Love thy neighbor

February 14

Sharing a Wi-Fi network brought together neighbors Rahsan Baatin and Victoria Murray, who lived a floor below him. They later married. (Jason Hornick/For Express)

It can take a lot to get some women to notice a great guy, even if he lives right above her. In Victoria Murray Baatin’s case, it took a car running her down as she walked across the intersection at Seventh Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue, one August night in 2009.

While recuperating at home in her Capitol Park Plaza apartment (201 I St. SW; 202-488-4500) that weekend — she amazingly suffered no broken bones or major injuries — Murray Baatin, 30, looked for a Wi-Fi signal from her computer. Despite living there for more than a year, she hadn’t gotten her own network. She found a password-protected signal named “$5mo.,” with a phone number after it. She called the number.

Later that day, Rahsan Baatin, 38, — the guy she had teased about wearing a too-tight T-shirt in the laundry room one morning and who happened to live directly above her — came down to collect her $30 check for six months of Wi-Fi and give her the password.

They hit it off immediately. “Rahsan was just a complete gentleman and a good friend and just sort of took it upon himself to be my little nurse helper,” the D.C. arts administrator says. “I didn’t know this guy from Adam, and he was, like, pulling glass out of my head.”

The two, who married in 2011, are not alone. With shared amenities and building-sponsored parties, it’s getting easier for singles to find love in their apartment complexes.

“It’s nice to see that people aren’t meeting out in bars and clubs as much,” says Match.com relationship expert Whitney Casey. “Alcohol’s a great social lubricant, but it’s not always the best way to judge someone’s character.”

Lauren Nunnally, 28, first saw her now-fiance Michael Comeau, 29, in the elevator of her apartment building, Flats 130 (130 M St. NE; 866-300-2916), in May 2012.

Nunnally was making her way down from the 12th floor during the early morning rush. When the doors opened on the eighth floor, Comeau, who owns a clothing business, walked in and caught her eye.

“He was dressed to the nines,” Nunnally says. “Even his shoes were unbelievable.”

Nunnally got pushed to the back of the car, so they didn’t speak. But after work that day they ended up on the same Metro car back home from Judiciary Square.

“I’m a really shy person, and I get really red when I’m nervous,” says Nunnally, a senior analyst with the Government Accountability Office, “but for whatever reason, when we got off the Metro I was like, ‘Hey!’”

The two chatted on the walk back to their elevator and then ended up bumping into each other again that night in the building’s gym. That was when Comeau asked Nunnally for her number.

Of course, there can be a downside to dating your neighbors. “When it’s working out, it’s a really great thing,” says Casey of Match.com. “When it’s not working out, it’s incredibly awkward.” She recommends that neighbors get together in social, group situations, to determine if that guy or girl is really a good fit, before going out on one-on-one dates. “If you keep it kind of social, then it won’t be as awkward if you decide they’re not the one,” she says.

Even if you two are a good match, revealing your new relationship status to others in the building might feel a little weird.

Rebecca Bernbach, 23, and Zach Graves, 31, who plan to get married in September, were roommates at Flats 130 for six months before things became romantic. It was bound to happen, since they are both think-tank communications professionals who share a love of Grade-B horror movies, Scotch whisky, cigars and West Highland terriers. The tricky part for them was finding the right time to let their other roommate, Will Hayworth, know that their relationship status had changed.

“It was a little bit awkward to explain to your third roommate, ‘Oh, we’re dating now,’” Bernbach says. “It was really funny, because when we finally told him, he was like, ‘You guys think you’re really sneaky. I’ve known for a couple months now.’”

Looking for Love in All the Right Places

If you haven’t yet found a partner in your apartment building, there are plenty of other places to look. According to Match.com’s fourth-annual Singles in America study, released Feb. 5, the top three ways D.C. singles said they met the person they’re currently dating were 1) online dating (20 percent), 2) through a friend (16 percent), and 3) at a social event (15 percent). To make these stats work for you, Match.com relationship expert Whitney Casey recommends you do these three things. (Yes, all of them. Don’t just pick one.)

1) Enlist the troops — ask your friends and family for leads

2) Do things that you love to do, at least twice a month (even if they’re not for dating)

3) Get online — In addition to dating sites, many apartments, such as Flats 130, have social networks just for the building.

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