Is dating really worse in NYC?
December 28, 2016 8:13 AM   Subscribe

What it says on the tin. I realized I don't have a lot of experience dating the modern way (apps for everything) anywhere else, and so have nothing to compare it to.

I also realized I just went on a fantastic first date, first person since my last girlfriend where my reaction is "fuck yes more please," and I'm immediately preparing for every worst case scenario, so I've barely gotten to enjoy the "fuck yes" feeling. I know this sounds like problem with me, but I promise you that if this woman disappeared forever with no explanation after a 6 hour first date with lots of making out and generally being really into each other, none of my single friends would be surprised. They'd be sympathetic, but they'd also just kind of shrug, because that's just part of the landscape. And so would I! I would be sad and (really) disappointed, but I wouldn't be *surprised*.

But is it like that everywhere? Or is this one of those things that New Yorkers just tell themselves is another special (terrible) thing about New York?

Bonus info: I'm a lady gay, but I don't know if that matters for these purposes.
posted by schadenfrau to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Eh that just sounds like "dating" to me, no matter where I've been living.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:27 AM on December 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've dated in NYC and Portland (where I live now) and found NYC to be noticeably better for dating (I'm a gay man.) Ghosting is a thing that happens everywhere. But dating just sucks wherever you live, I think.
posted by Automocar at 8:30 AM on December 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

FWIW I attempted dating in NYC and what I found (pre apps) was that it was nigh on impossible to get the date in the first place, but I definitely didn't find that securing date #2, should the miracle of date #1 happen, was any harder than it's ever been elsewhere.

As a lady of average attractiveness I got far more offers in other cities -- like, literally in any other city -- but after that hurdle, it's all the same.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:33 AM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm not 100% sure I understand what you're saying, but if I'm grokking correctly, this is an inevitable part of high-density big city life. People are somewhat disposable. Not in a psycho/narcissist/cruel way (though it can seem so for those raised in different environments). It's the inevitable result of an abundance of options.

I've worked as a freelance NYC musician, and was always aware that one missed note, one impolitic statement, one bad vibe and a given employer might replace me with any of a slew of other options. Sometimes it would happen through no fault of my own - just 'cuz they got sick of me or craved a new flavor. It didn't freak me out, though, because, by the same token, I had an abundance of employment options.

Same with social relationships - i.e. dating and friendship. People move on more easily when there's a wider swathe to move on TO. Friendships and romantic relationships churn more casually in big cities. The trick is to find a balance. If you're left aggrieved, you need to recognize your OWN wide options. If you're left desensitized (i.e. approaching actual psycho/narcissist/cruelty), you need to check yourself.

Amid this current of blasé superficial surfers, there are some who go deeper. Those are the ones I happen to look for. But that's just another sort of choice amid a multitude of optional choices.
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:34 AM on December 28, 2016 [10 favorites]

(Don't mean to threadsit, but if it matters I'm a native New Yorker -- hence why I have no idea of the rest of the world. Which...isn't great, generally, but is what it is.)
posted by schadenfrau at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2016

Straight lady in 30s here. I used to date (including online dating) in a city of about 300K. I agree with Quisp Lover. There was definitely flakiness in online dating before, but in NYC I have had more than one experience where I was convinced I had found THE ONE (based on a clearly mutually enjoyable experience, no ambiguity) only to have him shrug and brush off a second date because he was "on the fence" or "not quite feeling it." I didn't have that in the other city. People seemed more willing to give people a longer/second chance in my smaller city, probably because there weren't as many options. As someone who still operates on the "give it time" method, it has really stung. I would be guarded too.
posted by unannihilated at 9:17 AM on December 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

The stereotype of NYC being terrible for dates is along the narrow vector of straight women looking for straight men. But that particular vector is pretty dominate in our pop culture about dating.

Having been friends with many straight women while I lived in NYC they seemed to embrace that stereotype as factual. My non-straight-women friends did not experience this phenomena.
posted by French Fry at 9:29 AM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

The women in NYC are gorgeous, well-off, and successful. Lots of competition. Upside for a gay woman: lots of gorgeous, well-off, and successful women to choose from. Enjoy!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

The wide variety of options makes dating in NYC different from places with far fewer singles. This is both a plus and a minus. If you're dating in Smalltown USA, you'd be insane to brush off a good match because you want to hold out for an underwear model. In NYC, you could actually meet an underwear model tomorrow. It may not be probable, but it is actually possible. That and the fact that you can easily never run into a particular New Yorker again can contribute to some very flaky dating experiences.

Another problem is doing what you're doing now: "Dating in NYC sucks, so this great thing is probably not going to work out" can be a self-fulfilling prophecy if you're not careful. I hope your second date goes well.
posted by Cranialtorque at 10:20 AM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I dated in LA and Boston and they were both pretty equally terrible. FWIW as a native Angeleno, I found dating slightly easier in LA because I knew the landscape and the culture and at least felt in my element. No matter how tricky the scene in NYC, that is an advantage for you. I also think it is easier to be m4w, m4m or w4w in NYC. The w4m is probably the toughest, though my sample size of knowledge is small. :)
posted by pazazygeek at 11:14 AM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm on my mobile but I have dated around the world! Which makes me sound more like a player then my dorky self is. In any case NYC or Manhattan is unique, definitely. I've live in a lot of big Western cities and find that NYC in particular is more of a pick up culture. I think it is a combination of alpha people (sorry for that term) who are financially independent and don't see family as the center of the world. This can be great if you're just wanting to bang, but long term is as sucky as anywhere else. You at least get variety, and the average worldliness and intelligent factor is high.

Not an NYC native and oddly found native dating prospects (not people!) worse. Don't know what that's about.

In any case, using apps is very normal here I only dated a few people outside it. I guess apps are normal everywhere now though.

There's a lot of transience here though and a lot of multiple people dating going on. It took me awhile to realize I wasn't comfortable with the I have multiple boyfriends type things and it okay to be vocal about that up front.

Probably happens in smaller towns but it is just more direct here, I know that's cliche but it's true.
posted by geoff. at 12:24 PM on December 28, 2016

Another problem is doing what you're doing now: "Dating in NYC sucks, so this great thing is probably not going to work out" can be a self-fulfilling prophecy if you're not careful. I hope your second date goes well.

I've been in cities that are "small" where this was said a lot. If someone has a picture of themselves at a shooting range, with a caption must love Jesus that might not be your thing, but doesn't mean dating sucks, at least NYC has a nearly unlimited pool of prospects due to its size. I had some dating advice that I've given earlier but it is don't treat first date like a date, you're meeting a friend for a beer or whatever. Just see if it clicks or clicks in a friend way. Don't be paranoid they're dating other people early on (they are, doesn't contradict my earlier statement a lot of times people line dates up in a row). And realize people are busy with careers and be flexible. Also the worst thing you can do in NYC dating to attract the "wrong" suitor is flash money. Again not unique to NYC itself but there's a different level of wealth here.

If they're always suggesting certain bars in TriBeCa that don't have tvs and cost $13 a drink that's not a red flag but a warning sign if you're like me and would rather get a pbr and then browse books at the strand.
posted by geoff. at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2016

This is not specific to NYC, but probably more prevalent in dense urban areas with a large dating population. Ghosting is depressingly common. I find the challenge of dating is to keep from being jaded so that if you meet the right person and sparks start flying, you won't miss the connection. On the other hand, you have to guard yourself a bit so you don't feel devastated when a promising relationship fizzles out after a few weeks. The right attitude is somewhere between "Eh, let's see where this goes" and cautious optimism.

Reading between the lines a bit, I think you're probably working through the fear of rejection. Dating is hard. You feel like you're doing everything right but you aren't getting the results you want so it is tempting to look for some factor that might be making it hard. That's when you start blaming your city, the weather, your job, etc. Not to pick on you, this is what everyone does. We're all trying to justify rejection. But all you can really do is go out there and see what happens. As they say, it takes two to tango. Even if you lived in the best dating city on earth (whatever it is) you would still have to live with the risk of rejection. Even if you meet the best person in the world and you fall in love there is still a risk of rejection.

So IMHO it's best to work on making peace with fear of rejection. You have to deal with it in many areas of life, not just dating, and it's not going to go away.
posted by deathpanels at 1:47 PM on December 30, 2016

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