I was at a cocktail party on Friday evening with my friend Andrea Syrtash (the real-life Carrie Bradshaw), and had a conversation that echoed what I have discussed with so many friends living in lower Manhattan. The topic: Why it's hard to find love while living in downtown New York City.
In short, I think that 'Junk Dating' is to blame. Let me explain. I was at Le Moulin a Cafe (a great little French cafe on the Upper East Side) a few days ago with an amazing man who's become a mentor to me. He's brilliant, outgoing, funny, good looking, in his 40s... and single. But, he claims, not by his choosing. He admitted that he's been 'dating too much', because he keeps meeting interesting women. And therein lies the classic NYC issue. Too much choice and too many people who know how to make a good impression (for the first few months, at least).
The lower half of Manhattan has a very particular energy, if you're tuned in. It's a single's vibe. A youthful, whirlwind kind of energy. It seems like 90% of people downtown are single and looking, or in a 'relationship', and still looking (ugh). The bars and restaurants are always packed, and everyone is checking everyone else out. I mean, who needs Tinder* when you live in lower Manhattan??
*Tinder and other location-based apps are just roadblocks to finding someone who'll actually give you lasting happiness. Chances are, if he or she was really ready and open to finding love at this stage of their life, they wouldn't be on these apps, as they'd realize that constant distraction is not the route to a lasting bond.
Back to Junk Dating...
Ever wondered why some people just don't seem to see the point of settling down, or they go through person after person at two week or three month intervals? NYC is like being a kid in a candy store for many people. Everyone knows that the more sugar you let yourself eat, the more addicted you get. In fact, many people get so addicted to the temporary highs that junk food provides, that they forget how good it feels to be healthy. They've forgotten (or, sadly, never gotten to experience) how fulfilling it is to be consistently healthy. So instead, they're addicted to a diet of junk food (ie. Junk Dating).
They crave that sugar high (ie. date or sex with someone new), and then crash (ie. getting bored easily, not wanting to be alone, needing excitement, drama, obsessing over if they'll call, etc.), followed by another temporary sugar high, and crash/void, and... repeat... forever.
Metaphorically, everyone wants to be fit and healthy (ie. in a happy, loving relationship), but it seems that precious few want it enough to eat healthy (ie. only date those who could be 'the one', and forgo booty calls and Junk Dates) and exercise (ie. meditate, stop clubbing, etc.)
Being with the person you really truly want to spend your life with is... well... the greatest poetry and songs ever written are about how amazing it feels. How fulfilling, exciting, stimulating, safe, warm and everlasting it feels. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or you think it's a fantasy -- I'm here to tell you: it's not. I used to think that I'd never find that feeling with someone. I could pretend, but it wouldn't last, and it was never as good as I knew it could be. I wondered if the songs were there to dupe us... to keep us believing that there's something better, keeping us single and looking, and out there buying stuff (let's face it, single people spend more!)
I've had (as my friends will attest to) more than my share of awful (I mean AWFUL) boyfriends. I'll spare you the details, but they were bad. When I moved here from Canada, I had no idea that people could appear so wholesome and sweet, all the while inside them they're rotten and unfeeling. Well, NYC seems to attract more than its fair share of con artists, so buyer beware, I suppose.
Finding love in NYC was so tough, in fact, that right before I met my husband I was a hair away from moving to San Francisco. I thought the dating scene must be better there -- anywhere! Instead, I moved from SoHo to the Upper East Side. Away from the frenetic energy of downtown. Away from the models (there are literally tens of thousands of them strutting around downtown), the crazy bars (which I was never into anyway), and the men that are obsessed with both.
Wouldn't you know it, I met my husband two months later. He'd also realized that he needed to make a change in his life if he was going to find the right woman for him. He made a list of the top ten things he needs in a woman, and then decided that he was going to wait for the woman that fits every single one of those ten attributes. Every morning he read those attributes out loud. If he started dating someone and he realized that she didn't fit those, he stopped seeing her. And it worked.
So here are my tried-tested-and-true rules/tips (in no particular order) to help you find the love of your life:
(Tip) #1. Move uptown, away from the singles craziness. I know it sounds counter-productive, but you need to be away from that energy to truly give someone a shot. No distractions.
(Rule) #2. You heard me -- no distractions! That means you date one person at a time. We all meet people who are attractive and seem interesting on an almost daily basis, but remember: they seem interesting now, but most probably that'd wear off on the first, third or 10th date anyway. You can't fully emotionally commit if you're letting yourself be distracted.
(Rule) #3. Mentally commit. There's always going to be someone else in your life who's intriguing. If you're really giving love a shot with someone, you need to stay away from other people who are tempting. Even if nothing ever happens, it's breaking rule #2.
(Tip) #4. Make a list of ten things you need in a husband/wife. If you start the list with anything physical, you need to really look at yourself and your level of superficiality. It's easy to be superficial in a city full of gorgeous people, but it won't help you find love. Fix that first. Your list should start with things like: playful, optimistic, affectionate, kind, etc. Post it above your computer or fridge and read it daily. If someone you're dating doesn't fit this, pull the plug immediately. You don't want to be wasting time with someone who you can't be in love with for life, and miss the right person for you.
(Tip) #5. Meditate, read, and improve yourself. If you want to find someone healthy and excellent, you need to be equally as healthy and excellent.
A side note: Internet porn has been shown to create new neural pathways in the brain that condition men (and women, I suppose) to crave variety and prevent them from getting as turned on by regular/normal sex. More on that here. Oh, and I also found this cool map showing what neighborhoods have the most single men.