Last week marked the first week in my month of travel. I started off in LA for a week and change. Next was on to Chicago. After that comes Pittsburgh, rounded out by a trip to Connecticut. The first three trips are for work. The final one is a two day, charity bike ride -- The Angel Ride. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
As you can imagine, intense travel like this mitigates the likelihood of dates
happening with much frequency, so I mentally prepared myself for a month of focusing on work. I arrived in California a few days prior to the start of my work obligations -- I have friends out there and wanted to take advantage of the chance to see them.
On Saturday night, while out at dinner with my girlfriend, I get a facebook message notification from a friend from college who also happens to live in LA:
Him: Are you in LA???
Me: (sheepishly) yes...how'd you know?
Him: You just came up as a match so I know you must be nearby. Are you really here?
Aside from the obvious weirdness of tinder blowing up my geographic spot, I couldn't help but laugh at the fact that literally nothing is hidden in the age of the internet. Luckily, this was a friend I hadn't seen in nearly 6 years and I was thrilled at the chance to get together. We decided to meet for lunch the next day.
After the usual chit chat catch up, talk quickly turned to our respective love lives and the inevitable: dating. Ever interested in learning about dating norms around the country, I relished the chance to learn about how the dating scene differed in LA from that in NYC. After a nearly two hour discussion, hearing about the ins and outs of his romantic conquests, my biggest take away from the conversation was that in LA, dating revolves a lot more around money than it does in NYC. Granted this was all gleamed from one man's perspective, but it sounded like women were more aggressive in LA about setting up dates on their time, their convenience and their preferences -- princess behavior, if you will.
He told me about one woman who prior to meeting, told him that he needed to pick her up from her house at a specific time, take her to a specific restaurant and then buy her dinner. I probed a bit deeper and he said this behavior was pretty common -- women wanted to be picked up (so the type of car you drive can be evaluated) taken to nice restaurants, chauffeured around (so they can drink without concern for drinking and driving), and basically doted on by wealthy men. On the date, conversation inevitably revolves around who you know and what you can potentially offer from both a personal and a professional networking vantage. I can't imagine making demands like this and know very few single women who would either. I had to ascribe it to nothing other than the LA scene.
After this conversation, I got it in my head that I too needed to give LA dating a whirl. So I hopped on my trusty tinder app and started swiping. I was struck by how many more 'attractive' men were on tinder in LA than in NYC (to be fair, a lot of the photos were professional head shots and, if sex sells and a large majority of these people work in the entertainment biz, it only makes sense that they're gonna look good). I also noticed that I was connecting with a different -- dare I say better -- looking cross section of men than I usually match with in NYC. Again, this could be the preponderance of professional photography, but I also couldn't help but wonder if it was a result of my looking nothing like the rest of the LA population, what with having curly hair, weighing more than 100 lbs, and having all of my original body parts. In this case, sticking out like a sore thumb turned out to be a good thing.
I started swiping, looking for my perfect LA date and stumbled upon a guy so handsome he stopped me in my tracks. Blonde hair, gorgeous, bright blue eyes, quintessential surfer boy looks -- this was my date. We exchanged texts for a bit and when he found out I was only in town for the week, we decided to meet up the next evening for drinks. After the somewhat complicated logistical dance of sorting out where to meet, (and by the way, can I say how annoying it must be to always have to figure out how to get to and from drinks when no one can drink and drive!), I hopped in a cab and was whisked away to Hollywood (thank goodness for Uber!)
We met and he was every bit as cute as his pictures. The conversation flowed as did the drinks. It felt liberating to meet someone and not be preoccupied with making a good impression. I went in assuming there was a high chance I'd never see this person again so I could completely and thoroughly be myself. As I sort of anticipated based on my brunch that past weekend, within the first twenty minutes, money came up. He'd mentioned before we met that he had a trust fund and worked because he wanted to -- not needed to -- and he elaborated on his situation in person. It felt odd to me to discuss finances with a complete stranger and even though you're probably thinking to yourself, that sounds pretentious, it actually came up naturally and was glossed over quickly. It was just standard LA small talk. We had drinks and chatted for a few hours at a divey bar in Hollywood and the evening ended with promises to get in touch the next time either of us was in town. Back in my Uber, I couldn't help but wonder how I stacked up to the women he dates in LA.
When I came back to NYC and relayed my experiences to another girlfriend, she disagreed that money didn't play as much of a role in New York dating. Maybe it's just the nature of the dates I'm having or the people I'm dating that proves this to be the case but I honestly can't even imagine a scenario where money would come up. Then again, I also am the type of woman who always offers to split the bill -- even on a first date so I suppose I'm putting my cards out that I don't expect to be doted on.
Either way, It was fun to step out of your comfort zone and to experience dating outside of New York. It's also nice to know that our access to public transportation apparently levels the dating playing field. Yet one more reason to love NYC.