If you thought a gay London man in his late 20s deciding to up sticks for a three-month stint Stateside was all about boozing, banging and blackouts, you’d be 100% right. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a thing or two along the way - and I don’t mean venereal diseases. So without further ado, here are the 10 things I learned about love during 12 weeks on the NYC dating scene...
1) Subtlety is for singletons
New Yorkers are BUSY, and they don’t have time to be coy about coveting a bit of cock, like us Brits. They seem to have cottoned on to the fact that dating is its own rat race, and with limited eligible bachelors. If you snooze, you loose. People shun the actual rat race every day, but those people don't live in penthouses in the city. And nobody wants to be dating the human equivalent of a six-person house share in Slough. “You don’t get what you want, if you don’t go for it,” one tells me. And to be fair, I kissed so many frogs just because they spoke to me, I’m surprised I didn’t get mono… I’d call that proof.
2) Don’t take rejection personally
Shyness usually boils down to rejection, and while on some level you know it’s not personal, you still end up cry-wanking to old episodes of Queer as Folk. But the beauty about New York is that you can get ghosted by one boy, and the second you turn the corner there’s five more waving their dicks about. And not just the homeless men urinating on your shoe. In fact, you can’t mince through Chelsea without tripping over half a dozen poodles and their limp-wristed walkers. It’s like nan always said: “There’s plenty more D in the sea…”
3) Don’t put all your dicks in one basket
A common mistake of us single people is to remain monogamous before we’re even in a relationship. And I’m sure Ben (who invited you to a movie and then let you pay for everything) is lovely, but it’s highly likely he’s not ‘The One’; so it’s good to keep your options (and legs) open. I'm not saying we should put it about like Kat Slater, but it’s also quite common for men to come and go in our lives very quickly, so there’s nothing wrong with having somebody to distract you from moping around if that happens. As Phoebe Buffay wisely said: “It’s just good sense to back-up, your back-up”.
4) It’s not all about sex
I used to think that dick appointments were only a success if you limped into an Uber with crusted semen in your hair. But I think it’s safe to admit that having sex for the sake of an orgasm is just not the one. So when I turned up to a shag’s house to find him whimpering into a spliff over his on-off boyfriend, I was torn: Was it unethical to fuck a guy while he sobbed into the pillow? Instead, I advised him to keep it in his pants until he had a clear head. I’d say it was a waste of time, but it was more satisfying than having an emotional train wreck blubber all over my boner - and with the prices of therapists in New York, I’d say for half a joint, he got a good deal.
5) But really, it’s not all about sex
Being on the brunt of unrequited love is like getting the shit end of the stick (or not, as it seems), but after a non-starter with one guy in particular, I realised that I was secure enough in myself to keep a guy I liked romantically in my life as a friend. As opposed to unfollowing them on all social medias and hexing them with herpes, that is.
6) A friend’s input is always valuable
Wanting to soak up all of New York’s dating culture, (and not just its Happy Hours), I championed the squad to trek to an underwear party on 120th and the arse-end of nowhere. It wasn’t until I pried the talons of the local bike off my package that I saw the look of disdain on their faces. “He’s, like, so thirsty. He gets with everybody.” And here’s me thinking I was special. Hence why using your friends as a screening process can help avoid regrettable encounters… and their cock breath.
7) Speed dating is an acquired taste
When I stumbled across the Millionaire Matchmaker Speed Dating event page, I envisioned myself drinking expensive wine in a penthouse with a Gerald Butler-type that worked in real estate, and it was enough for me to fork over $25 for a ticket. What did I leave with? Denture drool on my sleeve and a Worther’s Original. Choices.
8) Appreciate your own company
The men of New York have a lot of good qualities, but those bastards will still stand you up. But being the in the Big Apple you’re aware that when a guy cancels last minute, you could be spending your time doing something or someone else. With a list of restaurants longer than disappointments I made them interchangeable. So every time I was ghosted, I’d take myself for dinner. Not only did it take the emphasis off being rejected, but rather than feeling insecure and inverting, it reminded me that my company was something to be celebrated. Chowing down on Kat’s infamous pastrami sub ain’t the same as having a gob full of dick - but you gotta pick your battles.
9) It’s OK to break the ‘rules’
While there are some dating rules that’ll never steer you wrong (not getting wankered on a first date, and sleeping with your friend’s exes), the rest of the dating rulebook (Don’t double-text. ), is exhausting! That’ll be why New Yorkers tend not to follow it. I spent days trying to decipher the Da Vinci code of the Doctor’s feelings hoping for a definite answer - and do you know what I got? Anxiety. The more you’re your authentic self, the more you’ll attract men that want to be with the real you. I mean, unless the real you is a hot needy mess.
10) Always be safe Being the first time I’d had app-instigated sex in New York, I was wary of inviting an unstable loon into my bed. I mean, murdering the pussy is one thing... Cut to me hiding a kitchen knife under a pile of my laundry. Thankfully he wasn’t into sniffing dirty socks… Or a serial killer. Just a serial texter. 10-20 times a day in fact, even without reply. So if you see me jump every time I hear the Grindr chime, that’s why.