Why Ambition And Love Can't Live Together In New York

by Lauren Martin

I moved to New York almost a year ago. Granted, it's hasn't been enough time to call myself an expert on anything, but it is sufficient time to spot the differences between dating in New York and dating everywhere else.

It’s also enough time to have a few realizations about life, love and the daily battles of living in a big city. And since moving here, I’ve realized one crucial truth that I hoped wouldn’t become my reality: Ambition and love cannot live together in a place like NYC.

In the city that never sleeps, it seems like one part of your life always will. Whether it’s your career or your love life, it’s almost impossible to support both.

And I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Since gaining this sad realization, I’ve noticed certain things in this city I've never picked up on before. One example is the number of older men and women without wedding rings.

Due to my new habit of looking at these people's hands on buses and subways, I can honestly say there are more with bare fingers than diamonds. And that’s normal here. It’s not uncommon for men and women to be in their late thirties and unmarried.

It’s also not uncommon to see fewer children in New York families given how late we're marrying, which only adds more pressure to the unsolvable paradox that is our love life.

Apart from sidewalk deductions, I’ve also noticed it in my own life. In a city that takes almost an hour to get anywhere, there’s just no time to support a hectic work schedule and a consistent love life.

There’s no time to go to the gym or partake in single’s activities at Central Park. There’s no time for blind dates and yoga classes. There’s no room for kickboxing or pilates during the day. There’s no way to keep my butt tight and my schedule open.

It feels like I must consistently choose between keeping myself in shape and keeping myself fed. Because there’s this constant pull between progressing in work and finding love, and I've been fraying on each side.

However, let’s not forget the standard of men in New York. With stock brokers, artists and start-up techies, the pool of men is flooded with arrogant workaholics who are also chasing their ambition and their first five million.

Men and women are both full of ambition and both came to New York to achieve a certain goal. Not to mention they now have access to a bevy of apps and bars to pick up an array of women, creating a perpetual playboy complex that can be hard to break.

With thousands of women swarming around, they feel no need to settle down or take the time to get to know the ones they’ve caught. It’s the classic case of too many options.

There’s just too many women at their disposal that men seem to forgo all consistency. Of course, this is true for the other side as well.

Women are also inundated with men and the idea that potential mates are everywhere. It’s a dating culture that’s unlike anywhere else, a hook-up culture that’s based around Tinder and OK Cupid.

But what’s there to do? I’d like to say there’s a way to have it all, to be in a serious and loving relationship at 23 and be on the path to your dream career, but it just doesn’t seem plausible. New York is here for two things -- love and ambition -- but it never said you could have both.

You must choose what’s important to you, which will sustain you and keep you going every day. It might seem pessimistic, but in the harsh and unforgiving place that is NYC, you must learn to make the hard choices and sacrifices.

And if you must choose, I advise ambition over love. I think it’s important to find a career that fulfills you before you find a person to do the same. Because people come and go, especially in this bustling metropolis. But a career will be there when it’s all crumbling down around you.

Your ambition will never leave, even if your feelings for the man or woman in your bed do. You came to New York for a reason, and even if it was for love, it can be the love of your career.

So for all the single men and women out there lamenting over the looming status of spinsterhood and perpetual playboy-dom, just stop focusing on love and dive into your career. Because I’ve never heard of a career coming when you find love, but we’ve all heard of finding love when you’re too busy with your career.

So just know that you're not the only one feeling this way, that you are not un-dateable or going to be alone forever. You are in a town that supports ambition, not relationships, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll find true love.

Photo via We Heart It