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Dating in NYC: Settling versus not settling

Illustration: Dan Park

The case for settling

Paralyzed by choice: That's why you're still single. We get it; it's how you feel every time you get an issue of TONY. Sleep No More? The Frick? Dances of Vice? Living in New York City, the possibilities—whether you're stumped about what to do on a Friday night or whom to date—are seemingly limitless. Many of us have moved here for that very reason, others stay here because of it, and still others claim to continue to love NYC's endless variety while simultaneously griping about how it makes living here unnecessarily complicated. But does that mean you should spend your Friday nights at home, trembling with indecision under a Slanket? No, you suck it up and head to Le Poisson Rouge or Dutch Kills. You pick something, and you see where it takes you. So you have no excuse for being single.

New Yorkers, due in part to their many options, are picky. Many don't bother giving an iffy first date the benefit of the doubt by trying for a second one. They're holding out for something better. We get it. You want the best. You didn't make it to the big city from suburban Ohio or fight your way through public school in Queens to take second-best anything. Every time you have eye sex with a cute dude at the corner deli, you remember that the bartender at your neighborhood bar is cuter. Or you flirt with a lady in line at Trader Joe's—until you hear that she's been meaning to start an all-sousaphone band. You think, I could do better. Maybe you could; doesn't mean that you should. After a few dates, you might really get attached to that weirdo. And you found her first. How NYC is that?

Just make a choice. "Settling" for what may seem to be a semidecent date isn't weak, it's adventurous. You may get bored, you may get burned...but then again, you could end up having the kind of passionate, intense experience that makes us all want to live in New York in the first place. And it's a decision that we make again and again. The city gives you infinite choice; for your part, you have to actually choose.—Allison Williams

NEXT: The case for not settling


The case for not settling

Somewhere along the line, the life calculus that has gotten you to this point just stopped working. You did everything right, but while you were busy finding the perfect career, apartment and countless avenues of cultural stimulation, your coupled friends (the same ones whose sad provincialism you once scoffed at) began to make judgments about your empty, cosmopolitan ice kingdom. And you? You're no closer to romantic nirvana than you were when you moved here. How did this happen? Likely, you assumed that, eventually, you would find the perfect partner the same way you may have found your dream job or an apartment you've vowed never to give up: by going through a steady progression of less-than-ideal possibilities and trading up. Life in New York City has trained us to believe that this is how things work.

But does that mean you should tie yourself to the first boob who comes along? Is being single in New York worse than settling for someone like, say, Dennis Duffy, the Beeper King of New York? Dennis is 30 Rock's Liz Lemon's sometimes boyfriend of convenience. He brings our heroine fast food and requires sex only once a week, but he also refers to her as "Dummy" and would push her in front of a train if it meant that the Islanders would win the Stanley Cup. Dennis is fictional, but he's also a fairly accurate archetype. He's the kind of person you could end up with if you decide to lower your personal standards, just to have someone—anyone.

Being single in New York allows you to enjoy, with impunity, everything the city has to offer. When you're in a relationship, your spare time gets eaten up quickly, and if being with that person isn't more fulfilling to you than spending an entire afternoon wandering around the Met or playing on your intramural dodgeball team, you should rethink your relationship status. And the idea that all of the good ones are taken is false. Consider this: There is a constant influx of new people drawn to NYC's endless parade of options, many of whom are as single and intent on meeting someone as you are. Just because it seems like everyone is spoken for today doesn't mean it will be that way tomorrow. New Yorkers love nothing more than a challenge, especially when it comes to love.—Drew Toal


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Well, my issue is with the word settle. I don't think people should 'settle.' They should keep dating until they find the qualities they are looking for. Realistic qualities of course but no settling here. Why be in NYC if you're not going to take advantage of the various dating possibilities. Might as well move to a small town.


after a while the dating scene is getting pretty tired and you see all the older men still chasing the younger women and the bitter older women who constantly complain about the lack of men in this city. how sad is that!