If things have been going well for you and your date, an invite to their personal pad is probably the next step. Sure, he may have been totally charming before, and she was nothing but cool and down-to-earth with your friends. But scoring a peek into your date’s comfort zone can reveal everything you really need to know about someone. What’s most important to them? Are they as pulled together as they appear to be in public? Do they understand the basics of regular adult hygiene? Did they clean up for you or are they comfortable letting you see their dig’s status quo? Here are a few major signs to be on the lookout for when you step inside.
If the fridge has actual food inside, preferably from more than one food group, and anything decorative is present (hand towels, matching plates, a fruit bowl), you’ve probably got yourself a home cook. Go you! But if your date shows signs of Seamless being their main source of survival, that’s okay too. As long as they understand that leftover food belongs in the fridge, and not in the sink/counter/floor/bathroom. Brownie points if you notice the garbage actually does get taken out, and there are no signs of anything green, hairy or rotting anywhere.
For someone old enough to have their own place, you would hope they also understand the meaning of “personal hygiene.” The biggest turn-off? A dirty bathroom. Hairs in the sink, orange rings in the bathtub, a little dust bunny hanging from a toothbrush bristle: all red flags. It doesn’t have to be Martha Stewart’s powder room with embroidered bath mats and potpourri, but for a room where he cleans himself, shouldn’t it at least be clean? Add a big plus if you can spot more than one towel (excluding roommates’), and a minus if anything that’s not toilet paper is being used as toilet paper.
Bedrooms are the goldmine into figuring out someone’s true colors. A space that’s too neat might raise perfectionist tendencies, while visibly messy rooms hint at irresponsibility and laziness. You want it to looked lived in, but not altogether abandoned. Any photographs on display–because who actually prints photos and displays them anymore—will tell you what’s really important to someone. Family? Pets? Old childhood memories? Scan the bedside table for other clues on what she values the most. Perhaps it’s a book she’s reading, a journal, an ashtray or an empty coffee mug? Beware of too many styling products on the dresser; you might not really be the best-looking one in this relationship. Any attempts at bed-making are always a good thing. Excessive college memorabilia? Someone definitely wasn’t ready to graduate.
While posters may be, yes, a little dorky, any wall décor, from framed pictures or vinyls to cheap prints, shows your date took the time to personalize his or her space*. Maybe they have their life together enough that the essentials, like a clean bathroom and semi-stocked kitchen, are covered! Plus, who doesn’t appreciate a home that feels more inviting. *This goes for other small decor including candles, crafted pieces, and quirky odds and ends.
If there isn’t a bookshelf, please let there be at least a few rugged piles of paperbacks somewhere, because anyone who doesn’t own a single book should not be trusted. And no, textbooks from any year of education don’t count. He doesn’t have to have the Library of Congress on display but a humble collection of novels is definitely appreciated, even if he hasn’t read them all. However, beware of bookshelves void of any guilty pleasure reads, Harry Potter or recognizable fiction (we’ve all got something): your date might just be pretentious.
Other living things
Fact: Some roommates really are from hell, and you just have to suck it up until the end of your lease. But that doesn’t always mean your date didn’t have a say in their current living situation. If they did choose their roommate, does the roomie seem similar or a polar opposite? Do they greet you kindly or avoid you entirely? You can tell a lot about someone by who they might choose to surround themselves with.
Plants: Managing to keep something alive aside from oneself can be a good thing. It shows your date is responsible and maybe a little sensitive too.
Pets: This depends on how you feel about animals, how many your date has, and what kind. Three snakes and a bird? Maybe a little weird. A little aquarium? Kind of artsy. A dog? Okay, everyone loves dogs. As long as you don’t feel you’re going to have to compete with your date for his affection, things will be okay.