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a control freak

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If you live with a bit of a control freak – someone obsessed with tidiness and needing everything to be done a certain way – you at least probably had a break from the person before the stay-at-home order. You had your disagreements about how the household should look and be run, but you didn’t have to have them that often because you barely saw each other. At least one or likely both of you left for work every day.

Now, you’re both there, all of the time, meaning whatever messy habits you have, you’re bringing them to the home front 24/7. And whatever OCD tendencies your quarantine partner has, they’re coming out in full force. Remember that people who like to control things often tighten their grip during times of stress. Micromanaging everything is how they deal with the anxiety and stress they face in normal times, and now the whole world is stressed! So they’re in hyperdrive mode.


I don’t envy those quarantined with a control freak. My partner has some of those tendencies, but since he’s my romantic partner, I get more sway in telling him things like, “You’re being crazy and I’m not doing what you just told me to do,” and it doesn’t have to be a whole thing. A quick hug and kiss smooths it over. But if your live-in control freak is just a buddy or Craigslist roommate or family member, the issue may be more delicate, and you may be tiptoeing around their behaviors.


Here’s what it’s like being quarantined with a control freak.


Too many family meetings

Every week or even every day, there has to be a family meeting where everybody in the house gets around to discuss things that really do not require that much discussion. Like how much lettuce should be bought at this shopping trip versus the last one—there wasn’t enough lettuce bought during the last one. And which rooms are best to take FaceTime calls in. Of course, the control freak runs the meeting and has a full agenda of items to discuss.


They tell you what’s for dinner

They’re the head of the house and they don’t ask what everyone would like to eat so much as tell you what you will be eating. “Okay everyone so tonight we’ll defrost the chicken to make chicken parmesan, you can be in charge of the salad, and you’ll handle the sides. Good? Great see you in two hours.”


And micromanage the food

They micromanage the groceries, and have a full plan for each item of food brought home. You get in trouble for making a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella cheese you find in the fridge because, “That cheese is for the pizza we are making on Friday! It’s all on the menu I created!”


Post-outing interrogations

If someone leaves the house, when they return, they’re subjected to a full-on interrogation. Where did they go? Did they touch anything? Did they wear gloves? When exactly did they put the gloves on and when did they take them off? Did they wipe down the cart? Did they wash their hands the second they got indoors?


Rationing of toilet paper

They’re keeping a close eye on who is using how much toilet paper. You’ve been scrutinized for the rate at which you’re going through your rolls. You’ve even been threatened and told, “You get one roll per four days and if you can’t make that work then you’ll just have to find another way to wipe.”


Rationing of hand sanitizer

You have to use the hand sanitizer in secrecy. If you do it in front of your housemate, they’ll catch you and say, “Hey! That’s enough! Two drops per person maximum!” They always know exactly how many bottles are in the house and where they are, and they want them to stay exactly where they are.


An enforced schedule

They try to keep everyone in the house to a schedule. Everyone must have lunch at a given time. Walks happen at this time. Family movie night starts at exactly this time each night. On the weekends, the activities are planned in advance and you must stick to a schedule because it’s a tight one.


The home must be flawless

The home must be more flawless than ever. It must be super tidy. You get a talking to for leaving dishes out when you’re in the middle of eating the meal that you made using those dishes. Control freaks will want a very tidy house to feel like they have some command during these crazy times.


Constant commentary on the news

Naturally, this individual feels that not only can they run the household, but they could also run the country if someone would just give them the chance. So when you watch the news, you hear this housemate talk more than you hear the news anchors or the COVID-19 response team talk. Your housemate just has so much to say.


They must know the plan

If they see someone having a snack, they say, “Well, will you be hungry at 6pm? Because you know that’s when we eat. Or do we need to push dinner to 7pm because of your snack? If so, let us know, because then we should all have a snack to tie us over.”


Tight purse strings

If you share finances with this individual, you know they’re keeping some tight purse strings. They scrutinize the grocery store receipt when you get home, asking, “You couldn’t get a better deal on this? Was there no generic option? Did you check for coupons? Are you sure the coupons went through?”


Control over what you tell others

They try to control what you share with outsiders. They hear you on FaceTime, telling friends you made steak for dinner, and pull you aside to say, “Don’t tell people what we’re eating. You’re rubbing it in their faces we can afford steak. They might resent us. What else did you tell them? Maybe I should sit in on these calls.”


Lots of sh*t talking the neighbors

They like to control what outsiders do, too. They talk a lot of sh*t about how the neighbors aren’t wearing gloves to take out the trash, aren’t wearing masks to take their dog in their front yard, and go to the grocery store almost every week—that’s too much. And they say things to the neighbors about it, making you the least-liked house on the block.


The house feels like their domain

You walk around on eggshells, in your own home. If you dare make a cup of tea in the kitchen while they’re working on their laptop in there, you can just feel them, huffing and puffing, annoyed that you are interrupting them—intruding on their space.


Even fun is highly scheduled

Even the fun stuff is scheduled and controlled. “Okay, tonight, we are playing board games. It’ll be good for us. What do you mean you don’t want to? You have a FaceTime call? Well cancel it. We are all playing board games it will be fun!”

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