By “D’Artagnan_In_The_City”, 36, Male
Dating in your 30s in New York does not need to be a eulogy to a forgotten youth. I’m a single guy in my mid-thirties. I’ve been married (once), madly in love (three times), and have, overall, slept with a respectable amount of beautiful women (at least by my standards).
I am also experienced enough to know that if you don’t look forward to waking up next to your partner, then it doesn’t matter if she’s a runway model who wrote a thesis on Proust (that was this past January), or a gorgeous cancer-beating Ph.D hedge funder (February), or a billionaire’s entrepreneurial daughter forging her own empire (last November), or even a highly placed beautiful UN bureaucrat working fifteen hour days to save humanity from itself in between adventures at Burning Man (July, August & September - yeah that one had me hooked until she broke my heart).
Three of these four beauties, with their witty smiles and big aspirations, I met via a dating app. My credentials as a “player” aren’t what’s important, though. The important thing is that I fundamentally disagree with everything that Mr. Anonymous wrote two weeks ago.
To state the obvious: Mr. Anonymous’ post (let’s call him Mr. A) really rubbed me the wrong way. It isn’t that he demonstrates a fundamental lack of empathy for the multiple partners he takes pride in fooling constantly. It isn’t that he is so apathetic that he was incapable of telling his most recent partner that he couldn’t stand listening to her. Nor is it even that he is lying to everyone, himself included, about what he wants. It’s that I felt sad for him, and I dislike feeling sad for hypocrites. Sad that he is so oblivious to the elephant in the room: he really seems to have no idea that if he wants to learn the source of all his failed relationships, his paranoid secretive angst, all his unfulfilled emotions and uncomfortably sensitive desires, he just needs to look in a mirror. He, plus all you men who glorify him and all you women who indulge him, are the bane of single people in this amazing city of ours. It is incredible to me that anyone believes being immature, uncommunicative, and hypocritical will lead to anything positive, much less a happy fulfilling relationship.
What Mr. A says he wants is what he isn’t getting: Intimacy. No surprise there (though he seems surprised himself to admit it), as it’s what most everyone wants. What Mr. A doesn’t seem to understand is that you don’t get intimacy without honesty, without communication, without trust. Just about the only thing you can get without intimacy is sex. Mr. A, like many single New Yorkers, misunderstands a fundamental tenant of relationships: relationships are not built on compromise, they are built on integrity, on mutual respect, and on the combination of you and your partner’s magical snowflake uniqueness. Whether that magic comes from sexual desire, shared interests, intellectual engagement, or even abject adoration is up to you; but without honest foundations you’ll never build more than a bordello together (it also takes time, conviction, and a lot of communication, but that’s another post).
This applies just as much to all New York’s single ladies as it does to the men. If what you’re getting doesn’t match with what you want, then change the game, change the rules, and definitely change the player. We live in a city chock full of beautifully interesting people, and yet the weight of all our collective insecurities threatens to have it sink into the bedrock. Be brave: say what you want, go after it, and don’t let anyone stop you. If you don’t say what you want though, then you’ll just enable more men like Mr. A to lie to you. Mr. A is settling for sex, which is fine if that’s what you want too. Sex is great and plenty of folks (girls just as much as guys) do just want to have that fun. Go for it! But we, as a city, need to stick up for ourselves more. Have integrity, communicate, be honest about what you want. Guys: if it’s just sex, say so. Girls: if it’s something more, say you won’t accept a substitute. If you do, if we all do, then the magic happens.
I’m not saying it is likely you’ll immediately find new love (I’m still looking myself), and it does take time and effort (Mr A. did actually have that right). But if you approach the process with integrity and honesty, every new person you meet adds to you, teaching you more about yourself and what you want (or don’t want!). Those experiences help you build that foundation on which, one day, you’ll build that big “R” relationship. It doesn’t mean we always get it right: sometimes we slip up even with the best of intentions (my ex-marriage is a testament to that). But I can look back over the past twenty years, and I can see that every woman I’ve been close with taught me something significant about myself.
Because of them, today I’m kinder, stronger, and happier (yes dear reader, there, I said it: having integrity makes you happy). I’m also more confident in what I’m looking for. I still use the apps, still go on dates, and still have one-night stands and occasional lovers, but every woman I engage with gets my full attention and has the opportunity to know me, see me, learn me. I don’t hide myself for the very simple reason that, if I did, there would be no way for that future Love to ever recognize me as hers when our paths do cross.
And if, instead, you choose to lie to your partners, to not open up to them, and to only write about your feelings anonymously online, then at least have the decency to not go blaming your poor mother when you continuously fail at finding someone to connect with.