On its best days, New York City practically writes its own love stories. Every coffee line, park bench, or crosswalk on a sunny afternoon feels like it could usher in your own modern fairy tale. Sadly, it can’t be like this in the city 24/7, especially when it comes to finding love.
One of the biggest struggles about life here is a dating scene best summed up by a mantra of “so many people, so little time.”
Whether you’ve barely dipped your toe into this dating pool or you consider yourself an experienced swimmer, you’ll likely recognize some of these dating issues New Yorkers know well.
1. People play coy about themselves on dating apps
The complexities of dating apps are a whole other story, but let’s start small. Still believing in stranger danger on the internet nowadays can be charming, but skimping on the details is just inconvenient on an app in New York City. People may list their location as an entire borough, post nothing but the name of their highbrow alma mater, or just want a free tour guide for the weekend. In a city used to speed walkers and overbooked calendars, no one has time or energy to deal with the bare minimum.
2. Their job can define their personality a little too much
People come to New York to broaden their lives, and that often entails an ambitious career path. Finance bros and PR girls are cliches for a reason, and a seasoned dater can’t help but anticipate that certain jobs mean certain behavior.
3. Dates get inevitably foiled by public transportation and weather
Got a perfect outfit you want to wear to drinks? Planning to walk to your museum meetup? Start checking the weather forecast and MTA updates ASAP. A vigorous walk with just the right amount of sunshine could mean a sweaty arrival, while an unexpected train delay can add a half hour to your 15-minute commute. Forget giving yourself a pep talk in your car, too— any last-minute motivation will have to happen on the sidewalk in the hopes that no passing tourists or buskers kill your mojo.
4. The sheer size of the dating playground is overwhelming
Remember that Sex and the City episode when Carrie says she’s dating the city? That might be one of her wiser phases. Sometimes it can feel like the adventures the city presents are even better than actual dating prospects, and the pressure to juggle both exploring and a search for love may feel overwhelming. The same goes for navigating budding relationships that cross borough lines—is that one Hinge date worth the endless subway odyssey?
5. We have to compete with or vie for aspiring actors and models
Birds of a feather flock together, so mere mortals may not be drawn to dating these A-list wannabes with varying success. On the other hand, it’s daunting to know that your date may also have their eye on someone working as a Law & Order extra or booking a Fashion Week gig.
6. We balance the difference between “locals” and “transplants”
If you’re around a certain age, the people you meet while dating in the city either moved here recently or grew up in the tri-state area. Someone originally from, say, Long Island or New Jersey might find your unfamiliarity with the area unappealing, while those still settling in could envy the social circle and experience a “native” already has here.
7. There’s a statistical improbability of running into a bad date
You may think that New York grants you anonymity, but the impossible is also a tad likelier here. Despite all logic, that cringeworthy date that haunts your nightmares may pop up at your gym post-workout or at the same restaurant the one time you and your friends decide to go outside your neighborhood. Thankfully, these run-ins are rare but never say “never” after you delete that person’s number.
8. A magical subway crush could trump it all
Something about that accidental eye contact with an attractive stranger across the subway car is far more tantalizing than first-date dinner conversation. It only takes a glance to start imagining your meet cute over a free seat, getting off at the same stop, and continuing your crackling banter over a picturesque walk straight out of When Harry Met Sally. But then the mystery rider and your fantasy life together are gone as quickly as the stranger caught your fancy. All’s in a day’s work of finding a Big Apple kind of love.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.