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Dating in NYC: Love and Real Estate

I’ve lived in New York City now for fourteen years. I’ve been single for the past six, and I started searching for a co-op about a year ago. I couldn’t help but notice the eerie similarities between hunting for real estate and looking for love. Both are rare and precious commodities. New York City’s vacancy rate hovers around 3% and never goes above 5%.  About 3/4 of all apartments are rentals, leaving only the remaining 1/4 available to buy.  Most of the apartments on the market are co-ops that require financial gymnastics, and approval of an overly scrutinizing board. Even if you find an apartment in your budget you still have to get  80% financing and then impress upon your soon to be potential neighbors that you’re a low risk addition to their building.

Dating here is not much better, especially for single women.  New York City has 150,000 more single women than single men.  It might not seem like a huge number in a city of 8 million but it’s enough to throw off the odds a bit.  To make things worse most New Yorkers work long hours, live scattered over five boroughs and have little disposable income to throw away at dating. I’ve found it’s best to not get too emotionally attached to any one partner or property.

I once was the only person to show up at an open house for a cute prewar newly renovated studio in prime condition. Just as I was about to start the long and arduous process of making an offer, an all cash buyer walked in before I had a signed contract and snapped the property out from under me.  I watched in horror as the same scenario happened again with other properties.  In dating, I’ve had a few amazing dates with men who seemed almost perfect only to have them vanish without explanation.  My text messages went un-answered, my emails ignored and I never knew the reason.

I couldn’t help but see the similarities and the heartache that went with both, so I devised a glossary of sorts of common terms used in NYC real estate listings and how they equate with the dating scene in New York City.

Prime Location = Is the trip between Astoria and Bushwick worth it? Can a man in the Bronx find love with a woman in Staten Island? Is Queens to New Jersey even possible? Finding someone on the same subway line = prime location

Low Maintenance Costs = Cheap date

All Cash Buyer = Partners that offer everything up all at once with very little drama and no strings attached. The downside is they could flip you. Just as quickly as they find you attractive, they’ve moved on. They can just as easily make another offer as quickly as they made the first.

Unit has pre-existing long term tenant = Married.

Board Approval Required = Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn – everything dissected and analyzed for risk assessment. Are you friend’s with an ex? Is your job stable? Do you post NSFW videos, sports clips or cat memes? How many friends do you have? Are your tweets too personal or do you post political rants? Do you change your status update 20 times a day? Do you hardly ever check your profile? Are your photos of landscapes, or of your family

No Board Approval Sponsor Sale = The person either doesn’t know how to use the internet or doesn’t care. No questions asked as long as you fit the criteria. You are dealing with a risk taker or at last someone over 50 who doesn’t understand this thing called “the internet.”

Move in Condition = Easy going personality, no glaring compatibility issues, similar hobbies and interests.

Needs TLC = Major emotional baggage – divorce, nasty breakups, children from a previous marriage. – Anything that might need fixing or at least managed.

Pet Friendly = Deal breakers or selling points depending on your allergies or your furry friends.

Building has Bad Financials = A date has bad financials – no job, huge debt, poor credit

Seller is Seeking All Cash Buyer = Just someone looking to hookup

Lack of Inventory = Are you a woman over 35? Then you know exactly what this means. Most men in your age group are married or at least coupled up. You’re going to have to look a lot harder for what you want, or settle for someone much younger or older.  It’s not as a big of a problem for men.  If you’re wondering why, it’s called babies, biological clocks and a patriarchal culture that values younger women over older.   Although no one is immune, both genders can have unrealistic age standards when it comes to dating.

As impossible as the New York Real estate market is right now, I’ve had far more luck finding a new apartment, then a partner.  Let me rephrase that for emphasis.  I’ve actually had an easier time finding an affordable apartment in a year than I have finding a partner in the nearly six years I’ve been divorced.  I’m not even kidding.  In my search for an apartment I had the help of an attorney and real estate agent.  I also looked EVERYWHERE from the far reaches of Brooklyn, to Queens, upper Manhattan and even parts of the Bronx.  I called and emailed at one point about 25-30 agents and saw as much property as I could possibly fit into my schedule.  There wasn’t much on the market in my price range but I viewed everything within reason.

I’ve basically tried the same approach to dating in that at this point I’ve probably been on at least 25-35 dates.  Most have been awkward and painful and a few men have had full blown meltdowns.  I’ve been out with men who complained about their ex-wives the whole time, bragged about their drug use, openly insulted me, or expected sex on the first date.   The vast majority of emails I’ve gotten on online dating websites have been from men under age 25 or guys looking for no strings attached sex.  Most of them men who do contact me never follow through with a date. So far nothing has worked, and I haven’t gone out with anyone for more than two or three dates in over five years.

For now, I’ll just settle for the apartment of my dreams rather than any prince charming.  Real estate is more stable anyway, it won’t have a midlife crisis and leave me for a younger seller, develop a substance abuse problem, grow mean and bitter and blame me for all it’s shortcomings, develop a gambling or ignore me and go play golf.  It may not cuddle at night but it will increase in value, and in the end I might get lucky and unload it to an all cash buyer.  I certainly couldn’t ask for such certainty with a new boyfriend.

My whole real estate search also made me ask some questions about myself.  I’m definitely a pet friendly unit with good financials and low maintenance, but one that needs some TLC.  I’d also say my board is fairly strict and rather picky of any potential candidate but the opportunity for a long-term investment is solid.  Now, if I could just find the right buyer, I’d be all set.

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Dating After Divorce – Why is it so difficult in your late thirties?

I decided to re-write this blog post because it was one of the single most popular articles I have ever written.  As I noticed how many reads it was getting everyday I decided that I hated it and wanted to redo it.  Until I got divorced,  I was completely unaware of the realities of dating in New York city after age 35.  It is tough out there, for both genders but it is especially difficult for a divorced person.  Going out on dates is nothing like coming home every night to a spouse.  I think the original piece was so popular because there are so many lonely people wondering why something that seemed so easy when we were younger is now next to impossible.

When I was in my twenties, dating seemed so much easier.  Men and women didn’t have such exact standards, long-term compatibility issues weren’t discussed and everyone seemed so much charmed by each other.  I see it now in my friends who are about 10 years younger than me.  There is a look of hope and optimism in their eyes that is rare in most of us pushing 40.  Even if they have had major heartache,  a younger person is less likely to have had the soul crushing experience of a divorce.  And very few 25 year olds have had long-term relationships, most are simply too young to have had dated anyone for 10 years or more.  People in their twenties are generally more innocent and less jaded, so they are willing to take more risks and have greater hope in another person.  Then ten years later they get divorced, or break off a long-term committed relationship and end up single again and soon discover how things have changed.  When I go out with age appropriate men I find that for some of them,  everything becomes a deal breaker.

Deal Breakers

  • Undesirable neighborhood
  • Lives too far away
  • Occupation
  • Past marriage or marriages
  • Social group or friends – not compatible
  • Pet allergies
  • Drinking habits – or in my case that I am not much of a drinker
  • Diet, exercise habits, hobbies etc.
  • A date reminds them too much of their ex.

I have to admit I do it myself, I am no longer so idealistic or starry-eyed when faced with a potential mate.  When I was 25 I could see myself dating someone who worked in a bookshop and had ambitions of becoming a playwright.  Now if I meet the same man at age 38 I am more concerned about why he hasn’t gotten his act together.  If he has had plays produced then that is one thing, but if he is still dreaming of the “day” when this will all happen I can’t really take him seriously.

Personality Problems

  • Socially awkward to the point that they have extreme difficulty connecting with others
  • Too selfish and self-centered and have never had a long-term relationship
  • The type of person who doesn’t want a relationship and wants to stay single
  • Severely damaged from past relationships
  • So set in their ways to allow another person to become a part of their life
  • A serial cheater or abuser who goes through partners like kleenex
  • Too immature to have a relationship

Children

To some men, once women hit their late thirties they are simply less desirable because they are less fertile.  It is especially frustrating for me as I have had multiple female relatives reproduce without extreme medical intervention into their forties.  What makes things even more difficult is that many men and women in their late thirties have children from a previous relationship.  So one partner might be completely finished having children and never want more, while another partner is desperate to have children of their own.  And of course compatibility issues arise with a new partner if the partner does not get along with their children.

Work

Generally speaking as we get older our jobs and lives get more demanding, not less.  So the man who worked in a bookshop in his twenties is now working at a publishing house pulling 60 hours a week with staff underneath him.  Everything is more complicated and the free time needed to nurture a new budding romance is almost nonexistent.   Or if one person keeps nontraditional hours, they will have a difficult time trying to date someone who is 9 to 5.

I now totally understand how a 45-year-old can look into the eyes of a 25-year-old and think they have found heaven on earth.  Sure they won’t have much in common and the age difference may eventually drive them apart, but instead of seeing a realistic mirror of themselves back they see a romantic ideal.  The younger person is simply less likely to see huge compatibility issues before they start.  How could that not be intoxicating?   Of course there are always exceptions, with wise 22 year olds and total naïve idiots who are 50.  I don’t mean to brush with that broad of a stroke, but there is a reason the average age of marriage in the United States is 27 for women and 29 for men.  The late twenties are the perfect time to start a family and to build a life, and still be idealistic enough to think that it will all work out.

A depressing as all of this is, I must find hope.  Before I would get wrapped up in someone knowing very little about them only to discover they weren’t right for me.  Now I have age and experience, I know what kind of man I am looking for and what I can offer to a new partner.  The problem is finding that other person.  Armed with a microscope instead of a rose-tinted lens I am more likely to make better choices for myself.  It just makes finding that needle in a haystack so much harder.

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