Why You Can't Find Love -- and How To Fix It - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


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?

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: 120 Comments

  1. Sarah Evanston

    I think this is a universal issue, regardless of what city you’re in. As long as the city is large enough to provide some anonymity… you’re going to get this happening. Unfortunately, it’s male-human nature.

  2. Hannah Mayers

    This makes so much sense! I always wondered why guys just sortof stop calling when things are going so well, or are busy so much of the time. If they just paused for a second, and focused on one woman, they’d have such a different perspective on her.

  3. I disagree with most of the comments. In my opinion, you don't need to move anywhere to find love in the city. The real problem is that we don't know what we want most of the time, and so we get enchanted by beautiful words and superficial features.
    Most of the time we just take a random chance and throw a line — that's the standard someone needs to follow if want to get somewhere. It’s a numbers game. NYC is like a meat market, sure, but you can find that also in dating websites.. "I want someone tall, fit, economical supporter..bla bla bla… " . We should get out of that stereotype and look inside ourselves. Defining the real qualities we want in a partner aside from the material and superfluous attributes.

  4. I believe wholeheartedly in tip #2…If you're dating more than one person at once, that probably means you don't really care about any of them. If you did, you wouldn't also want to date the others!

  5. Jen Spillane

    It is really hard not to comparison shop in NYC. But I agree–you have to be present and available to the person you're dating if you want to figure out whether or not it'll work, and it's really hard to do that when your mind is swarming with tons of other prospects! #5 is so important. Ultimately improving your own life will make you happier AND more appealing to a partner.

  6. I love tip #1. Finding the right environment is so important for your dating life. If you live in a good place with professionals and healthy options, you will be a better person. Not having all the distractions (although downtown is crazy awesome!) will increase your chances of finding a potential guy who is mature and ready to make a relationship commitment.

  7. I met my boyfriend through my brother – they are friends, so he was pre-vetted. Much safer.

  8. I love these tips! #3 is soooo tough in NYC. Women get hit on so often that it's tough concentrating on just one man. That's probably part of the reason why I'm not married… but wow, is it every tough to stop comparison shopping. Does anyone else have this problem?

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