Dating: Melbourne vs. New York

I come from a land Down Under, where women like camping and men don’t pay for dinner. Now imagine—I move to a place that, on it’s face, is almost the same. Everyone likes movies and books and going out for brunch and sitting in cafes drinking coffee and booze and talking about new iPhone apps and emotions. However this new place—New York—beneath its tricksy façade, is really the complete opposite of everything I’ve ever known. Women cringe at the thought of camping and men always pay for dinner.

I moved from Melbourne to New York 6 months ago and I am still attempting to gracefully navigate the city’s dating scene. Instead I’m falling over, bumping into the sides, accidentally pressing the eject button and just fucking it all up in every awkward sort of way you could possibly conceive. You see, as an Australian girl with Australian gumption, I’ve never really dated before. Yet I have still visited the broad spectrum of relationships statuses, from flings to long-term boyfriends to ‘it’s complicated’, with relative ease.

In Australia, dating is generally perceived as 90s anachronism that we scoff at, are secretly intrigued by, but that, at the end of the day, we’d prefer the whole sordid process be confined to an episode of Friends. We still have sex and relationships despite our aversion to traditional dating because in Australia intimate relationships of any nature happen organically—as does the vast majority of fruit and chicken.

Normally, you will meet your love interest through a friend or a friend of a friend or a friend of a friend of a friend. You will hang out in a group and make eyes at each other across a circle of vaguely connected people on a rooftop bar or a house party. Eventually you will find yourselves in a corner talking deeply about your favourite literature and making racist jokes and sarcastic proclamations about God that you both acknowledge are born of wit rather than hatred—this mutual understanding is how you will know that you like each other.

You might make out, you might not, but you will exchange numbers. You’ll know that you really like each other when you’re in a cab going home alone at the end of the night and you’re sending and receiving super cute, incredibly loaded text messages to each other. The next day you’ll probably hang out again—one of you will inevitably invite the other to a group picnic or to see the latest indie film at the coolest indie cinema with some awesome indie friends.

Time will pass without you noticing and then one day you realise you’ve hung out almost every day for 2 months. You’ll be lying in bed one Sunday morning reading the paper naked and drinking orange juice when one will roll over and say to the other, ‘we’re like, only seeing each other right?’ The other will shrug their shoulders and casually say ‘I guess,’ because you both knew there was never really a question of anyone else to begin with, mostly because you’re both too lazy or too relaxed for things to be that complicated.

Cut to New York:

“Hello complete stranger that I know nothing about but would definitely like to bring home. Would you like to go to dinner with me one night so we can sit awkwardly across from each other and ask one another dumb questions about where we grew up?”

“Sure, you’re kind of good looking and you seem rich so I guess I’m going to get a free meal from a place I wouldn’t usually be able to afford.”

“Great, what’s your number? I’m asking for it even though I’m not going to text you for at least 3 days because I don’t want to seem too available.”

“That’s OK, I’m going to act like I’m busy the first 2 times you ask me out even though I’m probably just going to be sitting at home by myself watching 30 Rock and picking out toe dirt.”

“Ew, toe dirt, on second thoughts you have far too many flaws and I don’t want to date someone who doesn’t fit my absolute ideal of a perfect human.”

Fin

As someone who embraces bodily function, complete verbal honesty and who has a no-nonsense approach to sex, dating in New York is like a deep psychological thriller. Nothing is what it seems and no one is ever satisfied. Add to that the acne inducing stress of having to constantly project The Best Version Of Yourself, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for Single And Afraid To Mingle. I assume the easy pace of Australian love affairs might prove frustrating for some, but I’m drawn to the simplicity—the relative ease with which we shift into love, the way that boys appreciate a woman who can burp the alphabet or fit a whole cheeseburger in her mouth at once (both me), and the fact that even though I have to pay for my own dinner and drinks, I get to laugh myself rotten and forget about being anything other than my worst, most comfortable self. TC mark

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  • http://twitter.com/KelleyHoffman kelley hoffman

    rad

  • PERFECTCIRCLES

    You should only date very rich, financial types if you want to have an easy time of dating in NYC.

    • Katgeorge

      You know, I tried that, but it proved just as difficult. I think because we had this really Rich Guy meets Jenny From The Block type dynamic.

      • PERFECTCIRCLES

        Make sure they are at least 10 years older than you too.

      • Katgeorge

        I haven't tried that one in a while because the last older man I dated was a turd burger but I'll try and find one here. If nothing else it will at least be a good story!

  • cookingshow

    Nice generalizations. I know plenty of women in/from New York that love camping, and the majority of my friends don't “date” like that.

  • JD

    “Ew, toe dirt, on second thoughts you have far too many flaws and I
    don’t want to date someone who doesn’t fit my absolute ideal of a
    perfect human.”

    Ha, perfect. Dating in NYC is a bunch of people looking for unicorns (i.e. some figure out of a fantasy that doesn't actually exist).

  • cookingshow

    That, or people who just want casual sex but behave otherwise.

  • Dfasdf

    Is this another one of those “people from here are like this and people from there are like that” posts?

  • Stephaknee D

    You need to move to Denver, girl! Nothin' but the best organic love affairs here :)

  • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew F.

    Loved this so much. Apparently I'm not a weirdo after all, I'm just Australian inside.
    Time to move home…

  • vincentgalbo

    I want to go to Australia.

  • http://loveandradio.org Nick vdK

    I've lived in Boston, NYC, and Chicago, and about 90% of my relationships started the 'Australian' way. Then again, I don't think I've met more than a dozen people in my whole life who voted for Bush, so clearly I'm a freak by American standards.

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    I liked this!

  • Guest

    I'm moving to Australia

    • http://tattoosnob.com Julene

      Shit man, me too.

  • Clark

    i think the real distinction between the two places you are talking about isn't so much culture as it is familiarity. in Australia you have a group of friends to introduce you to their friends who are your pool of potential love interests. you can all hang out as friends and relationships evolve organically. in NYC, you probably don't have a solid group of friends, or several different groups of friends. so you have to do the new-in-town dating thing, where everyone is a stranger. so the formal dating thing happens because the familiar scene isn't there in the first place. give it about a year and i bet you'll be back to your normal non-date dating thing :)

    • Katgeorge

      I sure do hope so! I have a fairly solid group of American friends here already though and I guess I don't date them or their friends because, um, for lack of a better word I'd just like to be friends? Have I said friends enough times in this passage? Maybe one more time for good measure? Friends. There we go.

      In all seriousness though, New York really does rule times a billion. And the awkward dating thing has filled up notebooks of amazingly shame inducing stories for writing fodder!

      • Guest

        Your Freudian slips have highlighted your problem – your subconscious has confused reality with the title of a TV show.  Even on Friends they weren't all just friends.  In all seriousness  Clark is right. When moving it takes time to acclimatize even if you have a social circle in place, and for that web of friends of friends to extend to people who can be more than friends in the way you described happened in Melbourne.  From someone who has moved an unusual number of times it does take a year or two to get that in place.  In the mean time sit back and enjoy the oddness :)

  • http://twitter.com/kyleangeletti Kyle Angeletti

    Awesome and hilariously written. I would like to hear more about your adventures.

  • GSJeio

    Gre8 Gre8!

  • http://profiles.google.com/sophiaciocca Sophia Ciocca

    Get me on a plane to Australia ASAP.
    Well-written, humorous, and relatable.

  • susiq

    i totally disagree that australian dating is like that – my experience couldn't be any more different in fact.

    once again perhaps like NYC for you – its like that for some but not for others. in fact i've found the asking out on dates thing in North America much less loaded (less pussy's) and more open and casual. like guys here aren't freaking out about asking someone to hang out like guys back home seem to be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=292400020 Haley Fiege

    I'm a Canadian living in New York. This is so spot on that I want to print it out and hand it to the men in bars who try to buy me drinks.

  • Stefan


    dating in New York is like a deep psychological thriller. Nothing is what it seems and no one is ever satisfied.”

    idk, I kind of like that. angsty! neuroses! my mind works so that if it feels easy and uncomplicated, it's because I'm doing it all wrong.

    • Katgeorge

      It's like a mirror maze, honestly!

  • PETER

    how can a chicken be/not be 'organic' anyway?

    • Katgeorge

      Cage hens! It was just a joke anyway!

  • Heathcliffwasframed

    London is just the same as Oz. The, obviously generalised, NY idea of a series of quick-fire dates auditioning the public for a role in your life is fairly horrific!

  • Nick

    I'm from Melbs too, but studying at Cornell. Whenever I travel, the thing I miss most about home is the easy state of gender relations there. I grew up taking it for granted, and I remember it being strange to get out into the world for the first time and find that it's actually a very rare thing. (I feel like this is part of what you mean by expressing your nostalgia for a world where “men don't pay for dinner”.)

    • Katgeorge

      There's more of a level playing field between men/women/boys/girls in Aus… We relate on a different way that maybe doesn't impose as many gender expectations on relationships. However, maybe this just comes down to the fact that we don't date relative strangers so there's no need for formality!

  • http://profiles.google.com/kayla.l.freeman Kayla Freeman

    Dating in Australia sounds quite similar to dating in Austin, TX.

  • http://twitter.com/onthe7 Jackie

    You killed it, girl. But I suppose a good portion of NYC's economy – commercial and otherwise – is built on people filling those voids that we create for ourselves and partake in. There's density, there's availability, and with it comes mass chaos. “Simple” doesn't have to mean uncomplicated, and you proved that.

  • Miss Lady

    I could not agree more. Dating in New York has caused me to question everything about myself, and wonder why guys are so picky about girls and what EXACTLY they want in a relationship, and yet they can be complete douche bags and we are head over heels for them.

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