Like many people my age, I'm looking to settle down. I need comfort and security and something that feels just, well, right. I've toyed with short-term prospects and everyone's had their fun, but now I'm looking for something serious and long-term. Something I can stick with for the future, and make my life plans around.
Sounds like I'm looking for love doesn't it? Well bollocks to that as I'm actually looking for a flat in London and I've come to the realisation that the hunt for both has some very strange similarities.
Being currently not in-pocket enough to afford to buy (hah!) or even rent a place to myself, I'm trawling the accommodation-dating-sites of Spareroom and Gumtree for some glimmering prospect of a room that I can see myself living in for potentially the next 12 months. I'm not fussy - it's got to be a double with some sort of storage available for all my tat and it's got to have a living room. In theory, sounds simple. But again, like love, we pretend we have no real requirements and dive head-first into seemingly rubbish prospects because they tick boxes and well, what if there's potential?? (Ever the optimist). Having spent time on the first date, realising on walking in the door that this was never going to happen, you leave at the end feeling like it was all a waste of time and you should have listened to your gut in the first place. Then you do it all again the next day.
The other oddity that makes flat-sharing in particular like dating, is that the current residents need to like you. They need to meet you, laugh at your jokes, and envisage a future of movie nights and sharing chores and decide whether they're ready to bring you into their life. Beyond meeting for a first date, this shit is serious. Imagine meeting someone for the first time and having to decide there on the spot if you want to live with them. Weird, right? So I get the situation but as the girl on the other side of it, I can't help feeling interviewed like some awkward speed-dating prospect when I flat-view. You chat about your interests and try to impress them with your healthy balance of clubbing and quiet nights in, then ask banal questions about what they do for work and leave feeling unsure as to what just happened and whether they're feeling the same.
When you like the house and the flatmates seem cool, you're resisting the urge to text and ask how it went for them.
"Hey, thanks for showing me round the flat - i'd be really interested to rent the room."
"Hey, thanks for last night - I had a really good time"
and you find yourself wondering if the three day rule applies.
Worst is when you don't like the house.
I looked round a house the other day which was a little bit too far away, a little bit grotty and the flat-mates were nice but veering on the edge of odd. A failed first date in my books, but we'd had fun and chatted and we'd left on good terms, with us both agreeing that they had other people viewing the flat and I had other flats to view. We'd "keep in touch" and we all know what that means.
Then three days later I got a text:
"Hey, hope you're good! We thought the other day went really well and you'd really fit in :) We'd love to have you move in, if you like the flat?"
Eek. I panicked and replied:
"Ah thanks! Sorry but i've actually found a place that is really close to work. Good luck with the search!"
and now I've caught myself being seriously concerned that they'll see my advert still on Spareroom and know I'm a bloody liar. Like being caught on a date when you've said to someone you're not really looking for a relationship - argh!
All in all it's a delicate world where you can hit the jackpot or the shit pile and there's a very very fine line between the two. And not much time to identify which is which.
I've got a girl coming to view my flat this evening, and I'm feeling good about the prospect. I don't have to live with her so there's no pressure, but I've cleaned up my room and fixed random broken things in the flat to make it seem nice. We've had to reschedule this viewing a few times, so we've exchanged a few texts and she seems really cool. I'm nervous and excited and really want her to like the flat. This could be the start of something... for her. In this flat.