Dear Single Women of NYC: It's Not Them, It's You.

The plight of the single lady

At the same time, if you don't want children, then maybe you don't really want a husband, or as one happily unmarried New Yorker explained, "I'd never been really hung up on having kids. It certainly made dating easier, because I didn't have the same timeline some of my friends did. No urgency. The same holds true now that I am dating someone. Whether we get married or not is almost immaterial since we don't plan on having kids. Unless, of course, one of us gets hooked up with really good health insurance. Then we'd get married for sure."

The fertility question is often a tipping point, and definitely "a challenge for women," says Fadal. "Men here are very motivated, and their career comes first. They're not under any age restriction, nor do they face the fertility reality. If that weren't an issue, I think women would keep playing the field, too. I would. But all the technology in the world isn't going to change that." Another married New Yorker agreed: "If you could have babies easily into your 50s, I think you'd go on being single forever," she said. But we can't. This is just a biological fact.

It's also a fact that, at least in the non-romantic portions of life, understanding and expressing what you want makes achieving it far easier, whatever the "it" is. Yet, by and large, New York City women fail to be specific with men about what they really want and instead just go along with things hoping for the best and getting angry when it doesn't work out that way. Or they're so specific, with such intricately wrought lists of requirements for what they will and won't date, that they miss the point altogether—if the criteria is that complicated, maybe they don't actually want to be with someone at all yet.

Perhaps this is changing. I've heard of at least two single New York women who have set their own wedding dates for themselves—minus even a potential boyfriend. Say what you will about the "method," but I think they should be congratulated for having at least acknowledged what they want while so many of us wait aimlessly for a nebulous "Mr. Right" with whom we will fall deeply and madly in love in the kind of fantasy relationship promoted by romantic comedies. When that doesn't happen, because it can't happen—it never happens—we blame the men. But ladies, we are so much smarter than that!

There is nothing wrong with taking your time and sampling liberally from the buffet. As Fadal says, "I caution against trying to settle down before you're ready. Every guy has his purpose. There's the guy who takes you great places, the guy you're sleeping with, etc. If you're enjoying yourself, and if you do it in the right way, there's nothing wrong with that."

And so, the wild and crazy kisser who actually broke your front tooth, which then required dental work; the guy who taught you to always ask for Sriracha in your deviled eggs; the man who introduced you to Wolf Parade; the man who introduced you to really good bourbon; the guy with kids who helped you remember why you do, or don't, want them for yourself; the bisexual co-worker; the "poonhound"; the one that got away; and the one you let get away on purpose—they all have a place in your dating life. Don't regret them.

Once you know what you want, narrow the options, make your choices, and go for it. But until you do, embrace not knowing. Make New York your playground and stop complaining about how single ladies have it so hard in this city. Along the way, remember that men are not the enemy. Many of them are reasonable and good and not at all the brutes we've made them out to be, even if they don't want to marry us (and some of them do). One recently confessed that he'd like to get married in the next few years because "I don't want to be 34 and doing that thing that sketchy New York guys do where they go out and act as though they're 24. I've seen too much of it. . . . It's a real cautionary tale." When I told him that was refreshing, he said, "I think most guys feel that way."

The other night, I had drinks with the ex who'd passed out in that planter underneath the Manhattan Bridge. We hadn't talked in about three months. He bought me two glasses of wine, touched me on the shoulder, and told me I looked "unbelievable." I knew I could do it all again if I wanted to. Options. Drama. Will I? I'm not narrowing them yet. / @thisisjendoll

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