I WAS FIRST SINGLE in Manhattan at 24 years old, and I had to completely relearn the rules of dating from my prior romances on Long Island. Those whopping 56 miles were enough to change the game completely. What it comes down to is this: there is nothing that prepares you for dating in New York City, besides dating in New York City.
1. We don’t believe in labels.
In most places, the three-date rule applies, meaning you might wait three dates to score, at which point you’ll probably start thinking about where the relationship is headed. Manhattan is overrun with commitment-phobes. The phobia is so strong that planning date two might seem like a giant step.
2. A casual date could run you $100.
Listen, Olive Garden isn’t going to cut it here. The local mom and pop restaurant might be a cute date spot in a small town, but in New York, part of impressing your date and setting the mood is the spot you choose. In a city where a standard cocktail runs $18, you’re not looking at a cheap night.
3. Hook up culture is not only for college kids.
Sex and the City wasn’t wrong. New York City is a sex-fueled, giant, incestuous hook-up mecca. With the masses of people crammed together on an island with bars open until 4am and many good-looking, interesting singles, one-night stands are standard. Last call at the bar is usually the last sweep of who is going home with whom.
4. Men run the show.
There have been books written about the cultural phenomenon that the gender skew has caused in New York City. In most places men are expected to pursue and woo women, but Manhattan is an exception. Women outnumber men and the men know it. For every hot girl, there is another hotter one with a more driven career ethic right around the corner (like, the bar corner).
5. There’s something called the “two river rule.”
I dated a guy who lived in Hoboken while I lived in Manhattan. When I moved to Williamsburg, he and his friends joked about the “two river rule,” basically meaning that crossing more than one river (East River from Jersey to Manhattan and Hudson River from Manhattan to Brooklyn) was a deal breaker. They laughed it off but we broke it off a week after I moved to Williamsburg. New Yorkers really hate commuting.