By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
My years of New York City dating—if you're counting, there have been 12—have involved a lot of guys, short- and long- and mid-term. My longest relationship lasted two years. My shortest—minus the one-off hookups that we all know aren't "dates" at all—was somewhere in the range of two weeks. There have been certifiable crazies, like the Eastern European fellow who broke my bedroom window in a fit of rage and told me not to complain that he'd broken my "fucking window." There was the Jersey boy who worked in women's handbags; fond memories involve him drunk-puking at the Hilton, then giggling hysterically, running, and "hiding" our soiled comforter in front of someone else's door down the hall. There was the super-successful corporate honcho with a cardboard box for a nightstand. The best friend with whom I had zero sexual attraction. The self-described "bi-coastal but not in a gay way" guy who didn't come home one night because he'd passed out in a planter underneath the Manhattan Bridge. (We continued to date for at least a month after that.)
Their ages have ranged from nearly 15 years younger than me to going on 15 years older. There were Peter Pan Syndrome–afflicted man-children, full-fledged adult males with zero desire to grow up, maybe ever. There were drunks and drug addicts and maybe once a teetotaler. There were Christians and atheists and Jews. There was a clammer from Cape Cod—a real, live clammer, with his very own waders. There was a man who shaved everything . . . down there . . . every single day. There was the dashing Argentinean only in town for a week; the Ronkonkoma deli worker barely old enough to drink; the beleaguered i-banker who came over regularly just to pass out on my couch. And I can't forget the "totally eligible" magazine editor who moved to the suburbs while we were dating, convinced me to take a bus to visit him, showed off his two-story brick house with granite kitchen counters and an actual backyard, as if knowing it was exactly what I aspired to—and then promptly married someone else. There were men who have dropped me on my head, literally and figuratively. I could show you bruises.
At some point, I yelled at almost all of these men for not being "what I wanted," and, as we all do, turned to my female friends for consolation and support. "He doesn't deserve you," they would say, my own Greek chorus. "You're so much better than him." Then, inevitably: "Why are New York men such assholes?"
If you're a single, heterosexual woman of a certain age living in New York City, you've surely heard some version of the lament more times than you can count: "There are no good single men living in New York City! They're all gay or taken!" It's followed by various tales of woe regarding "typical NYC jerks" and the evils they have inflicted upon amazing, upstanding, attractive, intelligent, high-powered New York City women who are so much better than the men they date.
You've probably met more than a few aesthetically, shall we say, "uneven" couples, in which the man is short, pudgy, bald—or distractingly hirsute—with one of those pudding faces only a mother (or gold-digger) could love. He's impossibly rich, and his lady-friend could model for a living, and possibly does. Also, he cheats on her. Only in New York!
And you've probably heard, and maybe retold, the modern-day relationship folk tale of that friend of a friend who, after "unsuccessfully" dating in New York for years, met her amazing husband while living or vacationing in Austin, or Boston, or Paris, or Rio, and then brought him back—or moved there herself. Because, you know, you just can't find a decent dude in this city. It's impossible. Those who do it are the exception, not the rule. Ask anyone.
Maybe saying and hearing this makes single women feel better. It enforces the belief that there is such a thing as a "plight" of the single lady, and that women can't be blamed for our lack of success in the New York City relationship game. It's them, not us.
The problem is, it's patently untrue. Worse, it's a cop-out.
New York City, to be fair, suffers its share of problems for the female dater. There are more women than men, which everyone loves to bemoan as the cold, hard cornerstone of this city's relationship difficulties. According to statistics collected by Richard Florida, author of The Great Reset and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, single women currently outnumber single men in New York by 149,219. This is based on data from the U.S. Census, which, it bears mentioning, does not ask to identify sexual orientation. The good news: This number has actually decreased from 2008's woman-surplus of 210,000, a gap that caused Lysandra Ohrstrom, writing for the Observer, to unleash the ominous decree that "savvy, well-educated women hoping to find a mate and settle down are out of luck."