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Dating in NYC: Dating in the Land of Zero Effort

 

Online dating profiles reduce humans to commodities.  Instead of nuanced individuals with provoking personalities, we transform into a collection of photos and vital stats such as: height, age, body type, diet preferences, religion, political views and our favorite books and movies.  In New York City online dating profiles should just include a few photos and a zip code, because honestly that’s all that really matters for so many singles.  If you live in Brooklyn, trying to date a person in Queens could be considered a long-distance relationship. Staten Island and the Bronx might as well be in other states, and New Jersey is the vortex.  It seems much easier to get into the Garden State then it does to get back.  Even though over 19 million people live in the New York City metro area, commuting via subways, buses and cramped highways is challenging.  Even when I meet men offline, most conversations start like this:

Guy: “Where do you live?”

Me: “Brooklyn”

Guy: “What neighborhood?”

Me: “Flatbush”

And then I see the facial expression that says everything I need to know.  Their eyes will squint, their brow will cease and it looks like they just smelled some week old Indian food.  No one has ever lit up and smiled after hearing it.  Some men have actually broken off the conversation after the word ‘Flatbush’ and walked away.  They’re hardly subtle about their complete disdain for my section of NYC.  On online dating services, things are much worse.  One man went so far as to indicate on his profile, he was only willing to consider ladies who lived on the “L” train, or within a short biking distance.

According to the latest census estimates here is how the city breaks down

  • Brooklyn     2,565,635
  • Queens       2,272,771
  • Manhattan   1,619,090
  • Bronx           1,408,473
  • Staten Island   470,728

Given the odds, I should have the easiest time of it.  The problem is Brooklyn is huge and the subway system doesn’t easily connect every neighborhood.  So to get to Mr. L train, I would have to jump on the Q train, take it into Manhattan, then transfer to the L train and take it back into Brooklyn.  My journey would last an hour maybe 45 minutes, which is just too long for most folks in this metropolis.  The Bronx and Staten Island are like different countries to me, and my commute to some parts of Queens could take over two hours.  When a guy hits me up and lives in New Jersey, he’d better live in Hoboken, Jersey City or another part of NJ that is easily accessible via public transportation.

I’m not a huge fan of my neighborhood as it has a higher crime rate than others and is a bit farther out from Manhattan, but my rent is much cheaper and my apartment is larger than most.  By most Manhattanite standards, my ‘hood is the middle of nowhere.   From what I’ve found the most ideal location is Manhattan, as its central location makes it easier for anyone in the outer boroughs.  Although anywhere above 125th Street is the mysterious hidden borough called ‘Northern Manhattan’.  Just as it’s more difficult to get furniture delivered to neighborhoods like Washington Heights, Inwood and Spanish Harlem, it’s also harder to get anyone to travel to the far reaches of the Island.

I guess I just magically need to make more money so I can afford to live in one of the most expensive places on earth.  I’m not expecting much, I just get sick of always being stuck at home with my cats watching “House of Cards” on Netflix.   In my neighborhood I’m mostly hit on by teenage drug dealers.  I’m not speculating on their illegal activity, I’ve seen them openly sell drugs right in front of me.  The average age of the guys who yell “Hey Baby” at me is about 16.  Since Flatbush is hardly hip, most of the age appropriate men who live here are very much married or living with someone.  I just don’t find a lot of single men age 35-45 anywhere, but I especially don’t run into them in my part of Brooklyn.

I think this is why those hook-up apps like tinder are so popular.  They really do take away all effort completely.  Want free sex from a somewhat attractive female who is easily accessible, in more ways than one?  Just swipe right and hope she does the same.  I still refuse to get that desperate, until then I will remain in Flatbush and hope that somehow a guy might want to ride the train for more than 20 minutes to see me.  Or maybe I’ll get a job managing a hedge fund tomorrow and move to a mansion in the Hamptons. When I live in my sprawling estate I can pick up guys at the local tennis court, or while riding the ponies in a co-ed polo match.  Anything is possible I guess.

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Dating after Divorce – The Fairy Tale is Over

Photo of cinderella fairy tale in Efteling

Photo of cinderella fairy tale in Efteling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So that might seem like a overly negative title to a blog entry…”The Fairy Tale is Over”.   But as I tell my mother almost every time we speak.

“Mom, dating is just a different game when you are divorced and over 35″

I left my husband because after a total of nine years together, seven of which were as a married couple, he came out as a homosexual.  I really had no choice but to end the marriage, and one of the worst things since leaving him has been what feels like a life sentence of being alone.  Again, I know that sounds bleak, but dating in New York is difficult, dating in New York after being divorced and over the prime years of your life is next to impossible.

The real differences that I see are in my friends that are about a decade or so younger than myself.  Many of which are now getting engaged, married or moving in together.  They have that youthful giddiness and excitement that is rare in people past a certain age.  Not to say that being 38 is old, because it is not, but it isn’t the same as being 28.  My friends who are approaching marriage all believe that they will beat the odds.  They look at their partners with that look of pure love and adoration in which all of their problems will be solved through this perfect mate.  Both men and women get like this and it is a sweet thing to see.   But the same quality is rare in those of us who have lived a little bit longer, and had what we thought was the relationship to last forever, crumble before our eyes.

Even though I don’t look my age, I openly admit that I am 38 to anyone who cares to know.  I know as a performer I should try to keep this secret, but since my career consists mainly of performing in bars, I don’t really worry about the public knowing the year of my birth.  It’s not like I am losing jobs because of my age, as I am not getting much of anything offered to me to begin with.  And I look at it this way; I have lived a life, I am not a young kid and I don’t hide it.

My problem with dating, is that at first I had the expectation that it would be just like when I was in my twenties.  Men would be more excited and enthusiastic about wanting to date me, they would have higher expectations about the relationship and once committed it might last at least a few months.  But what I have found is men that are too wrapped up in their own divorce dramas, too busy raising children from a previous marriage, too involved in their jobs, or just too jaded to feel vulnerable enough to commit to another person.   I can only speak of my own experience, but I hear the same thing from men about divorced single mothers, or divorced women.

And then of course there are those that I have written about before on this blog.  The men and women who are just not the committed relationship partner type, and never will be.   They are in their early forties and have never lived with a partner much less been married or engaged.  For multiple reasons such as, personal preference, demanding jobs, lifestyle habits, personality problems, or simply the love of being single they will never marry or commit to one partner for any length of time.  Then there are all of those age appropriate men that are married or in a committed long-term relationship and aren’t going to be single any time soon, if ever again.

So given this, I have had to readjust my expectations of dating.  It is an extremely difficult adjustment for me but now when trying to date I have come to expect the following

  • Expect to see the person less, than I would like.
  • Expect the relationship to fall apart with very little warning – It seems the older people get, the quicker they will abandon a relationship they don’t think is working.  At least that has been my observation from my own experience and my friends.
  • Realize that a potential partner might be overwhelmed with caring for children, so much so that I don’t get the attention I used to getting in a relationship
  • Have to help the partner deal with their own sense of loss from a divorce
  • Help the partner deal with anger or an ongoing war with their former spouse or girlfriend.
  • Learn not to rely on a partner for as much emotional support as I was used to in my marriage
  • Expect more guarded, and wounded people in the dating pool

With all of these obstacles it just comes down to a position of how much can a person deal with, and what is worth it for the bigger picture.  So a new guy may not call me every day, but is that so horrible?  And I may only get to see him once a week or even less, but as I am a busy person myself, do I need to see them more?  I have to take every man on a case by case basis, what is tolerable and what is unacceptable.

And honestly when I look around at my circle of friends I tend to see this pattern over and over again.  The younger couples have the excitement I remember from my early to mid-twenties.  While the older couples seem more practical and subdued, they also seem to date less.

It is as if as a divorced person we don’t believe in fairy tales anymore because our own fairy tale for whatever reason was destroyed.  So a partner may not consume our lives and hearts and minds as they did when we were younger.  I no longer expect a man to fall “head over heels” in love with me anymore.  And I don’t know if I necessarily want that anyway, because at one point in my life it is how I felt about my husband.  And that enthusiasm is exactly what blinded me to reality that he kept so carefully guarded.

I know there are exceptions, and some people really do get amazing romances the second or third or even forth time around.  I haven’t seen a lot of evidence that it is going to happen for me and I am not expecting it anymore.  But I can’t completely give up hope, at least I am not looking at the situation with rose-colored glasses.   And as I say all the time

Dating in your late thirties after a divorce is just a different game”

I just have to learn how to play it.