Ikea Will Make or Break Your Relationship

Ikea will tell you if he is the one.


Made it through Ikea and still have relationship questions?  Ask Isaac, our resident boy expert.  

Ikea is a nice idea in theory.

It’s a blue and yellow emporium of affordable household items. It’s famous for its meatballs. Going there counts as weekend plans, and because it’s European, it makes you feel worldly. Do not be fooled, however, by its stylish comforters, or the cheerful employee who hands out golf pencils upon entry. Ikea tests relationships. It’s Swedish for “No mercy.”

You will get lost on your way there. No one has ever successfully located an Ikea on the first try regardless of GPS or natural cognitive mapping ability. Getting lost while driving is a relationship test on its own — this we know. But the stress associated with finding the perfect leather sectional further exasperates the typical car fight, leaving your couple already slightly pissed before you even enter the store.

In a fleeting minute of naïve hope, all is resolved upon entry. Much the same way bakeries and Abercrombie pump the smell of bread and abs onto the street, Ikea’s vents release hallucinogenic gas that stuns shoppers into a fog of unrealistic home improvement expectations. Visions of grandeur and cohesive decorating schemes take over. You become high on DIY.

Before it is realized that both parties have polar opposite tastes when it comes to entertainment centers (typically just after an argument over rug budget and a moment of panic wherein someone lost his phone by the kitchen cabinets), a second heavy wave of emotion hits: exhaustion. There is something about Ikea — the lack of windows, recycled air — that sends its patrons into a state of Walking Mono after approximately 15 minutes inside.

You will grow weary; your lethargy turns painful; and he or she who once was your partner in crime suddenly becomes a true manifestation of ball and chain. That’s when the threats begin: Drag me back to look at bathtubs one more time and I swear I’ll knife you. Utensils: third floor, section five.

Hunger kicks in around the hour mark, but you’ll never see those rumored meatballs because there are “perfectly good leftovers at home.” The Swedish alien names (Ektorp for couch, Blewborg for towel) become as annoying as your partner’s voice and likewise, no longer funny. Your alliance is broken. You’re as good as separated, but there is one more stop: the warehouse, which everyone forgets exists, where you must locate and pick up all of your shit.

And then you stand in line.

If the two of you can make it home without bringing up the quarrels of the last three hours and agree to build your bookshelf another day, your chances of staying together are practically guaranteed. You’ve gone through the trenches. You’ve picked out a shower curtain. You broke a swivel chair and your partner hid the evidence. That is true intimacy.

As for those in the relationship-gray area, confronted with the most stressful and pressing question of today: “So…what are we?,” forgo The Talk.

Suggest a casual trip to Ikea instead. Say you need to get a new lamp. You’ll have decent lighting and The Answer by the time you leave.

Image via Elle Ukraine


Get more Postmodern Love ?
  • This is so true and so amazing… ALSO why the fuuuu does IKEA have so many parts… why! Its never easy!

    • Honestly I think their directions would be easier for Americans to understand if they just wrote them in Swedish because the English is pretty much Taushiro and at least Swedish is very, very phonetic.

    • Amelia Diamond

      ahahahah that picture is the BEST thing

  • GapToothedGirl

    This is so true…it’s like a picture of me and my love!!

    XOX, Gap.


  • Ah, yes. Yet another beautiful illustration of the exact warehouse where dreams and relationships go to die. It seems as though the other people who walk in IKEA with you, you meet again at the check-out line, as if it was a long arduous journey you both endured. The best part is eavesdropping on other people’s arguments on which shade of pink they should get the lamp in. That’s just the best.

    • Best place for eavesdropping. The solid, 20+ year marriages that seemingly end at the checkout counter of Ikea are numerous. And to think, they were SO CLOSE to exiting. My favorite though is listening to Swedish families in Ikea. I always wonder what they think of the American fascination with “Minimalist Scandinavian Design” and whether or not they feel the manifestation of the aforementioned has strewed so far from original intent/concept.

      • And there’s no hope for a rescue since I suspect IKEA purposely removes any cell/Internet service in the showroom. It reminds me of an episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon goes to IKEA for Valentine’s Day to test the relationship.

        I’d love to know what the Swedish think of our frustration of putting together a minimalist table. When I went to Sweden last year, I saw a few IKEAs around & naturally, I would shriek with pleasure.

  • This song “Trauma” by homegirl, Doja Cat, miraculously came on shuffle while I was reading this piece. Seems fitting, as she sings:

    No one’s gonna save you from yourself
    And I hope that you feel better
    I hope that you feel good
    And no one’s gonna want you if you cry for help
    And I’m there now
    I care now
    I’m there now
    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh. Hush.


    (In my humble opinion, though, anything Scandinavian is worth the sacrifice. Hejjjjjjjjjjj)

  • HAHA – there has never been a truer truth spoken!

  • Allie Fasanella

    I’ve never been to ikea, thankfully, I guess. I can only assume it’s some sort of fucked Costco Home Depot hybrid and nothing sounds more alarming to me. I don’t know what this says about my parents marriage, but they once went tj max, just tj max, where maxinistas are born – and my mother came home and told me that her and my father were getting divorced. They’re still stuntin’ though. I can only imagine what ikea would do to them.

    • Ha! I’m convinced that most shopping is the root of all evil. Something about the combination of crowds, jarring lighting and bad music is a recipe for social unrest.

      • Allie Fasanella

        Word. Send me into an Abercrombie, with their blaring music, aggressive smell and i’ll be stressed out for hours after. Maybe DAYS.

    • Amelia Diamond

      IF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN TO AN IKEA, TAKE SUDAFED (keeps you awake so jk! just drink coffee!) AND GO. It’s awesome once. Then never go back.

      • Allie Fasanella

        I’m all over it, girl. *Pops Sudafed*

  • Meatballs first- you gotta plan your attack over Swedish lunch food with that too-perfect catalogue and bring lindenberry juice boxes and chocolate to eat when you finally make it to the dining room section. Makes even a five-hour Ikea trip bearable!

    • I will admit that I have been there more than one time because I was hungry…and oh, just happen to be right next to an Ikea

  • Pelsa

    agreed! everyone has to go through this at some point in their lifes..


  • andrea raymer

    The first time I went to Ikea was quite pleasant because I was with my parents and we had few hours to kill and we were near one so we decided to see what all the fuss was about. We approached it with the same attitude as going to an amusement park. It was quite nice. The first time I went when I actually needed to buy things was not so pleasant my brother hates crowds and was pissed off the entire time and about two hours in it was near impossible to escape the sounds of crying children and my dad broke and made a comment to me that was just a bit too loud and a 20-something mom yelled at him.

  • I used to be a lone hunter. Finding your way through countless pieces of furniture, lost children and families quarrelling over a carpet is so much easier if you have no one to take care of except for yourself. Then I decided to live in Scandinavia for a year or so. During that time I was introduced to the concept of taking a companion for an IKEA trip. That was a life-changer. Now I waste much more time every time I visit this shop.

  • Rhizlaine

    Ahaha Every single sentence is so TRUE! I always look forward to going to Ikea but once I get there I immediatly start arguing with my husband. I want to go through every single item they have in store. He just wants to get the lamp / table / couch we were coming to pick up! Grrr so frustrating!

    Bisous from Paris



  • Cinamaron

    My boyfriend and I have opposite tastes in home decor- I like bright, airy spaces with white walls, wooden accents, and interesting colorful furnishings (and lots of plants). Whereas my boyfriend likes things to be dark and enclosed, like a cave or maybe a creepy old manor that is probably infested with ghosts. Whenever I try to show him things on my pinterest he gets agitated because our idea of the ‘perfect house’ is so different. So we pretty much never go to IKEA.

    But if we did, the IKEA near us is opposite the Mall of America so we wouldn’t get lost!

  • Dre

    wasn’t this the premise to a 30rock episode? (-:

    • Amelia Diamond

      APPARENTLY. Swear I don’t even watch that show. I have only seen two episodes and know that I love the rollerskating page.

  • Belinda

    “You will grow weary; your lethargy turns painful; and he or she who once was your partner in crime suddenly becomes a true manifestation of ball and chain.” I really couldn’t have said it better :-D! The hot dog at the end always brings us back together though. Is there no hot-dog stand at the exit of the Ikea store in America?


    • Amelia Diamond

      guys is there a hot dog stand at the exit of the ikeas in america?!!?

      • Belinda

        There is in Germany where I live. The Ikea hot dog is amaaaaazing 😀 :-D! No, it’s actually the best!

      • The Atlanta one has a hot dog stand AND dollar cinnamon rolls AND dollar frozen yogurts. Also a solid round of champagne beforehand will make any Ikea trip like, 150 times better. #Drunkea

        • Carolina

          There is in Spain too!!! And it does bring us back together. I guess Hot dog stand might be an European thing

  • lora

    i literally found my partner in red hook’s ikea. we found love in a hopeless place. now it’s 2 years later!! god bless ikea hell

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Rikki

    This is so true and made me cry from laughter!!!!

  • I have never thought of Ikea that way.. But I’ll be thinking of this post next time I go.


  • I only went to IKEA once and I felt trapped, lost, and unable to find my way back out. My boyfriend felt the same way so I guess it is destiny. We both hate IKEA.


  • I was born in an ikea. JK! How crazy would that be. I WAS brought there a LOT as a child and would be left in the playground/daycare/ball-room thing while my mom walked around Ikea for CENTURIES.

    One time I peed in the ball pit. I don’t remember the story of why and the event has never phased me but I’ll never forget that it happened.

    My boyfriend and I just moved to my home-area and we may visit that exact same Ikea because we have NOTHING in our apartment. Great timing! The IKEA test awaits!

    • When my fiance gets fiesty in Ikea I threaten to take him to Småland. Apparently if you join Ikea Family you get liiike thirty extra minutes to leave your kid there! What a benefit.

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  • and if your relationship survives long enough for you to return to Ikea with kids…
    “The Kids Are All Lost: What to do When You Lose Your Children in Ikea”

  • pamb

    But you didn’t relax in the cafe! Or get a soft serve cone and shop in the food market on your way out! Those are the two best ways to de-stress after a few hours of IKEA frustration.

    And one day, when you have small children and you cannot TAKE IT ANYMORE, you will drive to IKEA and check them into the children’s play area. You will retreat to the cafe, buy yourself a cinnamon roll and a cup of (refillable) coffee and read a magazine. You will get your children when their time is up, go back to the cafe and feed them, and take them home for their nap. Under $10 (or even $5) for a successful morning’s activity.

    It was a sad day when my eldest became too tall for the children’s area.

    • Amelia Diamond

      pamb, i can’t eat ice cream which probably proves that this rant is me projecting my feelings of anger and resentment at my own lactose-intolerance than anything else, really.

      question, is the B at the end of your name because of Step Brothers? If so, I love you. (I still love you if not.)

      • pamb

        I am Old, so I haven’t seen Step Brothers (the B is part of my last name). I’m glad you still love me, as I love all of my Internet Friends ;)!

  • KT41

    This is spot on! I once had a massive meltdown in the lighting section of IKEA. I had pms, I lost my sister, and all those lights and people, at the end of the IKEA maze. I just wanted to get out of there!

  • The last time we braved Ikea we saw that another (hilarious) customer had found some wooden magazine holders (you know the ones for home offices?) that had letters on them, I guess, for alphabetising things. Anyway, they had arranged them into the word ‘penis’. People were just walking past a shelf with the word ‘penis’ on it without even batting (wrong choice of word?) an eyelid.
    No arguments that day.

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  • Every time we go to IKEA, we do what can only be described as a bizarre “prep-session”. Basically it consists of my husband and I repeating: “we will not lose our cool. we will not yell at one another. we will not allow horrible people to turn us into horrible people” Upon entering, we turn our aggravations to taking the piss out of everyone else, from the woman with the blood-curdling laugh or the man who walks slower than my grandfather (who currently uses a walker). It might make us horrible people, but on the brighter side, we’re still together.

  • Lucy

    The 30 rock episode about this is the S^$%

    • Amelia Diamond

      this is on my to-do list thanks to YA’LL

  • I snort laughed. (I don’t do that very often.) GREAT article!

  • Um, it was actually Ikea’s meatballs that tested my relationship. I figured it was a rite of passage to try them on a recent trip with the hubs. Then after eating he goes, “I can’t believe you ate them with the whole horse meat controversy thing.” HORSE MEAT?! Yes, apparently there was a horse meat scandal surrounding their meatballs and my hubs knowingly watched me shovel them into my face. Let’s just say assembly was a solo project for him. #blackbeauty

  • Megan Marvin

    I once watched the Olympics in IKEA since I don’t have cable. So many living rooms to choose from!

  • laurensands

    So because of the above, I decided to go to ikea without my husband. I ended up fainting in the curtain section. Yup… Just passed out amist all the unhappy couples. It was super awkward. An employee had to help me upstairs to the cafeteria where I had some meatballs and water. Needless to say I have not been back.

  • was just at ikea last night, so i deem this article accurate. except it doesn’t stop there. then you get home, and then you start putting together the couch and lamp. but you are SUPER GIRL, so you try to do so before boyfriend gets back in from buying cigarettes. damn, didn’t finish in time. time for teamwork part dos. boyfriend does not appreciate the fact that you are showing off how good you are at putting together ikea furniture. boyfriend does not like your comments about how you are probably the handiest dandiest woman he will ever find. nono, in this universe.

    its ok – we just made up.

    • i love the way i feel when i manage to put ikea things together and one of the moments i knew it was over between me and my ex was when he doubted my ability to do so and kept on insisting i needed help….. my resourcefulness and do it yourself mentality are some of the things that i am proudest of so if my guy tells me i cant screw together a stupid table he does not know me / does not appreciate me!!!! such a serious realisation in such a daily thing. weep.

  • Julie Meowmeows

    I read this out loud to my husband. 😉 Although I’m always the one that turns into the grump with the aching feet! Also, these observations could probably be applied to Costco too. Too . . . much . . . stimulation!

  • I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.Thankyou i really love it

  • Scoan Healings

    urgent…………..i want my ex lover back he is leaving

    me not calling or texting, he is not even responding to me

    anymore. i don’t know what to do i am completely outta my

    mind i am just crying all day long>>>>>>>>>>if i don’t get

    him/her back i will end my life………PLESAE save your

    strenght you don’t have to commit suicide to get your ex

    it’s will not even bring him but rather makes you a big

    fool………..now you have mother of the world sunlight

    daugther of jai mata durga,,,,,,,,,,,,WHAT ever that you

    need shall be given unto you contact now her email here


    husband broken up our marriage he wrote divorce and we

    divorced 2yrs and 4months ago just last week i contacted sunlight

    because everyday i dream of him as i love so him much last

    week ago i contacted sunlight 3days of it my husband came back

    after the casting of the charms has been and we settled again

    right now we are living together>>>>>>>>>>>pls worry not your

    self because she is her to help you in what so ever that you need.

    thanks to you mother of the world glory be unto your name woman

    of powers”””””’i love you

  • ClaraLovesYou

    MY EXACT EXPERIENCE THIS WEEKEND. 10/10 would not recommend leaving only approximately 12 minutes for the warehouse section before closing.

  • Jackie Glinkie

    My relationship must be strong. I dragged my husband through the whole place backward trying to get to the restaurant first. I didn’t know that we could have turned right instead of going straight when we got off of the escalator in the Tampa Ikea. I wanted to kill myself going against the traffic pattern of the store. I can only assume that he also wanted me to die lol. One hour drive, wrong turn, go through store backward, and a cart full of crap we didn’t need. Yep, I guess he loves me.