how “delicate” the topic is, but selling my car is one of the most essential steps we took; and since you were the driver, I have to ask how you felt, if you regret that choice, and why.

Owning a Miata had always been a dream of mine since I saw one on a car dealer window, almost 20 years ago. Even if our “NC” will be always linked to one of our darkest moment (we had an incident while riding our bike on the way home from the dealer, right after signing the contract – I wasn’t hurt, but you definitely were), every time I drove that car, every time I changed gear or steered the wheel, I got a little moved, and excited.
The decision to sell has been painful for both of us, but definitely needed: 12,000 km in three years were an insult and a waste of money. I won’t regret it: I loved the car, but all things considered we just didn’t need two.

Decluttering: what did you expect and how it was actually?

I can’t deny I was a bit disoriented at the beginning: the idea of getting rid of all my t-shirts, some of which I owned since when I was a kid, seemed a little absurd. But then I really thought about it and I realized years had passed since I wore most of them (and it was likely I wouldn’t wear them again soon, or ever): they just were a few pounds of cotton piled up in a corner of the closet, attracting dust and taking space.
This was the beginning, the rest followed quite easily 🙂 [attention wives/partners/girlfriends: if you manage to make them throw away the t-shirts, the difficult part is over!]

Do you share the feeling we could easily start over again or is it just me (and I’d better calm down)? 🙂

As I like to say, this is a journey, not a touch-and-go task. We didn’t get radical and chose to get rid of everything except X things (I guess it would be unfeasible for us, maybe harmful), so there will always be something else to declutter. [Is he being tactful?]

What were the consequences of this minimalism thingie for you personally?

I live surrounded by chaos: I’ve always been a messy type, inside and outside, always thinking up systems to try and cope with the mess, and forgetting them all soon after (I already said I have a bad memory? Oh, I didn’t? Well, I forgot). The “minimalism thingie” for me has been a was of tidying up my life. And I won’t be forgetting about this! [I beg to differ about the whole “living surrounded by chaos” thing, actually. Not in THIS house, at least!]

What next? Or do you think it’s enough and you’re actually planning to get me admitted to avoid me selling/throwing away/donating something else? 🙂

Girlfriend decluttering! Nice! [you and I must talk, MISTER] Jokes aside, as soon as the basement is empty we’ll be able to start over for sure.

Or… we could try the most ambitious thing of them all: sell the house and maybe rent a smaller one.

(…silence) [talk about raising the bar!]

Has all this been “difficult”?

Short answer: no.
Long answer: it’s been kind of a shock at the beginning (see above about the t-shirts), but after the first period of slight disorientation everything has become almost automatic. And watching the white space growing on closets and bookshelves has been great!

Obviously, there’s no guarantee your partner’s reaction will be the same as Marco’s. Here’s an interesting post to deal with the situation when “You’re a minimalist and your partner isn’t“. On a similar topic: “In Praise of Relationships – Being a Minimalist & a Partner

I couldn’t know obviously what would have happened if Marco had told me “You’re crazy” instead of “That sounds interesting, tell me more”, but I consider myself very lucky. I get the feeling this kind of aspiration, need or however you want to call it, is a process indeed, but also sort of a switch, and I don’t think you can stop it or slow it (not without a great deal of frustation anyway); at the same time, though, maybe it’s not so easy to share it with another person if he/she is not already willing to accept it. But this is true for most things in a couple’s relationship, I guess.
What’s your take on this? Are you dealing with a similar situation or simply have difficulties to get your partner understand/accept your growing desire to declutter/want less/make room? How these disagreements make you feel and what solutions have you found? Any other questions for the other half of this “pas à deux”? Marco and I are both waiting for your comments!

(the picture comes from here – interesting article too)

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6 thoughts on “His take… on minimalism & decluttering

  1. What a timely post for me to read! I’m preparing to move in with my boyfriend in his very small apartment. We both know there’s no room for clutter… but I don’t know yet what it will be like when the move actually happens and we’re dealing with keeping or throwing things away together. I’m a little worried about books – as an avid reader, writer & translator, I have LOTS of books that are hard for me to get rid of, and he loves to tease me about this. Did you two have any experiences – besides the t-shirts! 🙂 – where different things were important to one of you and seemed like “clutter” to the other person?

    1. Hi Katie, that’s always a pleasure when you pop up here and there 😉
      I guess most of my clothes are “too many” for Marco (and please let’s NOT talk about handbags…), and I’m starting to think CDs and DVDs are entirely unneeded, but there are some (mostly CDs) I know he just won’t give away. As for the clothes, I’m actually planning to do a little more uncluttering in the next future, and he’s willing to do too; as for CDs, DVDs and books he’s concerned our bookshelves (we have two, on each side of the fireplace) would seem a little bit too empty if we kept on decluttering, and all things considered he’s probably right. But generally speaking we’re on the same page (luckily): I guess the key is compromise (as always), especially if there are actual space issues like maybe in your case.
      And please please please do let me know how it’s going! 🙂

  2. Hi Laura! Great to read your response. It’s nice to hear what other people go through when trying to declutter and to compromise! Tonight I go visit my boyfriend for the weekend and we’ll spend some time talking about how to make space for me and what I will bring when I move in. Thanks for helping me go into this process with a good attitude!
    I have been thinking of you, as I am hearing so much about the news in Italy these days! I hope everything is going well with you.

    1. Then let me definitely know how it goes after the weekend and the move!
      We’re good, but a bit frustrated, and tired, and maybe ashamed. We’ll see how it goes coming April 6th and the “big trial” Berlusconi is finally going to face.

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