Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The dating issues of New Yorkers: it's an issue of choice

Today's exploration: New Yorker's anxieties around too much choice and making the wrong choice.

There's this crazy stat that if you ate at a different restaurant within the five boroughs of New York for three meals a day, every single day it would take you four or five years to every single one.

Here we don't have certain stores where you can get diamonds, we have the diamond district - and flower district and fashion district...  This city is not about moderation; it's about excess - excess that breeds choice.  New Yorkers have more options for more things than any set of city dwellers in the entire world.  That's not an exaggeration or a brag - it's a fact. 

That's the first issue you have to understand to unpack our dating behavior.  This city is all about choice sans moderation.

The second issue is that everyone knows it.  They knows what New York has to offer, why people come here, aaanndd that many of them are very good looking.  No one comes to New York to settle down.  They don't come here to contemplate life and take a breather and figure out who they are and what they really want.  They come to New York to dive into a career because there are more career options here, to experience as much of the city as possible until they're ready to move on, to go balls to the wall while they're still young enough to appreciate bars open past 4am.  They come to New York for the choice. 

So you have a city in which choice reigns king filled with people who came here because they want as much choice as possible.  It's not that New Yorkers don't want to date or don't know how to date or - frankly - don't have time to date.  It's that what made them become New Yorkers in the first place is not the best recipe for stable, healthy, long-ish term, committed relationships.

The problem with dating in New York is that it's filled with New Yorkers.  

When the New York mag article talks about "the anxiety of too much choice" and "the anxiety of making the wrong choice" it's not only tied to the sheer number of people we have at our disposal (sometimes quite literally).  It's about how easily they can be gotten.  

Yes, New Yorkers have an abundance of choice, but they also have the means to choose.  Cell phones in our pockets 24/7 with numbers for options for dates slash sex.  Facebook on those phones for instant access to what people are doing, when, and where.  Cabs on every corner to hop into when after finding out via Facebook that ________ is out at X bar and "yeah u should come by!"  

It's not that choice is an inherently bad thing.  It's not that people who desire to live in New York are inherently bad partners.  And it's not that having instant access to the technologies of modern dating is an automatic recipe for disaster.  There are exceptions to every rule and every personality. 

But on the whole we're working with a city that's all about it "get it, all of it, however you want it, now!" filled with people who hear that and go, "yes! I want it" holding all the means get it in their hands.  

Dating, at its very core, is a numbers game.  And in the case of New York - filled with all its fickle New Yorkers - more numbers does not necessarily mean more success.  


13 comments:

  1. No one comes to New York to settle down. They don't come here to contemplate life and take a breather and figure out who they are and what they really want.

    Is that based on your very scientific findings?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jessie, how long have you lived here? You seem to have a ridiculous amount of insight into the lives of 10 million people for someone so young. Are you a mind reader?

    ReplyDelete
  3. i know new yorkers who want to settle down...that was a pretty broad generalization you made when you said that new yorkers dont want to.

    ReplyDelete
  4. stephane for team jessie:

    there are many new yorkers that want to settle down... i am living proof! but then mr. gorgeous catches my eye on the subway, and then another at the gym, and then trader joe's, and the MoMA, etc... cracks a smile. a joke. buys me a drink...

    *flush*

    there goes my idea of settling down the crapper...

    it's not to say i won't wake up tomorrow with the same lonesome feeling(s)... and that's what makes NYC such a beautiful disease. there's always more. better. hotter. funnier... and this is coming from someone who no longer has facebook!

    ReplyDelete
  5. re: the "no one comes to New York to settle down"

    I too know New Yorkers who want to settle down, but that's not why they moved here. They weren't somewhere else thinking, "if only I could settle down with someone" and then decided New York was the right spot to make that happen.

    Agreed fully that plenty of New Yorkers desire to settle down, but it's not that desire that prompted them to move to New York. Semantic, def, but significant to who New Yorkers are as a set of daters.

    ReplyDelete
  6. They weren't somewhere else thinking, "if only I could settle down with someone" and then decided New York was the right spot to make that happen.

    You're wrong, actually. New York is the biggest city in the country if not the world, where people move to to meet someone and settle down. Not every 20 something is shallow with a roving eye.

    ReplyDelete
  7. LOVE this post! As a former New Yorker, there's nothing like dating in NYC!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I disagree Leo. 20-somethings, for the most part, don't move to New York to settle down. Do they decide once they're here to settle down? Soemtimes. But most 20-somethings come here for something more- whether it's city life, growth in our career, finding that person to have fun with, etc. But I would never move to NY thinking, this is the place I want to go and settle and have 2.5 children. You either come here, decide to settle and make it work or you move out of the city.

    ReplyDelete
  9. To Leo M.:

    "New York is the biggest city in the country if not the world, where people move to to meet someone and settle down."

    (first, minus 2 points for poor punctuation)

    I don't agree with everything in this post, but I disagree with that statement of yours the most.

    I can't name a single 20something--including friends and coworkers from the deep South, New England, Alaska and Scotland--who moved to New York to "settle down." They all moved here for career, life experience, artistic, ambitious or similarly non-relationship based issues.

    In fact, I'd have to politely suggest anyone who says "God, I'd really like to meet my soul mate, settle down, and have that white picket fence with the dog....I think I'll go to NEW YORK to find them!" needs to have their meds adjusted.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In fact, I'd have to politely suggest anyone who says "God, I'd really like to meet my soul mate, settle down, and have that white picket fence with the dog....I think I'll go to NEW YORK to find them!" needs to have their meds adjusted.

    Unless you find pictures of a picket fence and a dog under the words settle down in the dictionary, I suggest that you are the one with the meds issues. There are plenty of people who settle down here in high rises and brownstones.

    Additionally, career, life experience, artistic, ambitious or similarly non-relationship based issues and relationship based issues are not mutually exclusive. It's possible to settle here for a lot of reasons.

    Also, minus two points? What are you, six?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bob, she's not saying it's not possible to settle down in NY, she's saying, for the most part, no one comes to NY with that intention.

    ReplyDelete
  12. OMG.

    No one comes to New York to settle down. They don't come here to contemplate life and take a breather and figure out who they are and what they really want. They come to New York to dive into a career because there are more career options here, to experience as much of the city as possible until they're ready to move on, to go balls to the wall while they're still young enough to appreciate bars open past 4am. They come to New York for the choice.

    Truer words have never been spoken, at least when it comes to dating in New York. You are so fucking observational it makes me ill.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow Bob. Or is it Leo, again? You took that awwwwwfully personally...which is just strange.

    And the meds adjustment comment? It's called a snarky JOKE. Not all that uncommon on blogs. And I didn't accuse YOU of needing meds, so why go off the deep end and start attacking 20something girls on a blog comment board? What are YOU, 13?

    My point was only that the initial reason to come to New York is rarely, EXCLUSIVELY, about finding a mate to marry. There's almost always another factor involved.

    ReplyDelete