Why Everyone In New York Should Just Stop Dating

I’ve been in New York for almost a year now, and I have come to one definitive conclusion about how to approach dating in the city: don’t. When I first arrived here with my Friends inspired expectations and suitcase full of clichés, I threw myself into dating like I’d throw myself into a pool filled with $20 bills—hastily and greedily, with an abundance of enthusiasm and gratuitous groping. I said, “yes,” to everyone who asked me out, and after dating what seemed like an exhaustingly long string of men and coming out the other end still single and having deemed only one of the many “worth” the time I invested in him, I never felt less fascinated by the concept of dating.

Essentially, that’s all it was for me—a fascination. I came from a lifestyle where dating was the exception, not the rule. Where relationships evolved organically and girls and boys just sort of hung about together until finally they got drunk enough and brave enough to kiss each other. I was fascinated by the mythology of dating, and especially by Woody Allen’s New York, which aside from sitcoms and Jay-Z, was what I had built my expectations of looking for love in New York City upon. And then there was the process—the whole meeting a handsome stranger, the anticipation, the getting dolled up and the awkwardness—that was even more intriguing to me than the men I was actually seeing.

Which is why I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone in New York should stop dating. Because, really, what I’ve learned from dating in this city is that everyone is dating because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do—and not necessarily what they want to do. For whatever reason, individuals see “dating” as pivotal and necessary to their existence in New York, which, in turn, leads to the dissatisfaction of constantly dating the wrong people. New Yorkers date frivolously and freely, and there’s no regard given to discerning who we are dating. We only seem to care that we are dating at all.

It seems like New Yorkers are following a predetermined trajectory (from whatever number of external influences they are driven by) and in turn creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the likelihood of finding love diminishes as neurosis increases. In a city where everything is available to most people on demand, I feel like I’m watching some kind of brutal emotional massacre by overstimulation. No one knows exactly what it is they want—people seem to want everything, all at once. People don’t have a “type,” they’re dating anyone that falls within their periphery just because it’s possible. The process that so intrigued me at the beginning of my time in New York is striking me as increasingly unhealthy. I’m now seeing dating as a paradoxical act insofar as it seeks love, but is the exact reason why everyone is still moping around on their single asses.

When you do finally meet someone you like, as I did, you can’t be sure you like them, because, shit, 5 other guys are asking you out at the same time and they’re all so different and wonderful in their own way—what’s to say one of them isn’t Mr. Right? And even once you’ve made the conscious decision to forego the rotation, who’s to say the man you’ve set your sights on has done the same? It’s a tenuous, difficult thing, and communication is often lost in the transformative process where total strangers become lovers. It’s not easy to discuss your feelings with someone who you didn’t know before, but with whom you’ve shared intimate dinners and even sleepovers—you literally have no context for this person other than against the backdrop of New York dating. You probably haven’t even met their friends. You only know of them what they have projected to you on a structured date, and in turn this is all they know of you. There is no basis upon which to build trust, and there can’t be open communication without trust. Follow?

So this is why I’ve stopped dating and you should too. I’m done with awkward dinners with strangers. I’m done with the useless rotation of men who end up meaning nothing. I barely have time to pick at my ingrown hairs in this city, let alone hang out with the people I actually care about—dating men for the sake of it seems entirely frivolous. What I’m proposing instead (and listen, I think we’ll all benefit from this) is just chilling the hell out. Yes, go out. Yes, meet people. But (for want of a better word) chill in the process. Hang out in group situations, in comfortable environments and on un-hyped occasions to get to know someone before deciding whether or not romance will have it’s place. Otherwise, in the context of dating people just become disposable, and relationships become commodities—lifeless and fleeting. TC mark

image – Natalie Nikitovic

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  • Guest

    YES

  • guest

    replace New York here with really any major city. 

    • Anonymous

      haha then add chinese whores to hong kong, singapore and shanghai

  • Pensiveme

    Yup, believe it or not, this is a phenomenon happening in Jakarta, Indonesia as well, especially if you are a reasonably attractive person, come from urban middle class, have quite a number of social events, and voila..arranging a date seems easy  (without trying to sound arrogant) 

  • clark

    that’s what I said when you wrote Dating: melborne vs. New york.  see:

    CLARK 3 months agoi 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 :)2 people liked this.Like ReplyKATGEORGE 3 months ago in reply to ClarkI 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!

    • Katgeorge

      You called it! I don’t even remember this but my eyes are bulging at your foresight as I re-read it! Thanks xx

    • cooper

      right– idk kat, i just moved to melbourne from north america and i’m finding
      the same thing–the organic dating thing happened where i’m from but here it’s much more systematic. i think clark is spot on; it has to do with the comfort and your social circle– i see some people here having a relationship evolve within our established group, but i date outside of it. it depends on the type of person you are. maybe the move helped you grow out of hooking up with friends.

      • cooper

        sorry, i’ll add that the social circle i hang out with don’t really include australians.

  • http://elle-oh-elle.tumblr.com Elle

    I love you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527765318 Leah Zobott

    that last line: Otherwise, in the context of dating people just become disposable, and relationships become commodities—lifeless and fleeting. bam. 

  • Nate

    I think you should stop calling it “dating,” a word that definitely carries archaic undertones. So just like you said, people should just chill with one another. Instead of dinner, why not hit up a museum, walk through the park, etc. Activities that are less about spending money at trendy BK restaurants and more about straight up conversating over shared moments in cerebral/natural atmospheres. Basically, something that provides for a thoughtful, meaningful, maybe even a little bit spontaneous, experience. The problem is the approach to dating is mad trite and boring. Going out to dinner? Fuck that desiccated shit. Let’s take a random trip to City Island, I can’t believe this place is actually a part of NYC. Or, ever been to Sheepshead Bay? Let’s hit up this spot called Roll n Roaster, stuff our faces with Roast Beef n cheese sandwiches and then make fun of the gaudy Russian restaurants nearby. Not into joshin’ the Russians we can always adventure out to Staten Island and try to find our way to the Tibetan Art Museum. They got this meditation garden out there…shit, it’s an exfoliant for the soul. Clearly, I’m biased toward the nature-art scene, but people gotta play into their interests/personality strengths and shelve that predictable dinner and movie shit. 

    • klaus

      thanks Time Out New York.

      • Nate

        I grew up here brah. Don’t need Time Out to tell me where to go. 

  • http://twitter.com/Gaponski Viktoriya Gaponski

    I will stop dating if you stop writing

    • Katgeorge

      As tempting as your offer is, I’m don’t think I quitting my job is 100% worth taking you off the market–close, but no cigar.

      • http://twitter.com/Gaponski Viktoriya Gaponski

        You should run your comments through an editor as well 

      • http://www.myheartandmyskull.tumblr.com Lauren

        Not nice or constructive, either.  My favorite combination!

  • Anonymous

    This has to be the BEST thing I have read about NY dating since I have been here. Eloquently written and totally on point!

    I have already convinced myself that dating here is useless, but this article further solidifies all my thoughts.

    Cheers and thanks for sharing dear.

  • Nottelling

    strumming my pain with your fingers… singing my life with your wordssss…

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamahmad Ahmad Radheyyan

    My next article will be entitled: Why Everyone on Thought Catalog should just stop Writing. I’m going to get to work on it today.

  • mehcat

    everyone talked about finding husbands or “serious” boyfriends in university…but it’s either stopped the moment my cohort got to tertiary levels, or it’s a complete lie. Everyone is dating crappily or staying single out of choice (or the lack thereof of choice men).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    hooking up/// JUST THE TIP

  • Ashleyriegle

    Word, sister. We hear you, we hear you. Hence our blog: http://www.singleforareason.com – check it out and submit your tales of dating disaster and hilarity. If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry… Ashley of SFAR

  • Ashleyriegle

    Word, sister. We hear you, we hear you. Hence our blog: http://www.singleforareason.com – check it out and submit your tales of dating disaster and hilarity. If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry… Ashley of SFAR

  • Lillian

    i agree with all your points about why formal dating amongst 20somethings BLOWS but i’m not really sure this is endemic to New York. i think all these points would hold true in any metropolitan area of the US

  • Anonymous

    must be cool to get asked on dates. 

  • Kate

    This is exactly the dating situation in any major urban environment.. I live in DC and it’s the same. Thanks for putting my frustrations into words!

    • John

      Hey you want to go out in October?  I’ve been on a 6-month sabbatical from OKCupid, and after I go on vacation in September and then read a copy of Dating for Dummies borrowed from the Arlington County library [I’m 29, it’s time] and buy some new shirts at Tyson’s Corner I’ll be ready to roll.  My day job is coding for the govt, like everybody else I know.

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    I started forming a lengthy, intelligent reply but at the end of the day I think you’re right. The vast majority of us are dating because that’s just what you do – it’s something to fill 1-3 nights out of your week when you aren’t with friends/seeing some concert/locked in the office four hours later than anticipated/etc.

    I think we’d all be experiencing an increase in neuroses regardless of our dating habits, though. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this place has a tendency to make most people go a little… off left of center.

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      Also, I loved this. Forgot to include that in my previous comment.

  • douchegirl

    This is very true. I usually end up dating my guy friends because I’m more the type of person to go do fun friendly activities with them (with no hidden agenda) and then things kinda flow from there. 

    The concept of total strangers becoming lovers is SO weird to me. I know that’s what dating here in America comes down to, but still. I don’t buy it. 

  • eva

    I couldn’t help but read this with Carrie Bradshaw’s voice in my mind.

  • Quasishire

    concrete examples make personal essay articles a lot more entertaining. Otherwise, the piece comes across as a well-worded rant. Really, what’s the better alternative to trying people on all the time…not doing so would just lead to a lot more television-watching, no?

  • jhl

    Can I buy you a few drinks instead?

  • christine

    i love you kat george

  • Woyzeck

    But if everyone in New York stopped dating, Thought Catalog would lose 75% of its writers.

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