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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

There could be two things going on here- one, your partner has always been like this and doesn't like to throw things out. In that case, there will need to be more extensive preparations for when you do move in together. Two, your partner is reacting to the death of her former partner by holding onto items from their home.

If your partner has always held onto things and doesn't like to throw them out, then you are dealing with a deeper issue, possibly hoarding or compulsive collecting. People who hold onto things tend to experience anxiety when they consider throwing something out. In order to control the anxiety, they hold onto items and put value into them, almost as a part of themselves, even if the item is considered "junk" by most people. So just telling them to throw something out makes them feel fearful and upset. It would be like asking you to throw out your home or car. It would trigger anxiety.

If your partner is holding onto her items and won't throw them away, you may need to talk with her about counseling. She needs to find out why she holds onto so much and why she cannot let go. Many people who experience this problem have unresolved issues from childhood, usually abuse or neglect, that created anxiety for them. So counseling can help to find the origin of the issue and resolve it.

If this is a relatively new issue for your partner then it could be due to her recent loss. In that case, she may need time to grieve in order to let go. What you can do in the meanwhile is to write out an agreement about the boundaries with her items. Try to make it as fair and balanced as you can. You may compromise for example on letting her have one spare room that she can keep anything she likes and you never go in, as long as she keeps the rest of the home neater. Or allow so many items in one room to be yours and so many hers. I suggest writing the agreement out because it is too easy to disagree or forget once you have been together for a while. By writing it down, you can refer back to it, saving you both from arguing over the issue.

Your partner can also maintain a storage unit just for her things. She may need to keep some of the items that remind her of her previous relationship. It can be hard to let go of the shared items and she may not yet be done with her grieving. If that is the case, she may eventually be able to move on from keeping these items so it would be a temporary situation.

I hope this has helped you,
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