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Ladies: what do you look for in a guy's apartment? What would you hate to find?
December 6, 2004 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Ladies of MeFi: You find yourself in a guys apartment. What do you look for, notice, or pay special attention to? Is there anything you look for that can cause an automatic, "I want nothing to do with this guy ever again!"?

[As a pre-emptive strike, goes and puts down toilet seat]
posted by NotMyselfRightNow to Human Relations (122 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
Visible porn.
Also, any of the Left Behind books.
posted by bibliowench at 7:01 AM on December 6, 2004 [2 favorites]


Automatic stuff: A crack pipe. Lots of pr0n. A completely filthy bathroom. Wierd pets (e.g. reptiles).

Things that get a once-over: the CD/DVD/book collection. General condition of apartment (does not have to look like it belongs to Felix Unger, in fact that would be kind of wierd, but 1 months' worth of dirty dishes in the sink is, well, gross).

Anything else can be worked out in the usual boyfriend-training if the guy is worth it. (I kid! I kid!)
posted by contessa at 7:13 AM on December 6, 2004


The smell. If it smells of old rubbish, not taken out, or mould, or cheesy socks.
If there's mouldy dishes in the sink. If the toilet looks like a nuclear disaster area and there's a ring around the bath.

That would put me off. A guitar (as long as he could play it) would make me more interested. And interesting things on the walls - something that tells me about 'him'.
posted by lemonpillows at 7:13 AM on December 6, 2004


If your place makes me look up these two links, you're out of the running. Make sure your pets look like you give a damn about them (clean them up, make sure they have food, and their area is clean).
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:14 AM on December 6, 2004


Notice smells without even thinking about it. Lovely scent of trash a showstopper.

A few dishes in the sink are okay, but if they have visibly been there for over a week... ummm... no, thank you.

In general, hygiene. Not in a cleaning-freak way, but in a clean-enough-to-take-a-shower-with-bare-feet way.
posted by copperbleu at 7:16 AM on December 6, 2004


Well, it's different for all of us, isn't it? I, myself would be put off by giant posters of wizards and unicorns everywhere, a coat rack covered in capes, or a music collection consisting entirely of, say, acid jazz. But some ladies may be into that. Similarly, porn would freak me out. Seeing dirty clothes and remnants of half-eaten food/packaging strewn everywhere, especially dirty undies with skidmarks on 'em. An economy-sized jar of Vaseline displayed prominently in the bathroom. Any kind of hair that is not attached to a living body. Velvet paintings. A huge, messy collection of random possessions that may indicate you're a hoarder (in one house I've been in: an organ and two xerox machines. WHY?).

It's hard to say, NotMyselfRightNow. There are so many things that can inspire horror. Is there anything specific in your dwelling that you feel iffy about?
posted by fricative at 7:18 AM on December 6, 2004


books. if the only fiction is terry pratchett, give up now.
posted by handee at 7:19 AM on December 6, 2004


A couple things I encountered as a single that skeeved me out:

A crystal bowl filled to the rim with condoms in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet resevoir.

A collection of scary dolls hanging from the ceiling, coupled with Portishead playing in the background - kinda quirky, but a little creepy.
posted by sophie at 7:25 AM on December 6, 2004 [2 favorites]


Oh, on the other hand, the areas I look at automatically for things I like are: books, music, furniture, basic cleanliness, decorative sense. If the computer or the television is the main focus of the entire apartment, I am immediately turned off. But I may be expecting too much on that one.

Basically, I check to see if our tastes overlap (books, music), if you're conscientious enough to not live in total squalor (cleanliness) and what your aesthetic sensibilities are like (furniture, decoration). These things say so much about people, whether they mean them to or not. And often I find that, especially with younger males (late teens/twenties) their living space doesn't always reflect who they are -- it's usually more a utilitarian living-box filled with their stuff.
posted by fricative at 7:26 AM on December 6, 2004


Interesting, handee, since I think Pratchett would have a rather different response in the US.
posted by smackfu at 7:30 AM on December 6, 2004


I don't know, smackfu -- I'm from the US, and I would have a similar response to handee. If I see a bookshelf filled with nothing but Pratchett, I think of a person with patchy facial hair and poor hygeine who quotes Monty Python incessantly.
posted by fricative at 7:35 AM on December 6, 2004 [4 favorites]


A lack of books, which is frighteningly common, is my biggest turn off.

Then again, I don't mind the odd reptile, cape or dirty dish.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:38 AM on December 6, 2004 [4 favorites]


I'm not overly obsessed with cleanliness... but I do equate the state of the apartment somewhat to the guy's interest in my comfort. Has he made an effort? Has the garbage been emptied in recent memory? Sides of the toilet minus pee stains (or worse)? Clean towels in the bathroom so I can dry my hands? If he offers me tea does he also have sugar and a clean spoon handy?

After that I pay attention to the intangibles... the stuff in the apartment: types of food in the kitchen, books and CDs on the shelves, art on the walls, etc. Areas of interest (or signs of obsession) are noted (a few classic vs. millions of comic books). This stuff is purely subjective and can't really be planned for. Either the guy has tastes that compliment my own or he doesn't.
posted by idest at 7:49 AM on December 6, 2004


Well, it totally depends how gorgeous you... ahem.

I concur with most everyone above on hygiene issues. Other turn-offs: displays of modern weaponry, an empty fridge, a dog that jumps on visitors, and excessive use of monochrome colors. And if you don't have an absurd amount of books, forget it.
posted by naomi at 7:53 AM on December 6, 2004


On the subject of books -- for me, I'm not so much looking for specific books (though, seeing a book on how to make one's own fur-suit would pretty much have me out the door in a flash) but rather a diversity of interests. A guy could have 300 books, but if every last one of them were scifi/fantasy, I'd be thinking, "hmmm..." (I'm only using scifi as an example. Pick a genre and fill in the blank.)

On preview, I agree w/ C-L about lack of books. Feh.

Movies & music, I'm looking to see how tastes mesh. Again, in general, too much of one thing is a bad thing. Such as: whole walls given over to one's Dead bootleg tape collection. Bad. But, that's just me.

And, how could I have forgotten the very most important thing - how the guy treats me in his apartment. That, I think, is kind of the trump card.
posted by contessa at 7:56 AM on December 6, 2004


I think there's a difference between messy and dirty. Messy includes clutter of books, clothes, etc. Messy I can handle- my own house is messy. Dirty includes old dishes and food containers sitting around, trash that never found it's way to the trash can, animal messiness- dirty grosses me out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:56 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


Living things always make a nice impression — pets, plants... as long as they're, you know, really living. Drug paraphernalia and porn would be a death knell, not because I care that much if you indulge, but because you're an idiot for leaving it out. Mess doesn't bother me, but, of course, as others have indicated, filth never wins any points. For me, personally, the kind of apartment/home that would really make me interested would probably be older instead of newer, have lots of books and good (by which I mean not cheesy or juvenile) art or photos displayed. Musical anything is good, usually. Bare floors instead of wall-to-wall carpeting (lovely rugs, A-OK). Good lighting, night and day, will definitely make me wonder if you are a soul-mate. A kitchen that looks like it is actually used would be very intriguing to me. If you have something nice simmering on the stove, and a spice shelf that looks like you mean business, I'm likely to be entranced. No curtains means you're lazy and bold. I'd probably like you.

All that was terribly subjective, but let's get even more down with that: por moi, if you have a perfect, clean, sweetsmelling, upscale place with all the right fashionable accessories and furnishings, you've probably been totally crossed off my list. If you're place is clinically spotless you are, I regret to say, probably crossed off my list. If everything in your place is utilitarian, down to the books in your bookshelf, you will most likely fall off the list. If you have more beauty aids than I do, it's probably not a good sign. If you have a million pictures of your nieces and nephews, I would be moonwalking ("this is someone who wants to have kids now"). There are several books that, if I found a well-worn copy on your bookshelf, even given the above conditions, would make me take pause and maybe pencil you back into the list. Also, I have nothing against Terry Pratchett.
posted by taz at 8:02 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


I agree with the messy vs. dirty. I can deal with cluttered piles of papers, equipment, etc. especially if it shows that you have a big interest in something (for example, with my husband, I had no problem seeing boxes of random electrical components and stacks of papers as they were both relative to his active musical habit).

Dirty is bad though. Crusty dishes, moldy showercurtains, pubes stuck to the bathroom floor... you get the idea.

Also, on the bathroom front, make sure you are never out of toilet paper. Or paper towels. Or anything else up the ladder of paper products. Because it's never good when you have to offer your lady friend COFFEE FILTERS to wipe with.
posted by stefnet at 8:06 AM on December 6, 2004


I'm the one with the weird reptile pet, so I can't complain.

Other than obvious signs of hoarding or filth, or creepy cult associations, I don't think it matters much. I've dated pristine metrosexuals and guys who simply did not care whether they recycled their newspapers or used stacks of them for furniture. There's never been any correlation between their aesthetic style and how good of a relationship we'll have.
posted by nev at 8:10 AM on December 6, 2004


Posters of supermodels, naked women, athletes or sportscars are unacceptable.
posted by MsVader at 8:18 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


So, a lamp made out of a woman's boot of about this height and an old shade, yea or nay?
posted by kenko at 8:23 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


Once I went to a guy's house to deliver something and as he wasn't home I let myself in and assumed that I would be able to drop the goods off on a nearby table or something... The carpeted floor is literally covered with trash and laundry and gross things. Item of most interest: a Spaghettio's covered fork dried to the carpet.

I left the goods next to the door.
posted by crazy finger at 8:38 AM on December 6, 2004


Fricative - No, not really. I was doing my dishes last night and this question popped into my mind (I can't stand a sink piled with dirty dishes... ugg.)

Naomi - So, my two early 1900s swords that I brought back from India are okay? ;-)

Kenko - Um... nay.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:43 AM on December 6, 2004


On the positive side, I'd look for lots of books. If he has even just some, I'd look at the titles to see what he finds readable. Poetry is a plus!

Scan the CDs, if he has a variety he could be a keeper.

A cat, to me, shows a settled soul, someone comfortable with himself.

Turn-offs:

Fast food bags in the garbage and no food in the fridge. And I'm not talking about microwave stuff either. If he can't cook with adventure, he's not for me.

I'm not cooking FOR him. I'd rather cook WITH him.
posted by kamylyon at 8:44 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


Slight derail: I recently moved and gave away 99% of my books (and tend to borrow from the library more than buy, anyhow). Would there be another acceptable way to demonstrate literacy? I had no idea that visible books were such a big deal. I also ripped my CDs and gave them away.
posted by 4easypayments at 8:51 AM on December 6, 2004


Wow, chicks are demanding. For us guys, the main qualification we have for your apartment is that we're allowed inside.
posted by jonmc at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2004 [7 favorites]


I'm on the books train: no books, no love, and I mean good books (that is, books that require intelligence, not necessarily books I like; Faulkner fits this).

Other than that, evidence of bad taste design-wise; a little yappy dog; too many pets; too messy.

Things I don't care about: porn; food.

On preview: 4ep: a stack of worthwhile library books might do some good, but unless you told me that you just gave away all your books, I'd probably think you didn't read much. I'd also be kinda creeped out that you gave away your books. They're books, man, books! Would you give away your cat just like that? Your children?
posted by dame at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2004


Slight derail: I recently moved and gave away 99% of my books (and tend to borrow from the library more than buy, anyhow). Would there be another acceptable way to demonstrate literacy?

If someone is going to judge you negatively whether or not you're literate by whether you have books around or not, or just judge in general based on only what is in your apartment, maybe this isn't the kind of person you want around in the first place. We live in an age where you can read materials online, on our laptops, on our PDAs, and if that isn't good enough, I say fuck it.

On preview: what jonmc said. But for the love of god, if your whole room is pink and you're in college, you better be extremely smart/hot otherwise.
posted by angry modem at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


Interesting thread, especially the recurrence of book, music and video collections as key. Because no one can see my music collection any more unless they open my iTunes and scan my library listing, and - believe me - no one I do not already know and trust is going to be doing that. Videos are either rented or downloaded, so the same more or less applies there, too. Books are still on the scene, but in ten years I won't have the dead tree collection I've got now. People will have to impose their personalities on their spaces differently, I imagine.
posted by zadcat at 9:11 AM on December 6, 2004


My lovely husband had a reasonably filthy bathroom (cleaner than your average gas station restroom; dirtier than your average nightclub restroom, but without the vomit), and two enormous dead plants in his living room when we met.

Reader, I married him.

Lots of pictures of ex-girlfriend(s) or ex-wife(wives) on the walls are the biggest red flag for me. I've never seen this myself, but several of my friends have.

4ep, I'm scared that you gave away all of your books and CDs. Someone else might find that an admirable commitment to streamlining your life, but it smacks of minimalism and/or ruthlessness to me. Fortunately, I'm an old married lady, so my opinion is moot.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:13 AM on December 6, 2004


I'm with dame. Their is something about books that draws me. I sometimes feel guilty giving away a book as a gift that I've bought for that purpose. A box of books (even National Geographics) at the curb will sometimes bring me down for hours. How can anyone (not you 4easypayments, you gave them away) throw books away?
posted by Mitheral at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2004


well put, jonmc.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:22 AM on December 6, 2004


Things to do today: Go to used book store. Buy several shelves worth of books.

Wow, so many of you mention books. I'm like 4 and angry. The only books I keep are those that are only useful in book form: e.g. reference, field guides, cookbooks. I don't buy fiction. It's free at the library or cheap at aforementioned used book store. I donate one's I have bought and read to a friend or Goodwill. I mean, it's the 90's. Get with the times.

posted by TimeFactor at 9:22 AM on December 6, 2004


We live in an age where you can read materials online, on our laptops, on our PDAs, and if that isn't good enough, I say fuck it.

Guess we won't be getting together, angry modem. Between, availablilty, price, and comfort, electronic means are still insufficient for this compulsive reader. Anway, curling up in bed together while he reads his PDA? Somehow not what I dreamed about.

OP: See TimeFactor, some people read complicated books, which are improved by multiple readings. Some people keep books so they can lend them to others. Some people's books are their friends, and they don't like to toss friends out. Anyone who doesn't get that is someone I wouldn't fuck, much less date.

But I'll stop with this now as I clearly feel rather strongly on the book front.
posted by dame at 9:27 AM on December 6, 2004


Swords from the 1900's would be A-OK in my book, especially if they were nicely displayed. They'd be a topic of conversation.

I don't think the number of books would matter to me. The books' subjects would be what interested me. A male friend has a great collection of cook books. He's also a great cook. I have no idea what other books he has. Timefactor, don't worry about the lack of fiction. Keep the books you like or find useful. Someone is bound to find them of interest. I love a good set of reference books.

What's with the "No porn" mandate? What if you chanced upon it in his room or in the bathroom? Would that be less offensive then finding it in the stack of today's mail in the kitchen?

I would also think that anything taken to an extreme would be a deal breaker. For example, are all your decorative touches focused on the same thing? I've been in two apartment like this. One was decorated in all things related to lions, tigers and other big cats. The other in all things wolf. No thanks.
posted by onhazier at 9:31 AM on December 6, 2004


I'm in! I'm in!

[derail]

Funny how this stuff works both ways, too. Messy women? Fine. Filthy women? Ixnay. Just because I'm a guy doesn't mean I want to have to bring out the weed-whacker before I can use the toilet.

Regarding books. When I was doing freelance IT work for a living, I went to a client's house to help update her computer to OS X. Her house was neat and she had lots of books. But they were ALL sci-fi or fantasy fiction. Complete sets of everything. Mostly pristine. Floor-to-ceiling custom-built shelves. Maybe more than a thousand. The awful stuff, too, where the characters always seem to have names beginning with K or Q and lots of apostrophes in the middle, and where they wave laser-swords about on the cover as they ride their horse-dragon to the spaceship-castle.

She was also a rather large girl and "accidentally" rubbed her bosoms across my arms and back as we worked. It was, apparently, a come-on, but oof. I resisted.

The purging of books thing is tough. I hate getting rid of books. It's like giving away pets. But I've done it twice and I still have lots and lots of them. They keep adding up. I don't know how you can not have books: I buy them because I might want to read them later, I buy them knowing I will read them and give them away, and I buy them because I like owning books and I like having books. I like being able to have an instant choice, to be able to pick a book and read at random. I don't buy books to attract women, though I am aware that I am judged by them. In fact, more than a couple of women I've dated made it plain they were intimidated by the books: they thought I was setting some kind of standard they couldn't meet, that their books were coming up short by comparison. It's partly true. If a woman doesn't have books in her apartment, big problem. If she only has the books she had to by for her college lit classes, still a problem. If all she has is self-help or spiritual books, also a problem. But you know what's worse? If she has few books but has the television on all the time. Instant "where's the door" and "let me out of here."

[/derail]
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


A crystal bowl filled to the rim with condoms in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet resevoir.

Lots of pictures of ex-girlfriend(s) or ex-wife(wives) on the walls are the biggest red flag for me.

Both of the above are signs of the one thing that will really bother me: Any indication that I am expendable or interchangeable or not your first pick. In other words, ditch the player act. Nobody wants to be a notch on a bedpost, make me feel like you want me, specifically and exclusively, and you won't have to do much else.
posted by cali at 9:38 AM on December 6, 2004


Tangent: I used to get rid of all my books I wouldn't recommend to a friend (oddly enough, I got rid of them by giving them to friends, apart from the real crud which I binned). Now that I have a little more room for books, I'm considering keeping even the bad ones for "look at me, I read!" purposes. I have my Borges, my Wilde, and my Hoffstadter (but also my Crichton, my Pratchett, and my Stephenson, I like pulp once in a while, so sue me) sitting on the shelf, and it irks me to taint that kind of quality with other books to which my only connection is that I happen to have been unfortunate enough to read them. What's better, fewer books but only decent ones, or just lots of books no matter what?

(male, gay, not really considering it in terms of attracting cute guys but hey, if it works…)
posted by fvw at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2004


I agree with the messy vs. dirty thing, books are great, plants are nice - and I have another comment - I'm never dating another guy who lives basically in a container with random stuff strewn around. Please let it look like a home - like, pictures on the walls, rugs on the floor, furniture and not just cardboard boxes o' junk. It doesn't have to be expensive or madly clean and quirky is good, I have nothing against strange paintings from the goodwill - but something that says I live here. Like a human would live, not a bear.

And please, please have sheets. Not just a mattress on the floor with a couple of blankets.

*realizes that she has probably revealed too much about her last few forays into the dating world, backs away slowly*
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:45 AM on December 6, 2004 [2 favorites]


Jonmc, what if she let you in the front door, but then it turns out she has a do-it-yourself Brazilian wax kit in the bathroom? I bet you'd be making tracks out o' there, aye? And angry, what if the girl is in college, her whole room is painted pink, but she had a huge poster of the goatse anus guy. It would be like love at first sight!

So, I guess we've all learned a lesson about judging too quickly, yes? Mmhm.
posted by taz at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2004


Jonmc, what if she let you in the front door, but then it turns out she has a do-it-yourself Brazilian wax kit in the bathroom? I bet you'd be making tracks out o' there, aye?

You fail to understand men, taz. We may have preferences, but if the girls making herself available, we'll take it, no matter what her apartment looks like, what she reads or listens to, or how clean the floor is. (qualified by whether we're in a relationship, of course).
posted by jonmc at 9:54 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


This thread reminds me of a couple of dates I had with a guy whose apartment was kind of a dump. It was clean enough and had the basics, but everything was dingy and the place looked kind of thrown together without any thought of making it attractive or home-like. He was a poor guy, but not so poor he couldn't have afforded some paint and things like afghans and throw pillows to cover up the ugly furniture.

He'd had a terrible childhood, and he just seemed kind of lost. He told me he'd make it look nice "for me". I didn't want him to do it for me. I wanted him to do it on his own initiative and out of self-respect. I felt sorry for him, and I thought he was a nice guy, but I didn't continue seeing him.
posted by orange swan at 9:57 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


And yes, definitely have sheets, a clean, comfortable bed, decent towels, and a reasonably well-stocked fridge.
posted by orange swan at 9:59 AM on December 6, 2004


Messy, okay. Nasty-filthy, not so much. The thing with books, some people can do without the feel of a book in your hand. I can't. I re-read. I break books by loving them into tatters. So does my husband. However - you don't have to display hordes of books to seem literate. If a girl is trying to talk books with you, talk books back. If you've read something you would like her to read, and you really like her, take her to a bookstore and buy it for her. It's probably just a paperback, and if she likes it, you're in.

Of course, maybe that just worked on me.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2004


I can't believe dame doesn't like Faulkner.

Wow, chicks are demanding. For us guys, the main qualification we have for your apartment is that we're allowed inside.
posted by jonmc at 8:53 AM PST on December 6


I don't know. Lots of girls (chicks? c'mon jonmc) will drag you into their lair, but do you really want to be a part of a sheetless, feline grazing bed? No, no, no. You want clean sheets, freshly laundered, with a wafting smell of flowers and clothes recently purchased from Betsy Johnson.
posted by orange clock at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2004


There usually isn't very much food in my fridge, because I buy it on an ad-hoc basis the day on which or before I'll be cooking it. But I've got more books than I have places to put them.

Jonmc, why oh why do you always talk about what all men are like absolutely?

Can we get Flem Snopes to weigh in on Faulkner?
posted by kenko at 10:05 AM on December 6, 2004


Crystals, talismans, anything wicca...

a do-it-yourself Brazilian wax kit in the bathroom

Why is this a bad thing again?

And porn is fine as long as it jives. So, bondage/masochism, piss/scat, animal or granny-sex would probably be a deal-breaker.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2004


Lots of girls (chicks? c'mon jonmc) will drag you into their lair, but do you really want to be a part of a sheetless, feline grazing bed?

When I was single, I can tell ya uneqivocally that whatever preferences I might have had, I'd still take whatever came my way.

Jonmc, why oh why do you always talk about what all men are like absolutely?

Nothings absolute, but it's a rare guy who differs from what I've described, no matter what they say publicly.
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


but do you really want to be a part of a sheetless, feline grazing bed? No, no, no.

Please talk to my girlfriend.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:14 AM on December 6, 2004


If you give away books, surely you'll give anything away. Including a person.
posted by Navek Rednam at 10:15 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


C_D, it refers to jonmc's well-known dislike for the neat-and-tidy nether regions.

I lived with a couple of women once and the guys they were dating must have followed jonmc's philosophy. That place was a dump, but no one seemed to mind.
posted by jmgorman at 10:22 AM on December 6, 2004


If you give away books, surely you'll give anything away. Including a person.

Or maybe you don't view people as your possessions.
posted by mcguirk at 10:25 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


This has been educational and a half. I had no idea that the media collection and groceries were such universal dealbreakers. I'm making a mental note to mention how giving them away was a terrible, heartbreaking experience... almost like *sniff* giving away a child.
posted by 4easypayments at 10:26 AM on December 6, 2004


Regardless of sex or the type of relationship I have or am hoping to have with the person: a nasty, messy bathroom. The state of one's bathroom tells you a lot about that person.
posted by suchatreat at 10:35 AM on December 6, 2004


hay ladies i havde thousand of books & a wel stockde pantry jus Waiting......... for you! plz call my cellophone #
posted by Hildago at 10:40 AM on December 6, 2004 [5 favorites]


Or maybe you don't view people as your possessions.

Or view books as possessions
posted by Navek Rednam at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2004


What's with the "No porn" mandate? What if you chanced upon it in his room or in the bathroom? Would that be less offensive then finding it in the stack of today's mail in the kitchen?

If I were to find myself in a man's apartment and literally chance upon some porn -- I mean, not as a result of snooping or sneaking around, it's just sitting out in the open somewhere -- I'd find it a turnoff. I know, there's nothing wrong with (most) porn, it's a normal part of many people's sex lives, etc.... but porn can be sort of a loaded issue and there's no telling how someone you don't know very well is going to react to it. Even women who'd be nonchalant about it under different circumstances women may feel uncomfortable being confronted with such overt sexuality in the context of dropping by a relatively unknown dude's apartment, especially if we're talking about a potential romantic relationship here. If you (and by this I mean the general 'you,' not onhazier) are a person who requires a completely open and blase attitude about porn at all times and in all stages of a relationship, go ahead and leave it out as a screening device. But if not, why not let her get to know you a little better before advertising your "bizarre insertions" fetish?
posted by purplemonkie at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2004


And angry, what if the girl is in college, her whole room is painted pink, but she had a huge poster of the goatse anus guy. It would be like love at first sight!

Fucking hilarious!
posted by anathema at 10:51 AM on December 6, 2004


Turn off, and it does seem to be a guy thing: "furniture" made out of particle board (perhaps not the technical correct term - please forgive girl-brain, the kind of shelving or something you assemble with pegs from a kit). Especially covered with that fake, teak-y, blonde wood stuff. White or black covered stuff somehow isn't quite as bad, but please, please, please, find something interesting at a flea market or something.
posted by rainbaby at 10:55 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


I learned tho use big beautiful pictures of him all over the place as the sign to get the hellout. (the man who had that could never speak about anything but himself. Oh boy.)

Him&Mates at exotic locations or parties such as new years is another thing all together and can be a good gettoknowhim conversation. "yes that's me Max, Dan and Bo at the Niewemarkt Amsterdam the year 2000, it was utterly mad fireworks everywhere.. good times.."
posted by dabitch at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2004


Wow, the only reason I don't have thousands of books right now is I moved to a smaller apartment, and many of my books are still in storage. The only books I have are ones I bought since I moved in (and that's alot).

What if you have a messy roommate?
posted by drezdn at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2004


Pratchett, yes! Faulkner, no! I totally agree with dame on that, and with the sentiment that books are our friends - how could you give them away? Gross surroundings would make me think, ew, gross person whose body would not be getting next to mine! And another big turnoff - ants, mice droppings or cockroaches - maybe the guy is a biologist but I would not want to be part of his studies that way. Plus points for a cat or two, also.
posted by Lynsey at 11:04 AM on December 6, 2004


The smell of cat urine is bad.
posted by transona5 at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2004


a stack of worthwhile library books might do some good, but unless you told me that you just gave away all your books, I'd probably think you didn't read much. I'd also be kinda creeped out that you gave away your books. They're books, man, books!

ep, I'm scared that you gave away all of your books and CDs. Someone else might find that an admirable commitment to streamlining your life, but it smacks of minimalism and/or ruthlessness to me. Fortunately, I'm an old married lady, so my opinion is moot.

fun thread. i have this to say on giving away your books. i recently moved from san francisco back to sacramento, and i took bags and bags of books to green apple and sold them, or left them out in the hallway for others to read. usually when i finish reading a book, i give it to a friend with instructions to give it to someone else after they read it.

why do i do this?

1) hardly ever read the same book twice. while second re-readings and familarity with the text is nice to have and probably would be a benefit, there's so many books out there that I want to read that I figure that i'd rather spent time reading new than re-visiting the same book.

2) books are friggin' heavy, and they take up a lot of space.

3) i'm spoiled by moe's books in berkeley. almost any classic fiction i want i can get again at moe's for under two bucks (and usually about a quarter). I'd rather buy a book again if i want to re-read it than have it sit on a shelf, unloved and unread, as if i need some sort of proof to others that i have good taste in literature (might as well give someone else the opportunity to be reading it so i can talk about it with them afterwards).

that said, i don't apply any of these rules to books that I purchased new or were hard to find used, or of authors that i particularly like. i aspire to be highly mobile, and even after giving away/selling books that i wasn't going to read again, i still had two bookcases worth of books that had to move with me, and i'd like to keep it that way, for the most part.

i do miss some of the books i sold, but whatever. there's plenty of others to read.

posted by fishfucker at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


Or view books as possessions

Ah, so these sacred objects are not possessions. However, if you find that you "have" one (whatever that means) that you no longer need, the proper behavior is to hoard it and thereby prevent anyone else from getting any use out of it.
posted by mcguirk at 11:10 AM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


This whole personifying (and deifying) of books works the other way, you know - any girl so irrational about paper is a no-no in my world. I've just moved to another country - I gave over 4,000 books to Amnesty International so I wouldn't have to ship them. You come in my flat now, and whinge I've got no reading material, and that I mustn't value anything if I don't value books, you can sod off and do your brazilian on your own...
posted by benzo8 at 11:10 AM on December 6, 2004 [2 favorites]


For an example of the transformative effect of a guy having a fantastic apartment, watch Moonstruck. Consider your (and Cher's) initial assessment of Nicholas Cage's character, and then consider what you think of him once you see his apartment. What Cher thinks of him once she sees his apartment is clear, what with the sex and the marriage and so on.
posted by waldo at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2004


>>>Again, in general, too much of one thing is a bad thing. Such as: whole walls given over to one's Dead bootleg tape collection. Bad. But, that's just me.

Uh-oh

:) :) :)
posted by birdsong at 11:21 AM on December 6, 2004


I second many of the suggestions above. I think the "qualifications" fall into two basic categories:

1) Is this guy a grownup? Being a grownup will be indicated in part by acceptable hygiene (no hair/whiskers all over the bathroom, no pee/crap stains in the toilet, a shower that's obviously been cleaned within the past week, no more than a day or two's worth of dishes in the sink, etc.), sheets on the bed (a matching set, please), no visible porn/lubricants/condoms/etc. (imo, they are fine to have in general, of course, but not on top of the coffee table), a fridge with something other than an old jar of mustard, a set of glasses/dishes/cups that look like they came from someplace other than a convenience store, and at least some furniture that comes from somewhere other than a dumspter. Also: no disconnection notices for any utilities.

Assuming the guy passes the basic grownup test, we move onto...

2) Is this guy intelligent and engaged in the world? And are we likely to have things in common? I've finally gotten past my long-standing misperception that guys with great record collections necessarily make great boyfriends, but I do think it's important that our general pursuits at least overlap. Music and movie collections that indicate broad tastes are a good starting point (they don't have to be huge collections, but please have something other than The Offspring or Die Hard). At least a little artwork is nice (please note that a couple of tattered, unframed Monet posters tacked crookedly to the wall only counts in college) -- bonus points for good quality prints or originals. Thomas Kinkade "paintings" are quite likely a deal-breaker, regardless of the amount of irony involved in displaying them.

Books are an absolute must (asuming he hasn't just moved from another country, a la benzo8 above). They don't all have to be Ulysses (though evidence of having actually read it will probably make me fall in love almost instantly) but (for me) there's got to be some literature and/or good contemporary fiction in there, as well as some history, philosophy, film, etc. (I should note that I have an extreme dislike of Ayn Rand, so if I see The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged on the bookshelf, I will likely assume the worst unless the surrounding books and/or previous conversations suggest that these were purchased solely out of curiosity or for a class, and not because of any standing affiliation with Objectivism. /rant) Good-quality periodicals, too. A guy doesn't have to be a total bibliophile (though for me, it doesn't hurt), but I must see that he reads something other than Maxim or gaming magazines.

In short, the place doesn't have to look like a palace or an art museum or a library -- it just has to reflect someone who has his life together.
posted by scody at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2004


Gee, scody, that's not a tall order at all. Does he have to be tall, dark, handsome, & rich, too?
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on December 6, 2004


And I just sold two or three dozen books (out of too many hundreds to count) the other day because I'm moving soon and I couldn't face lugging them yet again, so I think I'm proof that it is possible to love books and be able to part with at least some of them!

On preview: no, jon, short, blonde, average and able to pay the bills is fine. The only tall, dark, handsome, and rich guy I ever dated was a lovely guy (and is still a good friend), but I'm happy with an Average Joe who's reasonably clean and smart, and whose living space will reflect that. That's all.
posted by scody at 11:44 AM on December 6, 2004


Would there be another acceptable way to demonstrate literacy? I had no idea that visible books were such a big deal. I also ripped my CDs and gave them away.

It isn't about demonstrating literacy; it's about creating a space that expresses something personal, that's enjoyable to be in. Although, people who go on about their books as a point of pride can be off-putting too, especially if the books are all focused in one area (eg, lots of marx and derrida but no science or history; or, all military history, no poetry, etc). Or, if the books are just bad (legal thrillers or whatever). Not that having a percentage of crap fiction is bad... balance is where it's at. When I was younger, I didn't worry about the state of my apartment and didn't think to worry about the state of the living spaces of potential love interests, but you still get a vibe when you walk in a room, and that will tell you something about how well you'll fit together.

My dad is nearly 70 and his furniture is still that cheapo 'particle board' type thing rainbaby mentions, and it completely blows my mind. He has a decent income; it just simply doesn't seem to occur to him at all that it would make any difference whether a bookshelf is made of formica or wood (though to be fair he has had nice houses at previous times & at least seemed to contribute to the domestic decisions - it's just in bachelor mode that he seems incapable of making an effort). I am broke but hand built my largest bookshelf so that at least I wouldn't have to buy a plastic bookcase. That aesthetic and environmental sensibility is important to me, and a partner who didn't get that at all would be a downside. Doesn't mean dealbreaker, necessarily, but it would be negative points.

porn wouldn't be a big deal to me in itself (though in moderation and not on purposeful display). Messiness wouldn't be a big deal to me if the visit were completely unexpected, but in most cases there would be some forewarning, and I would be a little put off if the person just didn't try at all. I am a messy person myself, but when I know someone is coming over I will clean up.

chess set, scrabble, musical instruments, CDs, books, fun knick knacks, art on the walls, are all good signs. A sense of personal taste/style (furniture, lamps, curtains, paint colors, rugs, etc, that look chosen, not randomly found or inherited) is important to me.
posted by mdn at 11:45 AM on December 6, 2004


I think that makes sense, jonmc. You want to find that the person you're prospectively dating is a grownup and engaged with the world. That's not a tall order, fortunately.

I should note that the first time my now-girlfriend visited my apartment, she told me that having a trash can in the bathroom was a good sign.

And books: I recently did triage on 'em before I moved, gave away a bunch, but was left with twenty-one boxes of books to move into the new place. But the girlfriend works at a bookstore, we've bonded over books, and we're starting to eliminate the duplicates in our collections.
posted by Vidiot at 11:47 AM on December 6, 2004


The way to get the love of a women is through her stomach. [Dutch Proverb]*

*I had to improvise a bit.

posted by ginz at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2004


I should note that the first time my now-girlfriend visited my apartment, she told me that having a trash can in the bathroom was a good sign.

That was a trash can?? My God, I'm sorry.
posted by jonmc at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2004


You want to find that the person you're prospectively dating is a grownup and engaged with the world. That's not a tall order, fortunately.

Sadly, it's seeming like a slightly tall order for me these days! Maybe I really do need to get the hell out of L.A. (unless Vidiot has a brother out here...?)

posted by scody at 11:55 AM on December 6, 2004


Another one here for cleanliness, especially the bathroom. And there better be handsoap of some kind on or near the sink. I don't want to brave your shower stall looking for shampoo to wash my hands. If you don't have handsoap in your bathroom, I will not touch the doorknob and I will not eat food in your home cuz you are one nasty person. There should also be a hand towel or a bath towel to dry my hands.

I don't mind a bit of disorder, i.e. stack of paper. I don't mind porn as long as it's not on display or dogeared. If there's a porn mag tucked in between the other mags in your bathroom, it wouldn't bother me at all. If you have an a Hustler prominently displayed on your coffee table, that's bad.

Ahh, the books. Yes, there should be books. I'm not of the books are like living beings ilk. I think it's great when people give away books. It's good to share the wealth. I clean out my shelves every few years. But then again, I was raised to share. Afterall, there's B&N or Borders on nearly every corner. I can always buy another. But I do want to know that you have an attention span long enough to do some serious reading.

Any odor is bad. There should be clean sheets and you shouldn't be sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

Any sign of conspicuous consumption is a turn off. Although I don't mind an issue of Cargo on the coffee table as long as you aren't trying to live that life.

Newspapers are good. Any visible dirty clothes are not.

Visible beauty products are bad. A tube or two of moisturizor is okay, but a bathroom full of primping & preening products is a turn off. I don't want to date someone who spends more time in the bathroom mirror than I do.

Original artwork is good. Crap from Target is not.

Your apartment should not be too clean or perfect. If it is, you're probably OCD and/or not going to be comfortable in my home.

If your 35+, your apartment should look like it. In other words, get rid of the cheap college plastic storage crates and buy bookshelves/coffee table/chair.

Any sign of another woman is a huge no no. I don't want to see an earring, a thong, nail polish or anything else that indicates that another woman has recently been in your home and was comfortable enough to undress and paint her nails.
posted by Juicylicious at 12:03 PM on December 6, 2004


Oh, to me pruning one's book collection is fine—sometimes you buy a dud. It's the wholesale abandonment that gets to me. I guess there is just something in having a relationship with a lot of books that's totally hot. Then again, when I was a kid & everyone else was imagining her wedding, I was dreaming of sitting under a tree and reading together. When I got older, it switched to inside and naked, but the weaving together of books and sexiness has never abated.
posted by dame at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2004 [2 favorites]


Reading this thread, I have come to the conclusion that I can never have any over to my place. Ever. It's messy and a little bit dirty and I don't have nice furniture (mattress on floor, old junky couches) and I don't have any books (because, like fishfucker said, they're heavy to move and expensive to buy), plus I have a "a little yappy dog". Although I love my dog, and fuck you to anyone who doesn't. Any guy with a dog (or even if he just loves dogs) goes straight to the top of my list.

So yea, thanks Mefites, for thoroughly depressing me about my chances to ever find love!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:14 PM on December 6, 2004 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one here who thinks that what we really need is Ask.Jonmc?
posted by mkultra at 12:21 PM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


it's strange how people judge you by your decorating ability.
i started a new job a year and a half ago. for the first year i left my office as it was when i first arrived (adding maybe a poster to the wall). no-one commented and, working with a bunch of scientists and engineers, it didn't look that unusual.
but after a year i decided i should make it a bit more pleasant. i haggled with admin to get an extra desk and couple of old easy chairs from storage, begged a bookshelf, collected some decent posters from the local museums and a couple of framed prints, brought some books in, added a lamp. in general - made it a pleasant place to be in (with a slightly kitsch 60/70s feel - i was pushed that way by the old furniture i could get hold of).
and people were kind of amused and, somehow, offended - they stopped by to make jokes about how it looked. i think the change made them uncomfortable. i'd been placed into the "geek" box and now suddenly was odd. perhaps behaving like a cultural stranger?

anyway, moral of the story is: first, people probably like places like they themselves have (someone else, on seeing our flat in santiago: this isn't a room, it's a "art-space"); second, if she's seen your place one way, don't go changing it suddenly.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:22 PM on December 6, 2004


It's scary to read some of these, because you know they came from past experience.
posted by smackfu at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2004


It's scary to read some of these, because you know they came from past experience.

I once went to a prospective bf's place that not only featured pee stains in the toilet -- there was pee on the floor. And no pet to blame it on, either.
posted by scody at 12:37 PM on December 6, 2004


i once had a girlfriend cry because my bathroom was so dirty.

that's when i realized that i should *always* try to stay at the girl's house.
posted by fishfucker at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2004


>> it's strange how people judge you by your decorating ability.

I would't say "decorating ability," I'd say it's more like decorating priorities. A guy who has $5000 worth of stereo and TV equipment in his apartment, and $150 worth of furniture (unless it happens to be $150 well spent on amazing thriftstore finds) is basically - to my way of thinking - a gigantic overgrown child interested only in his toys. He may be able to talk circles around everyone about movies, but where the fuck am I supposed to sit?? Oh yes, over here on this stack of comic books.

I don't think anybody's suggesting a guy's place has to be out of the pages of Dwell or Wallpaper in order to seal the deal, but for god's sake man, getting a bed isn't selling out, nor is getting a passable set of chairs or perhaps even a sofa with actual cushions. I could care less where they come from.

I can totally understand it if some guys put the minimum effort into furnishing a place, but minimum is better than none. It's not about expecting someone to pretend a lifestyle they don't have or can't afford. Sorry, I guess I've spent enough time in zero-comfort underheated boyfriend apartments to have a lot of tolerance for hermit-living at my age.
posted by contessa at 1:01 PM on December 6, 2004


For an example of the transformative effect of a guy having a fantastic apartment, watch Moonstruck. Consider your (and Cher's) initial assessment of Nicholas Cage's character, and then consider what you think of him once you see his apartment. What Cher thinks of him once she sees his apartment is clear, what with the sex and the marriage and so on.

Except that, you know, it's a movie. A movie is not sufficient anecdotal evidence to prove a point, much less statistical or factual evidence to make a case.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:19 PM on December 6, 2004


I've spent enough time in zero-comfort underheated boyfriend apartments

Exactly. This wasn't unacceptable through my mid-20s or so, because I was living a similar lifestyle (broke, working weird hours, spending what little spare cash I had on going to concerts and drinking, so my apartments were pretty sparse and cobbled together). But starting in my late 20s and certainly now into my 30s, it's become much more important for me to spend time in spaces that are physically and mentally comfortable -- and those things absolutely do not require a lot of money or a degree in interior decorating or hours to spend cleaning every day (none of which I possess, and therefore don't expect any SO to possess either).
posted by scody at 1:29 PM on December 6, 2004


AskMetafilter: Thoroughly Depressing Me About My Chances to Ever Find Love
posted by lotsofno at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2004 [2 favorites]


You can find love, ThePinkSuperhero — just not at home! (And don't reveal your online name. Other than those two things, I'm pretty sure you can find love.)
posted by taz at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2004


I can't find love at home? Bummer. I'm about ready to start my winter hibernation, too, so if I don't find love now, I won't have any love until late April- early May.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:48 PM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


My dad is nearly 70 and his furniture is still that cheapo 'particle board' type thing rainbaby mentions, and it completely blows my mind. He has a decent income; it just simply doesn't seem to occur to him at all that it would make any difference whether a bookshelf is made of formica or wood

As a pretty rational guy, I have to interject. What in the hell is wrong with that? Maybe, (just maybe), your father realized early on that fancy, expensive, "Look at MEEEE!" stuff is only useful when you're trying to impress people. If there's a place to sit, and its comfortable and clean, just what is your problem?

Who cares if the bookshelves are made of wood? Yeah, I'm with you on the aesthetic sensibility of wood over particle board, but COME ON. It's a bookshelf. Its purpose is to HOLD BOOKS. Are you really going to hold it against someone because they have other priorities than "must surround myself with wood and Deco to show off my GREAT TASTE!!"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:01 PM on December 6, 2004 [5 favorites]


meh, we're all shallow in our own endearing ways.

me? i'm into girls that dress like tramps.
and have short hair.
and glasses.
oh, and are smart. smart is good.

posted by fishfucker at 4:05 PM on December 6, 2004


also, i have nothing against women with good taste in interior design. don't get me wrong.

but i am a cheap sexy bastard.

posted by fishfucker at 4:08 PM on December 6, 2004 [2 favorites]


Stuffed toy animals. Anything else asides from extreme dirt I can live with, but a guy with stuffed toy animals on display is a definite stalker/creep/serial killer.
posted by arha at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2004


C_D: People with nice stuff don't get it to show off. They do it because they like to live with beautiful things.
posted by dame at 4:21 PM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


So what Im gathering from this thread is I really really really need to get some books. I think I have maybe 3 in my room somewhere, im not even sure...
I like reading, I just dont read a huge amount and when I do its books people lend me, or if I do buy a book I tend to lend it to someone else and forget about it.
posted by phyle at 4:23 PM on December 6, 2004


Upon reflection, it is clearly a miracle that my wife did not flee in terror on her first visit to my apartment when she noticed my large collection of skulls. Or to be more specific, of objects from many places, all sculptures of human skulls.

It's even more amazing that she permits me to display it tastefully in a glass vitrine in our living room.
posted by mwhybark at 4:53 PM on December 6, 2004


contessa: what about if the computer equipment (tucked away in its own dedicated "office") is worth more than the furniture in the rest of the house? Would things-used-for-work-and-hobby count as "toys" in the same vein as home theater/audio?

I've had to promise to the wife to keep all the computer equipment neat and clean in the new house and not let it look like an ISP graveyard...
posted by mrbill at 5:22 PM on December 6, 2004


(additional note: I have a $2.5K bed, but my favorite desk is a $200 Jerker from IKEA..)
posted by mrbill at 5:24 PM on December 6, 2004


A few weeks after I started going out with my partner I was staying over and couldn't find a full length mirror anywhere. At that point he told me there was one in the spare room. I opened the door and everything he had stashed in there trying to tidy the flat fell out. At that point I knew I had found true love - someone as messy as me and I could stop tidying up my flat to make a good impression. I have to admit it would take a lot to put me off someone with the right sort of creative chaos. I think the key to it is: are you in the same ballpark intellectually and domestically? Start by tidying up obvious disasters: month old dishes, dirty toilet, unwashed sheets, stinky rubbish etc. things that most people would find offensive before inviting someone home, and then you can gradually work out where you are with each other domestic-wise what you both can tolerate and what you wont.
posted by Flitcraft at 5:28 PM on December 6, 2004 [1 favorite]


mrbill -- I make very generous exceptions for computer equipment :) And of course, anything that has the triple purpose of being work + hobby + toy gets a bye.

Unless it is a RealDoll. Then we'd need to talk.
posted by contessa at 5:44 PM on December 6, 2004


You know. I used to wonder why I'm single, thanks for clearing that up ladies.

People with nice stuff don't get it to show off. They do it because they like to live with beautiful things
Which make their homes unliveable. I still dread going to the homes of people who 'decorate' because you have to tiptoe around with that sense of 'don't touch anything, it migh break and it's worth more than your car' always on your mind

Homes are for living, unless you're a real estate developer and this is your demo.
posted by Octaviuz at 5:46 PM on December 6, 2004


I've got to say I disagree with all the comments about him having to have decent furniture. Top-end computer and stereo equipment and crap furniture just make me think that he's creative and doesn't care overly much about what other people think. I'd be a little apprehensive about a guy my age (mid-twenties) who bought furniture that was more expensive than he strictly needed to be comfortable. Also, anything quirky in a non-psycho, non-conspicuous-consumption way is good.

If he keeps the thermostat at 60 to save money, that's very bad.
posted by transona5 at 5:50 PM on December 6, 2004


Back in college I was invited to a cocktail party at the apartment of a guy who had been pursuing me for a while. I went with my roommate, and he gave us the grand tour of his place, which a) had clearly been decorated by a professional interior decorator and b) had a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling mirror at the foot of his bed in the bedroom.

The bedroom also had a light fixture shaped, and colored, like a woman's breast.

I never went back after that.
posted by ambrosia at 6:10 PM on December 6, 2004


People with nice stuff don't get it to show off. They do it because they like to live with beautiful things
Which make their homes unliveable.


Not always. The house I grew up in is well-decorated, but comfortable and able to handle the attentions of two large dogs and a tomboy. Beautiful does not equal expensive. Haven't you been to some terribly decorated house that you *know* is the result of an expensive interior decorator? Or to a well-appointed but comfortable abode?

Taste is choosing what is appropriate. Putting expensive things in low-hanging places, then admonishing your guests is never appropriate.
posted by dame at 6:32 PM on December 6, 2004


re:Books

1. I live one block from a decent library and at that library I also have access to the entire Boston Public Library system's holdings and some suburban libraries as well. And I have friends who have access to Harvard's library system and will pick up books for me if I ask. I live about five blocks from a huge used book shop and one T stop from another. And there's always Amazon if for some reason I want to pay full price. How many books do you have? I have a few million.

2. I love to read and I love books. I prize my assortment of dictionaries and field guides and have some of each from as far back as the 19th century. But I don't collect fiction. I don't collect little porcelain kitten figurines or NASCAR paraphenalia either.

3. I do reread fiction. And I can re-get the same books the way I originally got them. Everything Faulkner and Pratchett ever wrote is a block away.

4. I don't like to keep fiction that I'm not reading at the moment because I'd rather someone else have a chance to read it. To hoard them seems selfish. So I give them away to friends or strangers. Remember, I can always get them again when I want or need to.

5. I have no interest in someone who is so obsessed with things. Books are things.

6. I have no use for someone who isn't resourceful or doesn't value it. I value resourcefulness much more than I value someone else's things.

7. My mother was a crazy book person. I grew up in a house that had bookcases on every available wall. There were stacks of books in the attic. Every book she had ever read was still in the house. I admired her for having read so much and in so many disparate fields. But get rid of the frigging books when you're done with them. When my mom died and my father moved into an apartment it took several days to for him to pack them up. It took a big U-Haul truck to hold them (and I know because I had to load the truck) to drive them to where we donated them. This was tons of books. I loved my mom but I'm not interested in someone who had the same disease that she did. And hoarding things that you don't need is a disease.

8. I don't give a damn how many books someone has. I do care how many books, and which books someone has read and what they have to say about the books they've read.

posted by TimeFactor at 6:37 PM on December 6, 2004


A book is not just a thing the way a dresser is a thing. And a library book is hardly a book. The books I own have parts of my history in them; in the marginalia, the underlines, the stains and waterspots, they remind me of what was going on when I was reading them, who I was then. When I come back, the refractions of meaning aren't in just the text but in the relationship between my different selves and the text. That is important.

Further, library books privilege the object over the experience: you have to be careful, you can't write in them, you feel guilty getting food on them, or breaking the spine, or getting caught in a rainstorm or a bathtub with them. Besides, the world isn't going to run out of books. Keeping one actually makes more books happen because the publisher has an incentive library borrowing doesn't provide.

Finally, I find most people who value "resourcefulness" have never economically been forced to be so. When you've had to have library books because you couldn't afford otherwise, the luxuries in ownership are just a little bit keener. No matter, though, it just means we won't be falling in love.

posted by dame at 7:18 PM on December 6, 2004


It means that, yes, and also that you're surprisingly shallow and won't admit it.

As TF says, books can be fetishized like so many things; you've chosen books, which is fine, but let's not pretend that no one else "gets" the value of reading just because they don't hoard books like merit badges of their literary accomplishments.
posted by hincandenza at 7:26 PM on December 6, 2004 [4 favorites]


Right. Because having a relationship with a text is the exact same thing as hoarding merit badges. It's simply not getting the same value from reading, which is fine. It just means I won't fuck you. I'll still save you from a burning ship and give you a gift at Christmas though.

I do find it interesting though that around these parts preferring your partners to feel the same way about books as you is far more indicative of shallowness than deciding everyone with a tattoo is a mental defective and/or moral degenerate.
posted by dame at 7:36 PM on December 6, 2004


Pratchett, yes! Faulkner, no!
Faulkner, yes! Pratchett, No!

Books are v. v. good.
Skulls wouldn't put me off-- in fact I have a few skulls of my own.
As for an empty kitchen? My ain true love had zippo, nada, bupkis. Except for some cans he had bought when he had first moved in ten years before. But, he stocked his freezer with some good ice cream in advance (he knew I was coming.)

Turn offs:
Sleeping bag on the floor.
Star Wars collections.
LOTR dragon-handled sword in mahogany presentation box.
Lots of candles.
Too many sports posters, magazines, souvenirs. I like men who participate in lots of sports, but not men who watch lots of sports.
Too much stuff. I just can't deal with obsessive pack rat types.

Mainly though, it comes down to this: if he had plenty of advance notice, then I expect to see that he takes my visit seriously. That means tidying up and, yeah, no visible porn. The porn comes out later.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:50 PM on December 6, 2004


All the guys I meet live with roommates, so I have low expectations in terms of the common rooms being clean. But if his bedroom is too messy, it is a turn-off because it makes it seem like he is too immature to clean up after himself.

Good musical taste is the biggest turn-on - in general, the larger the collection the better, with some more obscure stuff.
posted by mai at 8:57 PM on December 6, 2004


Who cares if the bookshelves are made of wood? Yeah, I'm with you on the aesthetic sensibility of wood over particle board, but COME ON. It's a bookshelf. Its purpose is to HOLD BOOKS. Are you really going to hold it against someone because they have other priorities than "must surround myself with wood and Deco to show off my GREAT TASTE!!"

I have no interest in someone who wants to "show off" great taste - I have no interest in someone who hires a decorator or buys expensive furniture just because it's expensive. But it does make a difference to me if I live in a place with wood floors or wall to wall carpeting; if I have large windows and high ceilings, or not, and if the furniture/stuff is chosen to create a space to live in, or just thrown together to meet minimal utility requirements. I would not be comfortable in a place that felt like it couldn't be touched. I like warm, personal, sorta quirky styles of decoration. At this stage in my life, I would not choose to live in an environment that felt thrown together, if I could do anything about it. I think the reason my dad's situation is so noticable to me is that he is in a much better position to put together an actually nice home, but his entire place is populated by storage orphans or Ikea. The only new thing he spent any money on was the TV, which for months lived on top of the box it came in until at some point I convinced him that one of the random little tables he had around would be a better stand for it.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive to this at the moment because I'm unfortunately not in a position to set up a house the way I would like to and so am surprised when people who can, don't. I said above it wouldn't necessarily be a dealbreaker, but it would be disappointing. A home should feel like a home, like a place that is expressive of who you are to some degree. (dame said this all as well)

re: books, interesting that we had that discussion the other day about whether book lovers can desecrate books, and now whether book lovers need to love actual physical books or can have more transient relationships... personally, it just makes me happy to look over bookshelves, whether my own or other people's. It is nice to always have a few unread books around, nice to be able to go back and look up something when you need to, and somehow just important to be surrounded by history, as dame said... I often think of my life in terms of when I read what, and having the little time machines there provides a sense of continuity and still vital inspiration.
posted by mdn at 10:41 PM on December 6, 2004


People never cease to amaze me. And what people will put up with in others in relationships. No trash cans in the bathroom? No SHEETS on the bed? No BOOKS?!?

There are a lot of filthy (and messy) people out there, I've discovered, and that's fine. But I won't date any (more) of them. I'm more comfortable in a home than a sty, but that's just me.

And I don't believe in all you book-loving women. I think that response must be like the "want a guy with a sense of humor" response on the dating services: more expected than sincere. Or maybe I just need to move to New York. My 1000+ books of every type have never gotten me ANY consideration either in the Deep South or in Vegas...
posted by rushmc at 11:06 PM on December 6, 2004


My 1000+ books of every type have never gotten me ANY consideration either in the Deep South or in Vegas...

Never?
posted by kamylyon at 11:51 PM on December 6, 2004


Some people's books are their friends, and they don't like to toss friends out. Anyone who doesn't get that is someone I wouldn't fuck, much less date.

Hear hear. The very idea of throwing out books is appalling to me. So yeah, accuse me of fetishizing my books, fine, just find me a guy who does the same.

I met this guy in his mid 30s, fairly well known in political media circles, very smart, lots of books, attractive, decent paycheck, but his apartment looked like a 21-year-old's: he still used milk crates as furniture for crissakes. No art, no stuff. A mattress on the floor. Kitchen had nothing but beer. It was pitiful. And a surprisingly big turnoff.
Then again, my all time favorite ex was a broke struggling actor who lived a similar lifestyle and the bed on the floor never bothered me at all. I found it romantically bohemian actually. Weird how expectations change with the guy.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:11 AM on December 7, 2004


Also, I don't have hand soap near the bathroom sink. I had no idea that made me gross!
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:28 AM on December 7, 2004


And I don't believe in all you book-loving women. I think that response must be like the "want a guy with a sense of humor" response on the dating services: more expected than sincere. Or maybe I just need to move to New York. My 1000+ books of every type have never gotten me ANY consideration either in the Deep South or in Vegas...
posted by rushmc


rushmc, you have the wrong end of the stick here. First comes the interest in the guy, then the visit to his place which either a) continues to bolster your interest or b) makes you immune to his previous charms. The fact that somebody "owns books" is not enough to get my juices flowing, but the fact that someone does not own them might turn me off.

I know a guy turned off by small breasted women, but that doesn't mean he is going to be turned off by every big breasted gal he happens to meet. I happen to love humor -- but I wouldn't date Woody Allen for a million bucks. And truthfully I like men who read, but not every reader I meet is of sexual interest to me.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:53 AM on December 7, 2004


rushmc, you have the wrong end of the stick here. First comes the interest in the guy, then the visit to his place which either a) continues to bolster your interest or b) makes you immune to his previous charms.

Yeah, I got that. It's just that I've always gotten the opposite reaction upon seeing my books: "Wow, that's a LOT of books! Have you actually READ them all?" :::suspicious look at the literate weirdo:::
posted by rushmc at 9:15 AM on December 7, 2004


I gotta say that the "television on all the time" thing gets my vote.

Other red flags:
- signs of pack-ratted-ness,
- stacks of bride magazines,
- People magazine (super red flag if either of the past two are subscriptions),
- Olson Twin videos,
- pink or white painted wicker furniture,
- books about soap operas,
- photos of her sitting on her father's lap -- at 20,
- anything by Coulter/Limbaugh/O'Reilly,
- and of course if there's a dead body on the floor or if anything's like on fire
(but a dead body on the floor that's on fire I'm perfectly fine with because, you know, s'mores!)

(on preview, whoops, this question's for the ladies, not the fellas...)
posted by blueberry at 10:16 AM on December 7, 2004


Also, I don't have hand soap near the bathroom sink. I had no idea that made me gross!

You do wash your hands, right?
posted by Juicylicious at 11:11 AM on December 7, 2004


it bugs me when (and this is true for anyone, not just a guy i might date) the place is really dark and has kind of a stale smell to it from lack of light. i dunno, it kinda reads as reclusive compugeek in a bad, maladjusted kind of way. plus it's just not inviting as an outsider.

otherwise though, as others have said, one person might dislike something another person would find quirky or attractive or a conversation starter. but yeah, the universal would be to keep it reasonably clean/sanitary (old dirty dishes of food, pizza boxes, empty bottles all over the place is yick, as is any dirty smell).

for me, lotsa books that AREN'T sci fi or obviously/generically hip (think more proust and mishima than eggers and palahniuk) that are obviously lovingly well cared for is like a big sign shouting "MAKE OUT WITH ME NOW." yeah. ditto signs of someone who likes to cook (a decent cutting board, a good chef's knife, master cookbooks, good pots and pans). of course, that's just me, and you shouldn't pretend to be what you're not. just voicing my personal toecurling joys.

pets are fine, as long as they're well cared for (what's wrong with lizards?!).

that condom bouquet thing sounds really fucking bizarre, by the way.
posted by ifjuly at 2:12 PM on December 7, 2004


also, this is total fluff, but the questions reminds me of this silly site that went through diaryland/lj/xanga a while back.
posted by ifjuly at 2:14 PM on December 7, 2004


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