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.