Everyone says that dating sucks these days.
“No one writes letters or shares milkshakes.”
“People are just texting and hooking up all the time.”
And when you’re spending your weekday nights getting drinks with less-than-enthusiastic strangers that can’t look up from their phones, it’s easy to idealize the past and wish we could all go back to a time when dating was a little simpler.
But personally, I’m pretty happy we live in a world where I’m not expected to have kids by 25, interracial marriage isn’t illegal, and it’s OK to kiss on the first date, no matter the gender of your new acquaintance. And I’m super happy to be dating in New York, one of the most liberal, exciting cities in the world.
As someone who has spent most of her single life in NYC, and most of her life in NYC dating, I have a lot—probably too much—experience with this topic. My feelings about dating in this city cycle back and forth between, “I love meeting other ambitious people. Everyone here is hot. This is so great!” and, “This guy is getting super angry about my opinions on art. What am I doing with my life? Is he really yelling right now in a public place?”
Some parts of dating—like being catfished, harassed, or having your heart broken—are never going to feel awesome or be OK. But there are a lot of things that make the attempt to find “the one” (or “one of the ones,” whatever) particularly great, when you live in this metropolis that over 8 million of us call home.
Disclosure: I am a heterosexual white woman in her twenties who is currently in a relationship. The worst, I know. Y’all are gonna hate-read this article and probably angry-tweet at me. But this is my truth—or, you know, the truth I tell myself when I’m on a first date and the guy just told me he thinks eating organic peppers cures cancer. Next time you feel discouraged by dating in NYC, read this article and maybe it will help you out, too.
Reason #1: It’s EASY.
Oh my God, is it easy. I almost guarantee that, no matter who you are, if you download Tinder on any given Monday afternoon, you could schedule a date with someone in just a few hours of swiping. Could that happen in John Mellencamp’s quaint little hometown? Definitely not.
And the options never end. This can be a bad thing, like when you really like someone but they’re obsessed with upgrading their life and they meet someone with better hair than you. But it also means that when you have a horrible date, there’s near-infinite possibility for the next one to be incredible. And I do mean near-infinite; in 2014 during a major depressive episode, I was using dating to solve my problems (spoiler alert: it doesn’t work) and I spent more time swiping on Tinder than doing a lot of other, much healthier things… yet, I still never ran out of matches.
There’s so much to do!
It’s easy to get stuck in your patterns. Luckily, dating in NYC lets you step outside your comfort zone and into someone else’s. Even if you refuse to do anything except “grab a drink” on first dates you can schlep yourself to a new concept restaurant, pop-up mixology bar, or a beautiful rooftop overlooking the city. You could go on a hundred first dates and never go to the same bar twice. We even wrote about our recommended bars for every phase in a relationship.
If you’re bored with the bar scene though, there are a million ways to mix it up in every borough. I know drinks are the safest first date in case you need to make a quick escape, but this city is full of wacky things to do. Meet up for a flying trapeze class overlooking the Hudson river, or a masked cuddle puddle in Bushwick, or a Chinatown dim sum restaurant for a secret after-hours dance party. Even if you end up totally hating each other, you’ll have a blast.
Four seasons = the most idyllic dates.
Lounging under the cherry blossoms at Prospect Park in the spring, riding the Wonder Wheel showing off your summer bod at Coney Island, drinking wine on a patio overlooking the Autumn foliage in Central Park, and ice skating under the tree at Rockefeller Center.
Some parts of NYC will always be smelly and disgusting, but on those certain perfect days every season, the city turns into a film. It’s hard not to feel romantic when experiencing it all with someone new. We might be freezing and miserable all winter, but we can take solace in its ambiance.
You can date any type of person ever.
The rest of America says we live in a liberal bubble, but come on, it’s totally diverse; every type of liberal you could imagine lives here!
In all seriousness, this city attracts all kinds of unique individuals, which means you can find people who are just as idiosyncratic as you are. Married to your career, but still want to go on hot dates sometimes? Find someone else who is, too! Obsessed with making slime videos for your Instagram, and looking for a make-out buddy between filming sessions? Oh, they’re out there.
In NYC, you’ll find people just as ambitious or content, as outgoing or introverted, and as stoic or sensitive as you are. Maybe you’ll even go out with a D-list celebrity, and then cringe-stalk their Twitter for the next two months! Not that I’ve done that or anything.
You can do the most ridiculous things with the most ridiculous people and no one will find out about it. Sometimes it feels like everyone knows everyone in NYC, but there’s quite a bit of anonymity for most of us. That makes for excellent PG-13-and-up bucket list fodder. (Use your imagination.) And unlike in a small town, your upstairs neighbor won’t call your aunt who will tell her ex-husband who is friends with your boss about the questionable noises coming from your bedroom last night.
Besides, if someone you know does walk in on your obvious Tinder date with two handsome strangers, there’s a good chance they’ve been there, too, and they’ll keep their mouth shut. Or they just don’t care at all. Everybody wins!
You can learn more about yourself while dating in New York than dating anywhere else.
Sure, the goal of dating is to learn about other people, but in doing so, you’ll know yourself more than ever. Since NYC tends to attract people with intense personalities, you’ll quickly learn the types of things you like and the types of things you certainly do not like in people you’re dating. You’ll learn what you’ll put up with for someone great, and you’ll learn how to say no to things that are definitely not OK with you. You’ll learn who to trust and who to ignore. And hopefully, you’ll learn what you deserve, too. (By that, I mean love, compassion, kindness, all that.)
You can have super high standards, and still meet amazing people.
In all honesty, I started to love dating when I started trusting my gut and stopped going out with people who didn’t text me back, or who wouldn’t make solid plans, or who clearly (or not-so-clearly) didn’t share my values (Which means a big fat wave emoji to anyone who says “I’m not a feminist, but…”).
The biggest complaint I hear about dating in the city is the quality of people. But unlike other cities with a smaller, less diverse population, narrowing your options down to “not assholes” doesn’t really limit your dating pool. You’ll go on fewer dates, but the ones you do go on will be so. much. better. Care more, be less “chill,” and you might just find people who actually click with you.
Even when it all goes wrong, you know you’ll get that feeling again.
You know that feeling. It happens after a great first date, when you’re walking home from your subway stop at 3 AM or the city lights are sparkling at you as your Uber crosses the bridge. When you wake up next to someone you really like and they ask you if you want to check out their favorite breakfast spot down the street. When you remember that you’re living in your favorite city in the world, full of people you love and others you don’t love yet, but just might soon. When you think, “Maybe this one will work out.” Or maybe it won’t. Either way, humanity, happenstance, and the search for love in our huge, hyper-modern city can actually be pretty swell.