Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Spoiled For Choice

Not too long ago a reader made a comment along the lines of, you’re obviously too picky – you should have met someone by now since you go out with so many men (I’m paraphrasing).

I’m sure there are plenty of people who read my blog and think the same thing.  That I’m too picky or have some other BIG thing wrong with me.  With so many dates, how could I not have found a husband by now?

I was thinking about that the other day and realized that I wrote something back in August that answers this question as well as anything else.  It’s an excerpt from the post 10 Date in 3 Weeks:

“If we all lived in a small town somewhere, most of them would have turned into second dates. Who knows, I might’ve ended up in a relationship with one of them.  But this is and we are for choice.  Everyone is looking for perfection, for a magical spark of chemistry within the first 2 minutes. And if it’s not there, then there’s no point in seeing each other again. Hell, even when it is there, sometimes there’s no .   Sometimes there’s more chemistry than you can believe, but then you realize that the guy just wants to get laid. And well, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but right now I’m really focused on meeting someone for a and I don’t want to get distracted by flings, and so I send them packing.”

Click here to read the whole post.

A long while ago I was having an amicable breakup with a guy (we just weren’t working out, for several reasons) and he said something really smart.  He said that if we lived somewhere else we’d probably just ignore the problems and get married and have kids and have a crappy .  And it’s true, we would have a seriously crappy , full of dysfunction.  But it’s also true, I think, that if I didn’t know that I had so many other options (including just not being married, which I’m completely cool with) that I might have wanted to stay in that bad relationship.  Or another bad relationship.  Or had second dates with guys I didn’t really click with.  And then 3rd dates…

Maybe all of the this choice is a bad thing?  Or maybe it’s a good thing?  I really don’t know.

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12 to “Spoiled For Choice”

  1. drumdance says:

    You sound like a fairly typical New Yorker in that you’re an optimizer. Unfortunately, optimizers are also typically unhappy because they’re always looking for better instead of finding ways to appreciate what they have.

    Choice can be a bad thing for sure. A popular book on the subject is The Paradox of Choice. Another book called The Happiness Hypothesis also has a lot to say about how more choices often mean less happiness.

  2. alfabeta says:

    NYC is the worst place on earth for serious relationships. I totally agree with you: We are spoiled for choice. And this is what keeps us singles, well, single!
    The other day I met someone online on of those dating sites that show you a percentage of how much you match with each other. We were at 80%, which I think is pretty damn good. It wasn’t good enough for her, she said she won’t go out with anyone who has at least 95%, or even 100% (which is mathematically impossible btw.) Of course I know that those matching numbers are crap, because only meeting face to face will ever show you if you are a match or not. But just the fact that she could pick out men with higher matching points totally proves your point.

    We New Yorkers live in a fantasy world. We think that there is always someone better around. Finding sex is as easy as riding the subway. Finding love is as complicated as traveling to the moon.

  3. Tokyo Cowgirl says:

    I found this post interesting. While I agree with you that it is much, much harder in NYC (and by NYC I mean Manhattan) to find someone that is seriously looking for a serious relationship, I’m not sure if I can agree with the whole “too many choices” thing. As someone who has lived in quite a few places, from an itty bitty town with 20,000 people to Tokyo, I find that reasoning hard to believe. Plus, your explanation would lead someone to assume that those among us in NYC that are in a LTR are in a functional, happy one, since otherwise they would have moved on a long time ago (as there are, like you said, so many other people to pick from).

    All that aside, though, it IS just harder here. Why? I don’t know but I wish I did!

  4. aguy says:

    I’ll agree with this. Too many choices makes it harder to choose; it’s a well-known psychological phenomenon. There always might be a better option out there if you keep searching! I think that is why people from small towns settle down sooner, while there’s a ton of people in nyc still single in their late 30s.

    And people’s expectations can get in the way of their happiness … the perfect being the enemy of the good and all that.

  5. drumdance says:

    And on aguy’s point about expectations – one thing I’ve learned from going through several serious relationships is, with each new partner you are trading the old set of compromises from your last relationship for a new set in this one. “The One” doesn’t exist. And if you don’t find yourself compromising, odds are still very strong that your partner is, so beware.

  6. bbbex says:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing what you want and not settling. When the timing is right and it all falls together, you will be happier for not settling.

  7. Simone Grant says:

    I don’t know if I agree or disagree. I think it’s an interesting question to ask and an interesting way to view dating in the city.
    That sounds kind of ridiculous. It sounds to me like she’s either crazy or making excuses. As I’ve said before, like dating in NYC. I think there’s much to like.
    -Tokyo Cowgirl
    I’m just asking questions- no answers here. I do know, for myself, that there have been times I probably have been affected by the plentitude of options here. But of course millions of people meet their mates and marry and breed here. So it’s not impossible.
    No, I was not referring to your comments. As I replied last time, I’ve been in many relationships. I’ve spent a good proportion of the last 2 decades in relationships. But none of them turned out to be “the one”. It happens. I’m cool with that. I’d say there’s a good chance there is no “one” for me. That doesn’t make me a bad dater, darling. Oh, and btw, I have a new “no being an asshole policy” on the blog. I now delete all snarky, hostile and/or nasty comments. Food for thought.
    Yes, the perfect is indeed the enemy of the good. I can’t imagine anyone thinking any relationship could be perfect. Or any human being.
    Thank you. I’d like to think so. Having seen some marriages fall apart (in some very ugly ways) I feel pretty certain that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now.

  8. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles says:

    I think whether a cornucopia of choice is a good thing or a bad thing depends on whether you want to find a serious relationship or not. For those who feel comfortable on their own and would rather be single than settle at all, it’s a good thing. For those who aren’t as happy with the single life and would rather compromise a bit to be coupled, it’s a bad thing.

    Those who want a relationship and aren’t satisfied with singleness may need to change their grass-is-always-greener mentality. Even the best relationships have some problems or areas of incompatibility.

    However, I think it’s important to remember that sometimes people who seem “picky” are just unusual, and it’s harder for them to find a compatible match. I’m thinking here about how I’ve taken a few of those personality tests at major dating sites, and I always end up as one of those hard-to-match people who’s supposedly only compatible with 5-6% of guys out there. And that’s not even taking into account whether I would also be physically attracted to them, have a common worldview, etc., etc. On the other hand, my friends who married early are, by and large, not so quirky. Unlike me, they have more traditional beliefs and live traditional lifestyles. And they aren’t quite so…well…weird! Most people who know me say that I’m kind of a character.

  9. DateDoctor says:

    Think NYC is bad…try living in the Land of Greener Pastures- LA LA Land…that is

  10. Simone Grant says:

    That’s a good way of looking at it. “Settling” is very much about conforming to a set of commonly held beliefs. Many of which don’t work so well for me, either.
    I don’t think NYC is “bad”. Just hard in it’s own. I’ve also written a post about how much I love dating in NYC. And, no offense, but you can keep LA.

  11. Michelle E says:

    This post totally hit home for me. I’ve been on what can only be described as an on again, off again dating binge for the past 3 years (all of which in NYC – and, for the record – I consider all the Boro’s NYC).

    Lot’s pf people (men and women alike) ask me why I’m still single and sometimes I find it irritating. It’s not like there is something inherently wrong with being 28 and not in a LTR, and last time I checked, I don’t need a person to make my life work (would it be nice to have? Sure, but not a necessity).

    I’m getting long winded here, but what I’m making an attempt to get at is that I’ve always felt that dating in a big city is more complicated because of the seemingly endless choices. If a date doesn’t work out, I don’t really fret because there is always some cute / charming fella around the corner sitting at the bookstore or at my favorite fermented beverage spot to chat up and get to know.

    I don’t think being single makes us “bad daters”. Variety is the spice of life and I’ll take a seasoned life over a bland one any day of the week.

    Also, love love love the “no being an asshole policy” – I’ve been lucky enough thus far not to be on the receiving end of such banter on my blog (but I’m going to be sure to enact your policy, should it occur).

  12. Simone Grant says:

    -Michelle E
    Welcome to the blog, I’m so glad you found it and I hope we’ll be seeing more of you. We NYers have to stick together.