In college, dating (or what I thought was dating) was easy. Everyone I needed to know was in one place – I didn’t have to search for a partner. They were all vetted just by the fact that we studied at the same institution, which in hindsight is probably not a high enough standard when it comes to dating. After having countless flings and one serious boyfriend in those four years, I felt excited to move to New York City and meet new people. I wouldn’t be tied down by the cookie-cutter image of the boys at the University of Pennsylvania or by their expectations of me. An entire world of men was out there waiting for me to find them… but how?
Life in a New City
I quickly realized that despite its immense size and population, New York is a seemingly impossible place to meet someone. I’d see the cutest guy on the subway but would never approach him. When anyone approached me in a bar, I was annoyed by his interruption rather than flattered by his attention. I was intimidated by the stigma of online dating but was finally convinced to try it, starting with dating apps. Staring at my phone and waiting for a match was terrifying. What if nobody swiped right? What if I embarrassed myself? Then I realized – who cares? I don’t know these people. The worst thing that can happen is that I don’t find somebody I like. That’s an acceptable outcome.
So I swiped, and swiped, and swiped. I would never message first, so many of the early matches just sat there – idle connections that would never be. Finally, men began to message me here and there. Some would fizzle quickly, and some I wouldn’t know how to respond to. Finally, some turned into dates. No, none of the early ones were very successful, but they were definitely exciting. There were men who thought I was so cute and interesting that they wanted to meet me in person. That’s flattering!
I began going on about three or four dates a month and barely thinking about a guy after our date. We’d meet for drinks at some dive bar in the West Village, have a lively conversation and both realize there was no spark. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw taking on the city, and I didn’t care that I wasn’t finding love. I was exploring everything out there, and it was exciting.
Soon, though, it became tiring. I was going on all of these dates and had nothing to show for it. Was something wrong with me? I began to backtrack, reaching out to my old college flings. That wasn’t making me feel great either. So about six months after moving to New York, I decided to take a different approach. I became very particular and critical in my swiping. Rather than quantity of dates, I would go for quality. This approach has taken a lot of honing, but my dating life in now infinitely more fulfilling, with a few ups and downs (and one horror story) along the way.