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Do You Live Around Here?

The perils (and pleasures) of dating within your building.


Illustration by Ceri Amphlett  

Michele Kleier’s client loved the five-room with a terrace she showed him in the East Seventies, but it was the tall, skinny blonde in kitten heels they kept seeing in the lobby that sold him on the building. “He said, ‘Oh my God, who is that? I have to get her number,’” says Kleier. “He felt the building had to be cool if she lived there.” Within weeks of moving in, he moved in on her: They began dating, but happily ever after was not to be, and soon enough, he discovered that she was cheating on him. He ended up selling—and paying a huge capital-gains tax bite, because he’d only been there eight months—but, says Kleier, it was apparently less painful than seeing her on a regular basis.

The horrors of workplace dating are legion, but being a little too neighborly can be a minefield, too. Bad dates aren’t easily avoided; relationships escalate faster than they would sans proximity, and doubts get magnified. One woman admits to being disappointed when her in-building hookup decided not to sleep over. “Even though I wasn’t in love or anything, I was thinking, Why not? It’s not like you have a long commute,” she remembers. And though they’re now friends (without benefits), “you always feel like you have to look good. If I’m doing the laundry, I feel like I have to clean up.”

Still, with so many luxury rentals and condos offering amenities that promote fraternizing—fitness centers, cinema rooms—it may be easier than ever to couple up. “Honestly, it’s like hookup central,” says Charles Brown, the resident manager at 520 West 43rd Street. “First you see them flirting, then talking in the lobby, and [later] they’ll walk in together holding hands. And then when they break up, they go their separate ways again.” But given how difficult it is to find the perfect match, “you can’t limit by address,” argues Brian, an insurance-claims manager who’s had multiple in-building flings. “If my soul mate moved in, I wouldn’t care. I’d go for it.” Julie Earle-Levine’s friends told her not to date anyone in her building because “if it was a disaster, one of us would have to move out,” she says. But the day she moved into her fourth-floor Soho walk-up, she met the guy across the hall. “The door was open and he popped in and I thought, Hello, neighbor!” They’re now married.


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