Love: What It's Really Like Being 29 & Single in NYC

May 18, 2016

I’ve been wanting to get back to writing more for PD beyond the daily newsletter. The biggest reason is that I miss it so much! 😀 Even though I’m doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work, and messaging with Mary throughout the day to get PD projects done, I miss the bread and vegan butter of article writing and connecting with readers that way. I thought hard about an article topic following my 3-day sugar detox piece, and I kept returning to this one.

Love: What It's Really Like Being 29 & Single in NYC

While sharing almost everything about my life with PD readers, I’ve kept quiet about my single status for almost 8 months. I’m surprised even seeing that number! I’m still much less used to being single than being in a relationship. Unlike almost everyone I know, I’d gotten into a serious relationship just 2 months after moving to NYC. The legend goes, I begged my sister to go out with me to the Lower East Side, and we were standing outside a now-defunct, super seedy basement club named the Dark Room (ah, the Glory Days circa 2008, 2009), and this tall handsome guy strode up and boldly struck up a conversation with me, and we fell rapidly into a relationship that lasted for the next six and a half years. I loved telling that story to anyone who’d listen because it all felt like fate and magic.

Fast forward, and I found myself single for the first time in my adult life at age 28. And I was like someone who’d been cryogenically frozen and waking up to a new era. It’s not all Sex and the City, although a lot of it is, actually. Here’s what it’s really like being 29 and single in New York City.

1. People don’t randomly meet outside that much anymore: It’s all done on their phones, and there are so many different kinds of apps. My male friends swear by Tinder. My girl friend finds Coffee Meets Bagel to be the most reliable. My colleague, on the other hand, loves the League, which is like an elite version of Tinder in that it pulls information from one’s LinkedIn profile and asks you what level of educational selectivity you desire in a partner (“no preference,” “selective,” or “highly selective”).

2. Tall handsome eligible looking guys, when you do spot them IRL, usually look like they’re preoccupied: I went out one night with my male friend and while we had fun goofing off with each other, it was probably #2-3 most unflattering night of my life. They’re all looking at their phones, probably checking new League matches or whatever. Maybe I’m remembering it all wrong, painting my past in rosy colors, but in the Glory Days, I distinctly remember that guys took more risks. They stuck their necks out, like my story above. Nowadays almost no one wants to embarrass him or herself by actually talking to a real person.

3. Tall handsome eligible looking guys act in the most bizarre way on apps: Thankfully I’ve been spared this scourge, but my colleague has shown me a photo of an incredibly gorgeous, model-like corporate lawyer she’s seeing on the League (naturally)–a bathroom selfie with the top of his hair tied into a weird, forward-leaning ponytail. He captioned it the “unicorn.” We were both shaking our heads, going, what in the world? And she said, “These are the kinds of guys I meet on The League…I feel hopeless.” Let that sink in for a minute.

4. Having said all that, being 29 and single is overall way, way better than being 22 and single: You have so much more self-awareness and self-confidence as a slightly older single woman than a young one fresh out of college. You no longer just hang out with someone out of the spirit of experimentation–sorry, just can’t, because my life is too full of everything I’m passionate about, and there’s simply not enough time. You don’t take BS–again, time is precious! You have your support group already which means you don’t feel nearly as lonely. Your wardrobe is way better, which is awesome. I finally have the most amazing shoe collection all in either black or beige, such a far cry from starting my city life in 2009 in a pair of secondhand slingbacks. (Side note: You also no longer want to go back to the “cool” places you loved as an early-twentysomething, because you just feel awkward in your “grown-up clothes” among a sea of people wearing trends you can’t even identify–so you go to different neighborhoods that match your wardrobe). So basically, you feel much more assured and happy about yourself.

5. You feel more relaxed about love: when I was 22 and single, I had a lot to prove to myself and to others. A lot of it had to do with my career and life direction, but it also extended to dating. I distinctly remember I wanted to know that I’m girlfriend material–able to love and be loved deeply. When you’re older and single, you have less insecurities about almost everything: your body, money, career, and most of all, self-worth. You know who you are, what you like, where you’re headed, how much you can love and be loved in return. It lifts a lot of pressure off despite the perception that all single women past age of 28 in NYC are some version of a Charlotte (frustrated about inability to find a mate).

Being a single woman in NYC is so often made into a joke and a groan, but I think that’s playing into a stereotype. Being single isn’t an annoying phase to get over–it’s your life. I now know that regardless of my relationship status, the seed of happiness lies in loving myself first. Rather than fretting that singledom is a tedious “placeholder,” I’m busy creating the life I envision for myself. 

Are you single and living in a big city? Have you found that the dating game has changed over the years?

More in Love & Relationships: How to Survive the New Age of Dating

On Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You Back

Vegan Dating in the Age of Swiping

Defining Love in My Long Term Relationship

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Juhea is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling and the author of bestselling novel Beasts of a Little Land. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, @juhea_writes and Pinterest.


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