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Flirt Across America: New York City

Greg Keraghosian
Associate Travel Editor
July 18, 2014

Carrie Bradshaw found her guy in New York, and you can, too. (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Craig Blankenhorn)

Yahoo Travel Associate Editor Greg Keraghosian spent several years as a professional dating coach for men (no, we can’t believe it, either). For those interested in romance or at least a little fun when they travel, this is a series where he examines the flirting terrain for women and men in cities around the world.

In our first installment of Flirt Across America, we assured men visiting Seattle that a little charm can go a long way toward meeting an attractive stranger despite an unfriendly gender ratio that’s heavy on tech dudes. As we look toward New York City, we go the Full Beyoncé and sing a song for the ladies.

I’ve seen firsthand the intimidating landscape for women in the Big Apple. And to be real for just a minute, I can understand why — for sheer volume, this is the Costco of good-looking, intelligent women. It alters my perspective when I visit from my man-centric home of San Francisco, and I know it affects other guys in the city.

A Manhattan friend of mine, who’s single, successful, and in his mid-30s, explained to me the difficulty of simply choosing one woman among so many. And despite how he might sound here, trust me when I say he’s one of the good guys and treats women well: “I pull 25-year-olds here. How am I supposed to settle down when there’s another dime around the corner?”

man women kiss
man women kiss

What some people think it’s like for all men in New York (Photo: Thinkstock)

Or take another guy I know, a former student of mine in San Francisco who moved across country to Chelsea, mainly for the better dating odds. When I asked him how New York women were different from those in S.F., his two-word answer was, “They try.” After having a fun time dating multiple women for a year, he’s now happily living with his girlfriend in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, New York women decry a perceived gender imbalance, going so far as to board a jet the other direction for dates in San Francisco. When I asked a New York woman, 24-year-old writer Zoe Mendelson, about what it’s like there, she had this to say:   

“I think it’s clear to all girls that there is an abundance of gorgeous women in NYC and that can be intimidating. I think the men do have it kind of easy. I’m not sure how women handle it, but I know they do complain about it. I once had a guy tell me, ‘Finding pretty girls in NYC is like shooting fish in a barrel.’ And I resented him so much for saying that because it was true.”

hbo girls
hbo girls

The ladies of HBO’s “Girls” are known for their dating misadventures. (Photo: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP) 

So, um, we are here to encourage women in New York, right? Oh yes, girlfriend. Is it tougher here than in many other places to find a romance that lasts beyond the first few rounds of martinis? The numbers suggest that. But there’s also too much flirting opportunity (and men) to go dateless in this city, and real connections do happen.

If you’re just visiting New York and are skeptical of a man’s capacity for anything beyond a fling, here’s my own Love on the Road story for you: A certain fellow male coach I worked with was living in the New York area when he met a cute journalism student who was attending Northwestern at the time. For all the women he could have had in Manhattan (and he met a lot), he’d visit her month after month — in part because relationships in New York are hard. I went to their wedding a few years ago.

Before we dish out advice on where to get flirty in New York, let’s address the perception that the city is a bachelor’s paradise with five Kate Upton clones for every guy. Which is interesting, because I was flown cross-country twice by normal guys for help with meeting women. We can separate fact from fiction by looking at the Advanced Pickup Metrics.

interactive singles map
interactive singles map

New York has more men than people think (as shown in the upper right corner). (Image: Jonathan Soma blog)

First, let’s look at Facebook’s study of all its users who identified themselves as single in October 2013, and where New York ranks:

Ranking for availability of singles (out of 48 major U.S. cities): 3

Ranking for most available women to single males (out of 48): 41

Relationship-formation rate (out of 48): 46 

Yes, that last figure is bad news for relationship odds. But the first two figures should come as good news for women: New York is chock full of singles, with a lot more available men than people think. And there’s more.

As visualized by the very awesome Jonathan Soma interactive singles map that pulls from recent census data, there isn’t a majority of women in the New York area until they hit their 50s. If you factor in singles who are between 25 and 49, there are actually two more guys than gals per every 1,000 singles. Hallelujah, New Yorkers, it’s raining men! 

couple flirting
couple flirting

Eye contact and a smile can go a long way. (Photo: Thinkstock)

When I asked local dating coach Tracey Steinberg about the challenges for single women in New York, she acknowledged that many of them don’t give themselves enough credit because of all the perceived competition.

“Years ago I worked with a gorgeous 22-year-old woman who was a virgin because she somehow convinced herself that no man would ever want her,” Steinberg said. “Soon after our first session together in my office, I took her to a local sports bar and challenged her to look and smile at a handsome man. She did, and he immediately ran over to meet her.

Related: This Couple Met on a Cruise — No, Really!

“As the night continued, I challenged her to smile at 15 different attractive men, and 12 of them immediately stopped what they were doing to introduce themselves to her. Until that day she had no idea how attractive she was, and she told all of her friends that I was a genius who saved her from becoming a spinster.”

Indeed, the men in New York are known to be assertive if you give them a chance and make yourself approachable (or simply approach them yourself). In fact, even the women are more direct here. So no matter what your gender, sexual orientation, or interests, here are some flirt-worthy places in New York to consider:

l'artusi bar
l'artusi bar

The bar at L’Artusi. (Courtesy: L’Artusi)

For flirting over dinner: We praise the virtues of eating alone at the bar, and New York is packed with places for it. The longest dining bar I’ve seen is the one at L’Artusi in the West Village, with 30 seats. Yahoo Travel contributor Jenny Adams strongly endorses the flirting potential here and says she’s dated a few men she met there.

For artistic flirting: I once coached a guy in New York (who’s happily in a relationship there, by the way) and took him to the Met in the afternoon. He met a girl among some Impressionist paintings, and by the time I was done secretly following them around the place, I needed a nap. Another locale: The MoMA offers enough space to start a conversation without being self-conscious, along with a hip café on the second floor to get acquainted.

For flirting where the boys are: Trulia put out a report last year that broke down singles by neighborhood:

trulia singles chart
trulia singles chart

Thanks no doubt to the Wall Street crowd, men are in the majority in Lower Manhattan, plus parts of Queens and Long Island. So perhaps it’s time for a reverse bridge-and-tunnel movement.

For flirting from a distance: Have you heard of this upstart phone app called Tinder? It’s kind of a big deal. Far from just a hookup tool, this is used for dating by massive numbers of singles in New York — they are busy after all — and if you have a few days to spare, you’re well advised to do some swiping as soon as you arrive. Just avoid guys posing with tigers.

For LGBT flirting: I consulted our resident gay-culture expert Justin Ocean, and he had this to say: “Despite being so large — or because of it — NYC is very segmented when it comes to gay nightlife. There’s pockets for whatever scene you’re looking for and a lack of giant venues that mix them all.”

For visitors who want to know what’s current, he suggests picking up a copy of Next Magazine, which he calls “the NYC gay nightlife bible.” It’s free in gay bars. And if you’re visiting and have to pick a neighborhood, go with Hell’s Kitchen, a rising neighborhood with at least 12 gay bars. The West Village offers an older, more laid-back scene.

flirting park
flirting park

A weekday lunch in the park can be a great way to meet someone. (Photo: Thinkstock)

For park flirting: Everyone knows about Central Park, but dating coach Thomas “The Professional Wingman” Edwards is partial to Madison Square, Washington Square, and Bryant parks, especially during a weekday lunch.

For flirting under the stars: Rachel DeAlto, a relationship coach and matchmaker in New York, pointed me toward these three rooftop bars: Ink48 in Hell’s Kitchen, and Henry’s Rooftop Bar and Upstairs at the Kimberly in Midtown East. Edwards says that Spyglass, Monarch, and Top of the Strand in Midtown, “have views as beautiful as the people who go there.”

standard biergarten new york
standard biergarten new york

The Biergarten at the Standard. (Photo: Alexander Baxevanis/Flickr)

For flirting in a meat market: They couldn’t have picked a better name for it than the Meatpacking District. Yes, it’s flashy and draws a bridge-and-tunnel crowd on the weekend, but you won’t lack for attention here. Speaking of rooftop bars, the Brass Monkey’s offers some relief from the sweaty masses downstairs, and I’ve seen lots of picking up there. If you don’t mind watching bros play table tennis, the Standard Biergarten draws a massive outdoor crowd (I’ve coached there).

“Anything with a rooftop pool during the summer is key,” adds DeAlto. “The Gansevoort is a total scene.”

For musical flirting: Adams recommends two concert venues that make it easy to meet people. The first is Brooklyn Bowl — “Everyone up here tends to become friends during set break for some reason; it’s very fun” — and the second is the Mercury Lounge in the Lower East Side. “The front room is the bar, and the back room is the show,” she said. “So while you’re getting a drink, you can chat with people, then go and pay attention to the band in the back room. Gets rid of that “It’s too loud to talk” issue.”

For flirting over craft cocktails: I have a theory: The better the bar’s drinks, the less likely you are to pick up there. But from what I’ve seen, Employees Only in the West Village is an exception to this rule.

death & co
death & co

Death & Co has all the mood lighting for a good date. (Courtesy: Death & Co)

For superfun first dates: My Chelsea friend charmed many a date into coming home for a drink by taking a walk along the nearby High Line, and you can’t go wrong there in good weather. DeAlto suggests going for table tennis at SPiN in the Flatiron, and Adams like the video games, shuffleboard, and Skee-Ball in the basement of the Whiskey Brooklyn.

For some unforgettable drinks and mood lighting, reserve a table at Death & Co in the East Village. If you can’t get it on there, it’s just not happening.

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