Desperately Seeking Tenant – No Love Required

I came to a strange realization over the past week: Being a landlord and searching for a new male tenant online is really similar to finding a romantic partner. Both are frustrating experiences that demand a high degree of discretion and savvy. I’ve had to put up with bad behaviour, give chances to strangers, and say “no” way more than “yes” in both situations. Still, it’s way easier to find a good tenant than a partner!

To Find a Tenant…

First off, you’ve got to place the ad. You have to have photos – but are the ones you choose fair? Do they show the place in a flattering but realistic light? Is your ad conveying all the pertinent information in a unique, engaging way? Have you said enough? Too much?!

The screening is equally painful. Some people just don’t read the ad at all and send a canned message. Others reply with inappropriate or strange questions. A female or a couple will message when I’ve clearly said the space is shared with a single male tenant. Sometimes they have an off-putting manner that at first looks rude.

Here’s where there is one difference from my dating life: I’m willing to give the students a lot of slack for their English or strange messages because many come from another culture. Online dating is a much more homogenous place around here.

Same Same

When I do decide to show the place to a prospective tenant, the similarities to dating become downright eerie. There’s the tentative messaging back and forth…then a commitment to meet and the acceptance and arrangement of the date and time. Next follows the same anxious rushing around, not getting myself ready this time, but the suite. Shining it up, hiding the crap my current tenant leaves out, putting the lights on, etc.

Finally at the appointed time (or not!) the person arrives…and I know immediately it’s a “no” but have to go through the social niceties and show the place, make small talk, and so on.

Taking My Time

One thing I have learned from doing this several times now: choosing a tenant because I’m in a hurry and don’t want to miss any rental income will cause nothing but grief in the long run. It’s best to be patient and keep screening and keep showing. I’ve learned to wait for the “right” tenant.

Does this apply to online dating? I think it does, although “waiting” for the right partner has garnered me a whole lot of nothing for nearly eleven months now. Still, I am not willing to accept someone “inappropriate” just to NOT.BE.SINGLE.

Ride the Emotional Roller-coaster

For someone sensitive to the feelings of others, finding a tenant – and having to turn down more than I can accept – is really difficult. Many times I’ve wished I could just let someone have the place as I am moved by their story but I have a very clear vision of who will work with my current tenant – and with me upstairs. In a way, I’m choosing a “partner” for both of us. It’s far easier to say “no” when I consider my existing tenant’s needs.

Just “NO”

One guy seemed ideal – except he showed up with a very vocal, very involved girlfriend. She asked most the questions, told me how “they” preferred to cook and complained vociferously about his current landlady, who had told him he was only allowed to do laundry once a week. As a landlord, I suspected immediately that the landlord did this out of frustration because the girlfriend, who she was not renting to, was over there and doing her laundry all the time. This is a common irritation for those of us who have to pay for the maintenance on the machines and for all the extra water costs.

I made it very clear that the place was for one tenant only – someone who would be over all the time was not fair to the current tenant. I have seen this situation before and it’s really awkward for the other tenant, who is basically forced to live with an additional person they cannot complain about without angering the other “real” tenant.

Then this girlfriend asked me for privacy so she could talk to my current tenant alone. I almost laughed. She was making this decision easy for me. What landlord in their right mind would let someone this divisive into their home?

My tenant later told me that she’d basically asked whether it would be ok if she was over all the time. My tenant is incredibly easy-going and probably didn’t stick up for himself. I told him not to worry, I had his back. This was a hard “no” and we’d find someone more suitable.

I’m Just Not That Stupid

There is a feeling of unease when I have to message someone with an answer they won’t like. There is also a feeling of annoyance bordering on anger at those who try to pull the wool over my eyes. Mostly for wasting my time but also for assuming I’m stupid or gullible. This feeling is nearly IDENTICAL  to the feeling after a failed date.

Like the ones where the guy shows up and doesn’t look anything like his photos or is not at all like he represented himself in his write-up. I try to filter them out now by writing back and forth first but this takes up a lot of time. Not to mention emotional bandwidth.

How to Lose a Guy in Three Days

I realized after a week that I couldn’t do both online dating AND searching for a tenant when I had a meltdown over a guy online. We’d been writing back and forth and I really got my hopes up because we had so much in common. Then one day he didn’t write back. I waited all day and when I realized that night that it was another dead end, I cried.

As a general rule, I find that if a guy makes me cry before we even meet, it’s not going to work. 😉

Still, if I hadn’t already had a disappointing and stressful tenant situation, I would have shrugged off this latest ghosting episode. I would have been grateful to have avoided meeting yet another insensitive jerk. Not crying at the unfairness and frustration of failing once more to find a partner of my own in this world.

Here’s another difference between finding a tenant and a partner: I don’t need a partner for financial reasons! So my priority has to be finding a tenant. I went offline immediately when I realized I’d reached my emotional limit.

Showing Up Online

I found a tenant and feel so much better and more “solid” about my life. I decided to go back online, after some inner deliberation, to finish the year I signed up for. Only a few weeks left now.

I have a wistfulness about this online dating world now. Most conversations will just drift away. No doubt the guys have probably been talking to many women at the same time so “forget” to respond to my latest message. This is just bad management – even rude.

If I find I’m messaging one guy back and forth and another one messages me, I politely tell him that I’m already talking to someone. To me, being online is like a party we’re all attending. If we were all in the room and I was in a corner getting to know someone, I would not suddenly turn and start talking to someone else, ignoring the first guy who has asked me a question.

Otherwise, how will you make a deeper conversation with the person you’re already speaking with? How will you get to know them on anything except a superficial level?

Obviously, no one cares except me. This is old-fashioned and doesn’t work.

Where WERE You?

I used to worry after these ghostings that I’d said something they didn’t like but have learned that this is unlikely. Many times they pop back up a week or a month later and pick up the conversation as if nothing happened. Then it is my turn for a non-response.

The only thing I know for sure is that a guy that could be as flaky or inconsistent as that is not for me. Treating someone so rudely, with such little respect does not bode well for any relationship. Nor am I secure – or stupid – enough to “chase” someone who treats me so offhandedly. After all, if you have to chase someone right at the start, be prepared to do it for the entire relationship. And if I DID say something they didn’t like, anyone close to being my partner will be secure enough to communicate that back to me!

A New Approach

I guess this is the biggest difference between finding a tenant and finding a partner: the level of difficulty. Maybe I should start treating my online dating the way I approach finding a new tenant: with a dispassionate eye. I examine the facts and stick to business. There are no second chances – no second-guessing. You’re either “in” – or you’re “out.” Cry me a river, I’ve moved on and have a list.

If I did start screening my dates like this, at least I’d end up with someone I could live with who paid their bills on time!

But the thing that hit me the most is this: it is ME trying to FIND someone. I don’t want to look or find or search for anyone anymore. It makes me unhappy and sad. In fact, the whole online dating thing is disheartening. I’ve gone off the site early and have decided to live my life in the real world instead.

By myself is OK. Not terrific yet but I’m working on it…

All my future “searching” will be for new tenants. That’s tough enough!


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