Recently, a Reader Who Shall Remain Anonymous asked me about dating in New York City. I’m always psyched to know that someone wants to hear what I have to say, about anything, so I thought I’d give it a go.
I try to avoid writing about this topic because there was a time in my life, not too long ago, when I was all drama, and I’m glad to be out of it. I’d like to say I looked inside, dug deep, and grew, but in reality I started seeing someone who is very grounded.
All to say: I think I can write about this once without regressing.
At first I thought, well, it’s easy to explain dating in New York! It boils down to this: For years, I thought Sex and the City was fiction, and when I moved to New York, I realized it was a documentary.
In just one night in Manhattan, you can meet the same number of folks you’d meet all year in LA simply by going to two bars in the East Village. It’s population density, which is why SATC had so many crazy-yet-legit adventures. Easy to meet people, hard to retain their attention—because this sea has lots of fish.
And then I realized: no matter where you’re dating, your city imposes one specific set of challenges. It’s man versus the environment—just like the classic literary conflict! Of course, there are others, and they all boil down to various literary conflicts.
And here they are:
Man versus environment. I’ve mentioned the LA/NYC battles with population density—too much or too little. Every city has its demographic and geographic challenges that can work for you and against you. To use LA as an example: there are so many obstacles to dating, such as: the 405 freeway, finding a parking place, distance, and overall sobriety. However, once you conquer these, you’ll spend lots of quality time together—long car rides, barbecues, and looking for parking spaces.
Man versus man. This is the most obvious conflict. Maybe you’re old-fashioned and think a guy who calls you after 10pm is being rude and weird, but he just works late hours. Maybe some guy read The Game and is trying to neg you, but you read Steve Harvey’s classic Act Like a Lady Think Like a Man. Your styles will not mesh. He will be playing it cool, and you’ll be demanding to know his plan before you give out the cookie. One of the troubles with dating is that even if you like someone, you don’t know the game they’re playing or what rules they’re using—kinda like showing up at a casino but having no idea if you’re playing Poker or Blackjack until you’re losing, despite the fact that you have a queen and an ace.
Man versus society. During my early twenties, I lived in Paris. It was so fun in all ways except the romance department. How anyone dates in Paris, I have no idea. I’ve heard the only way French people get a boyfriend or a girlfriend is to steal that person from someone else. I like this theory because I never had a French boyfriend and it makes me feel like it’s because I was busy sticking to my principles. But I also gained 25 pounds in Paris, and I suspect that’s the worst city in the world to be a chubby single person. It’s at least Top 5.
Man versus machine. Perhaps you’re dating someone who doesn’t have a smart phone and you can never reach her. Or maybe you meet someone online but once you hang out in person, you realize that technology deceived you and the charming, witty avatar only exists in Firefox.
Man versus destiny. I love stories of couples who grew up in the same small town, but didn’t meet until they were living in an apartment building in New York City. Destiny drew them apart and pulled them together. Maybe they were fighting destiny all that time?
Man versus self. This is the conflict that never goes away, to take a very cynical view of things.
Man versus supernatural. This is where my crackpot theory breaks down. I have no idea how to stretch the analogy to fit this one…. Maybe it’s that you’re an atheist but in love with someone who is Christian. In this case, God, or the lack of one is in the way?
And there you have it! If you feel like sharing what it’s like to date in your city, I would love to know it!