May 30, 2013 catherinetownsend

‘Hoarders’ and hiding dirty secrets

I’ve written before about how important it is to verify addresses early in the relationship. But what if your lover’s dirty little secret isn’t another person? What if it’s a huge doll collection, or mountains of garbage? While watching a ‘Hoarders’ marathon (it was a slow day!) I was reminded yet again that it’s not just about seeing where someone lives, but how they live.

In extreme cases, a search could turn up public records for the county. One Aurora, Illinois man was charged with a Class-B misdemeanor on a charge of ‘companion animal hoarding’ for keeping more than 350 live birds. Driving by the address can sometimes give clues about what’s on the inside.

But even though experts say that hoarders often share personality traits (perfectionism, difficulty making decisions, social anxiety and impulse control issues) the show also has several nice, outwardly normal hoarders with day jobs…and the most-repeated line is always ‘I had no idea’.

A good investigator knows that there is no substitute for an in-person interview – on their turf.article-2303977-1914A786000005DC-263_634x429

Okay, so you probably won’t find anything as extreme as a fridge full of hundreds of mummified cats. But you could, as one client/friend of mine did, find out that he has hundreds of bicycles all over his apartment or is messy to an extreme degree.

What’s the worst that could happen? Well, they could say no. That’s when you know that for some reason, whether it’s a live-in girlfriend or a collection of Cabbage Patch dolls, they can’t prioritize a relationship.

Some hoarding habits can lead to happy endings if there is compromise. A while back, I followed up on a story about a woman who is obsessed with Raggedy Ann dolls.

Not only does her husband support her collection, but he’s even agreed to have a doll stuffed with his ashes.



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