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Messy House, Messy Emotions?

Now more than ever before it is hard to know for sure if a person’s public persona and appearance are an accurate reflection of who they are in private. It is easy enough to project the image of who we’d LIKE to be — with fashion choices, carefully scripted dates, cautious conversation, and even with Internet profiles designed to present ourselves in the best possible light. And there is nothing wrong with that.

But the time inevitably comes for prospective partners to go deeper than outward impressions allow — to truly see and be seen. This is when you begin to evaluate your compatibility based on more than meets the eye in casual contact. This is when you open a door — literally — and give your date access to the one place you don’t bother to be anything other than what you are. You take them to your HOME.

The fact is, your house or apartment is a veritable Rosetta Stone of insight into deciphering the puzzle of who you really are. Your stuff (or lack thereof) and how you maintain it (or don’t) speaks volumes, whether you want it to or not. This obviously offers your date a chance to assess whether your respective values, habits, goals, and standards share enough common ground to build a relationship on. But it is also an excellent opportunity for you to run a self-diagnostic test.

Try to see your living space with fresh eyes and ask yourself: Do I like what I see? If the answer is no, then the reasons for that constitute a road map for self-improvement — a process that will not only better your chances for lasting romance, but increase your enjoyment of everyday life as well.

Here are four key areas to examine for clues:

Tidiness. Deepak Chopra wrote a story in which the wizard Merlin said to young Arthur: “I once walked around like you, and when I looked at a person, all I saw was a form of flesh and bones. But after a while I noticed that a person lives in a house that extends that body — unhappy people with messy emotions live in messy houses; happy, contented people live in orderly houses. When I see a house, I am actually seeing more of that person.”

Naturally, such generalizations have exceptions; but as a loose guideline this is true. The state of your house is a measurement of important personal qualities: discipline, self-esteem, emotional stability, standards of hygiene, and so on. Are you a pack rat, unable to part with cherished stuff even when it crowds your space? Your date will know at a glance.

At the other end of the spectrum, are you a “neat freak” without a single object out of place? Recognizing that about you will help someone answer the question: Are we compatible or not?

Furnishings. The style and quality of your possessions offer a window into your material values and what you invest in. Some homes are filled with expensive and trendy furniture, knick-knacks, and artwork — a sure sign that the person who lives there places a premium on quality and isn’t afraid to spend money on nice things. Another place will feature reclaimed objects and thrift store treasures with plenty of personality, but which cost very little. That person appreciates value, and uses his or her money for other pursuits.

No set of preferences is right or wrong per se. If your dates don’t approve of your style, that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you — only that they feel they may be wrong for you.

Food. The contents of your kitchen are a remarkably revealing window into your lifestyle and personal habits. If your refrigerator holds three sodas and a bottle of ketchup, your date will draw one of two conclusions: you always eat poorly, or you always eat out — or both.

This offers insight into your attitude toward your health, or money spent on restaurant food, or whether you enjoy staying home some evenings instead of being constantly on the go. It may be that these are traits you have in common. If not, it is a legitimate cause for reflection before moving on in the relationship.

Home entertainment. If you spend any time there at all, your house or apartment will contain the books, movies, magazines, and games you enjoy. Do you like horror? Romance? Roman history? Opera? Comic books? The evidence is there. If you are into sports, your skis will be standing in the corner, or your baseball bat and glove will lie by the door. Are you an artist? Your paints or pencils will give you away.

Here’s the bottom line: Your living space is an extension of your SELF. Your partner will learn more about you in an evening in your home than on a dozen dates. Use that knowledge to be sure that the person you are is who you’d most like to be.

Do you clean up before a new love interest pays you a visit…or do you leave things as is? Have you ever broken it off with someone because their house was a disaster?