First of all, let’s define ‘young’ men and women: I’m thinking of those young adults that have left home and live on their own or sharing a home with friends or partners. That said, a good chunk of their behaviour is clearly influenced by their experiences at home and their reactions to them, both at home and on their own.
There is an element of liberation when one moves out for the first time, and some of the imposed rules at home that were felt to be useless or ‘cramping the style’ are ditched at first. Some rules return soon – because they finally make sense, like doing the dishes before they become too horrible to even look at – while others turn out to be truly random and not apply to their new situation. Whatever regular schedule the young adult comes up with is based on their own needs, but also on what they have seen in their parents’ home. Some of it sticks, some won’t, it’s a simple as that.
So far, this situation is similar for young women and young men, but where are the differences and how do they affect clutter? Once more we have to look at the different ways girls and boys socialise: girls tend to go for social group activities that reinforce coherence and unity, while boys tend to go for a more competitive approach to social engagement. Think ‘shopping’ vs ‘playing football’ (okay, here come the stereotypes, shoot me). Both shopping and football reinforce a sense of belonging together, but football does so in the shape of unity against a common enemy (the other team), while shopping is a hermetic activity that may or may not be directed against anyone in particular.
I would argue that this approach to the outside world has an effect on how we behave at our homes. If you behave in a manner that actively separates you from those that are not in your circle of friends, that will have an effect on what kind of activities you engage in. A feeling of being threatened by those outside your circles may just encourage a more solitary behaviour at home: collections, games, communications conducted online, and a need to delineate clear boundaries with darkened spaces and closed doors. Yes, I’m aware this may paint a rather bleak picture of young men, but be honest: this partially aligns with your views, right?
The seeds for this behaviour have been put in place earlier, though, probably during teenage years when the young men still lived at home. It’s likely that their self-imposed separation also led to less engagement in household tasks, and therefore a lack in experience with such things.
Furthermore, this sense of me/us against everyone else leads to a more enclosed lifestyle, and it is less likely for outsiders to enter young men’s living spaces. So, if you never expect anyone to come in, why keep the place squeaky clean? Why put things away? Why not making it fit for me and hard to navigate for others? It’s all about making other people feel uncomfortable to keep them away.
This is a very different approach to someone who invites friends and family and expects them to pop in at any time, and hoping to provide a space they feel welcome to enter. That kind of person would make the space as bright, clean and inviting as possible. Clearly the mindset has a huge effect on what a room looks like.
That said, these behaviours are obviously not based on their gender, but on to which level people identify with common associations with their gender.
This is all very vague, of course, and the effects will likely be very low-level. However, I believe that how we behave is rarely the result of one huge experience, but of a lot of small nudges in a particular direction. Since girls and boys often like different things in general – either because they were brought up in a specific way or because they simply enjoy different things as young people in their social circles – this would ultimately lead to results and behaviours that are based on their gender, as slight as those differences may be on occasion.
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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.