Most frequently asked questions about my New York life: are without fail: ‘Have you started dating yet?’ or ‘What’s the dating scene like? The answers to those questions, respectively, are yes and confusing. If you recall, a few months ago I pledged to go on one date a week for 4 weeks. I like to think I fulfilled that mission, even if it was all with the same person.
Despite my small sample size, I did manage to emerge with some interesting findings:
You can date someone for several months without a) really getting to know them and b) it being a relationship. Dating in New York is a sport. Something you do on a regular basis to to ensure you keep your eye in. Just another enjoyable way to pass the time. As an American, you’ve been doing it since childhood, so you understand all the rules and are probably quite good at it. The rest of us need a few things explained in order to participate. The most critical rule that I’ve had explained to me by American girls is ‘The Conversation’ (or sometimes ‘The Talk’) According to this rule:
- The Conversation determines the exclusivity of your relationship
- If you have not had The Conversation you should assume he is seeing other people
- The Conversation is usually initiated by the woman
- Men do not like having The Conversation
- The Conversation should not be initiated too soon
- The Conversation should be kept light hearted (is received best when introduced with humour) and appear unthreatening.
- The Conversation is not good pillow talk
My own attempt at The Conversation was admittedly amateur and ignored many of the above principles, but then in my defense I’ve not been playing this game very long. In fact, I didn’t really even want to have The Conversation – I was more concerned with what was happening in the present than about where things ‘were going’ but then I suppose that’s one and the same in Dateland. So I went for a simple yet strong opening question: ‘Like, I was just wondering, what are we doing – are we dating?’ (trying to play the ignorant foreigner card but perhaps too threatening and not light hearted enough in hindsight). In response to my question he did two things: First he positioned himself on the moral high ground by affirming that we were in fact dating inasmuch as he was not dating anyone else (I like to think of it as dating by default). Second, he gave me a full run down of his frantic Summer schedule, including business trips, expected visitors and w ends in Montauk. He concluded by saying that he should have more free time in the Fall. Naturally, in response to that I said I would clear my schedule beginning October and look forward to romantic walks with him in Central Park as an abundance of golden leaves fall softly around us. Like – NOT!
And so out of this little experiment the number one rule of American dating is revealed: Do not put all your eggs in one basket – or at least not until you’ve had The Conversation. Critical learning if I’m to be in a relationship by the Fall.