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And in fashion, comfy is in. Designers like Marc Jacobs and Miuccia Prada have been showing pajama-ish eveningwear — a far cry from the bitchy, stretchy garments emblazoned relentlessly with interlocking Gs (which might as well have been $'s) that we used to think were so cool. Meanwhile, the aforementioned pocketbook queen, Kate Spade, recently told a reporter she's been busy cooking roast chicken and chocolate-chip cookies until one o'clock in the morning in fits of domesticity.

In keeping with this new, grown-up mood, our poll suggests that New Yorkers aren't simply more invested in relationships; we have an increased commitment to all things cozy. Fifty-eight percent of New Yorkers say that an evening spent nesting in their apartments sounds more appealing than one spent going out on the town. "Before September 11, going out was easier . . . the bars on Houston Street used to be packed until two or three in the morning, and now they are empty," says Richard Tsai, a 32-year-old furniture consultant in Brooklyn. "It changed because people don't go out to have fun like before." Says Heather Middleton, a 23-year-old financial-services trader, "After September 11, I think I'm more focused on finding a relationship; I've started thinking I should really meet someone . . . I don't go out just to go out. I have to feel like it could go somewhere."

She's not the only one. Thirty-four percent of our respondents have dated less frequently and dated fewer people since September 11. "I've slowed down since 9/11," says 21-year-old Brooklynite Cara Sentino. "I used to go out more often and meet guys in clubs. Now I stay home more at night; I just feel like I haven't done that in a while." Thirty-six percent of New Yorkers say that they are now more likely to date with the express intention of entering a relationship. "I am pickier," says Heather Middleton. "I don't want to waste my time on someone who's not going to work out." And 35 percent of our respondents report having less casual sex than before. Apparently, what we want now at one in the morning isn't hot, anonymous sex; it's hot chocolate-chip cookies and chicken.

When we last polled New Yorkers about their sexual and romantic habits, in 1998, 7 percent of respondents said they "almost always" had sex on the first date and 8 percent reported they did so "very often," compared with a mere 2 percent of "always" and 4 percent of "often" now. That means that about half as many New Yorkers are engaging in casual sex, at least the kind preceded by a date. "My outlook is that I want to find someone and I want sex to mean more than just sex," says 32-year-old Manhattanite Karen Jacobson. "After the 11th, people realized that life was too short to expect certain things . . . I don't care if I'm taken to a scene-y restaurant on a date. Take me to an Irish pub and we'll just talk."

All of this didn't happen in a single, horrible day. When we asked New Yorkers whether, since September 11, they've been dating more, been dating for different reasons, been having more casual sex, and become more interested in pursuing marriage and family, for each of those questions, about half of our respondents answered that their behavior has not changed. A whopping 81 percent said that the qualities they look for in a mate haven't changed, either.

That exhilarating moment when women were supposed to be the new men — and all the ladies'-night-style sexual opportunism that implied — seems to be slipping away. The women we polled were considerably more gunned up about fusing into a post-September 11 domestic cocoon than the men. "The wish to be with someone is more urgent," says Tina, a 29-year-old musicologist. "I am more drawn to people who are open and sensitive — and everyone seems to be a little more open and sensitive since 9/11."

Fashion, in turn, has been getting increasingly diaphanous and less scary for several seasons now. Rachel has been pregnant since Monica and Chandler's wedding last spring. This season of Sex and the City, which started on January 6, feels like a response to September 11, but in actuality all six episodes were already completed by then. The one reference to that day was unintentional: Throughout the season, Carrie shakes a snow globe of lower Manhattan when she's feeling contemplative — the Twin Towers call out to us every time she does it, but this is accidental poignancy.

Pop culture and, reciprocally, the American mood are always swinging back and forth between the puritanical and the Dionysian — we stay too long in one place and suddenly the other looks fresh (the ultimate entertainment-industry compliment) once again. So, for the moment, Blahniks and sport-fucking seem tired and empty, while wedded bliss looks chic and deep. Perhaps the happiest news our poll provides is that while many New Yorkers have been dating less than we had before September 11, the majority also say their romantic lives have gotten better in the past few months. (New Yorkers happier with less: no small feat.) And, whether or not we reach the lofty new relationship goals we're setting, the good news is that we are enjoying trying to get there.


More of the Singles Survey

The best of the survey results (questions & answers). Plus, your chance to vote!

Raw poll questions and results in PDF format


 
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