Your question was: Neat Freak vs. Pack Rat.
I completely understand how you feel!! My father (who is also a widower) is a notorious pack rat, and his place is a disaster zone. He says he always tries to tackle the clutter, but he just gets overwhelmed..
I have tried to help him. In fact, my boyfriend at the time and I one time emptied everything out of the living room, entry way, and kitchen; completely cleaned it; threw out bags and bags of junk; and replaced all of the now-cleaned furniture back in it's place. It looked so great, and I was so proud. Unfortunately, the next time I came home the rooms were completely junked up again he allowed some clingy neighbor to store all of the stuff that she wanted to sell at a junk sale in his front room!! And from there, it just became a depository for junk all over again. I was so frustrated to see my efforts were all for naught, and I never attempted a major cleanup for him again. To my then boyfriend's credit, he never said a word. But I have never brought another guy home since..
I say let your boyfriend keep helping you. He's offering; he's already seen your place; and he hasn't run for the hills. He cares about you. While I completely understand your embarassment, he probably views helping you as a way to show you his love. And since you live there, once it's clean hopefully you can help keep it that way!.
THANKS SOOOO MUCH!!! Today, I was really feeling bad about last night and scared that THIS may be it- the thing that causes him to run to the hills!!! I felt distance from him- but it may have been my reaction last night. (I pushed him out of the house after several hours!!)Anyway, I appreciated you being able to relate! I know how frustrating it is. The thing about pack rats and clutter is that it's all emotional. Somehow every nuck-and-cranny ub the house being filled is calming to my mom.All the best with you and your dad!..
I know people who have to have all that clutter all over the place and all over the walls. I dont see how it can calm them when all it does is gather dust and require a lot of cleaning.My house has been vandalized by my ex and other idiots he knows. When someone I personally know comes over to the house I warn them that it is "under construction" which basically means I'm working on fixing things. He destroyed my walls smearing yellow stuff on them, the inside of my cabinets too, I am currently doing tile work in both bathrooms and having to shampoo the carpets at least 5 times (scrubbing - all of the damage requires scrubbing) and they also destroyed my appliances, my furniture and my shoes and clothes. Slowly I am replacing or fixing things. I will eventually replace all the appliances and the attic stairs (they loosened all of the nuts and bolts - so I guess the stairs would fall apart and someone - like me- would fall and seriously injure themselves) but not the furniture...I wont replace the furniture.
To look at the house and garage one wouldn't see any clutter...
He knows it's not the way you choose to live. Indeed he not only offered to help you clean and organize several times, he did so. Guys love to be able to do concrete things for the women in their life. And he already knows it all so relax and be happy he's the kind who likes to help out..