Why dating in NYC is different than anywhere else in the country
This story won’t help you get actual dates (you’ll have to rely on things like "charm" and "Tinder" for that). But what it will help you get is some perspective -- because dating in NYC isn't like dating anywhere else in the country. So if you're struggling, just know it isn't you. It's NYC.
You find yourself in a relationship because you'd really like to pay less for rent
Or because you really want that summer share in the Hamptons. Or someone to call "babe" every Sunday morning at brunch at The Smith. Or literally any other wrong reason imaginable. That happens. All. The. Time.
Some dates just want to have random Tinder sex on the roof of a warehouse in Greenpoint
Or to take a magical ride on Jane’s Carousel, or reserve a table at that new restaurant, or hit the concert they’ve been wanting to see. Some people are dating purely for the stories, whether they know it or not.
Finding someone to date is wayyyyyy harder than it should be
There are so many damn people you would think it’d be easier, but it’s not. Maybe you’re a traditionalist and you still believe you can meet someone in Central Park... or at a happy hour... or at a museum... or, you know, in person at all. Good luck with that. Maybe you ask to be set up with a friend of a friend. Like, one that you haven’t already slept with. Again, I tip my hat to you, but this is increasingly not how it works here.
Dating sites are 100% ubiquitous, and absolutely nobody is ashamed to use them.
Even though maybe they should be. When a Match.com couple in a different city recounts the story of how they met, they would often rather lie and tell you it was in a strip club than suffer e-shame. In New York, Tinder is so accepted as a means of meeting that elusive attractive individual who lives three blocks from you and ALSO loves hamentashen, you might not even lie to your grandparents about it. If they’re also from New York.
Dating is less fun than partying here
There’s a ton of awesome stuff to do in the city, and since you probably have an awesome and more chill time doing it with your established friends, you’re not likely to risk doing anything "fun" on your list with a potentially lame stranger.
In NYC your standards for a potential date are far, far different than elsewhere in the country
And I don’t mean this as a compliment. It’s not hard to find single people in New York. After you’ve gone to the bars, and sent all the PMs, and swiped to the right on anyone who isn’t in a picture with their mom or a tiger (it happens!), now you have your arsenal of potential dates. It’s time to weed out the weak. I’m not even setting the bar that high. If someone asks for your number and then uses it? Twice?! Win. If they offer to meet you at a spot in your neighborhood, even better! And if your neighborhood happens to be more than three stops outside Manhattan? That one’s a keeper. See? Romance is far from dead.
It's hard to find single people who want to consistently date here
Or hang out, or whatever, because the term "date" is far too serious. When you find that unicorn who calls you back on a consistent basis, you probably get way more excited than you ought too.
But no one in New York is desperate
That guy who asks if your back is feeling okay after you have sex on the roof is not necessarily a gentleman, despite how sweet you think that gesture is. (This never happened.) Thinning the herd can also mean dumping the rugby-playing med student because he was super available and attentive. Yes, New Yorkers also pass on prospective mates because they're too nice, needy, live in a neighborhood that’s inconvenient, or are just plain weird.
Typical dating etiquette doesn't apply
No one is picking you up for a date in NYC. You’re usually meeting at the bar/restaurant/coffee shop. And you have to figure out how to get yourself there. What do you do if you get there first? Do you awkwardly wait outside? What if it’s one of the eight months a year when it’s freezing or those other four when it’s unbearably humid? Does waiting at the bar with a drink make you look totally chill, or like a raging alcoholic? These are just a small fraction of the things that enter into your mind.
You need to be prepared to bang or bail on every date
If it goes well, have you packed your tiny overnight toothbrush in the event of a sleepover? Or did you not shave your legs/chest in an attempt to behave, but now you’re screwed because they’re hot and smart and you’re going home with them anyway? If the date goes badly, inevitably you end up doing something super awkward like saying goodbye and then walking to the train in the same direction and slowly trying to fall back.
There are literally endless options
What makes New York equally amazing and horrible for dating is the sheer number of options. This can be why most New Yorkers don’t want to commit, because they know that there will always be someone else, theoretically better, right around the corner. Like, literally, around the corner you can see right now. And thanks to online services it’s never been easier to find them.
Because of that, people in New York are in a perpetual state of social ADD
Tonight’s newest restaurant is tomorrow’s tired scene. Last week’s smoking-hot date who you really connected with on a deep level is suddenly forgotten because that hot bartender with the tattoos over there keeps looking at you. The perception is that there’s always something better and/or trendier.
An amazing date can double as an unforgettable experience with a more amazing city
There is always potential for an out-of-the-park first date. You aren’t relegated to the movie theater at the local mall, and if you are going to see a movie you can go to places like Nitehawk and eat artisanal cheese while watching it. Usually the best first dates start with a drink, maybe at a bar in the East Village, where you talk for hours and determine that you both share a love of dim sum and Chinese beer. So you go to Chinatown to find some. Then, during the meal, you both discover that you both have stiff shoulders, so it’s off to a massage place on the Lower East Side for cheap massages. Then maybe you go back to his or her place to play the game "everything but..." (This one might have actually happened.) That’s the beautiful part of New York dating. A good first date can last all day and maybe even into the next and can be something truly memorable, even if the other "stuff" doesn't end up that way.
The hardest part about dating in New York is getting a second one
You don’t want to blow it immediately after your first by seeming too eager. But you don’t want to let too much time pass, either. You’re usually golden if you start planning your second date on your first. Usually. Or you have a really kickass first date including, let’s say, a bar, dim sum, a massage, and a healthy game of "everything but..." and then six months go by and you’re still waiting for that promised phone call. Theoretically.
People are always doing seemingly insane, very public things to find love
Like putting up flyers of themselves or covering their faces in a paper bag and going to speed dating events.
But, the real hardest part is realizing that, for New York, this is all 100% totally normal
We keep our options open. There’s too much possibility for something better right around the corner. We truly believe the golden unicorn exists. We’re here because we don’t settle. It’s best not to fret. There’s always another bar, another meet-up group, another Tinder match. It’s really not you, it’s New York.
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Meagan Drillinger is a freelance writer for Thrillist. She is not Carrie Bradshaw. Follow her on Instagram at @drillinjourneys.