Sometimes love means you have a lot of cups

Goldilocks came upon the home of the three bears in the woods.  We all know the story.  She tried their porridge – Papa bear’s was too hot, Mama bear’s was too cool, but Baby bear’s was just right.  She sat in their chairs and slept in their beds to the same effect.  Papa and Mama were at two opposite ends of her comfort zone but Baby bear’s belongings were just right for her to use.

This post isn’t about a blonde chick rifling through your house, however; it’s about compromise.

Take, for example, cups. As a single minimalist, I had four mugs and four juice glasses and that was plenty.  I drank hot things out of the mugs and cold things out of the glasses and life was good. When company was over, I had enough glasses. I wasn’t a one-cup minimalist, though I did usually wash a cup throughout the day to re-use it.

But…I am no longer a single minimalist.

I live with another human now. And a bunch of cups. There’s literally a whole cabinet just full of cups and mugs and drinking vessels of all sorts (the goblets and chalices are kept separately, of course, we’re not savages). As the household minimalist, I feel strongly that there are too many cups. But as someone who wants to be a fair and just companion, I can’t justify packing away each cup I feel to be extraneous. How would I feel if someone filled my cabinet to the brim with cups because they felt I didn’t have enough? (I’d feel like I was being slowly suffocated by jeering, taunting cups, but that may just be a little sprinkle of crazy). I can’t execute a maximum cup decree without input from other affected cup-using parties.

I am confident that a compromise can be reached between my drinking glass minimalism and the cabinet of cup comfort that sustains my co-human.

How many cups is enough? How many is too many?

There are a lot of types of cups, and surely many of them will require a place of honor in the cabinet.

  • Mugs for tea, coffee, hot cocoa, etc.
  • Travel mugs, for hot beverages on the go
  • Drinking glasses
  • Plastic tumblers
  • Tumblers with lids and straws

I think what affects me most negatively about the cup surplus (slurp-lus?) is that the cups do not have a designated home in the cabinet. It ends up an unruly mess of cups no matter what, because there always seems to be one too many to make an orderly pattern on the shelves. Even if the quantity is more than I think is strictly necessary, everything must have its own place for me to feel at peace with “stuff.”

Minimalism isn’t having the least amount possible, it is having just the right amount, like Goldilocks found in the bears’ home.  “Just right” can change, as it has changed for me going from living alone to living with another person.  My just right was eight total cups. Our just right is something new. It might be eight cups. It might be sixteen, or twenty.  But it will be just right, and it will be our just right.

Sometimes love means you have a lot of cups.


10 thoughts on “Sometimes love means you have a lot of cups

  1. I have yet to master the balance of just enough, so don’t be too hard on yourself! 🙂 Maybe you could suggest packing some away temporarily and seeing what is actually missed..? Or seeing what all you guys use in between washes and basing the final figure around that (accounting, of course.. well, maybe, for extras for guests)?

    I think that sometimes it is hard for anyone to find that balance nowadays when we are constantly being bombarded by images of other people’s perfect homes in ads of every sort as well as a constant abundance of goods available at all times. Many scoff at not having enough to host a party of 20 (I know I’m exaggerating a bit 😀 ) at a moments notice, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should. It’s a hard mindset to break for most people. I know you don’t need convincing, but maybe my spiel will help your cause! 😉

    This may be rather extreme, but sometimes I take some time to see how the majority of the rest of the world lives (outside of the consumer hungry USA) to humble myself about how much excess we tend to live with in this country.

    Anywho, good luck! 😀

    1. Thanks!! This surplus of cups actually is what I pared down to on my first round through the kitchen to clean up what I didn’t think we’d use. I have a bunch of boxes in the basement that will be sold/donated after six months if we haven’t used them 🙂

  2. A few years back I tried living with another person. I learned the hard way that compromise is hard. It wasn’t just the number of things that had to find a place it was also about the other stuff. Papers left spread out on the table, shoes being left wherever instead of at the door, etc. If the number of cups is all you are having to compromise on you are doing well. Maybe you could have a separate cupboard for the ones that aren’t used regularly but your roomie doesn’t want to part with. At least that way you could ignore that particular cupboard and still feel like a minimalist with the cabinets you see daily.

    1. Papers and shoes are also being addressed. We both have some messy/un-minimalist habits! We are both very good about shoes going into the front closet or by the door (if snowy) but it’s a slow process to re-learn old habits, on both our parts. 🙂

    2. We’re doing the extra cupboard to force ourselves to wash the dishes at least every second day 😀 All in all we own enough mugs, glasses and cutlery to entertain about 10 persons (no clue about the plates), which is also the highest number of people we had in at the same time during the one year we’ve been living together so I guess it’s just right. For everyday use we went down to seven plates (different kinds, otherwise it would be just four), five bowls, two sets of cutlery (plus some extra spoons), six mugs and four glasses recenty. It turns out to be more than enough for two persons and spontaneous visitors. Before we used just a little more of everything and it was a crazy mess!

  3. So glad to see this post, I live with a non-minimalist too, and I have similar issues. My strategy (though I’ve failed plenty of times) is to at least keep my pie hole shut about HIS posessions as long as I still have things of my own to declutter. And I still do. It’s amazing how when I pare down my shoe collection for example, the winter boots he never puts away during summer don’t bother me anymore, because the total number of shoes is still quite low. Now I would definitely like to pare down some of our shared posessions, but I believe the best strategy for me is baby steps, bribes and asking nicely. Some things he just won’t get rid of, and if I want to live with him, I can’t always have it my way. He has about 1000 books, and I sure would like to get rid of a lot of them. But his main hobby is books, he loves going to flee markets searching for them, he loves writing notes in them and he loves looking at and rearranging his bookshelves. He doesn’t really buy much of other things, so I’m making my peace with it. And he doesn’t give me any grief about my stuff.

    He can’t always have it his way either though. I just can’t be happy living in a messy pig sty and I can’t be happy cleaning up his messes either. Not that he expects me to, but his tolerance for mess is much higher. Just last night I had quite a fit about the mountain of his clothes on the bedroom floor. Today we found a solution to that problem – once I do a bit more decluttering, I will be able to fit my laundry in an ikea bag on the bottom of my closet and I can get rid of my laundry basket. We can then put a chair in the bedroom which he can put his clothes on, and when the chair fills up he’ll deal with the clothes.

    Slowly we’re finding compromises that work for both of us, but it is a process. Some things would have been reasonable of me to let go of right away while other things I could have spoken up about much sooner. I can’t really expect him to accomodate my wishes if he doesn’t know about them.

    This was long I know, but I fell this topic is important! I really appreciate it when bloggers get into the nitty-gritty. 🙂 I like your blog so much Caitlin, glad to see you’re writing posts again. 🙂

    1. That is a good strategy. I will try to keep that in mind! I am trying to be mindful that it’s crucial for one’s sanity to pick battles. Slowly but surely we are finding our way 🙂 thank you for your comments!

  4. Yes I deal with cups,,I have two but at christmas my wife got new dishes,,out with the old but put 12 cups in a open space..she does’nt drink coffee,,maybe a hot coco from time to time.It drives me nuts that she did that.All they do is get dusty. Never uses them but I’m trying to let go of it. She is not minimalist at anything but not everyone can live like us. To me less is better. The older I get the less I want of stuff.. Keep up the writing, I’ll keep up the reading..Thanks
    Scottie D.

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