As I’ve come to learn, dating in New York City isn’t…well…dating. At least what you think of traditionally in terms of the word. There isn’t a whole lot of that good, wholesome stuff you see on TV or in the movies. Oftentimes, he doesn’t call and ask to take you out to dinner, nor does he pick you up, or follow-up after the requisite three days (even if he really likes you). And, as I’ve found out the hard way, more often than not, girls pay their own way.
So what does all of this add up to? Two words: “Hanging out.” At least when you’re in your twenties. This means you casually arrange to meet up in groups, at parties, or at events. And when you do “hang” one-on-one, things aren’t always so planned out. What’s that you say? Middle school? Umm, no, this is totally different.
Sadly, there is truth to the juvenile nature of dating in New York City, most of which people attribute to the high cost of living. I’ve often heard NYC guys referred to as having the Peter Pan Syndrome; they grow up much later because people live with roommates until they get married, and can party into the wee hours without bearing the responsibility of having to drive home.
As for women in their 30s, all I know is that my single, 32-year-old boss does go on an actually real date about three times a week (girlfriend wants to get married STAT), and comes into work the morning after to recount, what is nine times out of 10, a horror story. In her last tale, the guy yelled at her, “Don’t agree with me, OKAY?” and she stormed out of the restaurant, screaming, “I never want to see you again!”
I am 23 and I have seen the future. It is not pretty. Scientists out there: If you could speed up production of that pill that’s supposed to keep you young forever, that would be great.
Because of my line of work (being in the media), relationships are often formed around common ties, and one-on-one get-togethers can often feel business-related. I’ve walked away from so many “drink things” saying, “Huh?”, partially because, from my end, the experience would have been termed what is so loosely referred to as “networking,” and not a date. But then, oh lord, he is calling you, and loves you, and wants you to have his babies.
I recently reconnected with a guy I dated briefly last year. After a good 10-month radio silence, I sent him a friendly e-mail to say hello and tell him that his name had been coming up in conversation a lot lately…okay, a friend told me she knew he was single again. Anyway, he responded pleasantly, and I asked him out for a drink.
Both leading up to our meeting and during, I was plagued: Was this a date? I certainly wanted it to be, but wasn’t sure if the friendliness about it was a red herring. I was torn between what seemed like two old friends reconnecting or two old flames rekindling; the conversation was mainly polite catching up (re-connecting!), but as we ended he said, “This was delightful. Let’s hang out again.” (Rekindling, right? “Hang out”?)
The variables were all too balanced for me and I couldn’t solve anything. After that night, I decided that I needed to come up with some parameters for assessing whether a “drinks thing” is a date or not:
1. Was there alcohol involved? And not just in a requisite, it’s too late in the day to have coffee, and of course we’re not going to have a meal together so we HAVE to go to a bar. If there’s more than one drink, and you’re both acting like your drink is an aphrodisiac, it’s likely you’re drinking in order to increase chemistry.
2. Did he offer to pay? This is a tricky one because I have been on so many dates in New York where guys don’t offer. The minute he does offer, even if it’s just, “I’ll get the first round,” I see that as a traditional gesture.
3. Did he text or e-mail something cute after? If yes, this means he likes you. Or at least, he isn’t sure and wants you to think he does.
The sad truth is that everyone in New York is busy and moving all the time. I’ve had successful dates where the above parameters were pleasantly fulfilled, and guys become enamored of me, but are too busy to make the next move.
When this happens, I voice a cry of frustration: “Don’t these guys want to get laid?”