Finding love and romance in New York City isn’t impossible, but it’s also not always so easy. Here’s what I’ve learned after a year of dating in NYC—the things that made it a challenge, but also fun.
Hey! In an attempt to get more personal, I’m starting to share more stories and tips from my day-to-day life outside of my regular city guides and travel stories. Have some feedback? Send me a tweet or message on Instagram @travelsofadam.
When I moved to New York City, I tried my best to prepare for a new urban life. Since I was a kid and heard my dad’s stories about NYC, I knew it would be some kind of crazy.
I must have read a hundred different blogs about life in NYC, about finding apartments, the best neighborhoods, how to live cheaply, where to find free or cheap things… I looked it all up and kept a running list of “life in NYC” goals.
But then, once I moved to the Big City, newly single, I wasn’t totally prepared for dating. Making friends and meeting new people is never really easy, add in the desire for love and romance, and it’s that much more of a challenge.
And yet, I persisted.
Spoiler alert: dating in NYC isn’t easy. Sure, meeting new people is surprisingly fun and actually not too difficult, but the entirety of the dating process still remains a challenge in New York.
My experiences dating in NYC have included everything from speed-dating to attending meetups, and of course all the dating apps. For new-to-NYC’ers, some of the things I’ve learned about dating here might come as a surprise, so here are some of the things I’ve learned since starting to date in NYC.
6 Things to Know about Dating in NYC
Dating is expensive
Like everything else in New York City, dating is expensive. While there are always more than enough happy hour deals to choose from, when you start going out on first dates regularly, and then occasional second and third dates, it all adds up pretty quickly!
If you’re single and new to dating in NYC, set aside a budget for dating—not just the premium upgrades to your dating apps (not worth it!), but for the bars, restaurants, and other activities that will invariably add up. Use one of these recommended personal finance apps to help manage your dating money!
People will be cruel
New York City famously has a reputation of being a bit of a “tough guy” city and while that stereotype is largely false and widely debunked, the dating game is a whole other story! New Yorkers are perfectly kind to strangers (and yes, even to tourists!), but living that New York lifestyle ain’t easy, so don’t expect fellow New Yorkers to be so easy on each other.
Sure, I’m exaggerating with the word “cruel” here, but here’s the thing: the NYC dating scene is a numbers game. There are just so many people here, many of them young and single, so there’s seemingly always another option. Because of that, tying anyone down into a committed relationship isn’t going to be easy.
In New York City, you’ve got to be strong to survive. But luckily there’s an easier solution: just be nice! When you’re considerate and kind, you’re more likely to meet those that are equally considerate and kind. Don’t fall into that dating trap where everyone is cruel to one another!
There is not enough time
In a city this expensive, this crowded, this big, there’s never going to be enough time. Take into account that most millennials are working two or more jobs, navigating multiple friend groups, and dealing with long commutes from more affordable neighborhoods, New Yorkers are B U S Y !
Setting time aside for dating isn’t exactly fun. Calendars fill up fast and when there’s just so much always going on, so many events, festivals, and always an activity or three—it can be hard to schedule dates with those that you might match with.
When I was using the dating apps daily (okay: hourly), the hardest part for making a date was always scheduling a time to meet. Connections can come quick, but if you’re too far away from one another, or too busy and unable to accommodate impromptu plans, it’s not going to be any easier.
I use Google Calendar for work and keep a regular hand-written to do list with me at all times. Prioritizing friendships is important, so I’d suggest always making times for those friendships, but allowing for some flexibility to get out of your comfort zone and meet someone new should also be possible with your busy scheduling! Simply make time for it and remain flexible.
Speed dating doesn’t work
Maybe this won’t be a surprise to most of you, but my experiences with speed dating in NYC were not very positive. As someone that was both new to New York City, and newly single when I first moved here, I was ready to give anything a try to meet new people and make new friends.
Of course, going to bars and clubs and meeting friends of friends worked really well, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and see whom else I could meet. That’s when I found that there were actually quite a lot of speed dating offers in NYC, including many focused exclusively for gay men!
Well, here’s my review of speed dating in NYC: it’s fun for a bit, but isn’t really a great way at meeting people—even for friendships. There’s a weird dynamic when you enter an event solely for the purpose of meeting new people for potential relationships and dating.
When you enter a situation like that (whether it’s offline like these speed dating events, or online), you’re just bound for some kind of disappointment. Romance and relationships do work when they originate this way, but it’s tougher to overcome that initial hurdle of expectations.
Location, location, location!
This goes hand-in-hand with a lot of the other issues about dating in NYC. Time, money, and greed are big factors in finding love, but because of each of those, it’s also important to be in the right place. There’s really no “right” place, but it’s about proximity. Proximity in every sense of the word!
Using the dating apps, especially for hookups, really means the need to be nearby your potential mates. Oftentimes, people are just too busy and don’t carve out time in their days for dates (whether they’re sexual hookups or not). So the closer you are to your date, the easier it’ll be to make something actually happen. There are so many different one night stand apps out there, it’s best to use a variety of them but keep your searches hyper-local to yield better results.
But it’s not just about physical location. It’s also about meeting people in the same social circles, in familiar settings, in places you frequent. When you start hanging out in the places that work for you and your interests, you’re more likely to meet those that share those same interests: making dating invariably easier.
It’s a waiting game
Dating in NYC may seem impossible when you consider the dating pool, the time, the money, the stress, and the probable heartbreaks, but like everything else that makes life in New York City a challenge, it’s a challenge worth waiting for.
What are your experiences dating in the big city? Did you find it easy or difficult; did you find love? Share your tips for others to see, and hopefully learn from!