November 9, 2006
N.Y. or L.A.—which is better for dating?
When people ask me which city is better when it comes to dating, I can only answer by citing a famous scene from the horror classic, "When a Stranger Calls."
The babysitter is getting threatening calls in a pre-Caller ID world. The police trace the calls and inform her in one chilling sentence: "It's coming from inside the house."
And so it is with dating.
That one scene scared me out of seeing horror movies or babysitting for the rest of my life. On the upside, it gives me some shorthand for my philosophy on this whole topic. If you are one of those people kvetching about the atrocious singles scene here in Los Angeles or wherever you happen to live, you may want to trace the call. Could it really be that an entire city is filled with flakes, players, gold-diggers, idiots, bimbos and trolls? Is it possible that there truly isn't one single prospective mate in your age range without a mental disorder? More likely, the call is coming from inside the house. It isn't the city. It's you. Bitter, intolerant and hopeless don't play anywhere. If they did, my 20s would have been a lot more fun. I know it can be painful to be single, and I'm not blaming the victim -- I'm blaming the victim mentality.
In my experience, who you are and how you see the world have much more to do with relationship success than your zip code. Folks will disagree with me, they will get passionate about the lack of a "walking culture" here, the surfeit of plastic people with no spiritual core. Over there, over here, everyone has strong opinions on the subject. Having been single in Los Angeles, in San Francisco (where I grew up and lived until age 23) and in New York, I tell you it makes no difference. No difference at all.
At the risk of sounding like a refugee from a self-realization seminar, if you think you won't find a man, you won't. If you've decided all of the women here are stuck-up or beaten down, that's what you'll find. (Of course, there is the Kentucky Exception. My brother was transferred there for work and wound up dating all six girls on JDate before he was finished unpacking. Personality matters. But so does population.)
Here's a story. I was living in New York working on a television news show. My friend fixed me up with her brother. We went out a couple of times before he stopped calling. Obviously, I wondered what I had done wrong, or why he had apparently fallen off the Staten Island Ferry. Luckily, I didn't have to guess, because I had good intel from the sister.
Turns out, the guy had recently put on about 30 pounds and was sensitive about his appearance. He mentioned to me, as we were sitting at dinner, that he didn't mind his recent weight gain. He patted his belly, if I recall, in a jovial sort of way. "Really? That doesn't bother you?" I asked, apparently with some disdain I hardly recall.
I don't mind a big guy, so it never dawned on me that he was offended, which, according to his sister, he most certainly was. If you want a guy to lose your number, lose your decorum and hurt his ego. Just a little something I've learned along the way.
Here's my point. I was insensitive and had a big mouth, qualities I unfortunately don't save for when I land at JFK. A couple of weeks later, I had another blind date. He showed up, a tall man with nice manners in a camel-hair coat, and I thought: "Great, count me in." Until the third date, when the conversational well ran bone dry and I started mentally rehearsing my news segment for the next day while counting the dots on the wallpaper of a pizzeria on the Upper East Side.
I decided to give him another chance. Turns out, he was just nervous and quiet and Southern. We ended up dating two and a half years and are still close friends to this day. Listen, I may have my faults (see above rude comment that probably sent a man careening toward a bucket of cheese fries) but I'm also pretty open-minded. I give a guy a chance. I do that wherever I live. The ups and downs in my dating career have everything to do with my assets and foibles and nothing to do with the locale.
Just to show off some range, I'm going to go from a 1979 horror film to the golden age of Spanish Jewry. According to the philosopher and poet Moses ibn Ezra, "From your opinion of others, we know the opinion of you."
Or like my dad says, "You spot it, you got it." The horror movie, the philosopher, my pops, they're all saying the same thing.
This is pretty good news when you think about it. Wherever you live right now can be the best place for meeting people in the world. It's simple, but it's not easy. You just change the outgoing message, and wait for the phone to ring.
Teresa Strasser in an Emmy Award- and Los Angeles Press Club-winning writer. She can be heard weekday mornings on the syndicated Adam Carolla morning radio show and is on the web at www.teresastrasser.com.