No matter what stage of a relationship you’re in, experts and advice-peddlers say, Ikea has something to offer.
If you’re looking for a romantic partner, Men’s Health suggests that you take advantage of Ikea’s one-way traffic, which creates “a natural movement and pacing that makes it easy to stroll and engage.”
Once you’ve bonded over display cabinetry, plan on returning for an official first date. According to the Date Report, Ikea buildings are “perfectly designed for first dates,” starting with their showrooms, which encourage (potentially disastrous) icebreakers such as “what did your bedroom look like when you were a kid?” or “how firm of a mattress do you like?”
If all goes according to plan, you can even propose and eventually tie the knot inside the world’s largest furniture retailer, like one New Jersey couple did in 2013, after a chance encounter in the framing department.
“I saw him right when he came in, and I checked his finger to make sure he wasn’t married,” said Shirley Smith, who is apparently an avid Men’s Health reader. “I followed him for about an hour.”
Eventually, if you’re like 19 percent of married couples and struggling with modern domesticity, you may need counseling. Ikea can help with that, too.
The idea comes from Ramani Durvasula, a Southern California therapist who has devised a new communications exercise for couples in therapy that utilizes notoriously enraging and meme-spawning Ikea furniture, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The store literally becomes a map of a relationship nightmare,” Durvasula told the Journal. “Walking through the kitchens brings up touchy subjects, like who does most of the cooking. Then you get to the children’s section, which opens up another set of issues. And that’s before you’ve even tried assembling anything.”
Her technique skips past the store visit and focuses on the at-home assembly process, where things can really get heated. To help couples practice better communication, Durvasula asks them to assemble “a large piece of furniture.” Afterward, they are instructed to return to her Santa Monica office with progress reports, the Journal reported.
Durvasula — who is also a professor of psychology at California State University at Los Angeles — may be onto something, the Journal notes:
Furniture assembly often causes more friction than the shopping experience, according to March data from consumer research firm CivicScience. It surveyed nearly 7,000 adults and found that among those who assemble furniture together, 17% said they always get into arguments, compared with only 6% who said they often argue while shopping together.
What kind of furniture does the therapy utilize?
Durvasula told the Journal that constructing a small item — the Nornäs coffee table, for instance — presents few challenges for most couples.
More problematic are large-scale, wall-consuming units such as the Liatorp: She refers to it as the “Divorcemaker.”
(Also in contention for angriest assembly, buyers say: the PAX UGGDAL sliding doors.)
Janice Simonsen, design spokeswoman for IKEA U.S., told the Journal the company is aware that the domestic shopping experience can be a stress-filled occasion.
“While IKEA has no set philosophy on couples shopping together, we want everyone to have a good experience,” she said.
Simonsen said the retailer doesn’t provide “mediators or counselors,” but added that 85 percent of its U.S. stores offer home-furnishings consultants, available by appointment, and ready with advice, according to the Journal.
As for the couples therapy idea, she said: “We’re just happy to be part of the process.”
Once you’ve experienced the entire Ikea courtship cycle, you might also want to consider breaking up at Ikea, too, as Tina Fey’s character aptly demonstrated on “30 Rock” back in 2012.
MORE READING: Coming soon: Wireless-charging furniture from Ikea