The question I got asked the most when I moved to New York City two years ago was, "How is dating there? Is your life like Sex and the City?" I'm sure this isn't unique to me. All your girlfriends back home can only assume you are now living your life a la Carrie Bradshaw (or now more like Hannah Horvath on Girls.) No, I was definitely not having as much sex as portrayed on TV (no one is having that much sex.) And no, I wasn't even having cute, awkward sex like on Girls. Here is what dating is really like in New York City. (These are all true stories that happened to me or my friends.)
1. You meet a guy at a bar, he texts to hang out next Friday and gives you an address. Google Street view shows it's a Duane Reade. What? You arrive at 10:15 p.m. (he told you 10-ish) and walk into an apartment full of ten guys. This would be any girl's dream -- all ten are late 20s/early 30s, cute, fit and Harvard Business School grads...except they're all playing speed pong (an even more intense version of beer pong -- yes, I had to look up what that was.) This was the big date you got ready for and analyzed outfits with your girlfriends for hours on end with and curled your hair and wore your nice perfume for. All this for the equivalent of a 30-year-old frat boy in the city. It literally smells like teen spirit (a.k.a. cheap beer.)
2. You date a guy for a while (read: hang out his apartment and watch HBO.) And one day he tells you that he's going to the gym (Equinox, of course) and that you can come along if you want. You tell him you don't have any gym clothes on you. He pulls out his ex-girlfriend's tennis shoes that he didn't think to throw out (well, he didn't throw out the Sex and the City DVDs, so why throw out old tennis shoes, am I right?) and asks if they fit you. He literally wants you to fill her shoes. What a thrifty guy!
3. The most exciting place you have sex other than a certain guy's bed is his couch...with the Yankees game going on in the background. Can you be blamed for thinking through your to-do list whilst A-Rod is up? The guy is probably more into the score of the Yankees game as well. Saddest part? Yankees lost.
4. You go on three good dates with a guy. Conversation flows, you laugh at each other's lame jokes; it's going well, right? Did I mention you also got him a Cronut (this was during Summer 2013, a.k.a. the heyday of the Cronut craze where you woke up at the crack of dawn and waited three hours in line to get one and saved it for him instead of giving it to your sister, or scalping it for $50?) And then he has a family emergency that he needs to go out of town for, but he will DEFINITELY call you when he gets back. Guess he's still out of town on that family emergency...hope everything's okay!
5. You start chatting with a guy on OkCupid (This is obviously going to end well, I mean, it started with OkC...) and you try to make plans to meet up. He tells you he's going to the gym and asks if you want to come lift. Sure bro, let's get to know each other between you grunting and trying to lift weights that are too heavy for you, and you can check out my cute butt in my yoga pants in between sets. That sounds like a GREAT first date!
6. You meet a guy on Coffee Meets Bagel (hey, technology is the way to go for dating nowadays!) and you meet for a coffee. He tells you he works in Asia for the majority of the year. Great, I'd love to be your New York City girlfriend for three months out of the year.
7. You go on a Grouper date (the more the merrier!) and three guys from IBM show up. They live an hour and a half outside of the city. That commute sounds completely doable, considering you don't own a car and all!
8. You go out with a friend and meet her cute coworker. The night ends with just the two of you and you exchange numbers. You never hear from him. A year later, you guys all hang out again, same thing. He apologizes for not texting you before, and you guys end up having a great time and end up alone. He asks for your number with a promise to text. You never hear from him...again. Hey, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
9. You go out with a big group and end up alone with a friend of a friend. You make out at a bar at the end of the night and exchange numbers. He gets up to go to the bathroom....and never returns, and you never hear from him ever again. Guess he fell into the toilet bowl and drowned to death?
10. A guy scheduled two dates in one day -- one at brunch and another for drinks in the evening. Why? His reasoning was that he knew he wasn't going to get lucky with a brunch date, so he might as well get tipsy at brunch and let that buzz carry over to the evening drinks, where he still had a shot with the second girl. How efficient at managing your alcohol-levels.
The thing with dating in New York City is that we're all too selfish. New York City is ruled by money. You can get anything you want in the world at any time of the night as long as you can afford it, but no one has time. The investment banker making over a quarter million a year doesn't have enough time to get off his Blackberry and hold a real conversation, but neither does the broke half guitarist/half barista who is always rushing off to go to a gig in Brooklyn.
And in a city with no time, real life dating is nearly impossible and the efficiency that online dating affords seems necessary. Guys are not even willing to give up the hour needed for a workout to take you out on a proper date. People are not willing to take the time to actually get to know each other because if it doesn't happen tonight, then screw it, they're moving onto the next girl. Another night, another girl.People are a commodity since there's always a new fresh batch moving in with bright-eyed wonder and innocence. Who would choose a date they've never met before over a work commitment? Their career is at stake! Why turn off the TV and miss the end of the game when you can have sex and listen to the score in the background? Why bother trying to end the night nicely with a girl who made it clear she won't sleep with you when you can pull an exit and just ignore her and never speak to her again?
Don't get me wrong, dating is so harsh in this concrete jungle that we girls have become just as terrible. A friend went on a date through OkCupid and then proceeded to get so trashed during the date because he was too boring that she ended up giving her number to the bartender. Somehow, the guy saw her do all this and even asked her out on a second date. She obviously said no. I've had friends go out and make out with three different guys at three different bars, and take another guy home for a one-night stand, and when she relays her night to us the next morning, none of us are shocked anymore. Hey, typical night in N.Y.C. It's almost like a numbers game. We're going to have to wade through so many assholes no matter what, so you might as well just try to go through them as quickly as possible. There must be a good one on there. Needle in the haystack!
In any other city, the time you take to go on one date would otherwise be filled with an evening home alone re-watching an episode of Game of Thrones, but in New York City, you can either go on a date with someone you've never met before and possibly have an okay time, but realistically, just call it a success if the other person isn't completely crazy, OR you could have the best night of your life with your friends and a guaranteed good time dancing and ending up eating chicken and rice at 3 a.m.
Who wouldn't choose the guaranteed good time and try to ask your date to meet you at some bar at one point in the night and integrate them in and have it all? Damn it, this is New York City. You're young, you're smart, you're good looking and you have a great job with great pay. You definitely deserve to have it all and the city makes you believe you can.
I also have to say, that if you were to be single anywhere, New York City is the place to be. There is the possibility of literally meeting a million new people. Some of them terrible, most of them crazy, but hey, they're out there. There are more bars than I know to drink at and sometimes they are amazingly fun. But New York City is also the worst city to be alone in. Because even when you're out surrounded by new people, you can feel more alone than being at home. Because even though there are millions of people to meet, sometimes it seems that you're just in a long-term relationship with Netflix and wake up most mornings, literally cuddling your laptop.
So is dating completely hopeless in this crazy city? No. This is the part of the article where I have to issue a disclaimer and say that I am actually not single (anymore). I did live through all those horror stories of dating though. The thing about this city is that when you decide to finally stop looking, good things find you. I had decided to take a hiatus from the city and go travel for several months and three months before I decide to leave and was just content on going on terrible first dates for the sake of the funny stories, I went to a house party. I wasn't even invited, and just happened to go along with another friend. I was finally in the right place at the right time, instead of at a douchey bar at a time way past meeting any decent guy was acceptable. We both happened to be in between projects at work, and had enough time to actually go on meaningful dates. It easily could have sizzled out, since I was going to Barcelona a week after we met, but we both took the time and the effort and made it work. Was it love at first sight? Please, I live in New York City. He isn't Prince Charming, and I'm definitely not a princess. This isn't a fairytale, but I'm still hoping for a happy ending.