Why You Can’t Find Love — and How To Fix It

5 steps to help you find lasting love (and why it’s been so damn hard so far).


I was at a cocktail party not long ago with my friend Andrea Syrtash (the real-life Carrie Bradshaw), and had a conversation that echoed what I have discussed with so many friends living in lower Manhattan. The topic: Why it’s hard to find love while living in downtown New York City.

Why You Can’t Find Love — and How To Fix It

A typical lower Manhattan streetscape

I explained my thesis: that ‘Junk Dating’ is to blame. Let me explain. I was at Le Select (a great little french cafe in SoHo) a few days ago with an amazing man who’s become a mentor to me. He’s brilliant, outgoing, funny, good looking, in his 40’s… and single. But, he claims, not by his choosing. He admitted that he’s been ‘dating too much’, because he keeps meeting interesting women. And therein lies the classic NYC issue. Too much choice and too many people who know how to make a good impression (for the first few months, at least).

Why You Can’t Find Love — and How To Fix It

Models in skimpy clothing abound in lower Manhattan

The lower half of Manhattan has a very particular energy, if you’re tuned in. It’s a single’s vibe. A youthful, whirlwind kind of energy. It seems like 90% of people downtown are single and looking, or in a ‘relationship’, and still looking (ug). The bars and restaurants are always packed, and everyone is checking everyone else out. I mean, who needs Tinder* when you live in lower Manhattan??

*Tinder and other location-based apps are just roadblocks to finding someone who’ll actually give you lasting happiness. Chances are, if he or she was really ready and open to finding love at this stage of their life, they wouldn’t be on these apps, as they’d realize that constant distraction is not the route to a lasting bond.

Back to Junk Dating… Ever wondered why some people just don’t seem to see the point of settling down, or they go through person after person at two week or three month intervals? NYC is like being a kid in a candy store for many people. Everyone knows that the more sugar you let yourself eat, the more addicted you get. In fact, many people get so addicted to the temporary highs that junk food provides, that they forget how good it feels to be healthy. They’ve forgotten (or, sadly, never gotten to experience) how fulfilling it is to be consistently healthy. So instead, they’re addicted to a diet of junk food (ie. Junk Dating).

Why You Can’t Find Love — and How To Fix It

They crave that sugar high (ie. date or sex with someone new), and then crash (ie. getting bored easily, not wanting to be alone, needing excitement, drama, obsessing over if they’ll call, etc.), followed by another temporary sugar high, and crash/void, and… repeat… forever.

Metaphorically, everyone wants to be fit and healthy (ie. in a happy, loving relationship), but it seems that precious few want it enough to eat healthy (ie. only date those who could be ‘the one’, and forgo booty calls and Junk Dates) and exercise (ie. meditate, stop clubbing, etc.)

Why You Can’t Find Love — and How To Fix It

Don’t let your ego get in the way of finding real love

Being with the person you really truly want to spend your life with is… well… the greatest poetry and songs ever written are about how amazing it feels. How fulfilling, exciting, stimulating, safe, warm and everlasting it feels. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or you think it’s a fantasy — I’m here to tell you: it’s not. I used to think that I’d never find that feeling with someone. I could pretend, but it wouldn’t last, and it was never as good as I knew it could be. I wondered if the songs were there to dupe us… to keep us believing that there’s something better, keeping us single and looking, and out there buying stuff (let’s face it, single people spend more!)

I’ve had (as my friends will attest to) more than my share of awful (I mean AWFUL) boyfriends. I’ll spare you the details, but they were bad. When I moved here from Canada, I had no idea that people could appear so wholesome and sweet, all the while inside them they’re rotten and unfeeling. Well, NYC seems to attract more than its fair share of con artists, so buyer beware, I suppose.

Finding love in NYC was so tough, in fact, that right before I met my husband I was a hair away from moving to San Francisco. I thought the dating scene must be better there — anywhere! Instead, I moved from SoHo to the Upper East Side. Away from the frenetic energy of downtown. Away from the models (there are literally tens of thousands of them strutting around downtown), the crazy bars (which I was never into anyway), and the men that are obsessed with both.

Wouldn’t you know it, I met my husband two months later. He’d also realized that he needed to make a change in his life if he was going to find the right woman for him. He made a list of the top ten things he needs in a woman, and then decided that he was going to wait for the woman that fits every single one of those ten attributes. Every morning he read those attributes out loud. If he started dating someone and he realized that she didn’t fit those, he stopped seeing her. And it worked.

Why You Can’t Find Love — and How To Fix It

Don’t waste your precious time or your soul mate might pass you by… tick tock

So here are my tried-tested-and-true rules/tips (in no particular order) to help you find the love of your life:

(Tip) #1. Move uptown, away from the singles craziness. I know it sounds counter-productive, but you need to be away from that energy to truly give someone a shot. No distractions.

(Rule) #2. You heard me — no distractions! That means you date one person at a time. We all meet people who are attractive and seem interesting on an almost daily basis, but remember: they seem interesting now, but most probably that’d wear off on the first, third or 10th date anyway. You can’t fully emotionally commit if you’re letting yourself be distracted.

(Rule) #3. Mentally commit. There’s always going to be someone else in your life who’s intriguing. If you’re really giving love a shot with someone, you need to stay away from other people who are tempting. Even if nothing ever happens, it’s breaking rule #2.

(Tip) #4. Make a list of ten things you need in a husband/wife. If you start the list with anything physical, you need to really look at yourself and your level of superficiality. It’s easy to be superficial in a city full of gorgeous people, but it won’t help you find love. Fix that first. Your list should start with things like: playful, optimistic, affectionate, kind, etc. Post it above your computer or fridge and read it daily. If someone you’re dating doesn’t fit this, pull the plug immediately. You don’t want to be wasting time with someone who you can’t be in love with for life, and miss the right person for you.

(Tip) #5. Meditate, read, and improve yourself. If you want to find someone healthy and excellent, you need to be equally as healthy and excellent.

A side note: Internet porn has been shown to create new neural pathways in the brain that condition men (and women, I suppose) to crave variety and prevent them from getting as turned on by regular/normal sex. More on that here. Oh, and I also found this cool map showing what neighborhoods have the most single men.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any dating tips to share?

Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 121 Comments

  1. Avatar of Mike Yen

    Mike Yen

    I’ve found it incredibly challenging to navigate the dating scene in Colorado. Too many stuckup princesses or women with daddy issues. It often feels like they’re living in their own fairytale world. Impossible to connect on a genuine level. My experiences here have been tough — it feels like a real struggle to find true love. I feel like stabbing myself in the heart it’s so frustrating.

  2. Avatar of Patrick


    I’m a guy who is finding it very hard to find the right girl for a honest relationship. Most women I’ve met are always about money, they ain’t ready for serious relationship. I’ve been conned a couples of times but I am wiser now. Its becoming really frustrating.

    I know what I want in a woman, which is a serious relationship, a lady who is kind, caring, full of empathy and ready to work to make a relationship work. Because that’s the quality I have too. Not just going to a bar to drink, eat out regularly, with nothing to show for it.

    I’m 40, a handsome dude whose been unlucky with girls. So could you advise me of where I could find a single serious woman in NYC who is not just after what she will get from me?


    • Avatar of Hilary Rowland

      Try my tips above, and ask friends to introduce you to single people they meet that they think might get along with you. 🙂

  3. Avatar of Margaret Gonzales

    Margaret Gonzales

    It’s not that I don’t want love but before committing to someone I can afford to wait and rather concentrate on getting my careers off the ground.

  4. Avatar of Benjamin Goodman

    Benjamin Goodman

    Tip #4 is really cool. But on my list of things that I need in my girlfriend/wife is just too big and wonder if I’m ever gonna find someone with all those qualities.

  5. Avatar of Jeannie Hernandez

    Jeannie Hernandez

    It is hard to find love in NYC like you said there are too many choices and some people aren’t necessarily willing to put in the effort and would rather break it off because they know they have other options.

  6. Avatar of Paul Daiz

    Paul Daiz

    It has become so common to see people getting screwed over. It’s practically impossible to trust someone these days. But I think with the help of your tips/rules I will definitely find true love one day.

    • Avatar of Maria Wilkins

      Maria Wilkins

      Exactly many of my friends and colleagues have faced some sort of cheating scandal. As result, I have major trust issues and feel like burdened with insecurity from my partner.

  7. Avatar of TAMI


    It is not hard to find love but it is hard to maintain that relationship because it requires attention and dedication. love requires us to confront our own laziness, impulsiveness, and boredom, which is hard for most people to do.

  8. Avatar of Cara Lee

    Cara Lee

    Being “official” can suggest less freedom and less variety. The hook-up culture is so prominent in NYC these days, it allows minimal emotional attachments and more opportunities for physical pleasure. And that’s the reasons people don’t find lasting love or don’t want lasting love.

    • Avatar of Benjamin Goodman

      Benjamin Goodman

      I completely agree with you, modern dating has become so ambiguous and confusing. some couples have commitment issues and never seems to want to accept the terms of being “official”.

  9. Avatar of Cecelia Stephens

    Cecelia Stephens

    I think the most common and biggest reason why its so hard to fall in love and find lasting love is fear of commitment.

  10. Avatar of James Hannks

    James Hannks

    I moved to NYC last year and I wonder if I’m ever gonna find love??

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