You should consider dating like house shopping.
While coaching a client (and amazing friend), I used this analogy and we both loved it. We decided to take it to the next level so I could write an article on this topic.
So hear me out.
Before you start your house hunt, the first thing you do is make a list of what you are looking for, which usually includes “nice-to-haves” and “nonnegotiables,” right?
For instance, if you are a gourmet cook, having a big open kitchen with updated appliances and lots of counter space is probably on your “must-have” list. If you have kids, the school system is a nonnegotiable, and if you have pets, a nice piece of property is a must-have.
Nice-to-haves usually include things you would love to have but could live without if the neighborhood was perfect or it had the kitchen of your dreams.
Now, the fun begins. It’s time to take your list and start looking—that’s when you realize that you never really get everything that is on your list, and this is where compromise comes in. You might even widen your search radius and look at different types of houses once you realize how restrictive your list has been. So, you start to consider a town that wasn’t originally on your list, or maybe you now will consider looking at a ranch despite your strong desire for a colonial.
Again, this is where you learn to compromise. You say to yourself, “Well, if I am going to get the kitchen of my dreams that overlooks a big yard, I have to let go of the idea of a house in the center of town in walking distance to the shops and restaurants.” Why? Because there aren’t any for sale and, also, the yards just aren’t big enough for the dogs. Get it?
So how is this relevant to dating?
When we enter the dating pool, we are hopeful, and like with house hunting, we have our list of must-haves and nonnegotiables. They look something like: he must be active, but it’s a deal-breaker if he smokes; ohhh, he must love dogs, and if he drinks too much, it won’t work for me because he has to be healthy and love his mom. (I mean, we have our lists, right?)
We define our perfect man to a tee and are incredibly hopeful that we will meet him. We assume he is just going to drop out of the clouds and land on our laps simply because we have defined him.
Oh, how I wish!
I am sure you can relate. When you meet someone who checks all the boxes and think, Omg, he is perfect, you eventually start to learn the not-so-perfect things about him. The question is, can you live with them?
So, just like with house shopping, this is where the compromise kicks in. You start to look at your list and realize you have to have to start shifting things around a bit.
Okay, so maybe he doesn’t have to be that active, or maybe tall is a little restrictive, and, yes, I will open the radius to 25 miles versus 5, and I guess a beard is okay. And just like that, you start to open yourself up a bit to things that aren’t on your list. Well, I guess if he is active and loves to read, I can date him if he is 5’7″. That kind of thing.
Sometimes the house we finally decide on needs a little work or “TLC”—a little paint in the kitchen, new flooring in the bathroom, updated lighting, you know, cosmetic stuff that also makes it yours.
Well, the same goes with dating. You may have to compromise a bit because you find the connection is with someone who doesn’t have everything on your list, but maybe over time, he will adopt your love for dogs (or at least your dog) or will start volunteering with you just to spend time with you. Our influence over others sometimes helps them to be more open to learning new things without having to change who they are.
Lastly, we have the whole “don’t get emotionally attached” advice you get from your realtor when you find a house you love. They tell you this for a reason. First is the obvious: you might not get the house; second, it might not be as awesome as you think it is from first glance; and third, if you aren’t careful, you may miss an opportunity to negotiate and could overpay if you are basing this on an emotional decision.
You first have to learn, despite the surface fit: Will this be a good long-term fit? Will our family be happy here? Can we see ourselves here for at least five years?
Same goes with a relationship. He may seem to check every single box, the two of you are two peas in a pod, always laughing, and the sex is great, but if he wants casual and you are looking for marriage, then all the box-checking in the world isn’t going to drive this to be a long-term fit.
The key is to find what will be a good long-term fit based on what you are looking for, and you won’t know that until you look at a few houses and view them a few times before you make that final decision. Just like dating—you have to kiss a few frogs or try a few men on to see what fits.
So my dear ladies, whether your house hunting or dating, the concept is the same: have your detailed list, but know there will be some compromise, and do not get immediately attached to the outcome.