Dating in NYC is an island unto itself, am I right? The dating rules and etiquette that are perhaps observed in other parts of the country (and certainly the world) seem to fly out the window when applied to courting others in the Big Apple. Often times the first question when meeting someone at a bar isn’t “What are you drinking?” or even “What’s your name?” but rather “What do you do?” and “Where do you live?” Folks need to size up A. are this person’s life goals in sync with mine financially/morally/creatively/lifestyle-ly (which can of course be done by finding out the other’s profession, right?! ha!) and B. if the other person lives in Jersey or too far in Brooklyn, I best not be wasting my time.
If you haven’t guessed, this month’s book is a peak into the snarky, sensitive, and sometimes brutal world of dating in NYC…from a man’s perspective. Here’s the synopsis of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. from author Adelle Waldman’s website:
New York writer Nate Piven’s star is on the rise. After several lean and striving years, he has his pick of both magazine assignments and women: Juliet, the hotshot business reporter; Elisa, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, now friend; and Hannah, who is “almost universally regarded as nice and smart, or smart and nice,” and who holds her own in conversation with his friends.
For anyone who has ever wondered why men do the things they do, Adelle Waldman plunges into the psyche of a flawed, sometimes infuriating modern male—a young man who thinks of himself as beyond superficial judgment, yet constantly struggles with his own status anxiety, who is drawn to women, yet has a habit of letting them down in ways that may just make him an emblem or our times. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is an absorbing tale of dating in the big city—and an inside look at what one young man really thinks about sex, women and love.
No gonna lie…I inhaled this book. I found the black humor pretty hysterical, and even though I’m now happily coupled up with my own NYC man (who yes, I met in a NY bar!), there were some points in the book where I could really relate to Nate and his dating struggles. And I hated myself for that, cause he’s SUCH an asshole, but then again…maybe everyone has their own degree of Nate in them when it comes to finding your soulmate in this incredible sea of candidates? Maybe just a tiny bit? Let’s discuss below!
1. “Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is. You’re sizing people up to see if they’re worth your time and attention, and they’re doing the same to you.” Do you agree with this summary of dating, or do you believe, as Nate does, that it’s “not that big a deal”?
I mean, I think it depends on what stage in you’re life you’re in and what it is you’re hoping to get out of the situation. If you’re in your 20’s and just looking to have a good time, you probably aren’t reading too much into it, and it’s really not a big deal. It’s like, “hmm, what will I have for dinner tonight? what should I watch on Netflix? should I text person A or person B or person C to hang out?” Likewise, if you’re in a life position (maybe a bit older), where you’re not exactly looking for love and babies and all that jazz, maybe you’re totally happy just dating to have the enjoyable company of others? A companion to go to the movies, share meals with, call during the day…that kinda thing. However, where I think dating becomes a pretty big deal is when you’re at the stage (and granted, not everyone has this stage!)…but if you do and you are, where you’re ready to settle down and meet the one and fall in love and make a little family…well, then yes, dating is a pretty big deal. So size away, my friends!
2. Throughout this novel, we see Nate’s views on others and also his thoughts on how people view him. Do you feel that it is a natural feeling to be validated through others’ opinions? Do we need reassurance from our partners in order to accept ourselves?
Oh man, yes! I certainly think feeling reassured by the one you choose to spend your time and life with helps! Kindness is kinda the main thing that keeps relationships happy and healthy, and while Nate certainly wanted to be validated by just about everyone in his life (his male friends, every woman he ever meets, his exes…), he certainly does a shitty job of returning this when he’s in a relationship. I viewed a lot of his interactions as completely passive aggressive…I mean, he knew it wasn’t working out with Hannah pretty early on in the book, and rather than be honest about it he kept dragging her on, and becoming less and less interested. I guess I’d like to think that Nate will get better at this with maturity and perhaps meeting the right girl, but maybe that’s too optimistic of me?
3. How does NYC play a role in this book?
It was really fun reading about Nate’s NYC: a cool Brooklyn kid, engrossed in the literary world, having his first book published, and dating all kinds of hipster either too pretty or too smart Brooklyn women…it was like taking a ride on the G train! I love how the author described Nate’s apartment…like, he was just too cool and too creative to care that it was an absolute disaster with no food in the fridge, ever. Although I have to say that if I was a single girl reading this book I would be running away as fast as I could from any guy potentially resembling Nate at a bar. Just saying;-)
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book below, and make sure to join us next month for our discussion on Miracle of 34th Street, which we’ll hold on the blog on Thursday, December 18th. Between now and then feel free to share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #UYCBookclub!
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen