A couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out with the Mayor when he asked one of his friends (who is divorced) if he’d ever fall in love or get married again. The friend’s response was something along the lines of I guess I could. But why? There’s no need for it.
No need for love or marriage? I wasn’t entirely surprised by this sentiment. Men can (and do) get love, sex, affection, companionship etc from women often without any type of commitment or buy-in on their parts which makes dating and, by extension, commitment not really a necessity for them. I guess the converse of my statement above can also happen. Women can (and do) get sex and maybe even affection from men without any commitment on our part, but I’m not sure that we get the other things: love and companionship (by companionship I mean more than just “hanging out” but a meeting of the minds that is a result of deep mutual affection). I would posit that those things are difficult to get from men who are only sleeping with you. All of which makes me think of the cow/milk analogy also known as my dad’s dating advice – but I digress.
I felt the need (I always feel the need) to pipe up at this point in their conversation to give my opinion on the matter. My thoughts: yeah, cause it’s a buyer’s market! The Mayor’s friend thought about that for a minute and then nodded his head in agreement. It is definitely a buyer’s market.
That pretty much sums up what being a single girl in your thirties is like; you’re a seller in a buyer’s market. And the market is flooded. You’re that fancy house in the nice neighborhood, but you’re a bit older than the other houses on the market. You’ve got character and style; you’ve seen some things in your lifetime, but your paint’s peeling a bit and you don’t have all the nice amenities of the newer condos down the street. Of course you’re outside of most buyers’ price range. And, let’s face it, your upkeep is going to cost a fortune. And, well, you’ve been on the market so long that there must be something wrong with you – an attic infested with termites, a roof dying to cave in at any moment, a basement that’s just waiting to collapse into a sinkhole. I mean if you were such a steal, someone would have snatched you up a long time ago. Amiright?
Yes, I realize it’s 2014 and #girlpower, #feminism, #whoruntheworld?GIRLS! and all, but, let’s be honest, women and men are not the same and the way we date and interact comes from two wildly different viewpoints. Call it social construct or patriarchal society or life, but I would be lying to myself (and you) if I said that I would be willing to ask a man to marry me or even ask someone on a date. But that’s another conversation. My point is that men have agency in the dating game that women don’t have which obviously tips the market in favor of the buyers. And the buyers know this.
So they take their time and see multiple properties, visit open houses and the like. They stroll through your perfectly nice house with mud on their boots, expressing vague interest and making unreasonable demands for upgrades. Always there is the underlying (unspoken) current that there are other, more amenable houses on the market. And the sellers know it’s a buyers market too. So they offer all kinds of incentives and special deals. Sometimes they’re tired of being on the market for so long so they settle for a buyer that’s not quite right for the property.
Of course, the analogy breaks down at some point (it’s actually a pretty awful analogy for several reasons, but I was having fun with it). Houses are commodities. Assets. Passive objects sold without any agency of their own. Women are anything but. We say “yes” or “no” or not on your life to the buyers of the world. We can discourage the wrong sort of buyer and reject offers out of hand. Umm…the property association is not interest in having you as a tenant sir. Or provide just enough incentive for the right type of buyer. Women have all kinds of agency in dating relationships. It’s just difficult to quantify how much power one wields in a power dynamic – though one can always tell which way the balance tips.
Faulty analogy as it is, I think we still find ourselves in this buyer/seller mentality. I was dazzling the Mayor last week with my beauty and wit when I realized that I was figuratively tap-dancing. Look at me! Look at this house. Isn’t it pretty? And smart? And fun? Don’t you want this house? *jazz hands* That part of the conversation was internal, but when I realized what I was doing, what I blurted out loud was: I’m not going to convince you to like me! I’m not going to convince you that I’m a good deal! I am a good deal. The Mayor was, of course, confused because he had no insight into my inner monologue (whaaa? was his reply) but, I felt much better about the whole thing.
Less like this:
More like this:
*Le Shrug* Interacting with the Mayor lately has made me realize that a 4-story red brick, Colonial style house isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the house. Maybe the buyer wants Victorian or minimalist moderne. Maybe Highclere Castle is more their thing. You know?:
But in the end, you can’t sell to someone who was never interested in buying in the first place.
Of course, I’ve been asked out 4 times in the last week – which is more than I’ve been asked out in the combined 10 months that I’ve lived here. And you know why? The great equalizer in any market: Supply vs. Demand. Specifically, my supply. People know that I am leaving to go on deployment in approximately one month which has sparked all kinds of interest in this particular housing market. Suddenly (after months of casual browsing), this house is looking very attractive to buyers. It’s like everyone decided this week: hey, maybe this is a good deal after all – I’d better make an offer before someone else does.
I don’t know, maybe my imminent departure is the catalyst that kicks a long-simmering reaction into high gear. Or maybe, there’s no chance of losing face if I say “no” because, hey, I won’t be around very long—no need to see rejection face-to-face. Or maybe they finally got the courage to ask. Who knows?
But buyer beware