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Meanwhile, our fine city was recently ranked the top spot for single men to find a willing lady to smooch, and whatever else, on New Year's Eve, according to more numbers from Mr. Florida. We were named number one of 2010's top 29 cities for dudes to live in: a/k/a "paradise for men," according to gratuitous macho website AskMen.com. Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, writing in Politics Daily, called the ratio of men to women "scarily in favor of men," and advised ladies to "go West—San Diego, Dallas, and Seattle. It's where the boys are."
As Tamsen Fadal, relationship expert and the female member of "America's only husband-wife matchmaking team" told us, "New York is like a candy store to men. If they think, 'This girl's not giving me what I want, or pushing things too quickly,' they find someone else. It's an unlevel playing field."
Of course, love is inherently not a level playing field—its terrain is rocky, uncharted, completely unfair. The beautiful, the smart, the successful, and the young will attract more than their allotment of admirers, while the ugly, the desperate, the "too old," and the socially unfit for whatever reason are just not going to have the same dating opportunities. If you're a die-hard optimist, maybe you believe that there's someone for everyone, but there are far more somebodies for some, male or female.
If you're a single man who has moved to New York City, chances are it has to do with being good—even the best—at something. Hence the workaholics, status-aholics, power-aholics, and whatever else ambition breeds. Meanwhile, the streets are plentiful with ever more attractive women. Amid all that, there is a sense of perpetual youth, a staving off of the trappings of adulthood—like "settling down and getting married"—far into our 30s and even 40s because, frankly, we can get away with it. And there's so much to do! Why get married when you're having so much fun? As one man admitted, "Guys in New York have unrealistic standards for what their lives should be."
But it's hardly fair to say that New York City women haven't come here for much the same reasons that men have, or that they don't have similarly unrealistic expectations. "I think there are a couple of different problems in New York," says Fadal. "People who live in New York are successful in their field or want to be. We're not someplace where so much of our time is devoted to relationships. We then realize our years sort of went by."
This is true of all of us, men and women. Yet somehow, helped along by rom-coms and self-help books and chick lit, at some point we learn to ignore the simple fact that there are two people in every relationship, and that they both have a hand in whether it succeeds or fails. And something else: that the success or failure of most relationships can, if we look at them with open eyes, probably be predicted from the very beginning based on some simple indicators.
Take a "concept" like "He's Just Not That Into You," which puts blame squarely on the man's shoulders. How freeing: He is just not that into you! But at what point did we lose the capacity to be as "Just Not That Into You" as the men? If we're to expect a society in which men and women are truly considered equals, women have to accept their portion of the responsibility, and the blame.
Here's the deal, women of New York City: The so-called plight of the single lady? It's not about him. It's about you.
Some years ago, having lived in New York City since graduating from college, I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving. An older male neighbor who had been invited to dinner took one look at me across the table and said to my mother, "She's single? She's pretty. What's wrong with her?"
You can probably imagine the indignant response that ensued, in which I (and my mom) defended my choice not to be married and not even be dating anyone at the ripe old age of, say, 26, because it's New York and that's how the kids do things there, and plus I'd just broken up with someone, and who are you to tell me I should already be paired off and shuffled down the aisle for a life of tedium and domesticity anyway, old neighbor man?
But, really, the question hit home because there was truth to it. There was (and still is) something wrong with me. And it's the same thing that's "wrong" with pretty much every single woman in New York complaining she can't find a decent man, or who has perhaps even given up in pursuit of her own continued drama and mini-amusements with the kind of guys she'd never want to settle down with anyway (safer that way): We don't know what we want. And so we want a little bit of everything, over and over again.
Auntie Mame said famously that "Life is a banquet, and most poor bastards are starving to death!" But those poor bastards don't live in New York City, where the banquet is 24 hours a day and everybody wants a piece of everybody else, if just for a little amuse-bouche. We're free and "grown up" and independent; we can do what we want, sexually and otherwise. Which is part of the problem, if you're going to call it that.