One of the things people most often ask me about my life in New York is what dating really is like in the City.
The thing is that I don't really do dating. Primarily because I seem to only possess an on/off relationship switch with nothing in between - I either fall in love (which has only happened to me twice) or I just want very casual fun. In the latter instances, I am terrifyingly commitment phobic and basically run away before anything even resembling a relationship can materialize.
But in the anthropological experiment that is New York City I recently met a strange and rare species, the Relationship Guy, and somehow fell into the dating trap. I certainly fought against it and most of my friends only know him by the nickname I gave him from the start: "The Lover". But I enjoyed his company and therefore decided to at least try for a change .... or my own dysfunctional interpretation of trying anyway.
I was very clear and honest with him from the start about what this was for me - I wanted to keep seeing him but I didn't want us to be a couple. I found excuses not to meet his friends and never gave him the opportunity to meet mine. I usually only made time for him in my schedule once a week, normally after I had already been out with my friends (I believe the technical term is "booty call" - ha ha ha) and I turned down his offers of doing couple things - even when they included innocuous activities like going to the cinema together.
Despite what should have been obvious warning flags, the Lover moved very quickly through the relationship cycle all by himself and much to my horror and panic. A few hours after we first met and upon telling him that I was here on a visa, he made me google the words "Green Card". By our 3rd meeting, he was telling me how much he wanted to meet my family. By the 5th, he told me he was in love with me (I completely freaked out) and by the 6th I had to have the cliche and awkward "it's not you, it's me" conversation.
Even after that, he stuck around with the patience of a Saint or perhaps more accurately that of a mad man. And at the exact point when I was wondering whether I should give him a proper chance or end it once and for all, he went from Relationship Guy (albeit a scarily intense version of him) straight to your garden variety New York man - he stopped calling and basically vanished into thin air with no explanation.
I felt relieved that everything came to an end without anyone's heart being broken. Neither his as, despite his grand words he knew exactly what was going on and I am convinced that I did not hurt his feelings - I was on the wrong side of unrequited love once and would never wish it on my worst enemy, let alone put someone through it knowingly. Nor mine as I never invested myself emotionally in the relationship.
However, this latest experience does nothing to change my perception that New York men are, quite frankly, complete freaks. I hate to generalize but I can't think of any other reasons why I just do not understand them and all my single girlfriends feel the same way.
Of course, I am far from being perfect myself and I carry my own complex emotional baggage, my own little dose of freakiness. But I am more convinced than ever that having a straight forward relationship in New York, one that unfolds at a standard pace or without undue complications, is nearly impossible.
So dating in New York City? Not for the faint hearted although it does provide plenty of funny stories to share with girlfriends over a few glasses of wine ... The key is simply to lower your expectations quite substantially and to keep your heart well out of it!