Relationships and Real Estate: A 7-part Comparison

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One of my favorite things is comparing two seemingly different things – an object, for example, with a human experience such as love, a relationship, marriage and divorce. When I think about these comparisons, I often gain insights into the human condition – or at least have a good laugh. With this in mind, let’s consider whether buying a house is a good comparison for a relationship (unmarried or married). And while we’re taxing our brains in this way, let’s have some eggplant frittata.

Comparison Points 

(1) Love at First Sight

Have you ever been house shopping and experienced a love at first sight phenomenon? You walk in the front door and are immediately captivated with the space in front of you. It doesn’t matter if what you see first is an entryway or the rear deck; you just know this is THE ONE.

Similarly, seeing that new guy the first time (frontal or rear view) can invoke warm feelings of attraction (and lust) and the thought that this may be THE ONE.

Will love at first sight of house or hunk hold up? See points 2, 3, and 4.

(2) Getting to Know the Person or Home of Interest

So you think this may be the one (house or person). Don’t go too far, however, without seeing him or it in different situations and at different times of day.

You need to know if there are motorcycle gangs or drug runners going up and down the street OR if the person of interest (POI) turns into Mr. Jekyll at night (over-imbibing at the bar) or sleeps until the afternoon (a sign of circadian incompatibility).

(3) The Offer

After determining that the person or house of interest is a reasonable fit for a future residence or relationship, one can suggest an offer of purchase (house) or exclusivity (relationship).

(4) Negotiation

The seller or POI does not always meet the offer with unbridled enthusiasm. There may be a period of negotiation. The seller may ask for more money. The POI may ask for more time to decide about the offer or for certain concessions in the relationship such as a delay in starting a family, a vacation to the Super Bowl instead of the French Riviera, or a cancellation of the series of couples dancing lessons you recently purchased.

(5) The Inspection

No house should be purchased without a professional inspection. Similarly, friends and family members of the couple must inspect the relationship. In the case of a house, repairs are often suggested and bargaining may ensue. A basement may need to be waterproofed or a roof repaired.

Regarding the relationship, a family member may suggest that the POI should get a better job. A friend may suggest the POI’s clothes need to be laundered, given to the Salvation Army, or burned along with his decades old sneakers. The possibilities are endless.

(6) Closing

If you have survived all of the various stages – love at first sight, the offer, negotiation and inspection, you may proceed to closing. This means either signing away your life for a monthly mortgage payment OR securing a piece of paper that says you are married, or simply moving in with your guy.

(7) Extended Warranty 

During closing, you may purchase an extended warranty for your home to help defray the costs of future repairs. The arguable equivalent for a relationship or marriage is the couple’s efforts to make their union work. This “extended warranty” is often referred to as “working on your relationship or marriage” to help ensure its longevity.

(8) Refinancing

After a period of time, interest rates may drop and you may decide to refinance your mortgage. Refinancing is seen as evidence of a commitment to live in your home for the foreseeable future (or at least a few more years).

For the relationship, a couple may recommit to their relationship during a special vacation and/or time alone. A married couple may renew their vows. “Relationship refinancing” can also occur after a falling out and trial separation.

Insights

So are there lessons learned from this exercise in comparisons? Can we now understand relationships better? Or have we just pontificated in an effort to create a metaphor for love?

There are clearly equivalent steps to purchasing a home and finding, developing, and committing to a person of interest. And it’s fun to think that you can refinance a relationship.

The bottom line is that a good relationship IS a home for your heart. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be making those mortgage payments forever.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Dating Rules, Kismet, and Timing

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A recent article in a Washington Post blog on the single life explored the issue of whether men with bad online profiles could in fact turn out to be great guys. The writer, Jessica Guzik, was frustrated by the fact that her dates with men who had appealing profiles were not working out. So she decided to try an experiment. She dated men with unappealing or quirky profiles that would normally prompt her to ignore them.

To her surprise, she met some great men – whose bad profiles did not match the real person. One man in an attempt to be different filled his profile with obscure references; another was more interested in meeting women in the wild and filled out a lackluster profile just to put himself out there. Her conclusion: don’t put so much credence in the profiles; instead “put more faith in the men behind them.”

Of course this is easier said than done but Ms. Guzik’s article triggered some thoughts of my own about profiles, timing, and dating rules. Will you join me in some of Mark Bittman’s watermelon gazpacho while I explain?

It seems that for every rule you make, the opposite of the rule can also be true. After some disaster first dates that had been preceded by texts and emails but not a phone call, I made a rule that I had to speak on the phone with a man before meeting him. This rule was golden for a while and it helped me avoid creepy guys who were full of themselves and those who had terribly grating voices.

If I had already agreed to a date but subsequently had a “bad” phone call with a guy, I’d cancel the date after the call. I let the man know I didn’t feel a connection during our conversation. This angered some guys – especially if I texted or emailed them with this news. But I believe it is better to nip an obviously going nowhere relationship in the bud rather than to suffer a fool or miss-match in an awkward meeting at a café or bar.

So I had the “always talk on the phone before a date” rule. But then, I encountered some men who were able to carry on such a fun and witty conversation by email or text, that I forgot the rule and agreed to meet. And more often than not, the date was wonderful. So it seems that meeting someone great is often a result of chance, or fate or kismet.

This doesn’t mean that the first date, even if it’s fantastic, will lead to a relationship. A couple of weeks ago I met Mr. D for coffee. This first date was preceded by only a few emails and texts (funny, witty, and creative ones though). We had incredible chemistry, honesty and intimacy almost from the start. It was as if we had our own version of The 36 Questions. But it turns out Mr. D was separated. It was in his profile but somehow in my pre-date excitement I had missed it.

I discovered this key piece of information right before leaving to meet him. I decided to go anyway since separated can mean separated for 8 years with a scheduled court date or separated 2 weeks ago and still moving out of the marital home (I have dated both of these guys).

It became clear at the end of the date that our timing was off (a perpetual problem in the dating life). This was Mr. D’s 3rd marriage (previously widowed and divorced) and he was struggling with the fact that he didn’t want to leave his 3rd wife’s grown children whom he had grown to dearly love. I know it all sounds messy but he was truly a fine guy.

When I told Mr. D I hadn’t realized he was separated and that I was looking for a relationship, he “fired himself.” But not until he kissed me and let’s just say this was a kiss worthy of a big-screen movie – possibly IMAX or even bigger. I can’t seem to stop thinking about him even though we were together for a grand total of 3 hours. Perhaps Mr. D will end up divorced and we’ll serendipitously meet again when the timing is right.

I have also encountered men with a great profile, who gave great phone (insert smile here), but we had zero or minus zero chemistry in person. As an added insult, these men did not resemble the old pictures they had posted.

Another issue is whether a good and long first phone conversation or date predicts anything. I’ve had very long (2 to 3 hours) late night phone conversations before meeting someone and long (up to 5 hours) first dates and then for one reason or another the fledgling relationship combusts. In one case, the guy was an alcoholic and we ended up in a phone fight after the first date. In the other case, following a 5-hour date, Mr. Q decided he wanted to date another woman at the same time he dated me. Apparently he scheduled me as the fall back and I didn’t hear from him for a week. Then, when his other “relationship” didn’t work out, he texted me to see if I wanted to talk. I was disenchanted at that point and had already moved on.

So many dating and relationship situations call for you to decide whether you’re going to trust your heart or your gut. A thought-provoking article in the Chicago Tribune describes the ongoing battles these two organs can have over your love interests. As the article points out, sometimes you just don’t want to listen to your gut tell you a man is not right for you…and the heart wins. See Mr. D above. Other times, it’s easy – and neither organ wants a particular piece of work otherwise known as an incompatible match.

I’m still looking for a rule-breaking, take my breath away encounter that is a win-win from both the heart and gut and appeases the timing gods. Until then, happy dating or not dating to all of us.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Relationship Recipe: Slow Cooker vs. Stir Fry

I’m an experiential learner. This is not something I always knew. I came to this “epiphany” as I realized that I could take in tons of advice but couldn’t really learn from and act on it until I had experienced a particular life lesson on my own. So, lessons about relationships and love had to be – and still are – painfully (sometimes) learned.

The topic today is going slow in a new or potentially new relationship – from the perspective of an experiential learner. Slow refers to sex, personal disclosure, and involvement. Let’s have some spring vegetable stew while we’re chatting.

After a long marriage and divorce process (see About) and a good period of healing and recovery, I yearned to be in a relationship again. I also knew that I wasn’t ready to meet my soul mate because I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.

When you go into a marriage with relatively little dating experience, post-marriage dating is truly a whole new universe. Even if you married late and dated a lot before marriage, dating norms have changed. So we’re all starting over but the woman who was almost a child bride (not quite but now you can have maximum sympathy for me), has more to learn about what she wants and doesn’t want.

If I look back on my first relationship (not first date) after divorcing, I know that I was somewhat blinded by pheromones. Mr.A, a relatively recent widower, was also a newbie and excited to connect with someone. We leapt into sex rather soon after meeting, comforted by the fact that we were both post-long term relationship virgins. Ultimately we weren’t suited for each other. In hindsight, we didn’t have enough in common and were not even sexually compatible. And it was very clear that it was too soon after his wife’s death for him to be in a relationship.

But I started to learn a little about what I was looking for and truly enjoyed that excitement that came from flirting with a new man.
So, this wasn’t a slow cooker encounter… but I don’t regret it.

As I continued to date, I found that I wasn’t always discerning enough and leapt into some relationships (stir fry mode) without really evaluating whether they had the potential to go the distance. It was part of my Auntie Mame “just live” philosophy of life. I wanted to make up for lost time. After all, I had already begun the 6th decade of life. If not now, when??

So you see my reasoning. I wanted to experience men, love, sex – everything (within reason). There was no risk of pregnancy and, being careful, no risk of STDs. Unlike some younger (and older) women, I wasn’t after and didn’t have any first date sexual encounters — but neither did things progress at a slow cooker pace.

Recently, I dated a new man, Mr. Z (see The 36 Questions), and realized that we should not in fact have sex or continue our relationship (even though we had already gone on a number of long dates). Our lifestyles were just too different and I could not imagine a life with him. Fortunately, the feeling must have been mutual because things just seemed to slow down and stop.

I saw the value of a slow-cooker relationship with Mr. Z. It would have been emotionally entangling to go full speed ahead with him only to break up relatively quickly. Break-ups take a toll and it’s not always easy to “roll with it” when you are disappointed once again.

By going slow, you allow more opportunity to disclose vulnerabilities and to probe more deeply into what makes the other person tick – developing emotional intimacy as a precursor to physical intimacy. It may not be as easy to nurture that sharing once you have sex. For one thing, there’s more to lose.

So, you see I am learning. Going forward, I plan to make a list of essential attributes in my ideal man and relationship. I can use this list to help me decide whether I want to start or continue dating someone. I could not have created this list 3 years ago.

I hope that Amy Webb, author of
Data, a Love Story: How I Cracked the Online Dating Code to Meet My Match would approve of my lists. She took evaluation and planning in dating to a new level and had great results.

I found some more food for thought in a recent Match.com article that interviewed men for their perspective on sex and relationships: Guy’s Eye View: Slept Together Too Soon?

Age differences and the marital history of the men interviewed played into their viewpoints. Three men were quoted in the article by author Steve Friedman, including Alec, a 50-year-old never-married man. When asked about sleeping with a woman on the first or second date, his comment supported the slow cooker philosophy:

“In my mind, it doesn’t make a difference—as long as the woman understands that just because she slept with me, it doesn’t mean the rest of the relationship is also moving quickly. But I will say, it does sort of put pressure on the situation when you sleep together so quickly. It makes the getting-to-know-you part tougher.”

The same article quotes a 40-year-old divorced man who believes the timing of the first occurrence of sex with a woman does not indicate anything in particular for the relationship’s future. A 35-year-old never married man thinks men and women are wired differently. It’s o.k. for a man to sleep with others more quickly, he says, but for a woman it “would not bode well for the future.” I see a double standard in play for some men that regardless of how you view it, may be hard for women to escape from.

I’d love to know what you, dear readers, think of all this. Send me your comments and thoughts about slow cooking a relationship versus quickly stir frying it. In the meantime, happy dating.

XXXOOO
Nadia

Resources:
Data, a Love Story: How I Cracked the Online Dating Code to Meet My Match, Amy Webb, Plume
Data: A Love Story – The algorithms, statistics, charts, and lists I used to game online dating and find my match, Amy Webb, Slate
Guy’s Eye View: Slept Together Too Soon? Steve Friedman, Match.com