Ask Wendy

I Am a Homeowner, and My Dates Want to Move In — Help!

Friday, May 17, 2019
Hey Wendy,

I am a homeowner in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I find that when I’m dating someone new, the moment they find out I own my home, they want to move in with me. Can you help me with this problem?

Kim C. — Berkeley, CA

Hey Kim,

That sounds tough. I can think up three different ways you could deal with this. I hope one of them will inspire you to find your way through!

First, a simple solution is to not tell them.

That feels like terrible advice, doesn’t it? Especially when you’re hoping for a deep connection and a love that’s honest and open. Does it feel like you’re lying when you hold back aspects of your life? Omitting facts feel deceptive?

Hear me out on this one, though: I know you want to be seen for who you are as you get to know a new person, but at this point, they’re still a stranger. Sure, they may be charming and have a lot in common with you, but you don’t have enough information about them to know what you can trust them for yet.

When you let things unfold and roll out naturally, you can determine when it’s safe to share financial information like homeownership. Share when you feel you can trust them to not:

  • take advantage of you
  • try to leverage what you’ve built through emotional ties
  • glom onto the stability in your life because they haven’t built enough of their own.

So, if you’re going to save this information until they’re trustworthy, what are you going to say instead?

“I live in Berkeley.”

“I live over on Spruce Street in Berkeley.”

“I live with my two cats in Berkeley.”

I would be surprised if someone asked this, but if they ask, “Do you rent or own?” say, “I’ll tell you all about my living situation when I know you better.”

This is a perfect moment to see how they respond to that kind of statement (i.e. boundary-setting language).

Are they digging for more information?

Are they bright enough to catch that you just set a boundary?

Are they fool enough to trip over it?

All excellent fact-finding bits for your dating sorting process.

And when you want to take them home with you, what do you do then?

When they say, “Great place,” you say, “thank you.”

If they ask, “Do you own this place?”

Then we’re right back to, “I’ll tell you all about my situation when I know you better. I feel lucky to live here, though.”

That line, “I’ll tell you more later” not only doesn’t give away any information you don’t want given, but it also doesn’t give context to your finances.

It could be your parents’ home.

It could be that you pay a ton in rent.

It could be that you’re housesitting.

It could be anything.

Here’s another option:

If you’re comfortable with sharing your homeowner status with your dates, hey, you be you. Just be aware that you are now going to have to balance delivering a clear message while simultaneously not setting yourself up for a repeat of the type of behavior the twenty-three dates before this one have exhibited.

A good, clear message to a new person in your life could be, “I love this house. I’m often filled with trepidation when I share that I own it, though. You would be shocked at how many people try to move themselves right in, and that’s not what I do. Thanks for not being that person.” Nice and clear, and that last bit also spells out your expectations (basically, “don’t be that guy”).

Or, before you ever bring them to your house, you could say, “I need to know someone at least a year before I’d consider living with them. What’s your policy on this?”

Thinking back to my 121 first dates right here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I tried to remember if any of them would have tried to move in with me had I owned my own house. Maybe. Many of them owned their own property, though. So perhaps if you are uncomfortable being ready to lay down a boundary, a third option is to shoot to only date people who own their own house/apartment or have amazing rent control and don’t want to leave their place. If you make this your strategy, when you find your partner, you’ll have the opposite problem on your hands.

The Bay Area can be brutal. When the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco rents for $3,600 per month, desperate times can call for desperate measures—but that’s not on you. I wish you luck!

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