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Dating in NYC: He says he’s Single. He’s anything but.

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I’ve been single now for about eight years straight since my divorce.  In that time I’ve had a few short-lived relationships but for the most part I’ve flown solo.  I’ve discovered the hard way that the term “single” means a lot of different things to different people.  This city is so large and so densely populated it seems some can’t help but constantly see a never-ending array of choices for potential partners.  I’ve had so many men bold-faced lie to my face regarding this issue that I’m tempted to hand them a survey, and tape the entire exchange so when they say

I never said I was single

I won’t really do that but it’s frustrating that I feel like I have to ask questions like a prosecutor in order to get the truth out of some random dude on a date.

So what does it mean to be “single” in the city that never sleeps?  I’m not including polyamorous or non-monogamous men in this list because they tend to be incredibly upfront and honest about their relationships status.  This is for about the “single” boys who just like to blur the truth.

Single Single: You aren’t having sex with anyone on a regular basis.  You try to date but nothing seems to work out.  You mostly hang out with your friends and maybe watch porn.

Mostly Single: You are casually seeing someone. You’ve hooked up countless times, you socialize together and most of your friends consider you a couple.  Although you’ve both being seeing each other on a regular basis for months neither of you like “labels” and you’re not sure if she’s having sex with other men or not.  You take photos of your friend and post them on social media but never with yourself as a couple.  Even though she’s met your parents and you’ve taken trips together she’s DEFINITELY NOT your girlfriend and as far as you’re concerned you’re 100% single.  You flirt with other women and lead them on, but usually stop short of hooking up with them.

Single on Facebook Single: You’ve been dating someone for months now, you just haven’t bothered to change your relationship status update on Facebook yet.

Friends With Benefits Single: You’ve got a rotation of women that you text on the weekends and late at night for sex.  You like them alright but you’re hoping none of them get too clingy or text you too much. All of these women know they aren’t the only one in your life and you are NOT serious about any of them.  There’s one gal on your list who you tend to text more often and dump all your emotional garbage on them.  For now she puts up with it.  If she starts telling you too much about her life you’re out.  You’re still hoping to find that perfect someone if she exists at all.

Tinder Single: You like to have sex with lots of women, but usually only once. Tinder is your favorite method of hooking up. You sometimes accidentally swipe right on a girl you’ve already banged. Things can get awkward. You’ve also learned it’s better to call women by a pet name since you’ll forget their name seconds after meeting them. They all become honey or babe to you, if you even bother to have a conversation before or after sex.  You’re definitely single but single for life.

We Broke Up I Swear Single: You broke up with your girlfriend months ago but you’re both on a lease and finding a new apartment in tricky in Brooklyn. Neither of you would say you’re dating. You’ve even got a couple of roommates but since this is a three bedroom apartment, that means one of you has to sleep on the couch and there have been plenty of late nights when you’ve ended up hooking up again.  You still fight so it’s a bad situation but it’s only temporary and for the moment you’re looking for love!  Maybe you’ll end up moving in with your next girlfriend.

I’m totally over Her Single: The love of your life just left you. OK she didn’t just leave you it’s been almost two years but you’re TOTALLY over her. Sure you still have every photo you’ve ever taken together on your social media accounts, and yes you still constantly bring her up but you are TOTALLY over her.  You still call her mom from time to time but her mom is a really nice woman.  You’d do the same thing!   Last weekend you helped her move into a new apartment and assembled most of her furniture.  She knows she can call you at any time of the day or night but you are OVER HER.  She’s a great and beautiful person and it just didn’t work out and you wish her nothing but the best.

I’m a Liar I’m not Single: You tell women you’re single because you want to have sex with them.  You’re a married man or you’ve had the same partner for years and have kids with her.  According to the tax code you’re single but by just about every other metric you are very much one half of a couple.

My category – Feral Single – I’ve been single for so long now I don’t know if it’s possible for me to have a relationship anymore.  I LOVE living alone.  I never want to compromise on anything or make any major decisions in my life again that involve another person.  I’ve gone feral.  Like a former house cat who was once fed and cared for I now survive by my wits.  After a long hard day I come home vent on Facebook and talk to my cats.  I’ve become the ultimate loner – self-sufficient, wily, and not likely to be tamed any time soon.

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Top 10 reasons why Being Single on Valentine’s Day is the Greatest!

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1. CHEAP CANDY DAY – I actually think this needs to become a real holiday that happens twice a year.  Once on February 15th and then again on November 1st.  I know the candy makers will figure this out and find a way to screw us, but for now they are both splendid days indeed!

2. No gifts to buy! –  What does a woman  buy a man for Valentine’s Day? Most just want sex, and well that’s usually going to happen anyway….anything else just seems silly, yet the expectation is there.  For men the whole gift/night to remember situation is not only daunting but expensive.  In New York City a couple could blow $1,000 on an ice cream sundae, and that doesn’t include the Broadway show tickets!

3. No pressure to act like you’re having a great time when you’re not – We’ve all been there.  Our partner’s plan out some elaborate event and absolutely everything is dreadful.  The restaurant is too crowded, the waiter is mean, the food is lousy, the concert is terrible, the moonlight carriage ride is smelly and the driver is rude.  Meanwhile you have to pretend like it’s the greatest night of your life, because you don’t want to her anyone’s feelings.

4. No poorly timed monthly visitors – There’s nothing worse than planning a big romantic evening only to have Ms. Flow show up early.  Sure you can work around it but she really does ruin the mood, especially if she brings along her friend – Ms. Cramps.

5. No annoying flower battles at work – I don’t have a traditional job, but I remember when I did how the never-ending bouquets would come pouring in the office all day long.  It seemed like the bigger the flower arrangement the more precarious the relationship. Sure the married women with 20 years under their belt would get a sizable display but the couples that kept breaking up only to get back together again always included several mylar heart-shaped balloons.  Then there was always some sad sack in the office who had a boyfriend but who didn’t get anything.  She’d tell everyone it was waiting for her at home, but we knew that her boyfriend would break her spirit as much as her soul-crushing job did every day.

6. No expectations of some life-changing event – No one is going to propose to me! I’ll never have a joint bank account again!!!  I won’t have to worry about checks bouncing because my husband just blew several hundred dollars on something stupid!  I’m sure plenty of divorced men can relate to this one.  Blowing money on stupid purchases is a universal human trait!

7. No awkward sexual experiences – Sometimes couples like to push the envelope on the big day and take things too far, only to find themselves in compromising or embarrassing situations.  The porn actors make it look so easy, but they’ve got multiple takes, a crew to help them with angles and lighting. Ask anyone who works in film or television production, it’s all about good lighting.

8. No drunken crying spirals of despair – With expectations so high, also comes disappointment.  Anything could happen. What if you happen to find out  that he’s cheating on you?  Or that you’re NOT getting engaged even though he’s been hinting at it for months?  Or what if in the middle of the salad course, you just look into his eyes are realize you can’t stand him, he can’t stand you anymore and you’d both be better off on your own.  These things happen.  Then you end up slamming a few back, and wind up calling your best friend at 3 AM to tell her that everything you believed in was a lie and that the universe is collapsing in on you.

9. No forced emotion – There’s nothing worse than hitting Valentine’s Day with a guy you’ve just started dating.  Should he send flowers or will it make him look overeager?  Should you make big plans, even though you haven’t even been to his apartment yet?  Should you buy him something or will it make you look like a stage 5 clinger?  If you’ve only been on three dates or less, just act like February 14th is a day like any other and skip right over it.

10. FREEDOM – You can REALLY just watch Netflix and chill.  Throw on a onesize, order some Chinese takeout and watch a marathon of Breaking Bad, The Making of a Murder, or maybe season 2 of Orange is The New Black again.  Everyone knows season 2 is the best season.  You don’t have to get dressed up, impress anyone, fake an orgasm, or act like you care about some dumb ass chef’s special that you know is overpriced and overrated.  You can dance around in footie pajamas and stuff your face with General Tso’s Chicken if you want. (I eat the vegetarian version)  It’s your day!  LOVE IT!

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When Love Poetry, a Sex Shop and Bloggers meet for Lunch

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A couple of weeks ago I got in invitation by the good people of Adam&Eve.com, a one time sponsor of this blog, to attend a love poetry workshop taught by local writer, Suzannah Weiss.  I debated if I should go, since poetry and me aren’t really a thing.  I dig poetry and all but I would hardly call myself a poet.  The idea of writing a love poem really left me at a loss.  Could I write a love poem about the despair of abject loneliness? Could I pen a sonnet about how much I hate dating in New York City, or the profound narcissism of my ex-husband?  It might work if they let me write about dick picks and magical vaginas, but then I noticed they were giving out gift bags and the deal was sealed.  How could I not go?  I had to get my gift bag of swag from a sex shop, just to see what they’d give me.

The morning of the event, I had a fiasco with one of my day jobs that I absolutely had to deal with so I arrived fashionably late to the love poetry-sex shop-soiree.  Once there, I felt a bit like the slacker who showed up tardy for class, but I was quickly forgiven.  Our teacher, Suzannah Weiss was kind and patient and even had me read a poem I had written on the spot.  I openly admitted I wrote it about my cat Schatzi, since I have no other inspiration in my life.  If you knew Schatzi, you’d write poems about her too.

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Nearly all of the other bloggers were women, and many of them cat owners so it turned into a flurry of cat photo sharing and stories about our feline companions..

I met a lovely woman who named her blog New York Cliche, because much like myself she was just owning her single, professional, artistic, cat-owning, independent woman persona. I also connected with a long-time Facebook friend fellow writer and general overall badass Yolanda Shoshana.

Then we finally got the goody bags…..and this is what they contained!

A sexy feather duster, you know for all of your sexy feather duster needs…

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A BDSM mask, although honestly I could use this on trips in rooms with too much light. It’s comfy, and thicker than most.

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A tiny cock ring, and another vibrating cock ring type of device.  Free condoms – that’s usually a given as everyone should practice safe sex!

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A water based personal lubricant! – We could all use some more lube in our lives.  A silver bullet! BATTERY INCLUDED! – Most ladies know this is a very special thing indeed.

Lube

I admit I was hoping for a dildo, not because I wanted to use it, but because dildos are comedy gold.  They’re probably too expensive to give away to bloggers, and a bit forward.  “Here’s a fake penis for your enjoyment” is coming on a bit strong I guess. Overall I thought the entire experience was amazing!  I don’t think I’ll become a poet any time soon, or write a love sonnet to anyone besides my cat.  A woman working for a PR firm called me a journalist, which was sort of wonderful.  I also got to meet fellow New Yorkers who have also found their voice online.  Although I am not a huge consumer of sex toys or adult products I have heard wonderful things about www.Adam&Eve.com, so if you are in the market for some sexy stuff for Valentine’s Day or any day, check them out.

Here’s my Valentine’s Haiku (At least I think it’s a Haiku, again, I’m not a poet)

I don’t want dick pics

I’d like a piece of your soul

or just a kind word

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Dating in New York City: The Rat Race Redefined.

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Months before I moved to New York City I made the mistake of watching a documentary about rats in the city.  I learned rats could chew right through cement and squeeze their entire bodies through holes no bigger than the size of their skulls. Rats must constantly gnaw on anything in order to keep their always-growing teeth a manageable size.  Their jaw muscles exert a shocking 12 tons of pressure per square inch.  Rats spread disease, fleas and cause fires from chewing through electrical wiring.  In moments of extreme stress they attack each other and will even resort to cannibalism.   After that film, the mere sight of a battle-scarred super-sized rodent with a flesh tail would cause my heartbeat to quicken and stomach to churn.  I found myself in fits of panic if they got more than a few feet from me.

When my ex and I moved from Brooklyn to Washington Heights we discovered a fairly developed rat nest in the roots of a tree in the sidewalk.   In the rats would scurry from their nest across the sidewalk and into the alley of a building two doors down from our own.  We’d hear screams of people who had made the mistake of walking on our side of the street night after night.  My ex-husband counted as many as 20 rats at a time in the courtyard of our neighboring building.  We’d watch in despair as they would chew perfect tunnels through solid concrete the city poured over their nest..  Animal control repeatedly set poison traps, and laid wife mesh over the concrete and nothing seemed to stop them.

Then one night, out of nowhere my reaction towards the monstrous creatures changed.  I was coming home late at night after a comedy gig and saw one, all by himself sniffing around the subway platform searching for food.  He had half of a tail and large patches of baldness along with matted fur.  This rat wasn’t doing so well, and for the first time I saw desperation in his movements.  He just didn’t run around like every other rat I’d ever seen before, he seemed panicked and fearful.

I couldn’t help but see a part of myself in this poor dying creature.  When I first moved here, I was one half of a couple.  I had dreams and ambitions that always included the man I thought was the love of my life.  Fourteen years later after the terrorist attack on 9-11, a city-wide blackout, Hurricane Sandy, a devastating divorce, the premature death of too many friends, suicidal thoughts and crippling depression I found myself alone.  I’m not as young as I once was, my reproductive capacity shrinks by the minute and I’m deeply damaged.   In order to pay my bills I work constantly.  Some weeks I might get one day off, or work nonstop without a break for days on end.

There are those who criticize me for choices I’ve made, things I’ve written or said, and my “bad” attitude.  Of course they have no idea what goes on in my head, or how difficult it might be to come back after such a devastating loss.  Things haven’t completely healed and in the past six years I’ve rarely felt strong emotion towards a man for any extended period of time.  I don’t know if I’ll live the rest of my days alone.  In many ways surviving after the breakup has been harder than the split itself.  One day turns into another and nothing changes.

I get harassed on a daily basis with men leering at me, shouting out filth, blocking my path or even grabbing me on the street.   Most of the guys who express interest in me only want sex, and will literally not even touch me after the fact.  It’s as if I’ve left the room and might as well leave, which is usually what I do anyway.  I’ve numbed myself enough to stand it, and swallowed pride and emotions with the increasing dexterity.  If that’s what I need to do to survive then so be it., I survive, but only barely.

So when I looked at that rat, desperately hunting for food, doing nothing more but trying to make it to the next day I felt empathy for his plight.  I didn’t want to go near the poor animal, and I’m not kidding myself about wild urban rats. They’re a dangerous scourge, the city is right to try to eradicate them and control their numbers.  Regardless he was still a little life who never did anything but try to make it to the next day.  For reasons beyond his control he was born into a crowded metropolis and will probably die of starvation, poison, or at the teeth of another rat soon enough.  For the first time in my life, I had compassion for something I had once reviled.  Chances are he never ate another rat, or attacked a human, he was probably just an average rat living off a garbage and dodging subway cars.   I sat down on a bench a safe distance away from him and watched his darting and scheming until the next train came.

As much as I’ve been through, and as hard as things get, my struggles and pain have been a gift.  Had I stayed married and enjoyed the success of my ex-husband’s thriving career I might have never found empathy and compassion for that sad little animal.  I would take what I had for granted, and failed to see that every new day is truly a blessing.  I had to lose everything to become more human.  My life might not get easier for many years to come, or it could change in an instant. I’m just happy I’m still here and I don’t fear the rats anymore.

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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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Top 10 Rules for Dating in New York City

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It’s been five years since my marriage completely disintegrated.  I found myself suddenly thrust back into the dating pool at age 36.  My single friends tried to warn me, but I honestly had no choice.  My marriage was dead and there was no saving it.  I made every dating mistakes a few times.  I’ve evolved from overly emotional, clingy and starry-eyed to cynical, jaded and emotionally bereft.  I keep hoping things will get better, but they never improve.  I’ve tried online dating to no avail.  Most of the guys online never follow through with dates, so I find myself carving out precious time only to resort to sitting in a coffee shop by myself or watching House of Cards on Netflix when my date cancels.  You know it’s bad when you think to yourself that doing business is easier than dating in this town.  I’ve honestly been treated better in most professional relationships, than I ever have been in romantic ones.

So I’ve devised this list.  It pretty much encapsulates what’s become of dating in the city that never sleeps.  From what I’ve heard this across the board for men and women of all sexual orientations and gender identifications.

How to Date in NYC


1. Lower your expectations – I’ve gone from thinking “Maybe I’ll get remarried someday” to “Just answer a simple text message, I only sent you one in the past three days.”


2. Become numb – Get rid of all of your highs and lows as they will not serve you.


3. Show no weaknesses – Don’t let on your hopes and fears too soon.  Show no signs of insecurity.  These things can come later, but since this person probably won’t stick around for any length of time, they don’t need to know any of this.  Put your game face on and keep it on.


4. Expect rude behavior – If you send a simple “What’s up?” text, do not expect a response.  This is after you’ve been out with the person and seen them check their phone every ten minutes. Expect last minute cancellations, constant excuses for why they aren’t available and angry rants about ex-partners.  These are all par for the course.


5. Completely give up on the notion of age appropriate – I’m hit on by men as young as 18 up to around 27 or 28, then the next largest demographic is mid-fifties.  I can’t explain this, but I’ve given up trying.  I just go with what’s offered.


6. Google everyone – Knowledge is power.  Don’t stop at google.  Youtube, Facebook, Twittter even Instagram hold few secrets.


7. Trust no one – Because we live in a city of strangers, a person has to earn your trust before you just believe anything they tell you.  “I had to work” could easily mean – “I was hooking up with one of my other regulars” You might eventually trust your partner, but until then, take what they say with a grain of salt.  Note inconsistencies, never assume they are legit.


8. Get used to the phrase – “I’m just so busy” – You’ll say this yourself.  But you will also hear it as an excuse for everything.


9. Get used to the phrase – “Oh but you live so far away.” New York City is a big town.  We sometimes meet in the middle of this Metropolis in Manhattan.  Only later do we realize that a Bronx to Queens commute is just impractical.  Although some expect to put in absolutely no effort whatsoever.  Basically they will only consider dating you on a regular basis if you live two or three stops away on the same subway line they take every day.


10. Have fun with showing off your dick pic collection, and you’ll get one…trust me you’ll get one. – I don’t know if there is a lesbian or straight woman equivalent, or if this phenomena is as common with every sexual orientation.  I only know that straight women and gay men easily collect dick pics and full frontal nudes. I’ve scrolled through dozens in my gay friend’s phones. I’ve gotten several and I never once requested – “Please send me a photo of your cock. Preferably a self-portrait taken with your phone.  A bathroom shot would really be something special!”  I’ve also gotten requests for photographs of body parts or my mouth wrapped around dildos and various objects.  I’ve never complied. Who said romance was dead?


11. Accept your fate as a crazy cat lady/eccentric bachelor. – I know this brings us to eleven.  For men I guess the crazy cat lady equivalent is the weirdo eccentric bachelor.  We all know a few.  The guys who never got married and have that apartment just full of strange things from their youth.  It’s small and rent stabilized and they’ve lived there for years.  They’ll probably die there but they won’t be eaten by their pet cats, instead someone might stumble upon their mummified corpse after neighbors complain of the smell or they are a final no-show for their eviction in housing court.  I hope that’s not my fate, but things aren’t looking so good lately.

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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: Becoming Comfortably Numb

 

I wondered when it would happen, then a few months ago, it hit me.  After countless bad dates and a dating scene that feels like a wasteland, I’ve finally become comfortably numb.  It’s not what I expected.  I thought I would be more negative and more jaded, but it’s honestly somewhat comfortable.  My expectations have just hit rock bottom.

When I first left my marriage I was completely unprotected.  My heart was overly sensitive, my mind ravaged with depression and my instincts set at high alert. I needed to calm the beast, or I never would have survived. I used to cry after bad dates, usually on the subway home.  As soon as I would just sit down, I’d mildly lose it.  I don’t think I had unrealistic expectations.  Multiple bad dates had trained me not to think beyond the first encounter.  Then on the rare occasions I had a second date, I taught myself not to get too excited.  I’ve only made it to three dates with one man.  We had hardly gotten serious, we hadn’t had sex yet when he had a slight meltdown.  In his case, I don’t think it had anything to do with me.  From what he told me, he had some seriously unresolved issues with his ex.  Unresolved issues with exes is just a reality for people over 35.

Some guys would rather remain virtual.  I sort of “dated”  a guy who just wanted to email.  He claimed he wanted to see me, but then created countless obstacles.  I lived in Brooklyn and he lived in Manhattan, so it shouldn’t have been that difficult.  He also wasn’t over his ex, and I suspect was still trying to get back together with her.  I’ll never understand why I kept talking to him, or what was going on in his head.  I found out months after I gave up, he found a good match and they are inseparable.

I’ve had a few casual flings.  I forced every jealous atom inside of me to stay cool.  Hooking up with guys when I knew they had other women in their lives, wasn’t easy.  It really took Herculean strength to not react, to tell myself that it didn’t matter, we weren’t serious, this won’t lead to anything. I managed to stay calm, but inside I was miserable.

They haven’t all been bad.  I had a strong connection with one guy.  We found out on the date we were both straight spouses.  His wife left him for a woman, and I thought that maybe our shared experience might work to our advantage.  Despite obvious warning signs that he was clearly not over his ex-wife, we made out in his car for over an hour.  It was highly unusual for me, as I usually don’t even kiss a guy on a first date. Then he completely blew me off.   I guess the situation was too much for him, I don’t know.  I can’t remember his name or face.

Now I still have a few men who hover but do little else. They might send a dick pic, or a request for sexting that will lead absolutely nowhere.  I’ve learned I’m not the only recipient for their x-rated self-portraits.   If I say I’m interested in something more, they tend to bolt.  Of course I still get harassed on the street by any number of men of all ages.  I guess that might end when I have to use a walker or cane to get around.

The worst was my rebound relationship, something I never should have gotten myself into.  It was completely exhilarating, but ultimately soul crushing.  I had so many conflicted feelings towards him, at least two years after the fact.  Now I don’t see him.  I have no idea what’s going on in his life, and I have no desire to find out.  I harbor no ill will, but I also don’t want any contact with him.

I’ve become someone I would have never recognized five years ago.  But in a way it’s not completely awful.  It’s not what I thought it would be.  I’m not angry or bitter, just numb.   I take everything men say and do with a grain of salt.  So what if the guy sent me several texts in a row – It doesn’t mean anything until he backs it up with actions.  I rarely text anyone because I can’t stand being blanked back.  I would rather just have nothing than the feeling of being ignored.

I just stopped caring.  So what if the guy from OKCupid sends me eight emails only to cancel the same night as our date.  I don’t even blink if some man rants about his “bitch ex-wife” for half the date.  It no longer surprises me, if he insults what I do for a living, or complains about my crappy neighborhood. This is dating after 35 in a city where only the strong survive, and you’ll be judged on everything your job, neighborhood, past relationships, pets, hobbies even your hometown.

Some of my dates have been so rude and so horrible that if I recreated them in a movie, I would be accused of being too fantastical.  I try to keep an open mind, stay positive and keep moving forward.  My horrible experiences have given me armor.  I rarely have crying fits on the subway anymore.  I’ve just learned to block the disappointments out.   Most divorced people never think they are going to end up like this.  Few of us expect this as our future.  If we learn more from our failures, I’ll be a genius by the time I finally meet a compatible match.  🙂

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Dear Stranger from out of town, I’m not an unpaid prostitute.

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Online dating is the social experiment that keeps on giving.  I’m always amazed at hidden agendas it reveals.  If I select that I’m looking for casual sex in my profile, I will literally get over 100 emails in a 24 hour period.  Men are looking for no strings attached sex, but few will be completely open about their intentions.  One of the strangest phenomena are men from out-of-town who seek sex with New York City women.  My inbox overflows requests like these, yet nothing on my profile indicates that I’m looking for hook-ups.  A typical email goes like this:

I think you’re hot. I’m going to be in New York City next week and I’d love to hook-up if you’re game for that sort of thing. If you aren’t, then my apologizes.

The straight forward approach is a bit unnerving, but they are easy enough to dismiss.   I always admire anyone who has the courage to ask for what they want.  As I’ve said many times on this blog, I wish more men were open and honest.  For every email like that one, I get about 10 of these:

I really think we have a connection. Even though we haven’t met, I can tell from your profile that you’re a caring and loving woman. Something about your eyes, and smile are so inviting to me.  I also think we have a lot in common, and we’d have a great time together.  I’ll only be in town for a week, and I really need someone to show me around the city. I know I could just sit in my hotel room in between my work, but I’d rather spend it with someone special like you.

Those make me want to vomit. It’s also an obvious cut and paste.  A guy will send the same email to dozens of women hoping one will bite.  My profile is mostly random movie quotes.  A savvier man will comment on the films I’ve quoted, or at least acknowledge that my profile is slightly unconventional.  Talking about my eyes, smile or the many things we have in common is intentionally vague.  Every woman has eyes, and most are smiling in at least one photo – so I guess a few might fall for complete drivel like that.  Others might realize the guy is a total phony but they think he’s attractive enough for a one-night stand.

Then we have the truly slime inducing ones:

Look, I’m going to be in New York City next week.  I’m going to be extremely busy.  Maybe if you’re hot enough in person, I’ll make some time for you.  You won’t regret it but you’d better be hot, or forget it.  I’ve got nine inches of pure manhood and I love to make hot chicks moan.

Luckily men like this are rare.  When I’ve gotten emails like these I’ve responded, “Why aren’t you on tinder” or “Hire a prostitute” or “I don’t need an out-of-town STD.”

Usually the men who proposition me for such liaisons aren’t exactly drop dead gorgeous, but a few have been.  I’ve still never taken the bait.  I’m not comfortable with these situations for a number of reasons.

  • Are these men married? Who knows?
  • Safety issues – Theft, sexual assault or worse
  • Drugs – Will I be slipped something that will knock me out?  Will the man be blazed out of his mind?
  • Privacy – Photographs, video, webcams – technology has gotten so small anything is possible
  • Unusual requests, unexpected kinky sex, inappropriate boundaries
  • BAD SEX

The last one is in all caps for a reason.  Sex with strangers is like rolling the dice, you really have no idea if you are going to have a steamy, hot night of passion or an awkward, uncomfortable evening of disappointment.  Simply put sex with a total stranger, is sometimes not just mediocre but downright scaring.  Most of the time when men have sex, they’ll at least have an orgasm.  Any woman knows we aren’t always as lucky.  A selfish or unskilled lover can make the entire enterprise one long night we wish we could forget forever.

Women also get hit up for free sex all the time.  If I want no strings attached sex I can probably get that from someone I already know and trust a bit.  I also don’t need a girlfriend or wife tracking me down weeks or months later when they’ve discovered an “affair” which was really just a random hook-up.

Overall these requests make me feel like I have no value.  A sex worker might put up with strange sexual requests, a selfish one-sided lover or an uncomfortable experience.  A prostitute at least gets paid, and usually quite well for their services.  Of course some women love the turn on of having sex with a total stranger who they will never see again.  However most women who want hot sex from out-of-town men are on hook-up sites like Adult Friend Finder and Tinder.  It’s a bit of a leap for any man to assume all women want this type of sexual experience.

Basically. if you want to buy shoes, don’t go to a hat store.  Plenty of women are waiting for your emails you just need to look for them on sites specific to your search.  Sex workers are also always available, they might be pricy but there’s nothing wrong with an agreed upon transaction between consenting adults.  Never assume the average gal on OKCupid or Match.com is waiting for your “Nine inches manhood.”  We know it’s probably closer to six inches anyway. 🙂

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An Artist in Defense of New York City

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Recently several older accomplished artists have made public declarations decrying the death of creativity in New York City.  Young hopeful artists should steer clear of the Big Apple and find more fertile ground in other cities.  They’ve been vague about which cities are supposedly the new cultural capitals although one article cited Los Angeles as an alternative.  It’s safe to say that the entertainment capital of the world isn’t exactly welcoming to huddled art school masses.  Detroit was also offered up as a suggestion but it’s hard to picture artists thriving in a city that has actually debated selling off the contents of its acclaimed art museum.

New York City’s critics and I agree though, our cultural soul is in trouble.  I moved here in 2001 when the cracks in the artistic landscape were already several feet deep.  Once concentrated in a few neighborhoods, artists are now scattered throughout the outer boroughs. Some of our most beloved artistic spaces have died, while others have morphed into upscale venues.  Rents have soared, and despite this new injection of wealth, arts organizations across the city find it harder to fight for donations and funding.  Broadway has gotten increasingly corporate and risky work has gotten much harder to produce.  Things are worse for New York City artists then they have been in decades.

Most of New York’s biggest detractors are famous millionaires.  It’s easy for them to look back and see so many other options.  Did they grow up in a smaller city in a solidly conservative state?  Have they ever lived in the South or Midwest?  Did it ever occur to them that an artist’s soul would be crushed anyway living in the middle of nowhere.

Pursuing a career in the arts is like climbing Mount Everest blindfolded while a sherpa throws frozen carp at your head.  Trying to balance paying rent while pursuing artistic pursuits is an incredibly difficult challenge regardless of where a person lives.  It’s not like the high paying jobs in the arts are just waiting for applicants in places like Topeka or Birmingham.

I don’t have a benefactor or well off spouse.  My family is not rich or well-connected, and I struggle to make ends meet every single month.  I share a one-bedroom in a dodgy, crime-riddled neighborhood in Brooklyn.  My life is not exactly easy.  Regardless of the challenges I still call NYC my home for a number or reasons:

  • Audience – The rents might be lower in a smaller city but the audience to sustain artists is microscopic. I regularly performed on a stage in a heavy metal bar that was nothing more but a piece of plywood on top of paint cans.  It might have been a humble performance space but the room was always packed.
  • Resources – NYC has everything.  It’s not cheap but you can find galleries, theaters, dance stages, rehearsal spaces, recording studios, comedy clubs, art studios, and sound stages.
  • Community – My friends are film makers, dancers, photographers, writers, actors, comedians, visual artists, designers, musicians and playwrights.  There are arts festivals in every borough year-round with contributors clamoring for a slot.  Collaboration across mediums is effortless.  A musician can find a dancer, who can find a costumer, who can find a print maker and they probably all live off the same subway line.  Few of us make a lot of income doing our art, but we can always find a way to express ourselves.
  • Competition – New York City is not for the timid or lazy.  A few trust fund brats might live in a studio in Chelsea, but for the majority of us, it’s survival of the fittest.  Being around so many other gifted artists makes us all work harder.
  • Education and Training –  New York city has  Internationally acclaimed Ivy League institutions to funky art schools and some of the finest public colleges in the nation.
  • Politics – In NYC if a performance artist wants to cover their body in lube and roll around on newspaper while projecting a pornographic film on their crotch – no one will stage a protest.  Try doing that in Idaho or Alabama.
  • There is still that one in a million chance of success – I know a few who have succeeded despite the odds.  Try getting a television show produced or a slot on SNL while living in Saint Louis.

New York is hard, in many ways harder than it’s ever been. Generic corporate sprawl of artless residential towers and national chain stores infect nearly every crevice of Manhattan.  We are at risk of losing our creative soul, but we haven’t lost it yet.  We are still creating art all over this city.  The semi-retired wealthy artists might not notice us, or pay any attention to our low-budget ventures but we’re still here.

If young artists heed the warnings and no new blood comes in, the doomsayers will kill the very thing they claim to cherish.   If we want to maintain this cities artistic credibility then we have to stay and fight.  The warnings to stay away from Gotham are nothing new.  Nearly twenty years ago, more than one professor warned – NYC is dead, don’t bother. Yet I’ve survived for thirteen years and I make my living creating art.

We can romanticize the past but there were many artists who crashed and burned in the 70’s and 80’s. NYC has never been an incubator with warm and fuzzy walls that nurtured anyone.  It’s a city that says from the moment you land here – show me something.  Show me why I should give a damn about what you do.

We’re in trouble, but if we tell the next generation to not bother, we expedite our demise.  Any artist who looks the rates of success wouldn’t bother anyway.  When have the arts been a practical career choice for anyone?  We don’t do it for outward gains, we create because we have to create, we must create and there is no better place than a city overflowing with artists.  I would say to young artists – New York might not be for you, but if you really want to push yourself and live among a bunch of like-minded freaks then take the leap. You probably won’t live in Manhattan, and you’ll most likely be poor, but you won’t have watch your dreams die in a small town in Kansas.  If you are going to burn out you might as well dream big.

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