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Get Him Back - I Love My Ex Boyfriend, But Is He A Hoarder?
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"I love my ex boyfriend so much," Lana tells you, "and I know we're meant to be together. But I worry - is he a hoarder?"

You search for the right words, wondering if what your closest friend wants is reassurance - hoarding? Tony? No, he's just messy, with way too much stuff, he loves to shop. Or is Lana finally ready to face up to the truth? Should she even be trying to get him back? Or thinking of moving on?

It doesn't make it any easier that you were the one who introduced them, a year or so ago. He was so charming and easy-going, good at his work, and none of the women in your office could figure out why this hottie was single. Lana was almost instantly smitten.

Tony moved into her condo on their third date. Now her beautiful space, once so airy and open with the high ceilings and gorgeous view, looks nothing like it did BT, Before Tony.

"It's not like those people on TV, climbing through rooms waist high in trash," Lana says. "But, still..." She pauses, looking sadly at her open-concept living room, where the view is now mostly blocked and there is not a single spot without something - a jumble of books, tools, new dishes, still in the box, brochures, a stack of mail, motorcycle parts, clothing, extra furniture, two aquariums with tubes and boxes in them, sports gear, an extra TV and, everywhere, more stuff. It looks relatively neat - it's just there's so much of it - enough to fill three rooms this size.

Way too much to fit in the cabinets and closets, also crammed with stuff - plastic bags, twist-ties, plastic cutlery, more paper...every room is like this. How can they live this way? Why doesn't Lana simply pitch it all?

She says Tony saves every newspaper and magazine, every tour brochure, in fact everything that comes his way. He shops at night online - many of the things he buys never make it out of the box. He has bikes in pieces and half-finished projects all over Lana's place and in three crammed storage lockers as well as at his apartment, which he kept "because it's so convenient," though he mostly lives at her place. As do his three dogs, plus all their dog stuff.

The dogs are still at Lana's, but Tony isn't. Last week, they had another fight about this jumble. He went back to his place, which (oddly) she says she's never been to. She misses her ex boyfriend. He's called to say he's picking up the dogs - but so far, he hasn't shown up.

"You know," she says now, "there's so much that's good about him. He's kind, and fun to be with, and my family all adore him, I know I want to get him back. But...well, any time I try to talk about all this stuff everywhere and never finishing anything, he just treats it like a big joke and changes the subject. Or, lately, he gets mad.

"I love Tony, but this just isn't how I want to live," she says sadly. And who can blame her? You're not a therapist, but you've read enough to know that Tony has some serious issues - but what are they, exactly? And can't he see how much this upsets Lana? Doesn't he love her enough to get himself organized and get rid of the stuff?

Though reality TV shows have brought a lot of attention to the problem of hoarding recently, these shows tend to show extreme cases - people living incredibly dysfunctional lives with their 37 cats, or with narrow paths through towering piles of clothing, broken junk, rotted food and garbage. Usually, these hoarders don't and can't hold a job or maintain relationships.

Often, they're on the verge of eviction. If they're married, their partner is usually also a hoarder. But did you know there are many thousands more people like Tony, who by all outward appearances live 'normal' lives, but still struggle and also feel victimized by their own milder versions of hoarding? It's true.

They may not live in filth, surrounded by towering piles of trash, but they do compulsively keep everything and buy more, which can also cause serious problems with debt and threaten their careers and relationships.

You've taken a few college psychology courses or done some reading, so you recognize that it may be that Tony also has other problems, such as anxiety, depression or attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as it is also known. This last one could account for his many unfinished projects and also his lack of focus.

Another possibility that could explain Tony's endless collecting of things he has no use for is that he suffers from a compulsive disorder. There are treatments for all of these conditions involving therapy, sometimes with prescribed medications. For people willing to work hard to get better, there is hope. They can lead productive and happy lives.

But there is no quick fix; and love alone, as Lana recognizes, isn't the answer. Neither is denial. Her ex boyfriend surely doesn't choose to be this way, but it is in Tony's power to acknowledge he has serious problems that (among other difficulties) will likely cause him to lose things he seems to want, including Lana.

So which does he want more - Lana and their life together, or all this junk? How much does he want to change? How willing will he be to face up to his difficulties and work with a therapist to do everything in his power to deal with his problems and challenges?

And if her ex boyfriend refuses to face up to his hoarding, the unfinished projects, the stuff, the unhappiness he is causing Lana and other people in his life? What if he can't, or won't, follow through? Lana is smart enough to realize that then nothing between them will improve and over time Tony will likely get worse. Any bump in life (these come to every couple sooner or later) could send him spiralling downward.

Will his hoarding, or whatever his problem actually is, be the elephant in the room in their relationship? Is this the life partner Lana truly wants and the man she deserves? Will she continue to enable his behaviour?

Or will she insist her ex boyfriend seek professional help, if he wants her back? Should she refuse to get him back in her bed and her life unless he sincerely tries to change? That's what she's asking you. Can this relationship be saved? You ache for Lana - but only she can answer that.

Get him back? Or say good-bye? Learn what men want and what they need - does your ex boyfriend still love you? Can your relationship be saved? Find out!

Street Talk

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