When it comes to dating, Paris and New York both have reputations that precedes them. On one hand, we have the elitist Parisians, self-acclaimed ardent lovers who paradoxically reject the entire concept of dating as a restricting endeavor where romance goes to die. On the other hand, we have the Woody Allen devotees, neurotic romantics who tend to overexert themselves into a perennial case of dating ADD. Both cities are, essentially, cultural parodies of their respective selves, and yet they are the best in their kind. As many of New York’s beautiful people traverse the Atlantic for the bi-annual PFW shitshow extravaganza, we tally up some basic lessons on dating à la française vs. à la New Yorkaise.
Lesson 1: How to Get a Date
Paris: Morning or night, rain or shine, Parisians lives on terraces. Pick a neighborhood based on coveted type: Haute Marais for hipsters in Acne, Pigalle for hipsters in vintage, Saint-Germain for bobos in shiny shoes, the 8th for papis with shiny dentures. While I don’t encourage smoking, the pursuit of a lighter is a surefire conversation starter. Wax poetic nothings about the state of the weather, inspiring the Baudelaire within him. If you succeed, you can expect a text message that very night. DD Recommends: Le Progrès, La Fidélité, Hotel Amour, dancing at the newly re-opened Le Montana.
New York: New York is a serendipitous place where one can easily score a date in the color-coded chaos of a Whole Foods line, or walking your friend’s “borrowed” pup through the East Village. Albeit exciting, be aware that the follow-through rate is rather low – New Yorkers have short attention spans and may often move on to greener pastures before giving your budding connection a fighting chance at survival. DD Recommends: Walking down the street. Also, anything in Nolita (think Cafe Select), hotel bars à la Bowery or Standard East. In pursuit of true NYC douchebags: PBG, Happy Endings, ACME.
Winner: New York City, the land of opportunity.
Lesson 2: Where to Go
Paris: ‘Date’ being a prohibited term, most non-dates in Paris usually start with the plan of “prendre un verre”, the literal equivalent of grabbing a drink. Wine being a cheap commodity, you can measure the success of your non-date in how quickly it becomes a demi-carafe or a bouteille. Parisians love intellectual lubrication, so your next non-date may often lead you on a cultural pursuit. Be prepared to admire the latest expo at Musée d’Orsay (coincidentally, this happens to be entitled “Splendour and Misery“) or make cerebral small talk at a friend’s vernissage at Gaîté Lyrique.
New York: If the stars align and you find a common window in your schedules, your next step is the Dinner vs. Drinks conundrum. While many prefer to minimize investment with a quick neighborhood drink, dinner dates are still rather common, giving New York +10000 points on the dating scale.
Winner: New York! Dinner trumps art any day.
Lesson 3: How to Dress
Paris: Don’t dress up. Don’t wear color. Do not, under any circumstances, look like you made an effort. Otherwise, you risk being perceived as vulgaire, which is the worst of all French evils. Wear skinny jeans and an oversized pull, top it off with a scarf to masque all signs of a cleavage. Fluff your unwashed hair, smudge on some red lipstick, et voilà! Your entire vibe should say: “I just rolled out of bed. My sweater belongs to my ex, and I’m not wearing a bra.” Check out Vogue for more on this via yours truly.
New York: Dress for the job you want, i.e. the image you want to project. Individuality is appreciated and trends are generally well-accepted, so take advantage and step it up sartorially. The downside (for my lazy laissez-faire ass, at least) are the abundance of grooming requirements New York men have come to expect. I mean, regular waxing? Really? (Oui, I’m an animal.)
Winner: Tie. To each their own.
Lesson 4: What to Order
Paris: If you miraculously make it to a dinner date, make sure to order the most fattening thing on the menu. This way, you can sing praises to its succulent flavors, the equivalent of Chopin to a French person’s ears. The trick is to not eat 24 hours beforehand, which is how French women stay so skinny.
New York: Most New Yorkers have at least two food groups excluded from their daily regiment, so options are usually limited to quinoa and kale. To seem well-rounded, pay tribute to the booming gastronomic culture by pronouncing your (hypothetical) love for buttermilk fried chicken!
Lesson 5: What to Talk About
Paris: These guys don’t mess around, so get ready to use your brain. Dwell upon the political impact of the Pope’s speech to Congress, the European migrant crisis, or any other headline you can poach off this week’s L’Express. At some point, you are bound to enter into an existential discourse over the meaning of happiness, a topic the French seem endlessly perplexed about. When in doubt, complain – it’s the national pastime.
New York: Dates in New York often feel like marketing pitches – you half expect to see an iPad with a PowerPoint presentation with a SWOT coming at you at any second. If I got a dollar for the number of times I was explained how a hedge fund works, I could treat you to brunch. Drink up and think of it as practice for job interviews. Just like in a real job interview, name-dropping never hurts.
Winner: Paris, unless your last name is Kardashian.
Lesson 6: What Not to Do
Paris: There are no rules, chérie. Do whatever your heart desires, there’s a reason they call it the City of Love. Just make sure to confuse the guy by being a bipolar bitch afterwards – this is how French women keep their men interested. I highly recommend abrupt, inexplicable silent treatment.
New York: New Yorkers are best left wanting what they can’t have, for as long as possible. Don’t text for two days, don’t have sex for two months, don’t commit for two years. Stick to said timing and success will follow.
Winner: Tie. Neither make sense.
Lesson 7: What To Do When its Over
Paris: Heartbreak is chic, so live out your own Godart. Chain smoke on terraces, roam around in the rain, peer into windows of antique shops and occasionally cross eyes with sad-eyed Parisians. They feel your pain. Have an awakening while watching the polluted pink sunset on the Pont Neuf. C’est la vie, shit doesn’t always work out. Never speak to him again, except for that time you run into each other and have accidental hate sex.
New York: Take a proactive approach and expedite the misery. Schedule an emergency session with your therapist, sign up for some crack-of-dawn Soul Cycle classes, dance until dawn with a sexy stranger to purge of the remaining emotions. Once all feelings are gone, restore his contact information for future networking opportunities.
Winner: Subjective. As a dire optimist, I pick New York.
AND THE WINNER IS…. New York, but not by much of a landslide. Both cities are a bit of a dating clusterfuck and are best treaded with realistic expectations and high self-preservation. Dbag alert ON, ladies!
Image borrowed from the brilliant Vahram Muratyan of Paris vs. New York.