There is nothing more horrifying and magical than dating in New York City. Here are the best and worst bits:
The Good Shit
1. It really is magical. The stereotype is true – New Yorkers don’t know how to slow the fuck down. We’re “in the zone,” so to speak. We walk down the same 20 blocks or so on a daily basis; we frequent the same subway stations and buy cigarettes from the same bodega, and we can do this all on autopilot without absorbing anything that goes on around us. But when we’re on a date with someone we like, we’re different. We suddenly become aware of hidden Dim Sum restaurants and alleyways we’re certain didn’t exist until five minutes ago. When you’re with someone new in New York, it feels like you’re seeing everything for the first time. In some ways, you are.
2. A good date doesn’t have a price tag on it. It seems like a date that requires an exorbitant budget is kind of… typical? Only a boring person would think that an expensive dinner is “fun.” Expensive dinners are what you do when your aunt is in town or when you’re proposing to someone. But a date? You should be stumbling around town because you’re drunk on booze and electricity; you should be accidentally walking over the bridge because you want to get closer to the moon. You should be at a dive bar listening to a shitty band called ‘Spider John and the Multiplication Tables.’ Any New Yorker worth dating knows this.
3. There are tons of options. There are just a lot of young, single people in New York. They all belong to one dating website or another, they’re out every night of the week, they’re going to the gym, they’re sauntering up to you while you’re trying to get the bartender’s attention. Of course, this probably becomes discouraging and a bit sad when two decades have passed and the scene hasn’t changed, but in your twenties it’s pretty rad.
4. Cab rides. There is nothing like making out in the back of a yellow cab. Nothing.
The Bad Shit
1. The Seven Degrees of Amy from Accounting. Real talk? Everyone knows everyone. New York is like a fucking college campus, down to catching your friend on her bi-weekly walk of shame while you’re on your way to work. You can hit it off with someone who seemed like they moved to New York specifically for you; just to be charming and interesting with a side of mind-blowing sex, but when you finally look them up on Facebook the reality is much bleaker than that. You have 13 mutual friends – the guy who broke your heart, Amy from Accounting, your cousin Mickey, the girl who interned with you in 2007, your next-door neighbor, your ex-boyfriend’s sister… it just doesn’t end. Who knew Prince Charming went to NYU with the Seven Dwarves? The incestuous nature of New York has several repercussions:
- You will run into this person at least twice a year, forever more
- You will hear stories about this person that will likely do nothing to nurture your fondness for them
- You will date people in each other’s circles
Look forward to this cycle until you move to another town, where social networking isn’t so prevalent. I recommend Madrid.
2. Buyer’s Remorse. Sometimes we get in a slump and date the first person that seems like they’re interested – and then, perhaps around Date #3, we meet their friend. Their friend! The one we should’ve been with our entire lives and maybe before that! In the before-life and the after-life! They are so perfect. They are so remarkable and hot and the perfect height and the gap in their teeth is wonderful and they smell like cold-brewed iced coffee and JESUS. WHY. The person you’re dating is always friends with your future spouse. Always. There are ways to make this work in your favor, but they all require emotional nudity and ~2 years to implement.
3. Been there, done that. When you have a favorite block, or restaurant, or bar, or neighborhood, it’s expected that you’ll share them with the person you’re dating. In turn, they’ll take you to their places. And you’ll create memories in those places. It’s all very romantic. Eventually, you’ll break up; you’ll meet someone new who will take you to different places. And then one day, you’ll be walking down St. Mark’s Place with a friend. “That’s where I did karaoke with Tom!” Ten feet later. “That’s where I was standing when John broke up with me on the phone!” One block later. “That’s where I had that awful blind date with the foot-fetish guy from OkCupid.” Two feet later. “This is where I got a tattoo with Sam.” “I met Marco at that bar… it used to be called something else.” And that’s when it hits you. You’ve been leaving memories all over the city like you’re the fucking Easter bunny preparing for an egg hunt. And those egg memories? They’re all spoiled and gross now. They leave a thick stench behind, one you know well. It’s the scent of failure. It’ll feel like there isn’t one block you haven’t desecrated with misplaced infatuation; it’ll feel like you’re going to have to do things you never considered before – like dating in Queens.
4. The Flake Game. Everyone in New York is either busy, a flake, or both. Even people who don’t have jobs are busy. “Oh, can’t today. I’m painting a live model in Central Park and then I’ve got a launch party at the Thompson. Maybe next week? Thanks for understanding.” The problem is that you never know what category people fall into. You will utter the words, “He’s just busy” so many times that even you don’t believe it anymore. By the same token, you’ll get a text while you’re rushing from work to post-work drinks, and you’ll read it and make a mental note to answer it later, and later comes, and then three days later comes, and you realize you totally flaked out on someone. This is the nature of the game; you are a bad, busy, flaky person. And so is everyone you date. Embrace it or die alone.