Dating in Los Angeles – Is the City the Problem or is it You?

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For those living the single life in many larger cities, you find yourself with a myriad of options, something touted as one of the benefits vs. being in a smaller town. However, many also push smaller towns as containing people who are more grounded, with better values and such.  Maybe there’s a little bit of truth in both sides. There are repeat issues clients have brought up to me, and things anyone can notice from being the spectator on the street walking by any cafe where people are huddled outside breaking apart the situations they find themselves in.  Does this city have some advantages?  Of course.  Any Cosmopolitan city like this brings together many people from around the world, and presents many opportunities to work and play alike.  Right now half the country is freezing while we’re hanging around in t-shirts, which is pretty amazing.

Live in Los Angeles for a while though, and you’ll see patterns begin to emerge while simultaneously hearing the gripes from those around you.  You’ll hear that there are too many options, and everyone’s looking for the next best thing.  You’ll hear that everyone is gorgeous, and relationships can’t work when someone sees head-turners every day at even the gas station. You’ll hear that Hollywood glamorizes brief romances, divorces and it affects people’s social mores.  People that work in entertainment often come with a slew of issues – long hours, time away from home at shoots/productions, focus bordering on obsession with their careers in a high-stress environment, unstable finances, fragile egos, and a lifestyle where connections, temptation and sex are currency in this town.  You’ll hear a lot of excuses, but you’ll probably just see pieces of the picture.  What’s disheartening is that most people who the following applies to will nod their heads in agreement, yet probably go on continuing in the same patterns they have been.

Yes, long distances between geographical areas and lack of fast, reliable public transportation do make it harder to create a solid bridge towards intimacy when meeting people who live farther away from you.  People not making a genuine effort to build something beautiful with one another makes it even harder.  You see, it’s not the dipshit actor with moderate success or the reality show bimbo who’s creating this negative imprint of dating in Los Angeles.  Hollywood probably represents less than 1% of the population here.  With a much-higher-than-national-average divorce rate, who are the people that are really messing things up then?  The everyday people who moved here for whatever reason they did.

If you’re a 40 year old nurse, you really don’t belong with the musician who seems exciting to you. It doesn’t happen in most towns, but here it’s perfectly common to hear your neighbor/co-worker do just that. She’s not Courtney Love. She’s an everyday nurse. It will not work. Even if she were Courtney Love, it still wouldn’t work.  It’s not meant to.  You’re unfortunately a perpetrator and a victim at the same time of living in a place where it’s become glamorized to not be yourself (or be with) a normal, hard-working, grounded person, and instead you feel the need to chase the thrill and have something interesting to tell your friends both here and back home.  Maybe you don’t feel like you deserve something that can actually be real, and there’s a draw to those which you know it will never work out with.  That’s an issue with you, not Los Angeles or the people that live here.  LA is a vehicle for lost souls; it didn’t make you into one.  It’s because you don’t see the value of saying to your friends that you met a great person who’s an IT guy or a Real-Estate broker, and that no, you have no drama to share with them because drama’s not interesting and you’re actually happy.  You feel the need to tell them about the musician bad boy who’ll never commit, the ex-model chick who’s hot as hell and hard to pin down.  It’s ok though, because the musician went through a horrible breakup and he’s got this beautiful album he recorded because of it and he really thinks his band will get signed in the next year and you want your friends at the next gig.  The model married a rich a-hole who cheated on her and never made her feel truly loved, but you can do so because you’re special.  And you can hook up your friends with her hot friends.  Right. You think your issue is that you like to save people.  You’re not really that altruistic.  You’re actually scared of being in something good and normal with a fear that you won’t be good enough.

The dysfunctional stories are far more interesting to tell your friends back home who married someone they fell in love with at 27, and now a few years later have a beautiful family with, but they love hearing about your exciting life.  The sad truth is that they would never swap their life for yours, once they really saw the anxiety, lack of fulfillment, and empty nights you go through day-in and day-out with your way-out-there attempts at romances. Yes, having someone in your bed still counts as an empty night if it’s empty with that person. If you spent a month feeling the closeness they have in their lives, you would swap your life for theirs in a second.  That’s the confession you’ll never make, because it would mean really looking deep within yourself, and actually getting over your shit.

It really doesn’t have to be this way.  Somewhere along the lines, you threw out the baby with the bathwater instead of becoming more genuine and more authentic. It’s probably not because your parents were divorced, or because people in LA suck, it’s because you are in exactly what you think you deserve to be in at any given moment.  Hard truth.  With a cheater?  Alcoholic?  Abusive partner?  You are telling the world, this is what I deserve, no more and no less.  If you deserved otherwise, you’d be on the path to get it.

Wait though, you’re truly ‘haaaapy’ you say?  Your lifestyle is so much more exciting than boring, married folk?  You go out a few nights a week with different people, and have adventures!  And you just LOVE all your party friends here, those you hit the streets with all the time, and get so nervous about when they meet someone because you want them to be with you next weekend as well when you do the same thing.  Yeah, it felt weird when you first moved here and thought that you didn’t feel the same closeness you felt with your friends back home.  The type that really builds lifelong relationships, the type that are always there for you, but people are different and you don’t want to judge anyone.  Anyway, remember last month when you met those people out at that hotel lounge and had the BEST time, and ended up at some Malibu/Hollywood Hills (it’s all the same) mansion for a party afterwards and everyone was in the hot tub and you hooked up with that hot stranger?  And it was only a Tuesday!  What ever happened to that person? Oh, that’s right, they hit you up a few weeks later (text, not a phone call, of course not, that’s WAY too intimate) around midnight after they had already been out wanting to see if you wanted to meet up, but you didn’t want to seem like you’d be an easy booty call and were a little ego-hurt that they hadn’t returned your text from weeks earlier (not a phone call, that’d be way too intimate, I mean, you had only slept with that person once so far!), and besides, you were out with your girls/guys and were having fun flirting with that other group of people you met at whatever bar/lounge/party/restaurant/’doesn’t matter because it’s all the same f*ng thing’ place you were at.  You just swapped numbers with someone new, and feel so validated that you now have options, even though none of these options will be around a month from now.

Your friend from back home on that Tuesday was cuddled up on the couch with his/her spouse, watching TV.  They had dinner at home, whispered ‘I Love You’s’ to each other without even thinking about it, and got a good night of sleep together.  You can’t even imagine saying those words to someone right now.  I mean, you’re really spending time focusing on yourself right now, and you feel like because you jumped too fast into that relationship when you were 20, and it really hurt you, you should really discover who you are and even though you’re turning 30/35/40/45/50, you’re in a really good place and don’t feel like you need a relationship and sometimes even wonder now if monogamy is even natural and it’s not that you’re scared of real intimacy but you just LOVE meeting new people and….damn…you’re having a hard time believing your own bullshit at this point.

No, everyone shouldn’t be in a relationship or married at this very moment.  When people start damaging their own psyche more and more though by engaging in behavior that makes it harder for them to ever be in a happy, loving relationship, that is then a real problem that is setting them backwards instead of helping them progress forward.

Years flow by and your friends back home are less and less interested in your exploits, as they really have joy growing with their other friends who they share similar life experiences with that differ from your now verging on mid-life crisis happenings.  They seem to laugh now that at your age, you still tell them about a different guy/girl every month, and now you feel like you’ve really ‘found’ yourself in LA and are going through your yoga teacher/massage therapist/reiki certification, and you’re going to fill that hole in your soul by jumping aboard the latest new-age gimmick.  Besides, you can’t talk to them on the phone anymore today because it’s time for your self-improvement seminar, your wellness class or that spirituality lesson at that beautiful place heading towards Big Sur that has that clothing-optional hot spring that is SO healing for your skin.  No, it’s not just an excuse for a pretentious meat-market hook-up spot even though that’s what always happens.  It’s a spiritual learnings center, so everyone there is more evolved than, say,
a Vegas pool party.

Some of your single friends here in LA have settled down, and now there’s no place less they’d rather be than the ‘scenester’ places they used to go with you to, now that they have peace in their hearts, or they’ve moved out of this town frustrated at not building anything worthwhile (home ownership, love/relationship/family, career) besides a longer list of people every year that they’ve slept with and more years they invested into a fantasy life of being an actor/model/musician/screenwriter/equivalent.  This scares the hell out of you because you’ve spent so long keeping yourself busy with every person/activity you can imagine here, that you’ve made sure you never have a full 24-hours to yourself, you’ve never sat by yourself and really thought and processed and planned and accepted and forgiven and wished for and learned and grown.  It’s hard to do, and no one else seems to do it either, so you stay on the same train doing what you’ve always done and getting what you’ve always gotten, and keep crying about why it’s so hard to date or have a great relationship in LA.  It definitely can’t be your fault.  Right?  Even though when you meet someone intriguing you get confused about why they lose interest when you’re never available in between work, the four nights a week you HAVE to go have drinks with your friends and the multiple networking/Meetup/co-ed sports groups you belong to.  All that you do/joined initially to meet someone interesting, but now you’ve forgotten how to act with that person once you do meet them?

Living here as a man, you try to become a player because all the women play games in your mind and you’re game is going to be tighter than theirs.  You learn to not care, to not chase, to keep your options open, never commit and before you know it, you have hot, damaged women chasing YOU and you think you have optimal choice.  You can even meet women at Farmers Markets now stone cold sober.  Wow. You never learn how to be a good man to a good woman, however.  You don’t even know what a good woman looks like at this point.  Living here as a woman, you play games without knowing so, as the girls that took you under their wings when you first got here taught you everything you need to know.  You learn to give a man just enough of yourself to keep him around, but never enough that you may truly get hurt or close.  Share your body?  Sure. Let a man have your heart?  Hell no!  You never learn how to be a good woman to a good man, nor do you know how to recognize one.

It’s ok though, because although neither of you may be on the path to love with your self-destructive habits, you’ll never be hurt like that one time you gave your heart up and went for it all, what seems like lifetimes ago.  So sad.  It was so beautiful while it lasted.  Why can’t you have that again?  It’s ok though, at least you’ll have stories far more interesting than meeting a grounded person and having a beautiful life with them.

The quiet, peaceful and serene will usually make you much happier in the long-run.  Erroneously, you find yourself more intrigued with the Real-Estate agent who is also trying to be a model, instead of the Real-Estate agent who wants to be just that and a good wife.  The IT guy working on a script is interesting to you instead of the IT guy who wants to do just what he does, and then be a good husband at night.

If any of this, most of this or all of this sounds painfully familiar and will be haunting you in the days to come, remember that in your desire to avoid the risk and the healthy norm, you have instead become the cliché of LA.  This town is not the problem; this town is simply a place which presents all the distractions in the world to keep one stuck within an unfulfilling path if they do not have the awareness and strength to follow a different one towards true fulfillment.


– Dylan Thrasher

Dating, Life, Love, Relationship Coach.
The ‘Trying to not make you end up like another LA cliché’ coach.

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