Best Ways to Meet Relationship Material in New York City: Link Depth

13 01 2008

It’s all about link depth. The greater your network link depth, the greater your chances of meeting the guy or gal of your dreams.

“Where are all ‘the good people?” If there was a whine bottled in New York, this would be the label.

“The good people:” def. not jerks, assholes, gold-diggers, freaks, ripoff artists, losers, trust-fund brats, skanks, slackers, man-whores, sluts — i.e. everyone you meet and date.

Gay, Straight, Bi — it doesn’t matter. Most people who form relationships meet through friends of acquaintances of friends of acquaintances of…well, you get the idea.

New York, despite it’s dense population, is a notoriously difficult place to get to ‘the Honey Bunnies,’ because they are never (or rarely) at the bar, gym, or cafe when YOU’RE there. They tend not to follow regular hive rules.

The fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to increase your link depth is to volunteer. New York City has hundreds of not-for-profit organizations that need your help. And can help you.

However, do not plan to meet the ‘Honey’ of your dreams at said organization. This is only the first step. You will be working for a good cause and you will be meeting people outside of your current network. Once you get to know your co-volunteers and they get to know how wonderful you are –a real honey — drop the bomb. Yes, lower the eyes, tilt the head at that slight angle showing restraint and modesty, and simply say, “I’m single.”

No true New Yorker will let those words lay fallow and unpunished. New Yentas are best of breed. They will rush to their address books, filter ‘single’ and voila (after all, YOU’RE a catch–you volunteer with them.) Let them set something up — coffee, drinks, a party, whatever. Your network is expanding and the larger the link depth, the greater the possibilities you will meet that ‘honey.’ Snatch him/her up immediately — sweetness is a cherished commodity in this city. And once you’re a couple, don’t forget to help a fellow New Yorker in need.

Some places to start:

Volunteer NYC

New York Cares

New York City Parks

Volunteer Match

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Buying a House With Friends and Other Strangers

9 01 2008

Dear Alex: Me and my friend (not romantically involved) want to buy a house together, fix it up and rent most of it out. My father says never to do business with friends, but I don’t know how else I could afford to buy something. Any advice?

Gotta Invest

Dear GI,

Buying and renovating a property is a huge undertaking — it tests the mettle of any relationship; friend, family, partner, or spouse. I know so many stories that have ended in disaster from lack of forward planning.

My advice — treat it as a business transaction with a stranger. And plan ahead if the partnership were to break up.

If you and your friend are truly serious, meet with a lawyer and discuss responsibilities and all scenarios: Are you both managing the renovation and management of the property equally? If not, how should you split the income? What happens if one of you gets married and moves? Or dies? What is the buyout clause if you call it quits? What happens when the contractor disappears? What happens when the renters don’t pay?

Basically, it’s like planning your will, pre-nup, and divorce, before you even start. If your friend says, “Oh, we don’t have to do that. We’re friends.” Walk away. You’ll have another opportunity.

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My Sister-in-Law the Conniving Bitch

6 01 2008

Dear Alex: When I was home for the holidays, I got into a fight with my sister-in-law and told her what I’ve always thought of her, which is that she’s a conniving bitch who stole my brother from the family. This happened just because I made plans with my brother to go out and see our old high-school friends, which is like a tradition for us, and at the last second she decided not to go, which made my brother not want to go either (she was all “pouty” for no good reason.) My mother — even though she hates her, too, of course — is now mad at me and wants me to call and apologize to my sister in law! What should I do?

Like, Sorry for What?

Dear LSFW?,

First of all, unless your brother is both ball-less and brainless, your sister-in-law did not steal him away — he “left” of his own accord and free will. Your family may not like her, and maybe that’s the reason your brother chose her to begin with — subconsciously, he needed a way to “get thee to a nunn’ry!” She is certainly aware of all the animosity focused in her direction from your family, which no doubt contributes to her conniving bitch-hood.

That being said, your brother totally dropped the ball on this one. Your sister-in-law probably never wanted to go to the traditional annual meeting of the high-school friends. Like, how total a yawn is that for someone not involved in the “remember when we snuck out after second period, dropped some acid, and couldn’t stop starring at Fern Ferguson’s nipples cause they were making lassos around her neck?”

Your brother should have stepped up to the plate: “I really enjoy this time with my brother and old friends and it’s our holiday tradition — Hon, if you don’t want to come, why don’t you take a day of beauty at the spa. Do the nails, the hair, get a facial and a massage.”

She would have been much less bitchy with new nails and a perm. And you and your brother would have had a blast with the past. You always get more with honey than with vinegar.

Send her flowers and apologize for being a jerk — your mother knows, even if she is a conniving bitch, better to have some peace in the family. And she is your brother’s wife, for better or for worse. Then have a talk with your brother, discuss how you missed him at the event, and give him some suggestions for conflict resolution in the future.

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30-Something Gay Guy Stumbles into MySpace

4 01 2008

Dear Alex: I am a 36 year-old gay man. I’ve been out for close to 15 years and have dated a lot of guys but never really had much interest in having a boyfriend or partner. Until now. About six months ago I happened to stumble on a MySpace page of this guy who went to the same law school as me and I fell in love! He’s sooooo hot (all my friends agree) and I’m constantly checking his page for new pix, which he posts pretty often. Here’s the thing: even though I’m totally convinced that he’s “the one” for me, I haven’t written to him yet (I’m also in New York and he’s in San Diego). What should I do?Soon to be Bi-Coastal

Dear S to be B-C,

Ummm, I’ll try to be gentle. Looking at a picture of someone who lives 3,000+ miles away and thinking he’s “the one” is a wonderful fantasy for someone with intimacy issues, like yourself. If you really want to try having a relationship, stick closer to home. Otherwise, write the hunk. Maybe he also has the maturity of a 12 year old, and you can have email sex, phone sex, cam sex, IM sex, and when you two finally meet atop the Empire State Building and the spark is nothing but spunk, at least you had a good time and can wallow in the “you see I tried and I’ll never have a boyfriend, ever, ever, ever” tar pit of doom with your friends. Do send pix!

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The Real Deal: Bridge and Relationships

2 01 2008

I would be living on Park Avenue with a very tall, dark, and handsome robot assistant who takes dictation and does windows, if I got paid for all the advice I’ve given to others regarding their relationships. I’m writing it down now so everyone can benefit (“my therapist thinks you’re wonderful!,” “you should have been a doctor!”) and the phone will stop ringing.

When you are thinking about investing in a relationship, how do you analyze the strengths and weaknesses?

And what are the strengths and weaknesses? How do you know? What are you supposed to do?

The game of bridge is a handy metaphor for understanding your ability to forge a partnership.

In bridge, for every deal, you do the following in sequence:

EVALUATE YOUR HAND.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PARTNER ABOUT YOUR HAND.

LISTEN TO THE INFORMATION YOU RECEIVE ABOUT YOUR PARTNER’S HAND.

ESTIMATE THE POTENTIAL OF BOTH HANDS TOGETHER.

BID IF YOU FEEL YOU CAN MAKE GAME.

PASS IF YOU FEEL YOU CAN’T MAKE GAME.

IF YOU LOSE THE CONTRACT, WAIT FOR THE NEXT DEAL.

IF YOU WIN THE CONTRACT, PLAY.

Don’t know from bridge? Here’s a little intro.

The game of bridge is a good way to practice and sharpen your analytical and conceptual skills so that you can apply these toward creating, developing, and maintaining strong, solid relationships.

Bridge is played with 2 sets of partners — north/south and east/west. They sit across from each other, just like the directions on a compass. The partners may know each other and have played together for years, or they may have just been introduced.

The goal of the game is for you and your partner to “bid” for a “contract” saying you can take so many rounds or tricks. You can name a trump (the special suit which will take all others) or play no-trump. The bidding is based on a minimum of 6 tricks (called a book), so for example, if I bid 1 spade, that would mean that between my parnter and myself, we could take 7 (6 + 1) tricks (7 rounds of each person playing one card) if spades were trump (our special suit that can take all others.)

THE DEAL

The entire deck is dealt; 52 cards. There are no jokers. Each person receives 13 cards. There is no passing or trading in of cards. What you are dealt is what you have to live with. The dealer revolves so that each person has an opportunity to deal. The dealer has the first “bid.”

THE EVALUATION

Each person evaluates their hand. There are simple and increasingly complex ways to evaluate one’s hand. But for our purposes, each player basically takes stock of their strengths and weakness — how many of each suit they have, how many high cards they have, etc. What is important is that they analyze their hands in a similar way. Let’s say they use the point system:

Ace=4 points, King=3 points, Queen=2 points, Jack=1 point, Doubleton (only 2 of a suit)=1 point, Singleton (only 1 of a suit)=2 points, Void (none of a suit)=3 points.

So, each person adds up the points in their hand. They also look to see if they have a long suit (5 or more cards of a suit) which could be trump.

THE AUCTION

Once everyone has evaluated their hands, the auction to bid for a contract begins. The dealer has the first bid. In bridge, you should not open the bidding unless you have at least 13 points in your hand. Since everyone in a relationship has strong and weak points, we will assume that everyone has an opening hand.

There are many, many, many bidding systems. There are exhaustive books on the subject. These “systems” define how well partners communicate with each other in order to see if there is a good fit between their hands. Bridge is all about having a good fit.

Ideally, we would like to bid high enough between us to “make game,” the minimal amount to earn a high score. This is defined as 3 No Trump (we agree to take 9 tricks with no suit as trump), 4 major suit (we agree to take 10 tricks with either spades or hearts as trump), or 5 minor suit (we agree to take 11 tricks with either diamonds or clubs as trump). Since we are discussing relationships, if we don’t feel we can make these contracts between us, then we should pass and wait for the next deal.

THE PLAY

We have bid and won a contract. In bridge, unlike life, only one of the partners actually plays the hand. The cards of one of the partners is put down on the table, for all to see. Obviously, assuming a sense of honesty, no hyperbole, and skill, we should have a pretty good idea of what our partner offers from the bidding — so there should be no major surprises.

Sometimes the hands “play themselves,” because they are so strong together. Sometimes the play is not so obvious, but with some careful thought, we can make the contract. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we just can’t make the contract. If we make a mistake, we can learn from the mistake and not repeat it the next time we play. Sometimes, the deal was just against us.

CONCLUSION

Like relationships, the more you know about your hand (i.e. yourself) and can clearly and honestly communicate this information to your partner, the better able you both are to decide if you can bid for a contract.

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