The way women go about relationships in New York is life-changing.
In Trinidad, most people fall in love (or a comfort zone) with their high school sweethearts, then marry the first rebound guy that succeeds the first. We’re panicking about racking up numbers on our sex partner list, and settling for whoever is around long enough. Jackpot if you stick with the one who took your virginity. Of course there are relationships I can describe in a less cynical way, but hey, I’m in New York now, and I’m single. So get used to a little sprinkling of cynicism here and there, when I talk about love.
West Indian style dating is not “Dating”, it’s “Courting”. We’re grooming our partners for marriage. We’re inviting them to family get-togethers. We’re friends with their siblings on social media. We expect a routine of daily phone conversations and reliability. We hang out in groups of other couples; the guys huddling together to talk about football, while the girls gather to talk about diets. It was actually a nice space to dwell in for a time, as I lived in serial boyfriend-having from the age of 13 to 30. Now I’m on the fence, looking at the grass on either side, wondering which lifestyle is the right shade of green for me.
In New York, I was introduced to terms I had never heard before, like “F*ckboys” and “Situationships”.
My favourite pun is “Sh*tuation-ships”, because that is what they are. Fecal. These are scenarios where you act like you’re in a relationship, but you say you’re not, so no one can get mad if the other one cheats or disappears off the face of the earth.
In a cutting contrast with the way we do things in Trinbago, commitment is last on the agenda. In this world, dating apps are categorised into ones you use for sex, ones you use if you want dinner, and ones you use if you’re gay and maybe want sex and dinner. Bumble and Tinder might as well be Amazon Prime. People are trying on each other, and treating intimate interactions as the flavour of the week. I have a friend who literally refers to her dates in flavours. “What you doing later?” I would say. “A Vanilla” she would respond. I get to learn their government names if they stick around for a third date.
A sea of Samanthas, New Yorker women are career-driven, un-embarrassable, and sexually emboldened. One woman I know auditions men in the bedroom, for the role of her exclusive friend with benefits. This way, she has her physical needs taken care of, while she withholds the cookie from men she is genuinely getting to know, for the possibility of a long term relationship.
Another friend, who has the best nicknames for her guys, took me to a sex toy shop recently, where she openly and animatedly discussed the dildos, and whose junk resembled which silicone replica. Best name for a guy she has come up with? “Big Dick, No Balls.” He was another one living in fear of commitment. No balls indeed. She also kicked a guy out her house for suggesting she get a bikini wax.
I have always been quieted for talking too much. I am one of those no-water-in-my-mouth type of people, and when it comes to relationships, I hold very little back. So these women are my tribe. No one is telling me to whisper about wildness. We sit in restaurants downing sangria, laughing cantankerously over how-to lessons from one another. Unlike what I had grown used to, there is little crying and pining.
I remember someone telling me that they stopped talking to a guy because he took too long to respond to her text messages. I tried it out. I abandoned my Trini hospitality and Indian daughter cater-to-him etiquette, and just stopped responding to my own Mr. Late Text.
Small victory, but massively liberating. It is a power I can grow used to. This culture is the response to emotionally unavailable men.
Men have abused their position, doing what they want, when they want, to women who hold on for love and marriage. The women I spend time with here, will not stand for doormat treatment.
But is it lonely? Definitely. I’m still in between, as while I have no time nor desire to chase a lover, I also crave being loved. I definitely put up with more than I need to, wondering what he meant by saying this? Or, worrying about speaking up in fear of scaring him off. I do at some point want a relationship. For now, the standard is reciprocity. We must be on the same page. I want to remain a little soft, but I hope these NYC ladies rub off on me a bit more.
A guy friend of mine in Trinidad said that once I value myself, I won’t let any man (or anyone) take advantage of my feelings for him. Time to take his advice, and follow the example of my lionesses over here. I’m not built for Sh*tuation-ships.