When your long-distance relationship began, you barely left your beloved’s arms to walk around the home and notice how he or she lives. Now you’re paying attention, and a couple of red flags are giving you pause.
There’s her dingy, frazzled toothbrush in a grimy cup atop the toilet tank. Or his refrigerator, filled with uncovered pans and spoons wedged into crusty food, moldy cheese and unwrapped veggies stuck to the racks. But how do you know what’s just a fluke or a solid clue that your new love isn’t keen on cleaning?
Housekeeping is definitely an “LDR blind spot,” say long-distance lovebirds Nathan and Lolo, who eventually nested after more than a year navigating three countries and two continents to get together. The couple, who now live together in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, created Lasting the Distance, a blog offering advice for couples in long-distance relationships.
Here are 6 signs that your long-distance love’s housekeeping habits may need a little spritzing.
1. Background Clutter
Next time you Skype or Google Chat with your long-distance sweetie, take in the background scene, says Lolo. Are dishes stacked in the kitchen sink? Is dirty underwear draped over a chair? Has she had the same crumpled sheets on the bed for two months? Pay attention now, or you could end up paying a cleaning lady after you move in.
2. Forgotten Furballs
Furballs, dust bunnies, call them what you will. Too many indoor tumbleweeds bouncing around the house shows that your long-distance flame hates to sweep, dust and vacuum. If that’s a deal breaker, it may be time to scroll “It’s not you, it’s me” with a fingertip on the dusty nightstand.
3. High Mess Tolerance
“I could see from Nate’s dorm room that this threshold for mess was higher than mine,” says Lolo. Next time you drop in for the weekend, take a closer look. Are clothes strewn about the floor and tossed onto furniture? Do open packages of cookies clutter the kitchen counter? Are newspapers and mail stacked on the dining room table? It’s best to address your mess tolerance differences now, before they become a cohabitation trigger later.
4. Brazen Bathroom Filth
Nothing reveals more about a person’s housekeeping than this billboard of personal hygiene. Is hair all over the floor? Does mildew grow on shower tile? Is her toothbrush gray? Is the sink crusted over with toothpaste and soap scum? If so, that could one day be your bathroom. And your life.
5. Kitchen Clues
Look for obvious signs like half-empty cartons of expired milk or other forgotten foods in the fridge or dishes constantly piled in the sink. Are stovetop burners covered with sauce, grease and stains? Cabinets stuffed so full that no one knows what’s in the back? If so, it’s time to put a heart-to-heart talk about kitchen cleanliness and organizing on the menu.
6. Catastrophic Closets
Maybe the house is tidy because your boyfriend stuffs unopened mail, dirty laundry and piles of clutter into the nearest closet before picking you up at the airport. Even with this sneaky move, though, he still might show potential for improvement, since he at least wants his home to look organized.
“We Need to Talk”
If you’re the neat one in your long-distance relationship, those slovenly housekeeping habits of your significant other will get on your nerves eventually. So sort it out now, while you can still process it in peace on a plane ride home.
“It might be a touchy subject but talking will help,” says Lolo. “You’ll get to know the finer details about each other and hopefully save yourselves from a few awkward situations down the line.”