Finding love in unexpected places is a common theme in romantic tales, and for some, the journey to love leads them right next door. Dating your neighbour can be an exciting prospect, blending the comfort of familiarity with the thrill of the unknown. However, like any romantic venture, there are both pros and cons to consider when contemplating a relationship with someone who lives just a stone’s throw away.
Pros of dating your neighbour
If you date someone in your apartment complex, you’ll have the benefit of walking down the hall to see your boyfriend or girlfriend. Just think of all the gas money you’ll save! Only 34 percent said they’d date someone who lives an hour away, and the number only decreases as the commute lengthens. And since you live so close (maybe just a few floors or feet away), you can have your quality time and still have your alone time.
- Common interests
Since you and that neighbour live in the same area, you may have common interests. You both chose this neighborhood for a reason. What did they like about the area? What are their favourite bars and restaurants within walking distance of your place? Maybe the answer could be as simple as it’s close to work or they stayed behind in their college town to continue to grow their life there. Whatever the answer, you’re both there and you’re both there now. You may even find you have friends in common, which is not only more common than you’d think, but it also makes hanging out in groups easier
- Opportunity to grow
You know your neighbour/paramour isn’t going anywhere any time soon. After all, they signed the same lease you did. That gives you the most precious commodity of any new relationship — time. Use this time to get to know them as a person before you start getting serious. Learn what they like and how they spend their downtime.
Have they been to that new nature trail down the block or tried that pop-up gelato shop? Invite them out for drinks or bring them leftovers of your signature dish. After all, you were in the neighborhood. So, why not stop by? As you spend more time together, you could find you’re a great match, or not. More on that in a minute.
This is as much a pro as it is a con. When you date your neighbour, you know where they are and who they’re with, for better or worse. That means that it can be easier to tell if this is a person you should be in a relationship with. This level of availability lends itself to pop-in visits, leaving items over at each other’s places, and eventually, giving one another a key to the other’s apartment.
Those kinds of surprise visits where the other person has access to your place can be a lot for a relationship in the early stages. So, be sure to exercise the same restraint and respect you would if they lived across the hall or across the city. Text before you come over. Knock before you let yourself in. And if you go over when they’re not home, resist the urge to snoop!
- It’s a great story to tell
“Pop-pop, how did you and Nana meet?” Being able to tell your friends or family or grandkids that you met the love of your life when they moved in across the hall is a great story. And nowadays, any story about how you met your partner that doesn’t involve swiping an app is a win. But tell people you met when you were neighbours? “Perfect! Meant to be! Like something out of a movie!” Yes, it will make for a good story but once the story of your meeting is over, it’s time to write the next one. And is your relationship strong enough for that next step? Or the one after that?
Let’s be honest. If you’re both lucky and open-minded enough, you could be heading for a great relationship. But if your luck doesn’t hold out, it’ll be another one to bury in the cemetery of exes we all have in our minds. If you have doubts, or if you see any red flags, then you’ll have to reconsider your options.
Cons of dating your neighbour
For every benefit you can think of for living in the same building as your significant other, there’s also a downside you need to consider. It can be hard to do, especially in that early stage of a relationship, but even though it may start out well, it could also morph into a dating “worst case scenario.”
And the statistics bear that out. Eighty-two percent of people said they’d never dated someone who lived in their building. Of that group, 37 percent aren’t even willing to give it a try. Here’s why.
- Lack of privacy
The most obvious con of dating your neighbour is that finding privacy is much more difficult. They know when you come and go, and the convenience of living so close probably causes you to hang out constantly.
At first, that’s pretty great. It’s “company on demand.” And after you’ve been single a while, it’s nice to have someone around, even if you’re just hanging out and watching bad movies together.
But occasionally, you need a little time alone. It’s no reflection on the strength of the relationship. Everyone needs a little solitude to recharge. It can be hard to say “I need alone time” when your new partner is already in the building.
- Moving fast
“We only live a few feet away. It feels silly to pay rent twice since we’re over at each other’s places all the time anyway. And things are going pretty well. So, why not make it official and move in together?” Is this a conversation you can see yourself having? Since you can spend so much time together, the relationship might move much faster than expected or sooner than you’re comfortable with. You might get to the “let’s move in together” conversation sooner because you met in the apartment building.
But like any decision, you have the right to refuse. Take proximity out of the equation, and determine if this is a decision you’d make if you weren’t neighbors. If it is, you have your answer. If it’s not, then you should think long and hard if this is something you’re ready to take on.
- They’re always around
They’re just…there. You leave for work, and they’re there. They’re there when you come home from work. They’re there all weekend. And that can be hard for couples still trying to navigate that part of a relationship.
Losing your privacy is a zero-sum game, where your time and their time becomes “our time together.” Eventually, even the time you spend with friends becomes co-opted into a double-date of sorts, limiting the downtime you used to engage in with your best friends.
You may like coming home at the end of the day and sitting in silence for a few minutes, just to help decompress from the stressful day you just had. Your partner comes home and cranks the music while taking a long, hot shower while leaving all their clothes on the floor in a little treasure trail to the bathroom. Who wins this standdown? Here’s a hint: If you look at it in terms of one person winning a disagreement, you’ll both lose.
- Tense end
Ending a relationship is awkward enough, but it’s even worse when it’s with your neighbour. You’ll still see them frequently and bringing home new flames will catch their attention.
Your home is supposed to be your castle, the place where you seek refuge when the outside world becomes stressful and overwhelming. Relationships are great, but there’s way more to it than you’re probably expecting when you’re still in the honeymoon phase. Relationships are also work — rewarding and important work, but it still takes work to make a relationship, well, work.
If you date a neighbour and it ends (amicably or acrimoniously), you need to know going into the relationship that your life won’t be permanently thrown into chaos if it ends. Part of that comes with your own personal growth and relationship goals. And part of it means having a place to go where you feel safe and calm. And if knowing the source of your stress and anxiety lives at the other end of the hall, maybe widen your search on dating apps beyond one mile
- Dating your neighbour can be either a fairytale or a nightmare
In the end, you have three options when dating someone in your apartment complex: You can move in, move on or move out. If you’re one of the lucky ones, your relationship will progress to the next natural step. Cohabitation brings with it a whole new set of exciting shared experiences.
On the other side of the coin, if it doesn’t work out (which sometimes happens, too), then allow yourself an opportunity to mourn the relationship and move past it. Make peace with the knowledge you’ll bump into your ex (and maybe their new partner) in the elevator or at the bar on the corner you both loved. And if neither of those are possible, find a new place. Your home is where you’re supposed to relax and decompress from the stress of everyday life. And if you’re feeling anxiety or resentment seeing your ex in the mailroom, it’s time to find a new place where you’ll be happier. Who knows? You may meet someone.
Dating your neighbour comes with its own set of unique challenges and perks. While the convenience and shared community can enhance the relationship, the lack of privacy and the potential for awkward situations post-breakup should be considered. Ultimately, successful relationships are built on communication, trust, and compromise, and being neighbours can provide a unique backdrop for cultivating these qualities. As with any relationship, thoughtful consideration of the pros and cons is essential to determining if dating your neighbour is the right choice for you.