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Won't you date my neighbor?

OPINION

(Chicago Tribune file )
August 23, 2012|By Zach Stafford, @zachstafford | For RedEye

I went on a lunch date the other day. The guy was cute, he made good conversation, and the food was great—the usual first-date ingredients that have you thinking: Is this the one?

When I told him I live in Edgewater, my date looked excited and responded, "No way. I am moving there in August. We'll be neighbors!"

I had an internal freakout and stared at my food for a few moments before returning to the conversation.

In my past dating experiences, I've always taken comfort in knowing that the person I'm dating lives at least two neighborhoods away. Distance is good. It forces us to make an effort to see one another.

During my awkward pause in the conversation, I worried that a nearby boyfriend might not make that effort. And that we might try to make it work just because we would live close to one another. And that we would see each other too much, too soon. And, most dauntingly, I worried about what would happen if we broke up.

Then I remembered something and resumed the meal: One of my current neighbors is a guy I dated a few years ago. When I moved into Edgewater, I was consumed by the fear of crossing paths with him. However, to this day I have seen him only once, and I didn't notice till a friend pointed him out at Dominick's.

Recalling this on my recent lunch date, I decided that whether his address was in my building or in Bucktown, I was going to give it a shot. The new address wasn't going to be my deal-breaker for potential happiness.

At the end of the day, proximity doesn't need to be a problem. Instead, in these moments of relationship-moving anxiety we should ask ourselves: How are we doing? Am I happy?

Or maybe realize a new address may not change someone from being a jerk. As you move closer to each other, there is no better time to talk about boundaries and expectations, talk about your future—even if it still is newish. The same way your city and neighborhood have boundaries, you must set boundaries to define your relationship and yourself.

If we're dating someone who moves closer, we can't freak out only about the new address. We should freak out if things aren't going well. Or freak out over having to help with a move into a building with no elevator.

A new address won't necessarily create problems that weren't already there, but it may show them in a different light, or at least a different ZIP code.

As for my lunch date ... things have since fizzled. He has moved down the street and we have yet to run into one another. Which is great—let's hope I don't jinx it.

Zach Stafford is a RedEye special contributor.

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