I wrote this study after spending over a year in New York.
I was asking myself: “Why are there so many singles in NYC?” This is not meant to give you some accurate answers, it is just some reflections.
By Sarah Dong, LingoMasters.com
Nowadays, more and more people are living alone. The traditional family pattern – a couple and their children – seems to be disappearing. Now, a lot of traditional families are being replaced with divorced parents, single parent families, same sex parent families, etc. It has gone even further, as the new trend in some big cities is to adopt children from exotic countries. If we look, for example, at what is happening in Hollywood, many celebrities are adopting ethnic children, and that trend has also reached the masses. People are tending to care less about whether children have the same blood, and some women just seem to want to avoid carrying a child in their bellies for nine long months.
Having a happy family with kids seems to be the dream all parents share for their children, but when we look around us, we notice that more and more people do not dream about that anymore. The top priority is not to find a good wife or husband anymore. People seem to want to enjoy life first. This is especially true in a big city like New York City. Being single is not something people are “ashamed” of anymore. Happiness does not seem to be only related to the traditional “happy family.”
So, maybe it would be good to first define “a single.” According to dictionaries, a single is an “unmarried person.” However, for the purpose of this study, a single will refer to a person who has never been married before. So people who are divorced and widowers will not be part of this singles’ group.
If we question single friends around us, we will often get responses such as “it’s better to be alone than in bad company” and that “it’s very difficult to find a good partner.” In a big city like New York City, where the opportunities to mingle with other singles are countless, why would it be so difficult to find good company? It does not seem like the people who live there are creepier than in any other cities. However, 33% of the population is single (1) and we do not really know if they want to be in long term relationships.
Like some Hollywood stars who prefer adopting a child, instead of giving birth (which could negatively impact their careers), New Yorkers seem to be following this trend. Could it be that having a busy career presents an obstacle to a “happy family” model? Does success have to be linked to individuality and, therefore, necessitate that a person lives on his/her own?
What seems so important, or even crucial, to our parents does not have much impact in a big city like New-York City. Why is that so? It does not seem like we have physically changed that much from our parents. We still go to school as they did; the educational system does not seem to have been turned upside down. So, why has the traditional way of thinking changed so much?
We will try to answer all these questions through this study. To do so, we will first focus our investigation on the people who live in New York. We will see if they are different from people living in other areas, or not. We will also analyze the characteristics and demographics of our study group and attempt to uncover who the singles in New York City are.
Then, we will see if the city of New York really is the best place to be single in the United States through examining various studies on the matter and looking into what the city has to offer singles. Finally, we will try to see why the singles living in New York City tend to remain singles, and what factors contribute to this tendency.
Before answering these questions, we should probably look at the political climate of the city. People tend to be different depending on the environment they live in. To see this, we could just look at ourselves. For example, we act differently depending on the circumstances we have to face in our daily life. We will take a different posture at work than with close friends, we will not use the same type of language with a superior as we do with a child etc. People adapt themselves: their behaviors change depending on their environment, and the same thing happens on a larger scale, like a country.
The political view of the government has a strong impact on the behaviour of its people. The inhabitants living in a dictatorship, where there is no freedom, will not act the same way as those people who live in a democracy. When democracy is not part of a country’s regime, people will tend to be reluctant to show their true feelings and they will tend to hide their differences. They will, in fact, just try to act the way the government expects them to act.
The United States became a democracy, long before any other country in Europe. Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker, went to America to study their penitentiary system. While in America he was amazed by what he saw. “Here America is pronounced a nation of the freest and the happiest people on earth, destined, he tells us (this in 1835!), to become the preeminent commercial nation of the world and, with this, the first naval power.” (2) America started very early as a place of freedom, so people are shaped by this doctrine. The people have been used to equality, liberty, etc. That political environment makes people become different than the people of an autocratic country, such as Libya for example.
People living in New-York City, live in a society based on democracy, and individualism is at the core of any good democracy. A democracy is a society where it is the individual person who matters, since he has the right to vote for his president (thereby, influencing the decisions of the country). Since people will vote for the candidates that want what they want, people become more centered on themselves.
This self centered doctrine, which gives the individuals the right to make their own decisions based on all the information they could get, offers a degree of power. This power shapes the development and mentality of the people who live with its influence. So, New-Yorkers are free to think for themselves, free to chose what they want to do with their lives, and definitely free to be single.
The high percentage of singles in New York City (33%), suggests that, in NYC, the singles are not ashamed to be single. Given such a high percentage, it would seem it is “normal” to choose this path, whereas in some other places, where being single is less common, people could be more often criticized by others for choosing an alternative life-style.
For example, in some Islamic countries, little girls reaching puberty are considered adult women who are ready for marriage. In an interview, the Saudi Cleric Muhammad Musa Al-Sharif defended the marrying off of under-age girls in Saudi Arabia. He said:
“This issue has been blown entirely out of proportion, and there is confusion about its basics. We say that such a girl is a ‘minor’, but dictionaries do not define a girl as a minor, if she has reached puberty. Aisha said that when a girl reaches the age of nine, she becomes a woman. […] 3,000 girls under the age of 13 were married off to men more than 20 years their senior. That’s 3,000 out of 10 million, more or less. […] Do 3,000 out of 10 million constitute a social phenomenon?” (3)
From this interview, we can perceive the huge gaps that exist between countries and their people in terms of marriage values and lifestyles. Some people have all the human rights that a democracy can afford, while others do not even have the right to choose their own paths in our 21st century world. So there is little wonder why people act differently depending on the place they live in.
As for people living in New York City, they know their rights and exercise them. A lot of people come to this city to enjoy freedom, especially singles. They do not come only for the political freedom, but also for freedom of all types (freedom of thoughts, freedom of life choices, etc.)
We have spent some time discussing some of the political and personal environmental factors that might influence the singles population in New York City. However, our investigation would be remiss without also investigating who these singles living in NYC are.
The first thing, we can say is that singles are numerous in this city. They come from all over the United States and everywhere around the globe for many reasons (work, study, family, etc.). “The New York City’s 2000 foreign-born population of 2.87 million was an all-time high and represented 36 percent of the city’s population of 8 million.” (4) As we see, more than one out of every three people in New York City is a non-native New Yorker, and this figure does not take into account people coming from other states of the United States. Actually, “while there is no precise count, some experts believe New York is home to as many as 800 languages – far more than the 176 spoken by students in the city’s public schools or the 138 that residents of Queens, New York’s most diverse borough, listed on their 2000 census forms.” This really shows that the City of New York draws the most culturally diverse population of people, and also singles, in the world. In New York City, people often say that every single country around the world is represented by at least one person in NYC.
According to the 2010 census, unmarried households in NYC represent 56.4%, which means more than half of the total households. (See appendix 1) As for 2006, according to the New York City census, their incomes were on average 41,639 dollars for single men and 38,333 dollars for single women, which are both higher than the per capita income for an average family which was 27,420 dollars in 2006. So, singles who do not have family expenses, because they live alone with no child, actually have more money to spend for themselves than those who have a family to take care of. This means that, theoretically, singles can enjoy more activities in their free time than most families are able to. However, it is unclear if singles exercise this privilege since the constant focus on work, for the careers that support their higher income levels, generally means singles have less spare time to enjoy these activities.
However, in New York, singles earning between $40-50k per year spend, on average, more money on dining out, groceries, clothing and shoes, etc. than married couples without kids earning $75-100k per year. For example, if we look at clothing, “being on the dating circuit means wanting to dress to impress which means fighting through the crowds swarming the stores in SoHo or the Macy’s in Herald Square and spending on average of $172 a month on clothing and shoes as a single man, and $262 a month as a single female. By comparison, the average married couple spent $270 a month on clothing and shoes, 38 percent less than the average single male and female combined.” (5) It is quite understandable to spend more money for clothing when you are single, but they also spend more money on groceries than people who are married. Does than mean they buy better and healthier food or do they eat more? It is hard to tell, but we do know that overall they spend more than people who are married in several areas. Maybe, it is because they do not have to think about future children, so they save less and can focus only on their own well-being.
Also, since they are only focusing on themselves, whether professionally or in their spare time, it would stand to reason that they are more self centered. It would also seem intuitive that self centered people are more likely to stay single. Could these demographic dynamics around singles in New York City be contributing factors to the city’s high rate of singles?
It appears clear that singles are spending more and earning more, on average, through jobs that require more working hours. However, it is quite difficult to find what the average hours worked by a New-Yorker are, as there is not a specific law about that and it depends on the type of job people do. According to some statistics, overall (full time and part time job) Americans tend to work more than Europeans.
What we do know is that in New-York City, people are famous for being workaholics. A lot of people work very long hours, and it had become a problem such that the Governor of the State of New York, Mario Cuomo, on the advice of the Health Commissioner, ordained a study of the hours that people should work. The results were:
“The recommendations are in regard to hours that ‘residents shall have a work week which will not exceed an average of 80 hours per week averaged over a 4 week period and should not be scheduled for more than 24 consecutive hours with one 24 hour period of non-working time per week hours.” (6)
60 hours per week is pretty common, but a lot of people work more than 80 hours a week, in finance for example. A 32 year old employee said in an interview “They’re still at times working 80-plus hour weeks and rarely have the time to go to the gym or even have a normal sleep pattern.” People have to be devoted to their job 100%: “Young investment bankers striving for recognition face a binary professional choice: work 80-hour weeks chained to a computer, or don’t work at all.” (7) With that kind of commitment to their jobs, it is no wonder that for some professionals living in New York City it is difficult to devote some time for long term relationships. How would it be possible for them to care about someone else, if they do not even have enough time to relax?
So, singles in New York City do make money, as they work a lot, but do not really have enough free time to enjoy life. That is why it is pretty common to see young workers, after a long day of work, trying to ease their stress with a drink in a bar. However, as they have less time, everything is done at an accelerated pace. This is especially true in their relationships. They do not actually have much time for real relationships, at least for the majority of them. Maybe, that is why, even though New York City is surrounded by singles, the relationships in which singles are in do not aim at building families or long term relationships.
This type of behavior used to mostly come from men, but in our modern times, everything is now different. In New York City, women are different. They are not afraid of power or men who have power. They consider themselves as the equal of any man, and therefore, they can do whatever men do. They are very open-minded about their sexual activities and it is not unheard of for them to use men as sex toys. As an example, prostitution used to refer to a man paying a woman for sex, but the opposite has become frequent too. Women are paying men to have sex with them, because they do not have time to date. They are too busy with their work.
It seems like it is always a matter of time. People want things so fast; everything has to follow the “food delivery” pattern. In fact, New-Yorkers do not really have time to cook; they do take-out, go to restaurants, or have the food delivered to their door. One very surprising thing, for a foreigner who visits a New-York household, is the dozens of food delivery menus that people possess. As people do not really have time to do basic things that our grand-parents used to do, they just get everything delivered. The same can be said about how local New Yorkers handle their laundry. It is actually getting less and less common for people to do their own laundry (except people who are short on money). Many people drop their laundry off and get it cleaned and folded by the end of the day. Some others have them delivered. People save time as much as they can, and maybe the same can be said for how people handle their relationships. They do not seem to want to waste too much time on a person. If there is a little turbulence or anything that is not going right, they have a tendency to switch.
If we take, for example, “Sex and the City,” a hugely successful world famous TV show that focused on four successful women (three in their thirties and one in her forties) living in the city of New York, who have to go through many years of dating in order to finally settle down with someone. This TV show was based on Candace Bushnell’s book, Sex and the City, which gathered all the little stories she wrote in her column for the New York Observer. One thing she said which really illustrates what the singles’ lifestyle in New York City was: “We are all kept men and women – by our jobs, by our apartments, and then some of us by the pecking order at Mortimers and the Royalton, by Hamptons beachfront, by front-row Garden tickets – and we like it that way. Self-protection and closing the deal are paramount. Cupid has flown the co-up.” (8) Besides the main character Carly Bradshow, the three other women ended up with people who were not their dream partners. It seems that it is pretty common for people to choose, after years and years of dating, someone who is not an ideal match. When people really want to settle down with someone, it is another story, because the people we meet might not be ready yet. “There’s still plenty of sex in Manhattan but the kind of sex that results in friendship and business deals, not romance. These days, everyone has friends and colleagues; no one really has lovers – even if they have slept together […] Relationships in New York are about detachment, […] But how do you get attached when you decide you want to?” (8) Actually for those who are ready to get attached, it seems very difficult to find someone who is also ready and meets their expectations. Maybe it is also difficult in other cities, but when there are as many singles as there are in New York City, we might expect that it would be easier. However, it seems that it is the opposite. Perhaps, when people have too many options, they do not want to settle for or choose only one? A documentary, called “The Science of Sex Appeal,” shows that people who are choosing mates have a strong tendency to try and find the best and most attractive mate, but eventually end up settling for a partner that is close to their level of attractiveness. When there are as many people as there are in New York City, this process is bound to take a long time. Sure there are some lucky ones who do find the perfect fit for themselves right away. But, for the majority of them it is quite difficult, despite the high rate of singles in the city.
We can take another TV show as an example, “How I met your mother,” in which the main character, Ted Mosby, is an architect living in New York City. He is in his thirties, but very different from his best friend, the golden boy, Barney Stinson. Barney is a womanizer whose main goal in life is to get as many girls in his bed as is possible. So when, Ted Mosby told his friends that he wants to find the mother of his children and get married, everybody made fun of him, as if it were a stupid idea to do so. This TV show was actually based on some true facts from the lives of their two creators and producers.
Even if these two examples are only TV shows, it seems there is some truth in the portrayal of the relationship challenges faced by single women and men in New York City. Although some characters are a little bit cynical, the success of these TV shows suggest that on some level the audience identifies themselves with the characters and the situations they find themselves in.
Although these TV media examples make it seem like that New York City is not the best place to settle down with someone, many other TV shows or movies have shown the city as a romantic place to fall in love. “Overall, annually there are around 40,000 location shoots in NYC (including commercials, feature films, television shows and series, music videos, documentaries, etc.)” We do not know about the “ever after,” but there are certainly many more opportunities for singles in New York City than in smaller towns. As a matter of fact, Forbes Magazine ranked New York City as the best city for singles throughout the United States in 2009. They “ranked 40 of the largest continental U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in seven different categories: coolness, cost of living alone, culture, job growth, online dating participation, nightlife and the ratio of singles to the entire population of the metro. Each metro was assigned a ranking of 1 to 40 in each category, based on quantitative data, and all categories were weighted equally. The ranks were then totaled to determine the final rankings.” (9)
This study reflects what we have seen so far, New York City from an outside perspective seems to be the best city for singles to live, as singles have many job opportunities, great cultural activities, a high percentage of singles, etc. Indeed, the city is also a center of commerce with a lot to offer singles who are looking to meet other singles: cultural activities, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, parks, etc. The Internet is also full of opportunities to meet other singles that New Yorkers use readily; online dating websites, social networks, etc. not to mention all the other activities dedicated to singles (speed dating, vacations for singles, etc.). In New York City, also known as the city that never sleeps, singles could mingle with other singles at anytime of the day or the night. There are always a lot of activities going on, no matter which part of New York City you live in.
New York City is actually composed of five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. The most famous is clearly Manhattan, with the Empire State Building, Central Park, Broadway, etc. But all the other boroughs also offer many activities for singles. Because of housing issues, a lot of high flying executives are living outside Manhattan. Some areas that used to be unsafe have now become very expensive. The real estate in New York City is booming.
But it has not always been that way. In order to understand how this city has become one of the most famous and trendiest cities in the world, that attracts so many singles, we should probably have a look at its history. Actually New York City is a very young city with a history of only about 400 years.
“Possibly the first Europeans to visit New York Harbor were Vikings under Leif Ericson around A.D. 1000, but if they arrived, they left no trace. Giovanni da Verrazano, an explorer from Florence, Italy, (sailing for France) explored the harbor. In 1607, Henry Hudson sighted Manhattan Island before sailing up the Hudson River. He was followed in 1613 by Adriaen Block, a Dutch explorer whose expedition erected the first buildings by Europeans on Manhattan Island.” (10)
Even way before the city of New York became what it is now; it was already a multicultural land. So many people immigrated through the harbor. People do not come anymore by boat to live their “American dream,” but they fly by airplane with the same expectations that the generations before them had. The city draws the most culturally diverse population of people, and also singles, in the world. A lot of people come to NYC in order to work and/or for study, a large percentage of the people we meet in the city are from abroad.
“Given the high level of out-migration from New York, immigrant flows mitigated catastrophic population losses in the 1970s, stabilized the city’s population in the 1980s, and helped the city reach a new population peak of 8 million in 2000. Immigration has also had an indirect effect on the city’s population growth by way of immigrant fertility, with foreign-born mothers accounting for over one-half of all births in the city. Overall, immigrants and their U.S.-born offspring account for approximately 55 percent of the city’s population.” (11)
There is a kind of complementary co-dependence between New York City and the immigrants, since the city needs them in order to sustain its growth and the immigrants come to the city in order to change their lives. Immigrants and their first generation offspring already represent more than half of New York City’s population, so if we add in the second and the third generations of immigrants, the figure would be huge.
“Immigrants also play a crucial role in the city’s labor market, comprising 43 percent of all city residents in the labor force in 2000. In the core working ages – 25 to 45 years – between 40 and 50 percent of all city residents in the labor force were immigrants.” (11)
Without the immigrants, New York City would not be what it is. Multiculturalism is the core of the city. When people live everyday in a city made of people from all over the world, they tend to react differently than those who live in a country with almost no foreigners.
Surely, people living in New York City have a tendency to more easily accept people who are different from themselves. They are more aware of what is happening in other parts of the world. Americans are famous for not knowing about the geography of the world outside of North America, but New Yorkers are different. More than half of its population has foreign origins so they are more open to the rest of the world.
However, it does not seem that having a city filled with millions of singles from all over the world makes it become a place with more couples. It actually appears to be the opposite: the more singles you have, the less couples you get. Is it possible that having too many options make it more difficult for people to decide on a single mate?
When you are surrounded by so many cultures, it could be hard to decide which one you want to choose and follow. Singles could therefore be lost in this jungle. Some people then tend to make their own culture, by picking some from their origins, and adding a little bit from their friends, etc. Maybe, this could be a reason why so many singles stay single in this city. They are already too busy with their careers; they do not want to choose a specific person to settle down with. This would also mean choosing a specific culture, as this person has their origins and carries a traditional luggage of culture.
Depending on the origins of the singles, they could react very differently and their aims could be very different, from one another. Every country has their own tradition, which could be ancestral with thousands of years of history. Surely, customs, traditions, and cultures evolve with the changing of the governments, the development of the technology, their populations, and their lifestyles. Each country goes at its own pace, so it is not possible at all to establish one way on how things should work between two or more people (since in some countries polygamy is allowed) in terms of relationships. Even within a country, customs could be very different. In some areas of the United States, we could meet families with a man and several wives living together (which is totally illegal, but it still exists). Those communities are very different from people living in New York, even if they are all Americans.
As New York City is a place that gathers so many people from abroad and from all the United States, it is very hard to define a typical relationship with specific rules. Singles could not bring their rules from their country of origin and expect them to work in this city. So singles that are new to the city can be totally lost in the dating process.
Even so people are free to follow the path they want to follow, and there are actually some grand rules that are pretty much the same for the entire United States. Dating is a specific activity that used to mean “to have social engagements with persons of the opposite sex” but now it is not only about the opposite sex, it could also be with a person of the same sex. It can also be used to mean meeting someone with whom things could lead to sexual encounters or a relationship. However dating does not necessarily mean being in a relationship, even if a person is seeing someone for over six months or a year, on a regular basis. Before two people agree to be in an exclusive relationship, people can date other people at the same time. While this may seem obvious for those who live in the city for a long time, for those who just arrived in the city, they have to learn it. People can even read guides written for foreigners, such as “Les Pintades de New York,” a French book, which explains how women in New York are so different from French women. This book focuses on New Yorkers’ lifestyles and the dating process.
In our twenty first century, things have totally changed and this might be partly caused by the fact that women have changed their roles in most of the developed countries. Now, some people are totally lost in terms of relationships, especially in a big city like New York. If we compared our lifestyles with what it used to be hundreds of years ago, we could say that things have totally changed. Marriages used to be arranged by families, love and romance did not matter, what mattered was the social-economic result for both sides. Then, medieval courtship was introduced.
“The medieval times were all about chivalry in romance and courtship. The importance of love was increasingly important as many young men and women started to move against the idea of arranged marriages […] In the 11th century, a love for the ladies became even more vital for the Medieval Code of Chivalry. Knighthood became more ‘romantic’ and that was seen as a source of dignity. Knights were expected to spend their leisure time learning the ‘science’ of poetry and gallantry. The laws of gallantry were considered even more important than those of military honor.” (12)
The medieval courtship was all about romance and love, but today there appear to be only a few little things that have remained from this past time, such as some gentlemen still opening doors for ladies for example. Strong values from this period have disappeared, but they were the roots or the base of relationships for many people on our planet. Perhaps, in some ways, people still expect that. Men might want to find a women that could let him lead, but in New York City that would be considered misogynous. If a man is too insistent with a woman, he can be sued for harassment. Women might want to be those ladies who are courted by gentlemen, but that would mean, in our modern times, that they are weak and they do not have power over their life. Women could not sit and wait anymore, they have become very active.
The society, in which these singles live, is so different from the old traditional society, that it is not possible to act the same way as people did a decade ago, not to mention hundreds of years ago.
However, in some ways people are still brought up with movies, literature, etc. showing romance. So, it has to be the case that people still believe in romance in New York City. At the movie theaters, on Broadway stages, etc. so many stories about love and romance are watched by so many New Yorkers. If we go to a book store, we can see large shelves dedicated to books about romance, and self improvement books such as finding love, keeping love, making relationship works, and so on. For example, How to Meet a Mensch in New York was written by a woman who gives tips for woman hoping to meet a “prime marriage material” person (called a Mensch). Through her book, we could feel like it is very hard to find a Mensch in New York, “a nice guy than even your mother would love.” She wrote:
“A mensch is hard to identify at first glance, so when you go to a function sponsored by a singles organization, the key is to make conversation and be receptive, even if his dancing leaves a bit to be desired. Remember, it is not enough to simply place yourself in a meeting environment. You need to maintain a positive attitude and give off vibes that are inviting.” (13)
Through these sentences, we could guess easily that the society has changed. Finding a husband or a wife seems harder than anything else. Each time they go somewhere, singles who want to get married have to always be in a good mood to impress. In a way, meeting new potential mates could be seen as being similar to going on a new job interview. In New York, it is very difficult to find a person who wants to commit for marriage. People have to dig everywhere they can if they really want to find someone to settle down with.
Although most New Yorkers do not have a lot of time to pursue love, they are surrounded by reminders of the medieval courtship they are missing, even if it is actualized for our 21st century. That kind of romance could be the kind of romance they look for deep inside their hearts, but they could not show it since it is not adapted to our century.
That said, it is obvious that modern New Yorkers have much more opportunities than their ancestors to meet an eligible bachelor or bachelorette. The technology is helping singles to keep in touch more easily with other singles, and also to meet new ones (through online dating, social networks, etc.). Everyone can be instantly up to date on which parties are going on, new festivals, concerts, etc. So options have become countless, and people can meet so many singles.
Melissa, a native New Yorker and a media professional, explained on her website called “Single Gal in the City” how her life as a single woman goes in New York City. She wrote on her blog:
“In talking about what I learned from my travels, including that singles outside New York tend to be more minded toward settling down, we also reflected on the challenges of dating in the Big Apple. Alex, like many other NYC men I’ve encountered, said he thinks money and status play too big a part in the singles scene here, a sentiment that Ricky echoed. […] I couldn’t help thinking that, for better or worse, one of the common price tags of thirtysomething singlehood is the expectation that whomever you date will bring a certain level of financial independence to the table. And it seems like, sometimes, that expectation gets in the way of romance before it even has a chance to start.” (14)
Melissa has compared dating in NYC with other cities in the United States, and she came to the conclusion that people seem to be less afraid of settling down outside New York. Why are people so afraid of commitment in this city? Melissa’s friends, Alex and Ricky think that “money and status” are too important for singles of NYC.
They seem to be right indeed. The documentary, called “The Science of Sex Appeal,” (15) shows that women could find a man much more attractive when they know they have high incomes. One experience reveals how financial and social status can directly change a woman’s perception of a man. They took pictures of some men, and women were asked to rank them from 1 to 10. For example, one man got a 4 at the lab test based only on his physical attractiveness. After that, they added next to his portrait a fake high status job and an annual income of $245,000 and women gave him 8 or 7. Another man got an 9 based only on his physical attractiveness. After adding on his portrait a job as a retail clerk with an annual income of $23,000 he got a dramatic loss in sex appeal. The women ranked him with a 5 or 4.
This experiment shows how financial and social status could have such an impact on how attractive a man could be for a woman. It seems this could be something we have inherited from our ancestors. In the past, arranged marriages were based on these two factors, but New Yorkers do not seem to look exclusively for these types of marriages either. They expect love as well. So, this means that they have become pickier, their expectations are much higher. Maybe, the more successful you get, the pickier you become. With so many singles, people have the choice to pick up the best, before settling maybe for less at the end.
In fact, New Yorkers seem to be more careful when it comes to marriages. In fact, “NYers have one of lowest divorce rates in nation […] New Yorkers are among the most likely to stick together compared with married couples throughout the country, according to new Census data.” (16) This is quite surprising; we could think that New Yorkers may give more value to marriages. However, part of the reason for the lower divorce rate could be that it is more difficult to get a divorce in New York. “People also tend to stay single longer, so there are fewer people per capita getting married and thus fewer people per capita getting divorced than in other states.”
If it is more difficult to get divorced in New York, there is no wonder why people tend to get married less. In addition, divorces could bring a lot of problems such as the split of the family assets, properties, children’s custody, etc.
Besides, getting married and having a family means also living together. However, housing in New York City is very expensive; a lot of people could not afford to have their own apartment, so it is pretty common to live with roommates (even for those who have no financial problems). “New York State’s overall cost of living is 20% above the national average, with housing costs bearing the brunt of it at 40% above the average.” New York City is the most expensive city in America regarding apartment renting, on average a one-bedroom apartment costs $2.316 per month. That is why even people with high incomes share apartments. Living with roommates or in a small apartment might not be the best way to start a family. This may be yet another reason why New York City is the best city for singles, but maybe not the best for families.
There are a lot of reasons that keep New Yorkers from settling down with someone. Careers have an important part of singles’ lives. People want to become successful, have a good career, enjoy life, etc., before settling down with one person, and taking care of a family. This really shows how much self accomplishment has begun to be more important that getting married and having children.
People also hear many examples from others who regret having gotten married. For example John Husband, a single father of four grown children, wrote in his book (Single Over Thirty: Witty Insights into the Single Life): “When I got married, I was 25 years old and not nearly as wise as I am today. The seeds of our future incompatibility were all over. But I didn’t see them. […] If I’d been smart, like I am today, I’d have known better. We’d never have gotten together.”
Examples like this can be seen as strong indicators that people who choose to not settle down are smart. When people see all the challenges that couples have to face when they are married or in a long term relationship, that could repel singles from commitment and convince them to choose to remain single.
However, once singles are ready to start a family, they do not want to build a family with anybody. They want to find the perfect match. That is maybe why so many singles look for love for years without finding it. Since people do not have much free time, they want everything to be quick. Even in dating, if they see some imperfections in a person, they switch as fast as they could to meet another one. As thousands and thousands of singles who could be a good match are waiting out there, people want to meet that special someone. The more bad dates people go on, the more deception they get, the more skeptical they could become and the longer they may remain single.
That said, we must also look at the fact that a lot of singles are totally happy to be singles. They prefer dating than being in a relationship, because they can enjoy their freedom and live the way they want. These singles do not want to settle down; they are happy living alone and enjoy their lives that way.
In New York City, a part of the population is happily single, another part wants to find that special someone in order to get married. In such a big city it is much harder than anywhere else to run into the person who is on the same path as you are, and who also meets your standards. People meet a lot of singles, but that does not mean that people they meet could suit them for building a family together. And even if a person finds another person who is ready for commitment and has all the qualities, that does not mean that they would get along.