I'd like to think of myself as a bit of an expert on dating, especially in New York City, where I've lived much of my adult life. I went through a lot of men here, and the experience did eventually end in love, but it's kind of a long story. I used to get irritated with my friend and fellow single New Yorker, Andrew, for constantly reciting his "love is a battlefield" affirmation, but after many months of trying to positively reframe that statement, I think he is right.
One of my more memorable stories from "the battlefield" happened a few years ago. After two years of nagging from a friend to let a highly regarded matchmaker set me up with someone, I finally caved. And in case you're wondering, yes, it was one of those things where women who qualify (read: meet the shallow matchmakers standards of wit and good looks) join for free and men with big bank accounts pay. Nevertheless, I decided to be bold and give it a try. And that's how I ended up at Maialino with Phil. He was handsome and very polite before he downed ten drinks. When we headed into Rose Bar to play pool, Phil's outrageously obnoxious behavior escalated quickly, and the guys we were playing pool against asked what on earth was wrong with me for dating him. I'm sure they thought I must be a gold-digger or hired escort for putting up with the animal that was Phil. I subtly confessed it was a blind date gone awry, and the cutie competing against me on the pool table slipped me his number. I sent him a text saying that I got home - and away from Phil -- safely. That's how I got a date with Noah.
Noah was the first guy that I'd been out with in years who was younger than me. We were having a great time until we connected the dots and figured out that I'd had a little escapade with his best friends' father the previous summer. Needless to say, that whole thing soured after that, and Phil, Noah and Noah's friends' father were no longer in my dating repertoire. Manhattan gets smaller every day. I canned the matchmaker and retreated from the field for a while.
The best dates I had in New York were almost all with men who didn't actually live here, but who left me with great memories. I sucked down grilled sardines on a breezy summer evening at the little French restaurant in the Meatpacking District; dressed up in black tie apparel for the Tony Awards; hopped on the back of a Harley in the rain after yoga in Central Park and got to enjoy some lovely weekend-long staycations in fancy hotels. But because none of the men I enjoyed those experiences with lived here, it was essentially fantasy dating. Monday morning would roll around, and poof, I was back to singledom -- and wondering if I'd spot the man of my dreams around the next corner walking his dog or picking out fruit next to me at Whole Foods.
I enjoyed my single life for many years, and it was an integral part of my evolution as a human being, but I got to a point where I thought it would be really nice to be in a meaningful relationship. I just hadn't found anyone I wanted to be in one with.
Back then, my disinterest in anyone that actually lived here could have been a sign of my emotional unavailability and subconscious fear of being smothered by a man who wanted to see me more than once a month. Or it could have been a sign that nobody here wanted to be my boyfriend. I don't love either explanation, but I'd like to believe the former.
Actually, I did have men in New York City that I liked and who wanted to be my boyfriend, but they were either married or otherwise taken. Most shrinks would probably say that these men liked me because they were emotionally unavailable just like I was. Maybe. It's true that more than once I found myself finally attracted to someone living in my city, then discovered he was attached. It's also true that I was susceptible to the lures of what I call of the BBD: Bigger, Better Deal.
Think about how many smart, good-looking and accomplished people reside on or near Manhattan. It should be called Temptation Island if you ask me. We all are brushing up against each other, crammed into tiny spaces and smelling one intimate human aroma after another. Pheromones run wild in this town.
Because there are so many gorgeous, fabulous, intelligent people flitting about the city rubbing all over each other, it's tough not to catch the BBD disease. "Hmmmm," you start thinking. "There might just be someone out there that's just a teensy weensy little bit better for me than this person I'm with right now. Maybe I should keep my options open."
It's possible that I preferred my weekend suitors because with them, I could go after the BBD. No strings attached. Next!
I know at this point in the story when I'm supposed to start telling you how I fought my way through the battlefield, resisted the islands temptation and ultimately discovered the hidden treasure, the perfect person for me, available and all mine. What can I say? I didn't.
Instead, I was visiting Los Angeles for some continuing education last fall, and when I was least expecting it, I met my match. He is the perfect combination of strenght and masculinity mixed with a soft spiritual side, which is a combo I never thought I would be lucky enough to find. At first, I didn't believe it could finally be happening, but my jaded Manhattan heart melted as he kept calling. He didn't facebook or email or text me, he called. Yes, that guy still exists -- the man who calls.
I'm now that annoying girl telling all of her friends -- and you -- that it happened when I stopped looking and that I have the best boyfriend ever and all of that. But really, my years on the field taught me a few things, most importantly that there are still a few good men out there, and that it doesn't have to be a battle to find him. I promise.
I'm sitting on the empty floor of my little apartment in Chelsea and I just sold the last piece of furniture I own. My love story off the battlefield is just beginning -- in California.