The year was 2008. I was seeing a guy who lived in The Polo Club — an innocuous building just below Yorkville off of Bay Street.
"Seeing" may be too generous a term for that precocious time in my twenties. One night, I met another guy at a bar. I went home with him, but didn’t realize how familiar the spot was — until the following morning when he walked me out to hail a cab.
I was at The Polo Club. Yes, that Polo Club.
For a month, I tiptoed around this building, seeing them both, using fake visitor sign-in names at the front desk. I always made sure to avoid eye contact with the same night-shift concierge, who was definitely onto me.
Come morning or end of eve, I'd use the stairwell to secretly leave that godforsaken building. It may boast 28 floors, but it felt smaller than ever.
Dating guys who were neighbours is thankfully the closest I’ve ever come to dating a neighbour.
So I’ve learned dating a neighbour can be quite tricky. There is so much to consider when deciding whether or not to date a neighbour — or someone who lives in your building.
And so, here’s a list of pros and cons to help determine if you should or shouldn't date your neighbour:
1. Are You Open To A "Secret Agent" Lifestyle, If Things Don’t Go According To Plan?
Are you physically and emotionally capable of conquering the lengths you’ll have to go to, in order to avoid running into your neighbour, if you get rejected — or worse, if you date and it doesn’t work out?
Are you prepared to constantly take the stairs? Peer through your peephole to see if it's safe to leave?
Would that make you contemplate moving? Actually moving?
2. Convenience Over Everything
There’s a pleasant ease that comes with not having to worry about transportation, traffic, gas, time, and the like. Imagine a hook-up or cuddle on demand.
How easy, you think. And that’s true.
Dating a neighbour can be mutually beneficial in more ways than the obvious.
Say you’re having some friends over and run out of wine. Or you’re halfway through baking something and realize you’re out of sugar. Your bulb is out. You can’t open that pickle jar.
Or you want to save energy and help the environment, so you and your neighbour can shower together – two birds, one stone!
All this and more is doable and made easy with dating someone who lives right next to you. It’s brilliant.
Until it’s not.
There can be ease, and on the flipside, the drama can also flow easily with a breakup. Then you have to navigate custody of who gets the dog park, the elevator, etcetera...
Like in that memorable "Sex and the City" episode where Miranda leaves her boyfriend — and neighbour — Robert for her baby-daddy Steve. The three of them have to endure a painful-to-watch, seemingly long-as-ever elevator ride together. Eventually, Miranda gives Robert custody of the elevator when Steve moves in with her.
3. You Might Be Mistaking Proximity For Real Feelings
I learned about this in social psychology: "The Proximity Principle."
Proximity is a very real and unexpected reason we fall for friends, strangers or neighbours.
This can happen when you repeatedly see people in places where you feel at home. Because they ARE home, or are at least a version of it.
Whether at your local watering hole, your yoga studio, your condo ... it's easy to build a sense of familiarity and comfort with the people you see in this familiar places.
And the more you come in contact with someone, the more you have the chance to cultivate a relationship.
4. Your Daily Eye-Contact And Run-Ins Are Fuelled By Chemistry
If you’re into your neighbour because you feel that rush of electricity when you run into them in the hallways, in the elevator, at the garbage dumpster (especially at the dumpster!), then that’s great.
I’ve always said a flirt a day keeps the ego at bay.
But sometimes it’s nice just to have that connection with someone. It doesn’t always translate to a relationship.
Be sure to look for wedding rings, or even ask your concierge for the inside scoop, before you make a move and destroy that delay pick-me-up by asking out the neighbour.
If your neighbour is single and you’re feeling confident, go for it. Ask him or her out! But only do this if you can accept that you'll still have to see this person if you're rejected or the date fails.
5. If You Get Rejected, Brush It Off And Carry On As Previously Scheduled
Just because someone doesn’t want to date you, doesn’t mean it has anything to do with you.
I mean, it might, but it also might not. They may have just gotten out of a relationship. They may still be hooking up with their ex and are in limbo with where they stand. They may be moving soon and don’t want to get their feet wet or attached.
Why someone doesn’t want to see you shouldn't matter. What matters is how you handle it. And you should handle it gracefully.
There’s no need to change your behaviour. That just makes everyone more awkward. Set the tone immediately after. Perhaps hold the elevator door open. Saying hi, in a friendly non-threatening way at the gym, or when your paths cross.
The sooner you act normal, the sooner you will both feel comfortable.
6. Or Just Go For It And Screw All The Noise About Pros, Cons, What Ifs And Whathaveyous
You don’t get if you don’t ask. And if you do ask and get, you can get more than you bargained for.
I have an old friend, Russ, who came to me years ago for relationship advice. He had a crush on his hot neighbour and didn’t know whether she was off limits because they lived on the same floor.
I said something along the lines of the old adage, “Don’t **** where you eat.”
Russ ignored me. He went for it anyway. And now they’re happily married with a beautiful daughter.
Do with that what you will.