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My years of New York City dating—if you’re counting, there have been 12—have involved a lot of guys, short- and long- and mid-term. My shortest—minus the one-off hookups that we all know aren’t “dates” at all—was somewhere in the range of two weeks.There have been certifiable crazies, like the Eastern European fellow who broke my bedroom window in a fit of rage and told me not to complain that he’d broken my “fucking window.” There was the Jersey boy who worked in women’s handbags; fond memories involve him drunk-puking at the Hilton, then giggling hysterically, running, and “hiding” our soiled comforter in front of someone else’s door down the hall. There was the dashing Argentinean only in town for a week; the Ronkonkoma deli worker barely old enough to drink; the beleaguered i-banker who came over regularly just to pass out on my couch.The beautiful, the smart, the successful, and the young will attract more than their allotment of admirers, while the ugly, the desperate, the “too old,” and the socially unfit for whatever reason are just not going to have the same dating opportunities.If you’re a die-hard optimist, maybe you believe that there’s someone for everyone, but there are far more somebodies for some, male or female.There was the super-successful corporate honcho with a cardboard box for a nightstand. And I can’t forget the “totally eligible” magazine editor who moved to the suburbs while we were dating, convinced me to take a bus to visit him, showed off his two-story brick house with granite kitchen counters and an actual backyard, as if knowing it was exactly what I aspired to—and then promptly married someone else.The best friend with whom I had zero sexual attraction. There were men who have dropped me on my head, literally and figuratively. At some point, I yelled at almost all of these men for not being “what I wanted,” and, as we all do, turned to my female friends for consolation and support.One time, for no reason whatsoever, he printed out a dictionary definition of “beautiful,” circled the word, drew an arrow to it, and wrote “THIS IS YOU.” He left it for me somewhere I would find it, as a surprise. But at the end of high school, when I knew I was going away to bigger, brighter things while he stayed in town and continued at the local community college, I tried to dump him over and over again, eventually making out with a random guy in a band on high school graduation night and telling the would-be ex about it the next day. Yet these never-ending options wreak havoc with us, as does the idea that we can dally with each of them without ever deciding on any and just hope it will all fall where it may—that someday our prince will come, and he better be fucking good.The ex has a little boy, a dog, and a wife now; I don’t even own a cat. As a married friend mused, “Holding out for everything we want—maybe it’s a delusional expectation.

That implies that all boys want is to hook up, which I don’t think is true, but I think that is a lot of it. admitted to no one, perhaps not even myself: too available. If you’re like me (and I think a lot of us are), you might say you can’t stand drama and that all you want is a nice, stable relationship with someone who loves and treats you well, but “nice” and “stable” have hardly the appeal of words like “exciting” or “passionate” or, well, “drama.” Our status as single, independent, financially solvent New York City women in the year 2011 has us sitting on a mountain of unprecedented options. So we want all the options, bigger and better and faster and shinier, or taller or sexier or stronger or smarter, and yet somehow also different and completely our own. It’s not because we wanted to settle down with the patient and reliable plod-along schmo, and have babies and live in a three-bedroom house with a two-car garage where we peaceably grill in the summer and make casseroles in winter until we die.

We then realize our years sort of went by.” This is true of all of us, men and women.

Yet somehow, helped along by rom-coms and self-help books and chick lit, at some point we learn to ignore the simple fact that there are two people in every relationship, and that they both have a hand in whether it succeeds or fails.

If they think, ‘This girl’s not giving me what I want, or pushing things too quickly,’ they find someone else.

It’s an unlevel playing field.” Of course, love is inherently not a level playing field—its terrain is rocky, uncharted, completely unfair.

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