Checkpoint 4: Betrothal AKA The Co-Op
Whether it's two, three, four or ten years after you've started dating, eventually you will likely get engaged (c'mon Kurt Russell, what are you waiting for?). Hey, you can only rent for so long, and it's a buyer's market. Just as the purchasing of shares in a co-op apartment building forges a contractually permanent housing partnership, a marriage engagement promises a contractually permanent cooperative of love. (Try using this phrasing on your fiancé – he'll want to elope on the spot.) By the time the contract is signed, the accompanying fear and anxiety of each preceding Checkpoint should be missing from this one. That is, of course, unless you've purchased the wrong home. In which case, be afraid. Be very afraid. 10 Questions To Ask Before Saying I Do
I should point out that these days, there is also an exciting moment when real estate and romance intersect quite literally: between Checkpoints 3 and 4 often lies a Checkpoint 3.5, in which a pre-engaged couple decides to move in together. The mingling of personal belongings signifies both parties' willingness to further intertwine their lives, making separation that much more difficult. Yet, although cohabitation creates complication, it also allows for some pretty sweet rent pro-ration. (Is that a Kanye lyric?)
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In reality, the timing of these checkpoints may vary. They are purely emotional, and emerge at their own pace given the value of the Yen to the Australian dollar. And, of course, I recognize that the blueprint I've laid out here reflects a fairly primitive "male" perspective, as it implies eventual "ownership" of the other person. But relationship checkpoints exist for both men and women, and it's important for couples to acknowledge and discuss them as they come up. If there's one thing real estate taught me, it's that open communication with your broker is the only way to ensure your needs as a homeowner are met.
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Now go out there and find a nice guy who's down to get deep into your walk-in closet.