It’s Too Easy Being Single in New York

by Heather Robinson


From The New York Post


Is fall a good time to focus on finding the right life partner in New York City?

Do the shortening days and hint of crispness in the evening air, with the whiff of upcoming holidays, make some singles — including those I would term the “high social capital” types, who have good looks, career success, plenty of friends, lots of options — more aware of time’s passage and inclined to find the right partner?

Or does living in the city allow this type of single person, let’s call them “optimizers,” to exist in a state of suspended reality in which they feel sure time is on their side?

Moreover, does being single in New York — and able to thrive here year after year — earn one membership in a quirky tribe whose members feel comfortable, and even happy, remaining single? (Not — to quote Jerry Seinfeld — that there’s anything wrong with that!) And what about those of us who, though we enjoy the single life, sincerely seek a romantic partner with whom we can connect on a deeper level and build a family?

The question, I suppose, boils down to this: Does New York City make it just a little too easy to be — and stay — single?

Experts and singles themselves agree that New York singles are a picky lot. “New Yorkers get a little too drunk on their own Kool-Aid,” said Will Winter, a Manhattan psychiatrist.

“Apparently on dates some people talk a lot about themselves, about how important they and their jobs are. Part of it may be a defense mechanism. People may feel they have to justify why they’re single or say, ‘I’m meaningful, I do something important.’ But it can be self-defeating.”

Many New York singles I spoke to agreed that New Yorkers’ perfectionism leads to a kind of comparison shopping that can be a disincentive to settling down.

“Being ambitious in life and career makes you strive for that perfect match that probably doesn’t exist,” said Alina, 34, a Manhattan dentist. “And in New York everyone feeds off each other, and no one is ever good enough.”

Ambition itself, even workaholism, while great for the career, can be hard on relationships, said some singles decompressing in the city over Labor Day weekend.

“A lot of people here are ambitious and it can be hard to meld two lives into one,” says Nick Novich, 32, an advertising copywriter who was hanging with friends outside Employees Only in the West Village. “We all have our own idea of the perfect life and when you bring a new person into that, you have to compromise. And New Yorkers aren’t good at compromise.”

Some singles expressed an irony: the desire to be successful, in part to attract the right romantic partner, can act as a barrier to finding Mr. or Ms. Right.

“In the absence of a great relationship when I was younger, I was all the more motivated to make my career all it could be,” says Ashley, 41, a midtown marketer who was sunbathing in Madison Square Park on Saturday. “I am a highly driven woman, which may have prompted some men to wonder whether I was serious about my personal life and starting a family.”

But others think it’s unfair to blame Type A personality traits and career focus for one’s single status.

“Singles aren’t waiting for life to happen to them,” argues Melanie Notkin, cultural anthropologist and author of “Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness.”

“The same people who invest in their careers while single will probably invest in their careers as marrieds. Staying late at work isn’t something a single person does instead of going on a date with someone they’re into. It’s grit. And grit is a pretty sexy quality in men and women. If you end up with someone with grit, it’s probably because he or she loves you, not because he or she settled for you.”

But the proliferation of online dating sites and apps does increase temptation to stag it, according to others.

“The grass is always greener on the other apps,” quips Joey Lifschitz, 40, an Upper West Side real-estate analyst. “In many ways it makes finding the right partner less efficient because there’s always someone else to look at and everyone looks perfect. Then you meet, and it’s hard for anybody to live up to expectations.”

Which, in turn, prompts singles to return to what Lifschitz terms “shopping.”

Still, regardless of obstacles and the city’s many distractions, as the season changes, New York’s single “optimizers” are optimistic about finding lasting love.

“There’s still someone for everyone,” says Alina.

Ashley says she recently started dating someone “who pursued me for the quality of my heart and not for this perception that I am a power player in the city.”

“Whether organically, via a dating Web site or even an app,” says Lifschitz, “I do look forward to meeting my one and only.”

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