June 30, 2014

A Fond Farewell

Six years ago this week, I wrote my very first post as Single Gal In The City. Today marks the final installment here.

As I look forward to starting my next chapter in the blogosphere, I find myself also looking back at everything I’ve experienced on and offline since launching SGITC.

Back in 2008, when my good friend Carla finally succeeded in convincing me to share my musings about dating and relationships, I was 34 and rediscovering the joys of being single. Starting this blog renewed my ability to view singlehood as an adventure as I explored all that my hometown has to offer.

Along the way, I have connected with amazing single men and women, appreciating in a deeper way that when it comes to searching for a mate, we can all learn from each other. In more than 1,100 posts, I’ve shared many of my defining moments in life and love. I’ve blogged about the bloom of new romance, the heartbreak of ended relationships and, of course, my dating blitzes across the U.S. and Europe.

One of the questions I’m most often asked is – what will you blog about when you’re no longer single? As I like to think this blog has shown, a writer never runs out of things to talk about. It’s why, over time, SGITC has evolved from being a dating blog to a memoir about life in and with my one true love–New York City.

I’m excited to continue in that same vein over on my new blog, New York City Gal. Because even though I’m still a single gal in the city, ‘single’ is not the label that defines me. It is simply a part of the shared adventure of life here in my exhilarating, frustrating and singular hometown.

Among the greatest lessons I’ve learned from being a single gal in what is arguably the toughest dating market on Planet Earth–never give up. As my favorite TV hero from ABC’s Castle once said–

“What’s a great love story without obstacles to overcome? Every fairy tale has them–terrible trials that only the worthy can transcend. But, you can’t give up. That’s the deal. We want the happy ending. We can’t give up.”

Finally, I want to express my tremendous gratitude for your support as readers of Single Gal In The City. As any writer will tell you, a little encouragement goes a long way. I’ve been very fortunate to receive plenty of it over the last six years. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

–Melissa

Comment » | Single Gal In The City

June 22, 2014

The Good And Bad of Texting

People_textingI’ve often said that, for all its convenience, texting has become the death of romance. The flip side—it also makes it much easier to detect when someone you’re dating isn’t a good fit.

Two recent dates with two bachelors I met on HowAboutWe illustrated this fact.

After going out twice with S, I wasn’t quite sure if the chemistry was there for me. Still, at this stage of dating, I usually give it three dates before making a determination. After all, chemistry can take a little time to develop, right?

So I schedule date #3 with S. When I reach out (yes, via text) day of to confirm, he says he ‘totally forgot’ we had plans and asks to reschedule. I’m not impressed but grudgingly say yes. On the rescheduled day, S initially texts to say we’re on for dinner. Then, a few hours later, he texts again, saying–

“You’re not going to believe this, but I have close out a business event tonight so I have to cancel. L”

I honestly wasn’t sure if I believed him. What I was sure about was that S probably felt my reticence and was accordingly blowing me off.

Bachelor #2, Randy, was very obviously from the get go just looking for uncomplicated fun. The chemistry was definitely there and so was a mutual appreciation for 80s music. Nevertheless, I set some boundaries after date one, declining Randy’s offer to have our second date happen at my place.

After a fun evening of dancing the night away at Pyramid Club in NYC’s East Village, Randy continued texting me. His only invitation to get together, though, came late on a Friday night.

“Wanna watch the Late Show together?”

I declined, later telling him I enjoyed his company but wasn’t interested in a fling.

“Where did you read the words hookup in my text?” he wrote testily “I didn’t say anything and it’s not right to assume anything.”

True. It’s not right to make assumptions, especially with a medium like texting that’s makes miscommunication an all too common thing. Sometimes, though, it communicates incompatibility loud and clear—and, fortunately, very quickly.

Comment » | dating dos and don'ts, online dating, text messaging

June 13, 2014

A Weekend To Remember

Last weekend, I enjoyed the rare pleasure of being reunited with two of my oldest and dearest friends. Their visit coincided with picture perfect weather—ideal for strolling around NYC and playing tourist.

The festivities began on Saturday, with the arrival from Toronto of beloved galpal Jackie and her boyfriend Jim. After a visit to the M&M’s store and delicious lunch at one of my favorite greasy spoons in Midtown, we ventured up to Top of the Rock for spectacular 360-degree city views.

Jackie and me at Top of The Rock

Jackie and me at Top of The Rock

From there, we walked to Rockefeller Center, where we were treated to an only in New York sighting: a trio of guys dressed as Ghostbusters photobombing a bride.

Only in NYC!

Only in NYC!

Then, it was off to FAO Schwartz and Central Park before heading back to my place. We were then joined by another BFF, London-based Steve. Over a home cooked dinner, we enjoyed lively conversation about everything from cohabitating to 80s music favorites and career crossroads. I savored every second of being with two cherished friends that have both been a part of my life for more than two decades now.

Steve, me and Jackie

Steve, me and Jackie

Sunday, Steve and I met for brunch in Union Square. We were at the restaurant when I realized I had – eegads! – forgotten my purse back at Starbuck’s. We dashed back over there to find it right on the chair where I left it. With the cash, credit card and ID all there.

My faith in humanity sufficiently elevated, I was beyond relieved as we returned to Petite Abeille, a charming little French bistro more than deserving of its many online raves. The brunch fare is divine and so is the waitstaff.

After bidding farewell to Steve, I met up with Jackie and Jim in Times Square. On the agenda, a 30-minute ride on high speed motorboat, The Beast.

It was a glorious day to take in NYC’s majestic skyline.

Beautiful NYC as seen from my seat on The Beast

Beautiful NYC as seen from my seat on The Beast

I found myself feeling something I haven’t in awhile—smitten with my hometown. Sometimes it takes being with old friends to see everything through new eyes.

Speaking of new, the countdown to my blog makeover is on. Stay tuned for seven days of giveaways, including popular dating advice books and a one night stay at The Westin New York Grand Central!

Comment » | catching up with old friends, Top Of The Rock, Union Square

June 5, 2014

In Defense of Old School Dating Rules

I often say that I miss dating in the nineties. Recent experiences reminded me of why — and how murky the dating landscape has become.

After connecting with a guy online, S, we met up for drinks. As the evening progressed, our solicitous waiter repeatedly asked if we wanted to order food. S cut him off each time without even asking if I might want to share something.

When it came time to plan date number two, S asked me to suggest a venue. Applauding his excellent first date choice, I insisted he choose. He did. Drinks or dinner? I wondered.

“Up to you,” he texted back.

“Your call,” I replied.

I could feel my frustration mounting as I texted that. Whatever happened to a healthy dose of manly initiative in romance? Why does it feel like you have to strongarm a guy into courting you these days? The answer, of course, is that the old fashioned rules which once defined dating seem to have gone by the wayside – making it more difficult than ever to truly connect.

In this era where your next flirtation is only a click away, it’s no surprise that today’s dating culture is a decidedly lazy one. Popular wisdom encourages this, repeatedly telling us women that our expectations are too high, that we are naïve and unreasonable to want the wooing of pre-texting days.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told to lower my expectations. But at what point does accommodating post-modern dating rules (or lack thereof) begin to cross over into compromising what you believe in?

S did eventually take the lead with my encouragement. Which made me see an upside to these role reversals in dating – being free to speak your mind about what you want.

If only it didn’t feel like a time machine was required to find it.

2 comments » | dating, dating dos and don'ts, dating rules

May 26, 2014

A Season For New Beginnings

As I mentioned in my last entry, I’m thoroughly enjoying the feeling of renewal that comes with a new season. Spring is a wonderful time to make a fresh start – and that’s what I’m doing on several fronts.

I recently went on two dates with guys I connected with on HowAboutWe.com. Much like most of the bachelors I’ve met through the site, both were personable, fun and engaged in taking advantage of what this great city has to offer. That makes sense given HowAboutWe’s premise: posting date activities and meeting likeminded people with similar interests.

Still, much as I have enjoyed the men I’ve met on HowAboutWe, I am also ready for a new online dating venue. Dating websites have inevitably become the virtual equivalent of the bar scene. So, after a while (in this case almost a year) of frequenting one, you can’t help wanting to try something else.

I recently stumbled upon a commercial for – no joke – FarmersOnly.com, a website targeting the agriculturally inclined. I’m not in their target demographic, of course, but it is equal parts fascinating and disturbing how niche-oriented the online dating world has become. Call me cynical, but I think this checklist approach to finding love is only making singles more disconnected.

If it sounds like I’m a little weary of the process, not to mention ruminating about it, well, I am. Which is why I’m in the midst of another spring makeover project: revamping my little corner of the blogosphere.

Next month, I will unveil a brand new online direction for this single gal in the city. I will be celebrating this milestone with a series of great giveaways. Looking forward to having you along for the ride, more details to come soon!

Comment » | new beginnings, online dating

May 17, 2014

Lunch With The Blender Girl

One of the many wonderful things about my job at The Westin New York Grand Central is it connects me with amazing people I wouldn’t get to know otherwise. That serendipitous occurrence happened once again – during a delightful lunch with wildly popular blogger/cookbook author Tess Masters a.k.a The Blender Girl.

Tess and me

Tess and me

Tess and I met while she was staying at the Westin as part of a multi-city tour promoting her fabulous new cookbook. Named for her blog, The Blender Girl features 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes that excite even an unabashed carnivore like me. The cookbook is generating plenty of media buzz and with good reason.

Tess and I were introduced via email via a mutual acquaintance a few months ago, and we clicked immediately. Like everyone else I know from Australia, Tess is charming, fun and down to earth. During lunch, we bonded effortlessly over our shared background in TV, love of Westin’s wellness programs and appreciation for the differing attributes of L.A. (where Tess lives now) and NYC.

My first experience of L.A. was 20 years ago with then-boyfriend and CA native Mark (a.k.a Sparky). I saw so much of it during the year that we dated that its charms were somewhat lost on me. Over time, though, I’ve come to enjoy it as a very welcome respite from the relentless hustle and bustle of my hometown. Coastal, beachside living and a more laidback attitude are very alluring when you reside in the concrete jungle of Manhattan.

Thankfully, NYC is finally enjoying one of LA’s best attributes – beautiful weather. After our long winter, I’m slowly emerging from a seasonal dating hibernation. It feels good to get back out there. To realize that each time I take a crack at meeting someone special, I am growing and evolving in the process.

A new season indeed.

Comment » | dating, Los Angeles, Westin New York Grand Central

May 4, 2014

Why I Don’t Go To Singles Events

One of my dating resolutions this year was to declare a moratorium on going to singles events. Friday night, I was reminded of the many reasons why.

A good friend of mine asked me to join her at a 40+ singles mixer. As she hadn’t been to one in a while, I gladly obliged, telling myself I was going strictly to be a supportive friend. Of course, despite my prior experience with these things, a small part of myself couldn’t help thinking—maybe this one will be different.

The venue (Pranna in NYC’s Flatiron District) and price point ($20) were both great. The crowd that turned up?

Not so much.

Pranna in NYC's Flatiron District

Pranna in NYC’s Flatiron District

Simply put, the event was a perfect microcosm of what makes dating in New York so frustrating. Women far outnumbered the men. We were also the ones who were obviously expected to do the heavy lifting.

Over and over again, I watched women approach men as said men either stood idly by waiting for that to happen or looked down at their phones. Though everyone received a list of mostly odd icebreaker questions (“have you ever cried in a movie theater?”), it was only the women in attendance fast and furiously working the room with it.

My friend wryly observed that the entire scene felt like a repeat of awkward high school dances. I said this was decidedly worse. At least in high school, guys eventually stepped up to the plate and took some initiative. Yes, I know times have changed, women feel empowered to make the first move and are more independently minded, etc. etc. But I can’t help wondering, at what cost? Has all of this progress come at the expense of good old fashioned romance?

As Savvy Auntie Founder Melanie Notkin writes in her fantastic memoir Otherhood, men mistakenly assume that our more equal footing in the workplace means we’ve somehow lost our femininity when it comes to dating and relationships. News flash—we haven’t. We still want you to plan a first date (maybe even a second one too).  We still need to be courted (instead of being asked from day one, ‘what do you want to do tonight?’). None of the rewritten rules have changed any of that.

As for singles mixers like the one I just went to, I have another pet peeve: no free cocktails. Considering how much work it takes to mingle these days, $20 should at the very least cover a shot of liquid courage.

Comment » | dating rules, Flatiron District, Pranna restaurant, singles events

April 22, 2014

Does Everything Really Happen For A Reason?

It is often said that everything happens for a reason. When you’re navigating the unpredictable landscape of 40+ singlehood, this saying is more than a little hard to digest. But maybe there’s some truth to it after all—a comforting thought that occurs me to when I think about the winding road of my career.

Many moons ago, I started out in journalism. Temping as an administrative assistant for a division of Thomson Financial led to a permanent gig at one of their publications—and a reporter position eventually followed.

After making the leap to TV news (and doing small town stints in Maine, Illinois and Delaware), I took a break to get my master’s degree. One of my classmates worked for Fox News, and she secured me the interview that got me a job at the network.

When I was contemplating my next career reincarnation, I reached out to fellow journalism school alum and New York Travel Correspondent Valarie D’Elia. A freelance gig writing for her website TravelWithVal inspired me to go into travel PR. Val connected me with Quinn & Co., which became my professional home for more than five years.

It was during this time that I had the pleasure of working with PR maven Jennifer Maguire Coughlin, who was with the agency representing the Bahamas, where one of my resort clients was located. In 2012, Jen included me on an email blast she sent out that Starwood Hotels was looking for a Marketing Manager.

Jen and me at one of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)'s fantastic member events (September 2013)

Jen and me at one of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)’s fantastic member events (September 2013)

As I’ve said to Jen many times since, she was literally my fairy jobmother. I have the good fortune of working with her again because she provides PR support for the two hotels I work for. If that isn’t full circle serendipity, I don’t know what is.

When I look back at my career, all the circuitous turns that didn’t make sense then make perfect sense now. I’ve never been more fulfilled job wise and I feel like everything I’ve done has prepared me for what I do with my workday. Like I am right where I’m supposed to be in my career.

How nice to think it’s possible I will someday be able to say the same thing about my love life.

Comment » | being single in your forties, career changes, following your bliss, TV news

April 13, 2014

A Soul Soothing Girls Night In

The best Rx when you’re feeling under the weather is a girls night in. That’s exactly what I enjoyed last night with my good friend Crystal.

Crystal greeted me with a beautiful flower arrangement that, along with her effervescent smile, immediately cheered me up.

This beautiful bouquet feels like a touch of spring

This beautiful bouquet feels like a touch of spring

We snacked on prosciutto and melon as Crystal whipped up a delicious meal – poached salmon in butter and her yummy answer to potato pancakes: grated butternut squash with Italian cheese. Heavenly. A refreshing spinach salad with toasted squash seeds and grated cheese rounded out the perfect dinner.

Dinner a la Crystal: delish!

Dinner a la Crystal: delish!

As we enjoyed the meal, Crystal and I talked about getting older, learning from past mistakes and the miscommunication that happens all too often in texting conversations more appropriate for talking. How I miss the days of hashing out differences using your voice instead of your smartphone keypad…

After dinner, we settled in for a movie, About Time. The recent rom com had all the wit and poignant charm you’d expect from writer/director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, etc). And it was a powerful reminder that every day is a gift. Especially when you’re sharing it with a dear friend.

Comment » | girls night in, home cooking, romantic comedies

April 7, 2014

Book Rave: Otherhood

Otherhood If you’re a single woman over the age of 35, it’s the question you’re asked more than any other—why are you still single?

In her poignant new memoir Otherhood, Melanie Notkin writes about those of us on the receiving end of that question. And how, despite the fact that nearly half of all American women of childbearing age (married or not) do not have children of their own, we are often treated as an anomaly.

“The independent, childless woman does not feel like a qualified member of the social order,” Notkin writes, “But rather is made to feel hopeless, hapless and just plain old less than everyone else.”

As the fortysomething Savvy Auntie Founder powerfully articulates, women of the Otherhood are scrutinized for their choices — and continually a target for unsolicited (albeit well-intentioned) advice. In sharing her experiences and those of other women at this crossroads, Notkin provides a long overdue voice to this growing demographic.  Along the way, she reveals a persistent gender-based double standard when it comes to expectations of settling down.

How much has been written over the years about Jennifer Aniston (pre-Justin) painting her as lonely and one step away from spinsterhood? Interestingly, no media outlet has portrayed the also unmarried George Clooney as worthy of sympathy or, for that matter, needing to change his dating style.

But when you’re a woman of a certain age, it seems like just about everyone  has an opinion about why you are ‘still’ single and childless — and what you should do about it.

This unsolicited advice comes from both loved ones and strangers alike. Notkin encounters a potential business partner who doesn’t hesitate to tell her within minutes of meeting him what she needs to do if she wants to become a mother. I had a similar experience when my boss’s boss overheard me mentioning a recent date.

“You better hurry up and meet someone before your eggs dry up,” he said bluntly.

As if I needed reminding of that. There’s no shortage of media and pop culture warnings for women that our fertility has an expiration date. Or, for that matter, assumptions about why you’re childless.

“If you wanted to have children,” a friend’s wife insisted, “You would have by now.”

In Otherhood, Notkin talks about this tendency to blame single, childless women for being too picky, too career focused, etc. We are often lumped into one of two categories: single by choice, living a Sex And The City lifestyle, or miserable and desperate to find a mate.

As Notkin observes, the reality for most of us isn’t so black and white. We are living full, productive lives. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want someone to share it all with, or that we haven’t tried to find a mate.

Otherhood beautifully articulates this often misunderstood journey. It gives the single, childless women hope and encouragement by reminding us – we’re in very good company.

Comment » | being single in your thirties, biological clock, book reviews, Sex and The City

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