They all begin the exact same way: You search for months on end narrowing down the perfect match. The anticipation of finally coming face-to-face escalates to an all-time high the more interested you become and you hope to GOD that the images provided perfectly capture the raw beauty, perfectly-sculpted new trim and indescribable warm sentiment. Your absurd thoughts are past the point of validation because you just have that feeling. “This is it,” you tell yourself. You just know it.
But then disaster strikes. All of your built-up anticipation and excitement is suddenly stripped from you because the idea of your ‘perfect match’ couldn’t be farther from its reality. You begin to wallow in the thought of “what could’ve been” since you had already begun planning your future together. You sulk in your own pity with a depressing rendition of Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” on repeat. But then suddenly, “ONE NEW LISTING” flashes in bright green letters on your computer screen. You can’t deny the familiar feeling, but you’re ready to put everything you have on the line just one more time. And so the cycle continues…
It’s 2015, guys. If you’re a single bachelor/bachelorette, but, like so single that there isn’t even a word to describe your status of “single,” you’ve taken a stab at online/app dating, and don’t even try to deny it. So you may be thinking, “Wow, Alex sure has a way with words; She totally NAILED the struggle of online dating.” Not so fast. You’ve heard enough ranting about my online dating stories for one blog. What I just described above is a completely different ball game… actually it’s the same exact ball game. Forget about Tinder, Match.com or JDate for a sec. I am talking about apartment hunting, which is equally as deceptive and twice as shitty as online dating, so let me explain why the two share an uncanny similarity.
To put it in super-simple terms, both apartment hunting and online dating follow a very similar step-by-step format:
Step 1: Selling Your Soul
The grueling process begins by selecting a website you think will best pave the way to finding your perfect match. All the best dating sites, like Match.com or Eharmony, require a monthly fee, so once you choose to accept, you hesitantly fill out your credit card information while thinking something along the lines of, “If this shit shows up on my Facebook feed, I’m suing their asses.” And the same goes for apartment websites; All the “best” ones require a fee (screw you, WestSide Rentals).
But if you’re balling on a barely-budget, there’s always an alternative: The free sites (because nothing worth having is free). You literally don’t even need brain cells to sign up for Tinder and forget finding a contact number for a free apartment website. Regardless of what you’re looking for, the cost will either come out of your dignity, your sanity or your bank account, so pick your poison wisely. We’re off to a great start, guys…
Step 2: Keeping Your Standards Higher Than Your Heels
So you want a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, two garage spaces, a balcony and walking distance to a downtown? A collegiate athlete who’s family oriented with impeccable style, taller than 5’11 and no skeletons in closet? In your poor naive dreams. This is the part in the hunt that could potentially make or break your search results because the more picky you are when choosing your preferences, the bigger chance you have of seeing “SORRY, TRY AGAIN LATER” (but seriously, why should we be punished for having standards?!).
But assuming you’ve entered all of your preferences, and hit the “Submit” button, your heart starts racing and your potential matches come rolling in, so now it’s time to get to stalking.
Step 3: A Picture Is Apparently Worth NO Words
You’re surprised by the number of search results that came back within your specified preferences, but only a few catch your eye. The first matches you click on display perfectly-staged photos, the kind that you only dream of seeing. Your thought process most likely goes as follows:
*This has got to be too good to be true.
*Ok, what the hell are they hiding?
*Damn, would I look good in those arms some day.
*I can totally see myself walking up those adorable Spanish-styled steps after a long day.
Generally speaking, one of two things ends up happening when it comes to photos. The first photo is the model home photo. It was literally taken in the actual model home with furniture you’ve only dreamed of purchasing from Z-Gallerie until you take a quick peek at the price tag. Same goes for online dating (I told you the resemblance is frightful). The first photo was taken in their prime during the summer of ’09 when they dedicated their time to 7-day-a-week Crossfit before their Caribbean cruise vaca. But then comes photo number two. THE DECEIT. THE HORROR. Are we even talking about the same thing here? Whether you’re feasting your eyes upon appliances from the Stone Age or about a 15-pound weight gain, safe to say the amount of time it takes you to click the “NEXT” button is record-breaking.
On the contrary, I’m actually not sure which is worse: A complete deception of photos OR a complete lack of photos. What makes someone think I’m going to take a chance on a profile containing one single photo of a blue silhouette Facebook default man? And what if the location of the apartment is right next to an abandoned rotted down house with a gray shaggy dog keeping guard out front? NO THANKS.
But you keep on keepin’ on and come across a few potentials that could use a little cleaning-up (with your help) and you might just get lucky…
Step 4: “It’s a match!”
Congratulations, you’ve done it. You’ve scored yourself a mutual match. It is now time to grab your balls by the horns (or whatever that saying is) and make the first move by reaching out before your apartment OR your eye candy gets swooped up by the next desperate candidate. You set aside the crazy and have a few “normal” conversations with your potential new fling or landlord. You try and poke around for more facts without getting too True Detective on their ass.
“Where did you attend college? What was your exact GPA to the tee? Do you have any past family medical history I should know about?” Ok, too far.
“Do you generally feel safe in this neighborhood? Are the neighbors nice and welcoming? Are there children in the general vicinity?” (That one could be a deal breaker depending on the apartment vs. dating sitch)
You decide to give it the green light and take the process yet another step further (Seriously, Facebook, if anyone finds out about this, I SWEAR TO GOD)…
Step 5: Reality REALLY Sets In
You pull up to the apartment or the coffee shop with your semi-permanent “It’s SO nice to finally meet you!” face and try to examine your ‘match’ without making the ‘He didn’t tell me he shaved his head bald’ or ‘Have the color of these cabinets been darker than my soul this whole time?’ stank face. After further examination, reality sets in and the skeletons come flying out one bone at a time. Hmm, that’s funny, you didn’t mention that your family attended nudist communities when you were younger (yes, this actually happened to me) OR that the master bedroom is the size of a walk-in closet. So you Forrest Gump and run the hell outta there.
Step 6: The Deal Breaker
It is now time to make a decision whether or not you’re going to sell your soul to either a one-year lease or a new significant other. However, if you find yourself running for the hills OR running into someone’s arms, whatever the final decision may be, I’d like to think of both of these processes as a learning experience. They may cause us to start the painful plunge all over again, once again questioning what the hell we did wrong this time, but putting ourselves out there is only preparing us for something or someone great that we deserved all along.
So how do you know whether or not you should sign yourself away to a one-year lease or change your Facebook status to “official”? You don’t really. But that’s the beauty of taking a chance. The actual reality of it all is that you’re probably never going to find the Prince Charming straight from the rom-com you just cried over or a charming pad straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog, but when you come across one that sure does have a lot of potential (Ok, so he’s a few years younger than you or the hallway floor creaks when you trail over it) after putting in a shit ton of time and effort, I’m positive that there will be someone or something that encompasses our own idea of ‘perfect’.