Welcome to NYC, interstate transplant or fresh off the boater.
Welcome to NYC, concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Yes, there's nothing -- and no one -- you can't do.
Welcome to a whole new world. Your dates will take you anywhere -- there's time to share -- just don't expect either of you to text each other back.
Stage 1: You will quickly realize that your usual tricks don't work here.
Any given block in Manhattan has a ratio of exactly 34 runway models to every Starbucks. Men will not make moves on you. They will, however, tell you how many Instagram followers they have. They are keeping their options open and they will bail on you at the last minute. You will learn that this is called plan shopping, and soon, you will do it too.
Stage 2: You will experience "The Blow Off" -- both as victim and assailant.
The Blow Off is sometimes, but not always, attributable to The Overwhelm. You will blow men off because they suggest a spot in East Village, and you know your wardrobe options are not yet random enough. You will blow men off because you felt like it would definitely involve a subway switch somewhere near 42nd St, but you couldn't be bothered looking it up on Google Maps. You will blow men off because they cannot commit to a date and a time and a place -- and you don't stand for that kind of treatment. You will blow men off because you feel like their eagerness to lock in a time, date and place screams soccer dad.
Stage 3: Of the dates you do attend, many will end after one drink...
...because of one or a combination of the following reasons: his voice is too soft and girlish, his voice is too brash and loud, he is shorter than you expected, because he is balder than you expected, because he gets all handsy before you've even finished your first drink, because he can't stop looking down your top.
Stage 4: You will sleep with people who, weeks later, will ask you what your last name is.
You are horrified and offended -- until you realize that although your devices are already intimately connected to their wifi, you don't actually know their last name either.
Stage 5: Just as you feel like you are finally starting to connect with someone...
...you bear witness to their collection of Nike Air Maxes and realize that no person of sound-mind could ever need that many color combinations of the exact same shoe. Then you notice that they use a PC instead of a Mac.
Stage 6: You will try harder to make it work with men for these reasons...
...they have an apartment building with a doorman. They have no roommate/s. They have a rent-controlled apartment that has a bedroom of unusually sized proportions. They have access to a rooftop. They once said that they wished they had kids by now.
Stage 7: You will have dates where the dude walks you to the subway station, and then in an ultimate act of chivalry will try to swipe you through on their weekly card...
...as though you are some street urchin who lives from meal to meal. No matter what the situation -- a very public display of awkwardness will ensue. He may try to kiss you at the turnstiles and some girl will say "are you for real?" as she pushes past you. Or he will make a token effort to arrange the next non-date as you are swept into a sea of peak-hour commuters -- all of whom are judging you.
Stage 8: You will make the mistake of thinking that just because you have woken up next to the same person...
...on more than one occasion and you once bought them chicken soup from Trader Joe's when they had a fever -- that this means you are dating. Or that you should be confused as to the status of whether you are dating. You are not dating. You will know when you are dating, and this agreement will not be reached via cryptic emoji combination.
Stage 9: Just because there is a bigger gene pool in NYC, it doesn't mean there are more people to choose from.
One day as you haul your dirty laundry down Broadway, you will be struck with this epiphany: Just because there is a bigger gene pool in NYC, it doesn't mean there are more people to choose from. Most of these people have chosen themselves, which is why they moved to NYC. They are in love with the city, and they have just about as much free time in their calendar as you have anything that resembles food in your fridge. And even if their calendar did clear at the last minute -- just like you -- they have irrationality high expectations, so they probably wouldn't date you anyway. But you never know.
Now, consider yourself initiated. It's time to put on your most badass Zara outfit, paint your face with Sephora contouring pencils -- and go into battle.
Photo credit: Derek Key on Flickr, Creative Commons