"You're hot and nice. You would do so well here." Trista has told me this at least three times.
By "do well," she means dating and/or finding a long-term relationship; by "here," she means Alaska. I live about 4,000 miles away in Brooklyn.
I love New York, but I hate dating here. I have no problem meeting men, but I have yet to meet someone with whom I'm mutually interested in anything more than casual hookups, and at this point, I'm leaning toward wanting something serious. However, there's a popular theory that, with so many attractive, single women in New York, many men are always looking for something that might be "better."
It's such a cynical idea, but I can't help but feel it's accurate. And I've been on both sides of it — the one who might not be interesting enough, and the one who might be more interesting. Last year, in addition to a couple guys deciding to keep dating around instead of continuing to see me, I was pursued by two different guys who were, unbeknowst to me, already involved with other people. Supercool.
In fact, just last week, I thought I hit it off with a guy during a karaoke outing. He had sung a Joe Cocker song, and when he was done, I decided to say hi in my special way: by sarcastically telling him he bummed everyone out by choosing a song by someone who'd just died. He laughed and we chatted for a couple of minutes before I went to the restroom and then back to my friends' table.
The next time I passed him in the bar, he gently touched my arm and said, "I'm sorry if this is awkward, but I just want you to know that I think you're gorgeous."
"Wow, thank you," I said, genuinely surprised. "That's very kind of you." I was trying to play it cool, having been the one that initially approached him, so after I gave him a sincere smile, I, again, rejoined my friends.
At least two more times during the evening, he told me I'm beautiful. His flattery was both weird and welcome; I hadn't been hit on by someone I was attracted to in I don't know how long.
Then, as I was waiting to give the host my next song choice, I watched him put on his coat and walk over to say goodbye. He reminded me one more time how attracted he was to me and asked for a hug.
"Why aren't you asking for my number?" I said. "I'll give you all 10." I thought it was a cute line — whatever.
His response: "I would if I could."
Dude had a girlfriend waiting for him at home.
Sure, I guess you could say he didn't totally cross the line because he didn't ask for my number, but he was flirting so hard all night. It felt like yet another example of New York men toying with the idea that there might be more out there. Because there is more out there. New York has way more women than men.
A new study I stumbled upon yesterday more or less confirms the idea that New York dudes are less likely to settle into long-term relationships because of the abundance of women. The study doesn't look specifically at New Yorkers — or even Americans, for that matter — but I think the findings are relevant and interesting.
University of Utah anthropologist Ryan Schacht spent months analyzing the Guyanese cultural group known as Makushi, where the ratio in some of their rural communities is approximately 140 men to 100 women. Schacht found that, using questions from the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory, Makushi men "become less keen to engage in uncommitted sex when men are abundant," and are more likely to seek out committed relationships when there are fewer women available. (They don't call it Guyana for nothin', am I right? I am not.)
So can these findings even be applied to Western industrialized societies? Apparently so.
Schacht says in the new issue of the journal Royal Society Open Science that "we can use our findings from small-scale societies like the Makushi to make inferences about western populations." Oh, good.
"For women in urban environments, it may be challenging to nail down a single, committed partner. Women in rural places may find it easier to find a partner ready to settle down and commit," Schacht explains. "In urban environments where there are more women," you know, like New York, "men are surrounded by many potential partners and in this way can pursue multiple short-term, uncommitted relationships. But if they're in boonies," a scientific term, "men may be more likely to settle down. When women are hard to find, the best strategy is to find one and stick with her."
The male-to-female ratio in New York City is 100 to 111, according to the 2010 Census; it's 108 (and a half!) to 100 in Alaska, which coincidentally is almost exactly as far away from New York as Guyana is. In fact, in addition to Alaska, there are only nine states in the U.S. in which men outnumber women: Wyoming, North Dakota, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, and South Dakota.
"No woman is single very long here," Trista told me. "Are you going to start searching OKCupid up here?"
I don't think I'd geographically expand my search or leave the city just to improve my dating odds, especially now that I'm so used to flying solo. I just love New York too much, even if it's unrequited.