Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More sexonomics

Well, dahlings, apparently Wednesday’s post put you in quite a tizzy! “How dare I put a price on love!” and so on. Others suggested I should be a bit more Machiavellian about it all.

To clarify: my aim was not endorse such a commodified view of love/sex/dating, but to point out the problems a slow-to-get-it-on gal will face in a dating “market” such as ours. It used to be, a woman could reasonably withold sex for a while, requiring a certain degree of commitment and seriousness of intent from her partner before sharing such intimacies with him (an arrangement I termed “costlier” sex, in that the opportunities both parties must forego for such sex are greater than they typically are now). Now, however, the opportunity cost (what he gives up by waiting around for her) of staying with a woman who wants love or marriage as foreplay is much greater than before. A man probably misses out on lots of casual sex, if not a few very short-term relationships and whatever benefits he attaches to singleness. The cost of abstinence for a man is rather high, in other words, unless he considers relationship with the woman extremely valuable and worth those sacrifices.

There are men who think that way, but they are fewer in number than they used to be — particularly among secular men. That’s because the dating “market” as a whole has change. The conditions of “intimacy” required to have sex these days are almost nonexistent in these days; the barriers are very low. Had I wanted a casual fuck the other night, it would not have taken too long before I found a willing man. At most it would have cost a few drinks in a local bar — and maybe not even the price of the drinks at that.

I don’t mean to sound cynical in saying that, but my sense of the New York dating scene is that this “economic” view of sex, brutal or not, is fairly realistic. Sexless dating is a hard sell to most men here, even if they find you witty, attractive and charming. Which is ultimately why I opted out of dating altogether — I realized I’m not up for the rigamarole of dating. Making short-term sacrifices for the sake of a long-term goal is hard, especially in this live-for-the-live-feed world of ours.

If one steers away from the sex-on-demand approach to relationships, and finds people equally committed to that ethos, sex and relationships can be many of the things reader VJ talked about. The payoff can be great; it’s the opportunity cost (what we have to give up in the short term) that’s the hard part.

That opportunity cost may not be the same for every city. Indeed, some of my readers have suggested I’m not living in or eyeing the right part of the country... (email excerpted for brevity)
2.) You are geographically poorly located for one of the tasks you desire to undertake. Searching for other committed Christians who understand your faith and are otherwise suitable for marriage in your ‘Venn’ sort of way may be about as likely in NYC as it is in Japan. (This is to say not very likely). Now this was not always the case, but if you spoke some decent Spanish you’d certainly up your odds, perhaps dramatically. But the culture you swim in does not support your needs in this respect. It’s not anything your doing or not doing, the likely candidates are just very thin on the ground there.
I knew I should’ve tried harder with Jose No Dinero ... The key is Spanish you say, eh? Too bad I studied German. I can’t imagine why my fumblings at a language so similar to the sounds of throat-clearing haven’t been more inspirational to potential suitors ...
3.) I know plenty of women who sound an awfully lot like you (they of course don’t write as well or in blogs), who live all over the south.
Yes! More women like me! Surely competition for men would be a good thing, yes? After all, if all the restaurant-supply stores congregate on Bowery, maybe my problem is I’m not near enough to desperate women seeking their own single Jesus freak.
8.) I enjoy your writing, but put me down for thinking that ‘The Captain’ is a pipe dream. Despite all he has going for him, he just does not sound all that likely a prospect. He would have made his move long ago. I guess this is why he’s teaching English and not strategy or tactics.
Actually, he smokes cigarettes, not pipes, and dahling, I fear you misunderstand! Anna doesn’t really want a man she could actually marry. That might destroy the fantasy! I’m a good-old fashioned masochist, I am.
9.) NYC is tough enough dating grounds for wild and woolly women willing to do almost anything to interest guys. I’m constantly and honestly amazed that you retain a serious sense of humor about your quest. This says plenty about your tremendous spirit and ‘pluck’ (an old fashioned word once popular in NYC), but again I’ve really got to wonder about the prospects there.
All the more better to write a blog from. I mean, really, as savvy readers have pointed out, how could I entertain you all if some man I liked should fall for me too? Whither my shtick should I finally have a happy relationship? No, no, it’s really too much of a sacrifice. I think I’ll stick with fantasies for a while. Besides, don’t they hurt less, the men who aren’t what you think they are? I’m sure I read a Harlequin about that once ...
10). Which comes to my last point by way of a mild suggestion; you need to make some regular and serious hunting parties down south. Really. We’ve got families that think the way you do, and sons and daughters who hew (more or less) to the same moral code. So if you can’t move down here, please plan to do some poaching soon. I know you won’t regret it. Some of these critters might even be amenable to travel and migration if needed. It’s something to think about at least.

Cheers & Good Luck!
Southern Counselor
I confess, it sounds like another Stuffy House set to me ... but I’ll keep it in mind. Don’t forget I’m happy to handle questions about your love life dilemmas once in a while!


For what it’s worth, a New York Post article this week griped about Forbes’ new “Best Cities for Singles” ranking, which put New York at #8 below LA, DC, San Francisco, Boston and ... gasp ... Denver. Could they have factored in single-nerd-to-woman ratios? I hear the Silicon Valley tops ’em all. Move options, move options. Maybe if my book sells, when I’m done writing it I’ll try to be sexless elsewhere once again.