The Plight Of The NYC Single Woman

Some people come to New York City for work. Some people come to New York City for school. Some people are born in New York City and never end up leaving. But whatever your reason for being here, you probably ended up staying, in part, for one reason: options. On any given night there are thousands of different activities you could be doing and hundreds of them are free. If you don’t like your apartment, you can find a dozen illegal sublets on Craigslist in two hours. Want to gawk at a celebrity drinking her morning latte? Craving pizza handmade by an Italian grandpa who speaks no English? Need pot delivered to your apartment ASAP? Check, check and check. Hell, you’ll even find two three four different Starbucks in a three-block radius.

But maybe the BIg Apple has too many options. NYC single woman Jennifer Doll argues in The Village Voice — the city’s indie newspaper — this week that when it comes to settling down and getting married, no one in the dating game will make a decision because there are too many other options to choose from. Dating can feel like a blood sport anywhere you’re doing it — and I say that as someone who has dated everywhere from suburban Connecticut to Prague. But I think New Yorkers have special reason to moan about themselves: 1) they live in the most populous city in the United States, and 2) there is a ridiculously high concentration of attractive people. I know, I know, Los Angeles is another city filled with models and actors and Miami is famous for its beautiful inhabitants. Obviously, NYC isn’t the one place where beautiful people congregate. But because there are simply more people in NYC than anywhere else, I would argue there are more attractive people.

Jennifer Doll thinks that NYC keeps us all in this suspended state of adolescence where we don’t really feel pressure to commit because there’s always someone new right around the corner. But it’s not just men who think this way, Doll argues. Women become too complacent with the idea of “figuring out what I want” that they end up not really wanting anything or standing firm on their needs — like, say commitment. Doll spoke with one young man in NYC who said that if women made men work a little harder, rather than just saying it’s cool to hook up without any dating or commitment, then men might step up their game. But if women continue to be picky and chuck men aside without working with him first, they’ll just keep aging without getting any closer to what they want. Which, if what they want is children, can be a problem. She writes:

If there is a real and current plight of the single lady in New York City, it’s not that New York men are so horrible. It’s figuring out how to balance what you want and what you can get—in terms of love, marriage, and what each guy has to offer—against all of the options, including the imminent biological reality of your decreasing fertility.

In a lot of ways, Jennifer Doll’s argument reminds me of Lori Gottlieb, the author of Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr. Good Enough. Although Doll makes her case in a less incendiary fashion, both are making the same point: the more you relentlessly find faults, the more the dating pool winnows down and your fertility turns south. I’m happy Doll debunked the urban legend that there are five times as many single women as there are single men — although women do outnumber single men by about 150,000. That certainly makes it go down a little easier when you think about what it means for you to “settle” (stupid hipster moustache, anyone?).

Personally, I don’t think that Doll’s description of NYC single womens’ plight fits me. I have the opposite problem, actually: too hastily wanting to commit to men before they’ve proved themselves worthy of everything I have to offer. Being co-dependent can cause just as many problems as being too picky, I promise you. But I’m only 26 — which is like 19 in NYC years — so I don’t feel any pressure to marry, have kids or get a mortgage yet. Hell, I am still trying to pay my phone bill on time every month.

Did you read the Village Voice article about single women in NYC? What did you think of it? And if you live elsewhere, do you notice the same problems in your area, regardless of population size? Let us know in the comments. [The Village Voice]