That doesn’t mean that men don’t maintain contact with other people. Both men and women tend to have friends who they spend time with AWAY from their partner, but it’s often the women who keep in touch with those who connect with the couple as a whole. This is not really a big issue for the most part, but what if the couple breaks up or one of the partners has gone? The ones with the wider range of friends and acquaintances can keep going the way they did (usually the women), while the other partner (usually the men) will lose a lot of social contacts in the process.
Many of my male clients are in the older age bracket and tend to be on their own. My observation often shows that they have lost their partners at some point and are lost not only in terms of practical things that need to happen in their household, but they have found out the hard way that they were incapable to maintain the larger range of acquaintances without the help of that lost partner. Besides, the older we get, the fewer new friends we tend to make for lack of interest or opportunity.
Again, there seems to be a gender difference. My female clients seem to be surrounded by friends and go out much more than my male clients have contact and leave their homes.
Of course, this has a huge effect on the way a single male household is being run: the men spend much more time in their homes, and they have fewer visitors to entertain. Remember: these are generalisations based on my personal experience with clients and should by no means be regarded as gospel.
Those men who find themselves in this particular situation have a couple of things in common: they often struggle with keeping their homes tidy to start with – simply because they never had to do it and don’t actually realise that things like doing the dishes or laundry day are regular occurrences that need looking after. As mentioned in previous blogs, men also tend to have different hobbies and use their space differently than women do. While women’s collections tend to be more based on perceived practical use and therefore are more akin to ‘accumulations of like things’, men’s collections are much more ‘consciously acquired things’.
This has a classic side-effect when it comes to decluttering: women may come to realise that the practical use of an item has ceased and the item can be let go. For men this rarely happens because the overriding reason for bringing an item in and hanging on to it is based on the ideas of ‘completion’ and ‘achievement’. And those form an integral part of the client’s psychological makeup that has associated those items with a sense of self-worth and pride.
In addition, these precious items are often the only friends they have left who are available at all times and without any more effort than walking into the other room, a very appealing aspect of any collection.
As you can see, the element of assigning emotional support to the items we own is a very powerful one. That said, it is not unique to men, of course: women just tend to have different types of object, think shoes/clothes, a presentable home, a beautiful garden, ability to prepare a meal, and similar that are more aligned with traditional role distribution at home. None of this is objectively clean-cut: men might be avid gardeners and women enjoy a spot of soldering in the garage.
I believe that the underlying imbalance with regards to social behaviour leads to different approaches towards maintenance and priorities in the household. Add to that a lack of practice as a result of traditional roles within the home which can easily lead to a huge knowledge gap if the partner with the household roles suddenly disappears from the picture. Don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t mean men are incapable of such tasks as dusting and tidying up… it simply does not occur to many of them that this needs doing as often as necessary, or they simply don’t see it because they never had to look out for it.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.