Friday, March 30, 2007

For Love, Money, or Decor?

This is an appropriate week to talk about the factors that draw people into relationships. I, of course, am a true romantic and my head has never been turned by anything but deeply-felt, passionate, soul-consuming love, the kind of love that grows out of spiritual connection, physical chemistry and mutual trust. But we all know that there are other people out there for whom different considerations come into play when they are choosing a mate.

I was very amused by this article in yesterday's New York Times:

It's Not You, It's Your Apartment
This man is 70 years old and lives in a crazy apartment that he hasn't changed a bit since the 70s. He still has his 70s furniture and faded 70s sheets on his bed. His kitchen cabinets contain nothing but a six-month supply of powdered milk. And I don't even want to know what he does with that enormous Hollie Hobbie doll. Why does he live in such strange surroundings?
“Ever hear the words ‘rent stabilized’?” says Mr. Podell, who’s paying $702 for a one bedroom in SoHo. “What do I need a fancy place for? A lot of people want to show off their wealth. It ain’t me, baby.”
Well at least he's frugal in some ways, although he eats in restaurants every night, travels frequently, and sees plays, concerts and operas 4 nights a week. Now here's another fact about this guy: his girlfriend is 22 years old. Call me cynical, but I think the reason she's going out with him might have something to do with the fact that he is a multi-millionaire. But the other reason she's going out with him is that she lives in Moscow and has never seen his apartment. Perhaps some people think rich men have no problem getting the girl? Not in this case: Mr. Podell has had a string of relationships where women dropped him the minute they saw where he lives. See, money isn't the most important thing!

Then there's this fellow:
No poster child for Greenpeace, or, for that matter, the male fashion industry, Mr. Strauss embraces controversial decorative items such as South Park figurines, Legos and a stuffed baby seal, and although they alienate a lot of potential girlfriends, he refuses to "blandify" his apartment by getting rid of them. It's a good thing, too, as that slightly askew torchiere might overwhelm the room with its exotic distinctiveness in the absence of some other colorful, interesting items to draw the eye-- balance is key, you know. In this case, the article doesn't address the subject's wealth, but we do learn what he does for a living: he writes dating advice for

There were several other amusing stories in this piece, involving mildewed towels, Klimt prints, and rabbits that bite men in the worst possible place, but the final one I'll share was about a man who took "a frightening financial leap" for love: he sold his $1.5 million apartment and bought a $2.4 million loft, and then went all-out decorating it with items including a $25,000 chandelier. But when his boyfriend returned from a year in the Peace Corps, intending to move in with him, it was a disaster. After the Peace Corps, where he was around people who were "hungry and dying," he found the fancy loft such a disgusting display of lavish over-consumption that he couldn't live there, and the couple broke up. Just one more example of why you shouldn't waste your money on an extravagant lifestyle!

Anyway, I shouldn't talk, though I suppose I'm kind of middle-of-the-road on these things. I care about how my home looks, though I'm not willing to totally bankrupt myself on it. And though my mother's over-emphasis on decor and cleanliness can drive me crazy, I have to confess that my feelings about a nascent relationship definitely changed after my first glimpse of a cluttered, dusty apartment with a living room floor freshly tinkled on by an aging dog... of course, I also knew the person didn't have any money... but really, we just weren't compatible in the first place!

How about you?

Which is more important to you in a potential relationship, a person's wealth or the decor and cleanliness of his or her home?
It's all about the money, honey.
Home is where the heart is.
Neither matters to me-- I could find true love with a pauper in a pig sty.
Free polls from


Rachella said...

I also read this article & found it hilarious. I actually had those animal sheets as a little girl in the 70s! While I found myself appalled by the baby seal and the two couches stuffed into one room in the picture behind the man with the seal, I was equally put off by the lavish loft. That living area looks bigger than my whole flat in London.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I read this one as well. What a hoot. In all honesty, once I did dump someone because of his apartment. The first time I came over, I was horrified to find that the guy lived in utter squalor: there wasn't a square foot of furniture or floor that didn't have nasty crap all over it. I had to use the bathroom and. . . well, let's just say that I couldn't, and I'm not normally the squeamish type.

I'm something of a neatnik minimalist type myself, and that's very compatible with living in small surroundings. (One of my minimalist secrets: my apartment is full of gorgeous built-ins.)

Anonymous said...

About your poll, how about adding "All things in moderation"? Extremely wealth is not important to me, but I can't see myself dating a hobo either. Spotlessness is not essential, but extreme pig sty could cause much physical discomfort and maybe a hazzard to your health.

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective on wealth and the quality of life. I'm more of a proponent for wealth being an enabler for a higher quality of life for you and those around you. These extreme examples are quite entertaining though.


Anonymous said...

The article was totally hilarious. I think sharing similar values in living conditions is really important, regardless of weath.

As a woman in the relationship, you don't want to end up being the unpaid cleaning staff for the other person because you can't handle the mess. Neither do you want to die in utter mortification of having to look at ill-chosen furnishings.

By the way, some women are pretty messy people to live with too, so men aren't alone in this category.

Financeguide101 said...

Well what will you expect from your partner if he/she cant keep home clean??? It's sign of laziness there won't be a good future with a LP..

Finance Guide 101

Anonymous said...

That's interesting. I'm hopeless romantic. I'd like to choose "Neither matters to me-- I could find true love with a pauper in a pig sty." :-). I'm writing a blog named "Money or Love?". Check it out if you are interested. Thanks!