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Online House vs Online Spouse

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Since I had my daughter, our tiny home has felt cramped. I have been longingly looking at new homes online. And for the first time in my life, I know what online dating feels like. I mean, I think I do.

My husband and I met in college, so I was never given the opportunity to date online. Sure, I listened intently as my friends shared their titillating stories of swiping left or swiping right, clicking the heart icon on a profile, or getting poked or dinged or jabbed or whatever the kids are calling it these days. I would listen excitedly, living vicariously through tales of my friends meeting matches in person, only to discover the pictures were from two decades ago or they were stood up — or they met the love of their lives. But now that I am house hunting — or house perusing — I finally get to experience the excitement, frustration, heartbreak and hopefulness of online dating. The comparisons are endless!

It starts with signing up for the website. As you fill in what you’re looking for, you tell yourself this is silly. You’re not really in the market. You like life just the way it is. I mean, sure, if something pops out at you, you’ll look into it, but you wouldn’t say you’re looking. Cut to 24 hours later. You haven’t slept. You haven’t eaten. You are confident you’ve looked at the same profiles at least a hundred times but can’t help looking just once more. Ya know, in case something has changed. You realize you’re an addict. Online hunting, be it house or spouse, is a drug, and you need your next fix. You click away from the app of doom (destiny?) just long enough to Google 12-step programs for online dating/house hunting addiction. The first things that pop up are “Top 10 Online Dating Sites” and “12 Steps to Buying Your Home,” respectively. You take it as a sign. You’re not obsessed; you’re determined. Then you swipe left again.

Suddenly, you realize that you are not so free-spirited and open as you thought you were. You’re looking for a match that screams home. A match you can fall in love with. A match that is quirky but not weird. Unconventional but doesn’t stand out. And do you really expect me to take you out in public with those turquoise shutters?

Oh, that last bit might only apply to house hunting.

Getting ready to meet your match, your palms begin to sweat. This could be it, the one you’ve been waiting for. It could also be a colossal waste of time. You start thinking about whether you can accept the match with all its flaws or you are going to spend the next few years of your life in fix-it mode. And how inappropriate is it to ask a match you just met whether he/she/it would mind having an inspection? Ya know, just to make sure there aren’t any bugs hiding out. It’s always safe to get tested before starting a new relationship.

You drive out to meet your match. Half the time, you are stood up. Someone came in and snatched your match before you had the chance to even give it a shot. But if you’re lucky — and I mean really lucky — you have the chance of experiencing that elusive love at first sight. Make it official by signing away the next 30 years of your life, promising to stay committed in good times and in bad, in floods and in drought.

All is fair in online dating and house hunting. But if there is one thing I have learned, never trust a profile that doesn’t show off a picture of the backyard. If it’s worth looking at, there will be a photo.

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