People warned me about the L.A. dating scene long before I moved here:
- "It's the absolute worst," they said.
- "Everyone is just using everyone else to get ahead," they said.
- "Plus it's like high school here! The social circle is so small that you can't hook up with anyone without is being total town news."
Since moving to L.A. I've had the chance to conduct a much more detailed analysis of the dating customs (albeit from a second hand perspective). I don't have a lot of perspective on the degree to which people are using each other to get ahead (though it seems logical) or to what degree this place is just like high school (though every single person I know before I moved here did know exactly who R was before we officially started dating). But what I have seen as a bizarrely ubiquitous problem is that fact that people often don't know whether or not whatever they're going on is a date. Comments like this are the above-the-norm:
- "He invited me to drinks but I'm not sure if it's just to talk about what we have in development for pilot season."
- "She seems cool but I know she's trying to make the jump from agency to studio like I did, so I'm not sure what last Thursday was really."
- "It was totally flirty but then the check came and he goes, 'you can expense this, right?'"
I know. It doesn't seem like that makes any sense, but picture the following scenario:
You, a 26-year-old female junior executive working in development at a television network are in constant contact with dozens of like-aged male executives working at talent agencies or management firms. For those unfamiliar with the structure of the business, an agent or manager makes it a point to develop relationships with television executives sos to get their clients work at said networks. It's more complicated than that, but you get the picture.
So one of these male executives invites you to drinks on a Thursday night. You have a typical to flirty relationship with said executive making it easy to feel like, "there's something there..."
Said drinks occur, they go incredibly well, you get along splendidly, and he picks up the tab.
Was that a date?
Chances are no, but chances are if you're a 26-year-old junior exec you were savvy enough to know that. Where it gets tricky is when that repeats several times without a clear indication of doing future business together. Or when it starts our business-flirty and turns flirty-flirty. Or when he barely mentions business throughout the entire maybe-date. All very gray area, and apparently all too common here in LaLa Land.
The cynic/realist in me wants to say - if it's a date or he wants it to be a date he'll let you know. He'll invite you to parties with his friends or brunches outside the work week or take you to events as an obvious plus one.
"Oh, all that happens," another female friend explained, "And some."
In that case, maybe they were right. Maybe L.A. really is the worst 20-something dating scene in the country. Unless I've only come across individuals with an inability to decipher a date.
What do you think, fellow Los Angelenes? And how much are you rolling your eyes right now, rest of the country?