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How Hoarding Affects Relationships

How Hoarding Affects Relationships

Whether it is you, your best friend, your partner, or a relative, hoarding has a way of affecting relationships. It seriously impacts the hoarder and those living alongside clutter.

There are lots of reasons why someone hoards. Sometimes, it’s due to mental disorders, other times because they feel sentimental, even if it appears odd to others.

Here we will discuss what to look for when determining what hoarding is and how to manage the situation with a loved one.

What Is Hoarding?

Hoarding is a behavior that involves much more than just stubbornly holding on to keepsakes. It’s a disorder that presents persistent difficulty getting rid of processions due to the felt need to keep onto them.

Usually, the person feels distressed at the idea of parting with their items, leading to an excessive accumulation over time. The behavior continues regardless of financial or even sentimental value. The items are only important to the hoarder. The behavior translates into buying habits, too, with purchases being compulsive.

Hoarding is likely to cause financial, social, physical, and emotional issues for hoarders and those around them. Ultimately, hoarding is a disorder and should be recognized as such.

What Are the Warning Signs of Hoarding?

It’s essential to recognize the difference between messy clutter and hoarding. Collectors who own collections in large amounts are not considered hoarders. Hoarders often collect items like newspapers, mail, and even garbage.

Here are some warning signs to look out for based on symptoms and typical behavior:

  • Social isolation shown through reluctance to have visitors
  • The thought of throwing items away causes extreme distress, like panic attacks.
  • Becoming hostile or aggressive when others interact with their possessions
  • Avoid throwing away possessions others would deem garbage
  • Holding on to items in fear they need them later
  • Excessive amounts of possessions affect their ability to live comfortably in their space

How Does Hoarding Affect Relationships?

It isn’t just the hoarder who suffers. Their friends, family, and loved ones feel the strain, too, in more ways than one.

Emotional Distress

For the hoarder, any conversation relating to their disorder may cause anxiety, especially at the thought of getting rid of items. Seeing a loved one struggle with any disorder will cause stress for those around them.

Conversations are difficult to navigate, with both sides feeling distressed due to the situation. When a sense of anxiety fuels disagreements, arguments can quickly arise.

On the other side of the issue, the person living with the hoarder also can feel immense distress—clutter damages mental health, leaving both sides feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

Physical Impact

When hoarding takes over someone’s life, their possessions can rule their household. Accumulated items can result in squalor. Squalour occurs from neglect of regular cleaning activities, and cleaning in overly crowded spaces is difficult.

Ultimately, squalor leads to unsanitary conditions that pose a health risk and makes the home inaccessible. The uncleanliness tests relationships for those who don’t like visiting a household in unsanitary conditions.

Financial Difficulty

Compulsive buying is a part of hoarding, which can lead to debt and financial stress. Those in debt may ask to borrow money from loved ones but later find themselves unable to pay it back.

A dispute in finances can put a strain on relationships.

Social Isolation

If you have a loved one struggling with a hoarding disorder, chances are they haven’t had a visitor to their home in a while. Without freely being able to see their loved ones, hoarders may retreat further into isolation. It creates distance between those struggling and those around them.

Family Life

Unfortunately, time is both a friend and an enemy here. No matter how much you love a spouse or parent, resentment and frustration throughout the relationship can build over time. This negativity can conclude in a situation where you feel you can no longer tolerate the behavior.

For couples, these cases can result in divorce, complicated by the presence of children in the home. If images come out in a court of unhygienic living conditions, and the court deems the home unfit for children, the person with hoarding disorder may lose custody of their child.

It’s unfortunate, but this disorder can severely impact family life.

How to Talk to a Loved One About Their Hoarding

Conversations around someone’s disorder can be stressful, so it’s helpful to know in advance how to navigate that conversation best to cause the least distress. It’s essential that both members of the party feel heard and respected.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you get started:


  • Research the disorder.
  • Make an effort to make them feel heard and validate their feelings.
  • Focus on the person and not the items they hoard.
  • Talk about what you reasonably expect from them.
  • Make an effort to congratulate and acknowledge even minor improvements.
  • Volunteer to help clean/tidy alongside them.
  • Encourage them to talk to a professional.


  • Clean up their items or throw their things away without their permission.
  • Expect immediate improvements or add pressure to improve immediately.
  • Judge them for having developed the disorder in the first place.
  • Enable them by overly validating them, for instance, by purchasing additional items as a reward.
  • Show anger or frustration during the conversation.

Getting Help for Hoarding

Accessing professional assistance is crucial to making changes in behavior. However, it’s important to note that very little will ever change if the individual doesn’t also believe they should seek help and feel open to making changes.

The hoarders and their supporters need to work together as a team to overcome the issues that arise from the disorder and tackle the disorder itself. The journey to recovery will be difficult, and hoarding isn’t a disorder that a person can fix overnight. But, by working together, it is possible to overcome the challenges and develop a strong, healthy relationship.

If you’re a hoarder yourself, continuing the behavior without intervention won’t change a thing. The longer the issue goes on, the more detriment it causes to those around you. Unlivable conditions and persistent stress will lead to an unraveling of supportive relationships.

Professionals working in the mental health sector are in a position to assist and help you overcome the difficulties of this disorder.

Need Junk Removal? Get in Touch

Opening conversations that can trigger those involved can be daunting but are vital to maintaining a working relationship. Lots of people in this position opt for a fresh start during the process of getting help. Don’t do it alone.

Call Nixxit Junk Removal to get the physical help you need to start this fresh chapter. Nixxit professionals will help remove unwanted items free of judgment. Let us worry about the heavy lifting and disposal for your next hoarder cleanout project, so you don’t have to—call Nixxit today.

Need Help with a Hoarder Cleanout in the Bay Area, CA?

Nixxit Junk Removal can help with your hoarder cleanout needs in the Bay Area.

  • 10+ Years of Experience Working with Hoarders
  • Locally Owned and Operated
  • Sensitive and Discreet Approach
  • Full-Service Removal and Sorting
  • Donation and Recycling
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nixxitjunk · Apr 26