When you invite a hot date back to your place, do you think your gentleman caller will find that your apartment is as ready for love as the two of you are? Take a look around to see if your apartment is hot or just ... well ... a hot mess.
Follow these suggestions from men around the country on ways to make your place as beckoning as the red lipstick you took 25 minutes applying before he picked you up.
1. I am hyperaware of a woman's bookshelf and music collection. I think it's cute to see a few pop songs or show tunes on an iPod, but if that's all there is, I'm going to get worried. Same goes for too many self-help books and bad romance novels.
-- Keith, 33, New York
Know thy bookshelves and iPods. Whose business is it anyway that you know every word to every Andrew Lloyd Webber opera and enjoy the occasional Neil Diamond marathon? Similarly, at least you're literate, even if you are partial to celebrity biographies and Dr. Phil books. But the thing is, when you are trying to land a guy, if you remind him of his mother or the biggest nerd in high school, that might not be the way to go. Mix in a few pieces of classic literature as well as some classic rock. No one said you had to read/listen to it. Just own it. You'll be amazed how much depth a well-worn copy of "The Stranger" by Albert Camus will give a girl -- even a girl who would do better on a quiz about who wore it better in Us magazine.
2. If she still has the last name of her ex-live-in boyfriend on the buzzer or mailbox door, or if she is clearly wearing her ex's T-shirts to bed, I'm out of there.
--Sean, 31, New York,
Do you have a Cleveland Indians pennant fixed to your wall, but absolutely no interest in sports? Does your nightshirt scream borrowed-from-a-boy? Do you keep a collection of action DVDs mixed in with your chick flicks? Then you are gonna look suspicious to any guy who comes into your room. If you are moving on from your ex, move on from his stuff, too.
3. Pictures of a girl's parents near the bed is really awkward when fooling around.
--Mike, 25, New Jersey
Are you one of those girls with a bulletin board covered edge-to-edge with photos of family vacations, weddings, even old high school pictures -- including the prom? No matter how adorable you all look at the sorority sleepover with the matching T-shirts, or how good you think you looked in the hot-pink tent-dress from your cousin's wedding, it will not make up for the fact that your date is totally unprepared to encounter Grandma staring him down from your graduation barbecue. It's time to take down the photos, or at the very least, move them onto the fridge where they belong. Same goes for framed photos of the starving refugee children you took during your year abroad. Not sexy.
4. Tampon boxes freak me out. I mean keep that crap hidden in the bathroom, please -- not all over your room.
--Sam, 21, Texas
I know we are all totally "Our Bodies Ourselves" here in the New Millennium. However, few things scream "unsexy" like feminine hygiene products. So, unless you are conducting experiments on them (which, let's face it, is weird) put the products away under a sink or in a drawer.
5. A full litter box is just wrong.
--Gregory, 29, LA
No one said that having Fluffy was a bad thing. Kitty, herself, isn't the problem. In fact, a lot of guys find women with pets quite appealing. But women with designer pet posts and too many bedazzled doggie bags are just going to make your date nervous. So, at least for the night, put that stuff away. Down the road, when he builds Fluffy her own kitty-claw castle, you will know you found a winner. As for hair all over the furniture and overflowing litter boxes -- well, doesn't it just go without saying? Dirty pet residue = Not the right kind of dirty. Clean it up!
6. I don't get the whole billions-of-pillows-on-the-bed phenomenon. Where do they go when you take them off?
--Marcel, 30, Chicago
See, here's the thing. A bed that is covered in as many pillows as you have had tears of loneliness underneath them, might just be the very thing that is keeping you lonely. Create a warm, inviting bed -- a bed that welcomes instead of a bed that induces panic. All a bed needs is two pillows (at most) per person sleeping in the bed. Think, comfy, not overwhelming. And consider what colors look good with your skin tone when buying bedding. In moments like these you hope he's looking over at you thinking that you look beautiful, rather than washed-out or sick to your stomach.
7. I don't need some crazy candle factory, but fluorescent lighting just isn't the best for a night of passion.
--Jake, 23, San Francisco
When you are planning your apartment, you might be more concerned with the fact that you work here rather than pleasing some future suitor, whom you may or may not ever even welcome into your boudoir. But when you consider your bedroom, make sure to have at least one lighting option -- even if it's a little lamp you only take out for special occasions. That will help your cause when creating the right mood. Keep a sheer red scarf nearby in case you've had the kind of week that requires you to mute the light even more.
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