In Sync: Is Sharing Your Online Calendar A Relationship Milestone?

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People in love have always savored their relationship milestones: the first date, the first I-love-you’s, meeting each other’s families.

Modern relationships come with their own special milestones, like swapping Wi-Fi passwords, becoming Facebook official, taking down your online dating profiles, and increasingly often, choosing to share your online calendar.

These days, more couples are discussing whether to make their online calendarsvisible to each other. It was even a plot point in the pilot episode of Jane the Virgin. The upside to being calendar connected: You can avoid pesky scheduling conflicts. The downside: It can feel kind of intrusive and kind of unromantic.

How Many People Are Calendar Connected?

A 2014 Pew Research Center study found that 11 percent of couples share an online calendar. That’s not an accurate measure of what we’re calling calendar connectivity. The difference in the language is small, but significant. Making your online calendar visible to your partner is not the same thing as having one online calendar that both of you share

The study also found that 27 percent of committed couples share an email address. “Older adults and those who have been in their relationship for longer than ten years are especially likely to share an email account,” Pew said.

Among younger couples, anecdotally it seems to be much more common to sync your separate online calendars than to share the same email address. If you’re under 40 and have the same email address as your partner, you’re a freak. You know that.

To get a better idea of how many couples are calendar connected, I tapped into my own social networks to do an informal survey. It was anecdotal, completely unscientific and highly informative.

So far, around half of all couples surveyed (about 30 people answered, all under 40) said they share their online calendars with each other. Fifteen percent of the respondents said they aren’t currently calendar connected, but wouldn’t mind if their partner asked. A quarter of the people I asked think sharing your online calendar with your partner is really weird.

Conflict Resolver Or Romance Killer?

From a technical standpoint, it’s very easy to make your calendar visible to your loved ones. But psychologically speaking, figuring out whether you want to share that much information can be a complex decision.

A Pew survey found that 11 percent of couples share an online calendar and more than one out of four couples share an email address.

Brenda Salinas for NPR

Do you really want to know where your partner is at all times? Do you want them knowing where you are?

In the informal survey, some respondents said that being calendar-connected helps keep the peace. “It worked for me and my fiancé,” Krystina Martinez of Denton, Texas, replied. “When we began dating, our schedules were all over the place, so it helped us find the time to see each other.”

New York city resident Aurora Almendral and her partner have even managed to find a little romance in syncing their calendars. “The calendar is another layer of connection we have during the day. We often put flirtatious ‘appointments’ there for the other to find,” Almendral says.

But for a lot of couples, sharing calendars feels a little strange. “I find that a little too stalker-ish for my tastes,” Allyson Michele of Santa Fe, N.M., says. “I get it if there’s an important appointment or event you both need to go to, but I don’t understand why anyone would need to link calendars at all times.”

Sara Paul of Austin, Texas, says “it can definitely lead to snooping if one or both of the partners in the relationship are the jealous type.”

A few passionate respondents were firmly against calendar connectivity. “Adults should be able to function without knowing where the other one is every second of the day,” says Paige Suffel of Houston. “If he wants to know what I’m doing, he can ask.”

A Warning From An Expert

Syndicated advice columnist Dan Savage is in the camp strongly against calendar connectivity. “Maintaining some distance — maintaining some degree of mystery and autonomy — is key to sustaining a romantic and sexual attraction over the long haul,” he says. Syncing up your online calendars is counterproductive to that goal, he says, “unless you’re not interested in long hauling the person you’re currently seeing, in which case, merge those calendars.”

For some couples, a shared calendar is just a jumping-off point. There are dozens of mobile apps designed to keep couples organized. The apps have different features centered around a shared calendar but also include to-do lists, grocery lists, digital scrapbooks, conflict resolution tips and GPS trackers. And for couples that are no longer couples, there are calendar apps to help sort out custody agreements.

A New Milestone

Is syncing calendars the new Facebook official? A quarter of the respondents to the informal survey said they consider sharing their calendar a relationship milestone.

“I think it’s a great idea, but only for couples who have been together for a substantial amount of time (whatever they consider that to be),” Katherine Briggs of Los Angeles says. “My partner and I have been going on for seven years, we both have hectic schedules, and we’re happily (almost) living/breathing extensions of each other.”

Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein started sharing his calendar with his girlfriend after she forgot that his parents were coming into town one weekend. Even though the Brooklyn resident sees being calendar connected “mainly as an utilitarian thing,” there is the occasional head-scratcher. “There are sometimes events on the calendar where I don’t know what it refers to because I’m not the only one adding events to my calendar,” he says.

Spitzer-Rubenstein says in 2016, being calendar-connected is a milestone. “In my relationship, it came after we were already engaged and it just made things easier.”

What’s Stopping Texan Millennials From Buying Homes?

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Despite low prices in the oil patch, the housing market is still looking very strong through much of Texas. And with Texas cities ranking among the best places for millennials to live, members of this now aging generation want to pass an important milestone: homeownership. The instant-gratification generation is drumming up plenty of business for companies willing to accommodate their shopping style.

Almost a third of Texans are under 30. By comparison, Baby Boomers make up one fifth of the state. And now, a study by the Urban Land Institute has found that more than half of all young adults 19-36 want to own a home someday. Deborah Brett co-authored the study.

“Generation Yers are still very much interested in homeownership,” she says. “Most of them see themselves as homeowners, just not right now.”

What Brett calls generation Y, other people call millennials. If every person in this group who wanted to buy a home bought one, this would be the largest home-buying generation in history, just by its sheer size.

But for many millennials, homeownership seems like a far-off dream.

“I think the ability to become a homeowner is tougher than it was in prior generations,” Brett says.

In some big cities like Austin – where the real estate market has been at historic highs – it’s actually cheaper to rent than buy a home. Houston and in Antonio are headed that way – Thanks to rising home prices there too.

Martin Walner manages high-tech boarding houses for recent grads. One’s in Austin. He says most of his residents want to be homeowners one day, but he’s not sure that will happen.

“I think a lot of people want to own a home at some point in their life, because they see it as a goal in their life one of the check boxes to reach, but especially single people,” Walner says.  “They wouldn’t want to have a home that early on because there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with it and I think a lot of it is also jobs, it’s a very competitive job market out there.

Plus, millennials aren’t very handy. A third of the young homeowners polled in the study said they have no idea how to do necessary maintenance and repairs. Twenty percent said being a homeowner costs way more than they thought it would.

That means there are a lot of business opportunities there. Rick Orr runs a website that’s kind of like Pinterest for home listings.

“They’re very much bringing the industry forward in allowing for instant gratification from everything from finding homes to getting a quick response to whether or not we can go look at the listing on Saturday,” Orr says.

These apps and websites become even more popular in such a hot real estate market.

Harnessing The Power Of The Most Entrepreneurial Generation

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The Bentley College study showed 67 percent of millennials want to start their own business.

Fred Truffle, the director of Bentley’s entrepreneurial studies program, says part of that is having lived through the Great Recession.

“They’ve seen their parents get fired or laid off during the downturn, that affected many of their lives, they don’t want to be part of that, Truffle says.

“If I’m going to take a risk, why not start my own company?” Truffle says, “It’s a better alternative.”

Josh Bauer describes himself as a millennial who helps other millennials quit their jobs.

Bauer’s with Capital Factory – an Austin incubator for start-ups. He says starting a company is cheaper than it’s ever been, especially when it comes to a tech company.

“Number one factor to start is that the cost has dropped, democratized it, opened it up to a lot more people,” Bauer says.

Bauer says that makes it seem like it’s possible to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerburg. Twenty-nine year-old Melanie Weinberger certainly sees herself that way.

“I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Weinberger says.

Her startup is a consulting company called Fitsteady. She chose to headquarter in Texas for a reason.

“I moved to Austin sight unseen because of its low cost of living, that’s important when you’re an entrepreneur and high quality of life, I don’t know how often those two are correlated,” Weinberger says.

“It’s super liberal, it’s weird, you can try out wacko things, it’s not a major metro, you won’t get your ass kicked as quickly, you won’t get trampled on as quickly.”

But 90 percent of startups never make it past the seed stage, even though Texas has one of the highest millennial population growth rates in the country and a business friendly climate, entrepreneurs in Texas face unique challenges. Cam Hauser directs 3-Day Startup, an entrepreneurial workshop for college students.

“Silicon valley, the investors in that community are much more likely to invest in a really cool idea that shows no promise of making money,” Hauser says.

“The investors here in the Texas community are a very business-model driven, they’re interested in business models that are proven to make money.”

In Texas, 13.5 percent of the millennial generation is unemployed or underemployed. A report by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation projects that millennials will make up 75 percent of the American workforce by 2025.

As state legislators consider how to keep the Texas job machine turning, Bauer says there’s one thing they can do attract young entrepreneurs from out-of-state.

“There’s not a lot that they can do,” says Bauer. “They need to stay out of the way, they need to not do things that make it an unattractive place.”

“Incentives that make people want to live here, nothing specific about startups, keep making this a place where people want to be,” Bauer says. 

Bauer says he believes Texas should keep taxes low and do something about increasing housing prices in Houston and Austin – all things to keep Texas an affordable place to start a business.