The Fiction of Virtual Dating

My dating life.

Recently, I’ve taken up a new obsession with fiction. Not so much reading fiction, but mostly, talking about reading fiction. Organizing & researching a list of reading fiction (seriously, I have no idea how anyone reads more than 10 books a year). Even adding reading fiction to my dating app prompts. I even started researching local bookstores not named Amazon or Barnes & Noble to purchase said items for reading fiction.

Hemingway. Grisham. Rowling. Palahnick. French. The list goes on & on, but the ultimate fictional storyteller was staring me in the mirror and I didn’t have to check out Good Reads to explore the author’s themes & motifs. Yes, it was me during a pandemic-friendly virtual date.

OKCupid has seen a whopping 700% increase in virtual dates amongst their users since March. Despite the numbers, it’s a polarizing new norm too – a norm constantly disappointing & disparaging our wildest romantic imaginations. What made my recent virtual date especially interesting was my date was outside of New York City, outside of New York State, the East Coast, even America. She was based in Toronto, Canada. 

I asked myself: was I that desperate for connection?

Rushing over to my white board to analyze my plan for the date led to a roughly .5% chance this virtual date would lead to anything in real life this Millennia. 

After a few back & forth text messages to change the time of the date — it was set for 8pm. I alerted Verizon about the impending International charges.

The moment before you actually send that FaceTime request for a virtual date reminds me of the Marauder’s Map in Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azkaban. A running web of emotions & questions, twists & turns, ebbs & flows to land on what you think may be the proper positioning & mindset for the big moment:

My kitchen has a bright white light and my room has warm Edison bulb lighting. Is it too aggressive to start the call in my room?

I placed the Vanity Fair magazine on my living room coffee table in preparation for the apartment tour. Will this help brand me as sophisticated?

Should I pour my Espolon tequila on-the-rocks now or do it together with the FT date fully up & running?

Most importantly, can I keep my Alo Yoga sweatpants on with a nice black Henley? Or would not wearing jeans be a risky venture into remote lifestyle martyrdom?

I went for it. Ring. Ring. (FaceTime) Ring.

“Oh…hiii you!” She answered abruptly. Immediately, I noticed the “I love you” tattoo under her neck. Her room (or FaceTime’d version of her room), included a beige wall, a light tan bedsheet, and an interesting undersized painting with a few red hearts on the tan wall. She was a vibe – dark engulfing brown eyes, short brown hair, and a calming energy pulsing through the infinitesimal camera on the iPhone X. And no, there was no Maple Leaf symbol on the wall. That was a relief.

“Hey! Hi! Look at you…before I get to the tequila, who is it…you love?” I opined at this glaring tattoo. She answered, cooly, serenely with an anecdote about a deeper spiritual belief I didn’t really understand. It may have been my phone’s audio issues causing the confusion. Or was it the internal pessimism about the situation? Only time would tell.

The conversation & date took off from there and yes, I opted for the tour of my apartment to start things off.

Well, here’s my kitchen. Not bad, right? I love this Ninja smoothie machine. Or blender? What’s it called again? It’s bright in here, sorry about that!

She giggled recognizing some of the eccentricity that has become a polarizing issue with girls on my recent first dates.  Clearly, the concerning inner-monologue around lighting in my apartment was a non-issue as our digital conversation hit the usual bases with the usual responses.

Horoscopes: Yes, I am a Sagittarius. I think it’s because December is a communal month? Do you really believe in all of this? It’s always funny to me how Millennials aren’t “religious” but obsess over the Zodiac.

Dating App History: Yes, I’ve rarely done one of these virtual FaceTime dates. Oh, you too?  Have you ever noticed how everyone who goes on a dating app date says they don’t go on dating app dates often? The stigma…

Travel: My mom brainwashed me as a kid to love Europe so of course, I need to visit there again once this is all over. What’s Toronto like? Yes, I’ve been a couple times. Is Drake’s house that majestic and what part of Toronto is it in?  Canadian men are that entitled?  Never would have guessed that. Look, I can’t speak for all of New York City men, but I…

Edge: What exactly is “edge?” Is it the antagonist of “basic?” Does it mean smoking a joint over a FaceTime date with someone in another country? Attempting French? Insert other hopeless wish of a first date?

The laundry list of topics continued onwards as the clock itched closer to 9pm. It’s always tough on a FaceTime date finding some semblance of spontaneity. There are no other couples at tables near you to commentate over. No servers to impress with small-talk about the Asiago Bruschetta. No subtle Atmospheric Piano scores by Mozart to chime in on unleashing an artistic discussion on music & culture. None of that exists. Only the immovable 5.85 inches of Plasma mobile screen with a backdrop remaining unchanged. Oh, and your roommate playing Fortnight in the background. That too.

Mid-way through the date, it was clear there was a a connection. In person, this first date easily could have led to popping by an art gallery in SoHo, adventuring around Nolita’s Prince Street Pizza, and who knows, even an apartment visit.

What was unclear was what exactly this connection could materialize into. Sure, we were putting ourselves out there, but the fiction of the situation kept growing more pronounced.

What are you even doing, Harrison? You will most likely never see her!

It’s exciting to dream about visiting Toronto & taking a selfie with her outside of Drake’s house, but that fairytale is impossible with the pandemic raging onwards.

Were you hoping for a more scandalous FaceTime? It’s only date #1!

The Nora Ephron fan in me imagined yet another storybook ending (noticing a trend). Canada miraculously opens its borders up to the US in time for the Holiday season. Delta sends me a SKYMILES complementary flight to Toronto. I board, end up in the Emergency Exit row, indulge in a Sun-dried Tomato Ciabatta sandwich with a gin & tonic, land in Toronto and Uber right to her apartment where we indulge in legal THC, and then book a separate flight or trip to either Banff or Vancouver.

Sadly, fiction itched its head out once again. I saw 9pm at the corner of my phone screen vastly approaching as if it this were but another weekly standup Zoom in the calendar. My desk chair started to get even more uncomfortable and yet, I couldn’t possibly dive into my bed at this point during the superficial small-talk. My Ritual Winter Amber candle was beginning to reach its conclusive demise.  Even, my “Funky Hip-Hop” playlist on Spotify couldn’t help but start repeating tunes from 30 minutes before (yes, I use background music during a virtual first date to bring a tiny semblance of normalcy to the situation).

Sure, I had been on a cold streak. But why did I even hope to spend my time on something that held practically no short, medium, or long-term potential to turn into something?  Was I even looking for something in the first place?

As the date reached its inevitable love-less conclusion, I attempted the virtual kiss blow at the end of the date, which she very clearly digitally caught in her hand.

“This was so fun. Let’s do it again sometime,” one of us remarked. It didn’t matter who, for at this point, we both became fans of this inevitably unsatisfying fictional situation.

Even Hemingway or Stein or Rand could never have predicted the fiction of the modern virtual date. Would they have wanted us to invent romantic scenarios like the flight to Toronto to help improve our creative thinking, pressure-less imagination, and memory capabilities? Or would they have taken the form of the realist, the pragmatist, opining for us to only focus on something tangible, something real, something in real life?

Working in The Dating Industry Could Not Prepare Me For The Challenges of Pandemic Dating

For someone who has yet to leave New York City during COVID-19, quarantine has had a few ups (family time and career progress), a few downs (RIP nightlife), and more often than not, romantic loneliness (yep, I said it).

in partnership with @halfthestory (originally on Medium)

As a producer and co-host of NY-based live blind dating show, UpDating, I have spent most of my professional time curing everyone else’s romantic ambitions. By setting up strangers on blind dates in front of live audiences, I vicariously lived through their ups, downs, and excessive vodka tonic drink orders. My own dating life had always taken a back seat. When the pandemic hit and our live show paused, I actually became excited at the opportunity to focus on me.

That lasted for about two days. After all, how many times could I possibly watch Social Network, order sugar-free apple sauce, and FaceTime my grandmother? On the plus side, I gained a new appreciation for the constant companionship of my robotic vacuum, Roomba. On the downside, I felt more alone than ever before. It was time to figure out a way to “get back out there” in my own dating life — even though it was impossible to know what “there” even meant anymore.

I came to this epiphany — one I never thought I would realize — in a moment standing woefully on the balcony of my apartment, overlooking the Empire State Building, with Roomba by my side.

It had been two months since I had a first date. Six months since I made it to a third date. Two years since I had been in a relationship. I was actually lonely.

As an extrovert in the entertainment industry, I am a stranger on this distant planet Loneliness. A planet where you fall asleep, wake up, eat lunch, and double-dose on Natrol 10mg Melatonin…well, alone. A planet where you make small talk with Mario at the Green Leaf bodega about their new Chicken Caesar wrap even though you really don’t want to talk to Mario about any wrap at all.

I have been radically confused on how to meet someone romantically in this new world. When most of your dating prospects depart from New York City in the middle of a pandemic, you are left with extremely limited options for meeting a romantic partner. After striking out at during a Zoom Happy Hour, I turned back to an old nemesis: dating apps.

Dating apps and I had always had a toxic relationship. We had flirted occasionally but almost always ended up breaking up. As these are trying times, I left my stubbornness and ego at the door and downloaded Bumble, Raya, and Hinge (okay, I deleted and re-downloaded each app four times during the first 24 hours, but who’s counting?).

As the questions piled on from my early batch of matches, I quickly remembered why this was not my preferred method of meeting people.

“Omg, what is UpDating? Are you scouting for another dating app?”

No! It’s a show! This is for my own personal life. I try to separate the two.

“Hey! How are you?”

I’m good! But how about something a bit more substantive or thought-provoking?

“Hi! How are you holding up during quarantine?”

I’m not bad, but I’m not okay answering this for the 10,000th time.

After hours painstakingly tweaking my Hinge profile to project — I hoped — confident, quirky, sensitive me, the perseverance led toa Hinge match I was interested in. She was French, smart, successful, and responded to all of my failed in-app French attempts with the laughing emoji. After some brief dialogue around our favorite French films, she said: “How are you planning on impressing me?”

Followed by: “What do you do to seduce a woman?”

Now, those were messages I could rally behind. Bold. Direct. Provocative.

From there, we embarked on two walk, talk, and people-watch dates. We met by the New York version of the Arc de TriompheWashington Square Park, on our second date. It was one of those days where New York felt like New York again. Birds chirping, over-energetic street performers, and a wild pack of European tourists doing what they do best — stealthily enjoying a bottle of wine whilst confused about NYC’s open-container laws. My date and I found a spot under a tree by the back of the fenced-in courtyard, within sight of the clay-fitted restrooms. Within our field of vision, a couple lay enveloped in each other’s arms. We exchanged a judgmental eye roll, but I paused to wonder: why can’t that be us?

Despite my failed attempts at Franglish, we connected in multiple ways: getting into extended discussions around humanity, what it means to be alive, where we go when we die, places to travel — even dream weddings (in the South of France, naturally). With each passing topic, we held hands tighter — a forecast, one would imagine, of an end-of-date kiss to come.

In our previous lives, the internal debate as to how and when to go for the first kiss was never an easy mental exercise. Now, it seemed nearly impossible. Not willing to pass up my first human contact in weeks, I made a Hail Mary attempt at Franglish:

“How do you say kiss in French?”

“Un bisou.” She replied as I took a deep breath, and our first “bisou” unfolded under the starry, humid New York City skyline.

After date three in Brooklyn complete with late night pizza, she said “I like you.” I quickly followed suit.

Two days later, the conversation unexpectedly stalled, the Instagram DM’s faded, and our plans for the week ahead went unplanned. Hail Mary number two: a casual phone call to check-in and plan our next date.

She called me back a few minutes later to say: “your attentiveness to me is a bit much sometimes.”

In the sheer blink of an eye, the vibe had evaporated. Poof! Au Revoir! I was less upset about the situation as I was confused: what exactly did I do wrong?

Ok, I know my personality can be a bit much, but isn’t that just my truth?

Was it too aggressive for me to download Duolingo to learn some new phrases?

How about my joke about traveling to Brooklyn during COVID-19?! I actually do love Brooklyn!

“Well, I think I have my answer,” I responded to my friend, Olivia’s “any updates?” question earlier in the day. After firing off the text update, I locked my phone in my silverware drawer, and went out for a walk alone to my new favorite quarantine haunt, Madison Square Park. I started shaking my head, anxiously, as I walked down the street mouthing “the show goes on, I guess” to myself at least seven separate times (thankfully hidden by my mask).

Finding a bench, my optimistic and hopefully romantic brain imagined a storybook ending. An ending only Nora Ephron could imagine: the love of my life accidentally drops her tie-dye mask as I rush over to grab it for her. We giggle, exchange flirtatious pleasantries, and embark on a socially distanced walk through town. Within moments, we find an al fresco taqueria (it’s happy hour, naturally), where we share two margaritas and pomegranate guacamole. Within months, I drop to one knee in the exact location of our first meeting, with our family and photographers waiting around in the bushes.

Unfortunately, this imaginary soulmate failed to materialize. Instead, looking around, I saw a breakfast burrito stand sold out of every menu item. I noticed two city sanitation pickup trucks almost collide around the block. I even noticed another couple by a fountain across the bike path — this one sharing AirPods and feeding the pigeons. I checked my bench and observed that yes, I was still alone and my AirPods needed a charge.

Truth be told, I may have preferred ghosting. Sometimes, the infinite abyss of unanswered questions is slightly more bearable than one rigid answer about your entire existence. But it didn’t matter what I preferred; the rejection was complete.

For better or worse, I’m easing back into dating again. Fall is just around the corner, a vaccine (hopefully) in sight, and friends are miraculously reappearing in New York City. I call my new sense of romantic reality “purgatory” (okay, my therapist helped define this too — it’s a team effort).

Purgatory is a tricky beast in the midst of this chaotic world. I think of myself as that little squirrel in the movie Ice Age doomed to chase that acorn until I reach the beginning and end of Earth. Between Heaven and Hell. Love and loss. A butter croissant and starvation. A solo Lost in Translation viewing and running out of popcorn.

One thing helping me stay positive is the knowledge that I’m not alone in this anxious battle to avoid loneliness. According to the CDC, 47% of people under 30 reported feeling anxious during July. I’m going to go out on a limb and bet if we drill into that under 30 category with a focus on just single people, we’ll see that number skyrocket.

Despite some marginal success on the apps, I remain mostly confused about what happens next in the world of dating. But ever optimistic.

We always had to catch lightning in a bottle when it came to finding someone. Every single star does have to align. Navigating single life during the pandemic has turned into searching for a well in the middle of summer in the Mojave Desert. I think we can safely say the journey for lightning-in-a-bottle love has lowered its standards into I-just-don’t-want-to-sit-on-this-Madison-Square-Park-bench-alone. Do you want to join?

Why La Casa de Papel Has My Wheels Turning

I don’t know why I’m so enthralled by La Casa de Papel (I’m not even going near the English-version of the name, Money Heist, because it’s a sin how that was approved here in the US). After all, it has nothing in common with my top-two scripted shows on TV right now, the  universally acclaimed Better Call Saul & the Drake-acclaimed Euphoria. I’ve gone down a rabbit hole

Money Heist

or two reading fan theories & critic opinions but nothing remotely close to the infatuation I currently have with this Spanish melodrama, telenovella (my new favorite genre), insert-any-other-dramatic-sub-genre.  I’ve even posted on Reddit about the show…REDDIT!

Quite literally, I’m obsessed. I’m Googling “how to date a woman in Spain without understanding the language.” I’m shopping for red jumpsuits (with accompanying masks) on J. Crew. I’m deeply investigating rumors & theories in a way I haven’t since Game of Thrones Season 4 or Westworld Season 1 (side note: I lost all of my respect for WW after they completely shattered an Aaron Paul opportunity). I’ve posted candid pictures of a real-life couple who met on the show to my IG Stories (the legend Jaime Lorente & the incomporable Maria Pedraza). I’ve even dreamed of partying with the cast knowing deep-down that we would be friends if we met (also would not hurt if we lived in the same city, I spoke Spanish, and I was also an actor on a show of global popularity).

Conventional wisdom does question my infatuation with the show. After all…

  • The beautiful actresses I fell in love with while watching are…(mostly) taken.
  • The show is clearly not intended for me, an American, but rather a diverse, international audience and it’s so damn obvious.

There is no singular reason why I overlook all of these flaws to stay up past 3am on a Wednesday (the latest I’ve been up by 2-3 hours in the age of quarantine).  It’s the complete package of unabashed fun, rich character development, nuanced aesthetics around culture & sex, and the impossible-to-quantify marketing of the show. Oh, and of course the drama. Every single moment is dramatic. When paired with my own personal zeitgeists (because well, this is my site, so of course I have to tie it back to me), I’m a hungry kid once again nourished in the Netflix candy store of entertainment.

1. The Romance (Even When Every Single Moment is Over-Dramatized)

During a time in the world when if you’re single it’s impossible to find any romantic semblance, how refreshing was it to see scene after scene of amorous moments — as if When Harry Met Sally and Fifty Shades of Gray had a Spanish baby with fake AK-47’s, origami & secret lairs. There was also something so damn European about the way vulnerability was expressed by both men & women throughout every season. Here in America, call it Saturday football routines or obsession with The Rock, but it’s still taboo to be a romantic, vulnerable man in this country. On Casa (and yes, there are still quite a few dirtbags on the show), we see scene after scene of mushy gushy lines filled with extended complements (I mean, calling your love interest a Maserati), marriage proposals within 20 minutes of meeting someone, and betraying your entire career path by falling for the heist leader. Whether it’s the “I want to know everything about you” or the “You give me reason to live; it’s like walking on the moon,” we can sense the purpose the creators are emoting for the viewer. Even though breakups, Rio outkicking his coverage multiple times, and first dates happen during the most inopportune times I’ve ever witnessed on a TV show, this makes it the beautiful soap opera we’ve been missing here in the States. A soap opera so open, so honest, so scintillating it’s hard to look away (even though if you do look away, make sure to pause the TV unless you speak Spanish).

My Own Zeitgeist:

Clearly, I’ve taken a certain interest in how we connect with others romantically, and even in my own dating life, I’ve made up at least 47 different fairytales where I boldly shout “Sei Bella” to a beautiful, Italian graphic designer in Brooklyn until six months later, we’re taking Salsa dancing lessons together, writing a screenplay, and booking flights to Italy, naturally. Watching La Casa di Papel validated this proposed path in my life (and also, who would have thought you don’t have to rob a Mint to make it happen).

2.  Character Development & Branding of Said Characters (Even When My Favorite Characters Are Pushed Aside for Disasters)

This show proved with great characters you can overcome catastrophic plot miscues. Each character has their nuances, quirks, psychotic tendencies, familial ties and so much more. Especially in the first two seasons, we see countless 1:1 dramatic monologues that help us better understand the origin story of each gang member: Denver’s childhood mishaps, Nairobi’s substance abuse issues, and even Rio’s former desire to please his parents as an IT professional. The writers brilliantly take us into the mind of each character and give us something to relate to (which in a show about a Spanish bank robbery, it’s no easy feat putting together relatable anecdotes for a more general audience).=

….Notwithstanding how each character’s city name (also, I call dibs on Milan) is, at the core, brilliant show business marketing. In a saturated-content world where even LeBron’s 5-year old daughter has a YouTube show, it’s important for creators to think outside-the-box when it comes to the branding of its characters to spark the social conversation (even thinking about the American hit, Stranger Things, the only character I actually remember is Eleven). We are infatuated with the characters on the show — picking sides, taking stands, starting fan pages. They are all complex, uncanny, contradictory and beautiful — or in other words, human.

My Own Life:

What I tend to think about often is how social media paints 1% of the story of who we think someone really is — the ups & downs we deal with on a daily basis hidden from our followers, the unconscious anecdotes cultivating our personalities, and of course, how we all still yearn for belonging (um, hello, Zoom happy hours). Even with UpDating, we tend to cast individuals who obviously have the playful & “not-take-themselves-too-seriously” elements, but also have a layers & layers beneath the surface that an audience will want to learn more about. And in my own dating life, well, I’ve been told by my Rabbi a few times that I’m a character too. So who knows what will work for me down the road…

3. The Music & Dancing (Even Though The Timing can be Dreadful)

Guajira Guantanemera.

More than a song, it’s a lifestyle. A gateway into culture. A song you want to shout outside your balcony during the 7pm claps in New York City for our health care heroes. And a song I put on repeat at least 100 times after I heard it on La Casa (and followed with some version of losing my mind dancing on my bed drinking 4-day old red wine).

Song & dance & euphoria play such an integral part in Spanish culture and the show brings out these moments to the fullest extent. They serve as great changes in pace from the frenetic dialogue, and if you’re an audience member not clapping & dancing along, I don’t know what you’re on because these are some of the best moments of the entire show. I’m pretty sure my sofa is ruined from the amount of times I stood up to dance and party along with the cast.

A few of my favorite music scenes here:

My Own Life:

I have music on 24/7 — one of those people that just always needs background music on. When you add in specific songs with hyped up energy to actually dance & vibe even in our quarantined apartments, I’m hooked. In fact, in my old Hinge profile, I even mentioned in the prompt “We have the same ‘weird’ when”…”we both randomly salsa dance while walking down the street. So clearly, this show was my kind of weird.

4. The Social Conversation & “It” Factor

This is the impossible-to-define, difficult-to-quantify, cool-to-discern X-Factor with hit TV shows or pop culture phenomenons.  It’s the reason global soccer superstar, Neymar, appeared as a priest in a forced, but somehow useful cameo (followed by this riveting discussion on fame with Neymar & Denver’s Jaime). It’s the reason why every single unknown actor or actress from the show is now well over 10 million IG followers when two years ago most were nameless. It’s the way you feel looking at those Dali masks with the red jumpsuits, now a universal symbol for the show (and for others, the anti-establishment).

This show has “it.” The world knows it, I know it, you’ll know it if you watch it.

My Own Life:

I constantly am looking at trends in media, pop culture, entertainment to understand how a show spreads like wildfire. You could have all of the pieces together when it comes to timing, casting, branding, but if it doesn’t get people talking, then, the opportunity was wasted. This show had the perfect storm of the internationalization of TV, Netflix becoming well, Netflix, and the rise of the anti-establishment principles during this pandemic that has us thinking about the world (and its countless arbitrary rules & structures). More specifically, for us Millennials, man, was it refreshing to see fellow twenty something creatives in other countries take up arms (kidding), fall in authentic love (not kidding), and give their heart & soul to produce incredibly unique content.

So there you have it. La Casa de Papel is on Netflix now. Season 5 hopefully will be around the corner, and as for my next move, well, I just extended my geographic location on Raya to include Barcelona & Madrid.

Stay tuned to my blog for more takes on, well, everything from why FaceTime dates are a waste of time to what social life will be like post-COVID-19 to why peanut butter is the best snack on the market right now.

The Meaning of Adventure

Argentina + Salsa + Frequent Google Maps usage + WhatsApp FaceTime Yoga = my last two weeks of dating.

Insert black jeans and that’s probably me.

Some would call the above combo more similar to a college-age study abroad program and others, well, they would instantly think “this dude needs to just move to Europe or something.”

Whiles most rightfully complain about meeting someone here in New York:

· “The apps? Impossible!”

· LES Bars? Can’t hear myself think!

· Football Saturday’s? No way Jose!

My complaint has been less centered on meeting someone, rather, aiming to avoid getting ghosted in hopes of finding true adventure. See every last post I’ve written outlining just how damn neurotic I’ve been about falling for someone, only to see the rug of potential love taken right beneath my feet by way of Sweden trips or DJ’s.

Adventures, if you are single, I believe are the core tenet of remaining happy romantically single (that is, of course, besides having a great group of friends & career). Nobody talks about adventure because they are afraid it only means sex. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m mainly just talking about activities & depth of dialogue more than two tequila cocktails at a Midtown bar talking about your tech job & going to Michigan.

See when you’re in reactive & not proactive mode when it comes to finding someone (see more here), it can be easy to skip past adventure — in this case, seduction, romance, spontaneity, LIFE — in order to stick with what’s comfortable (Sunday night sushi orders with your roommate).

So let’s take my recent, unplanned, semi-romantic Argentina adventure, for instance. Last Weekend. Downtown.

After beginning my grand entrance exchanging pleasantries on each other’s eye color (naturally, an early topic for me and naturally, her blue & my hazel made for a wicked selfie), broken Spanish/English respectively, and comments around dating in Argentina vs. US, I left her personally exhilarated and the good old self-monologue started:




Of course, I forgot to ask her number (classic) and lost her (also classic) in the sea of new faces entering the bar…

It was shockingly just about over in my mind until…

A few hours later, as the fate of Lionel Messi would have it — I was looking for my new gray Uniqlo jacket when…we bumped into each other. On the dance floor. During a Drake song. With me attempting to explain how I was a Bar Mitzvah dancer & will be decent at this “salsa dancing” thing. It was official: our date just started.

After a major ego & reality check on my vibes & moves (apparently, I don’t have “rhythm?!”), it was clear there was some sort of hitting it off going on (or as much as Google Translator would tell me after my “tu eres lindo” led to a witty smile).

The decision was made: I knew I wanted to actually get to know her without my ears buzzing so I went for the “adventure ask” or AA —

“You know what? [shouting]

Let’s go to a wine bar, drink Malbec (sighing: of course) and get out of here.”

She nodded “sound so good.”

We agreed to meet out front in 5 minutes after grabbing our coats. Still without her number, I prayed there would be no mix-up and as I exited the bar, I turned to my right and voila, these fears were quashed when I saw her leaning over the misplaced plants outside the venue.

After a failed Uber could not find us, we took a taxi to at least 5 different stops at other local bars that were either closed (it was 3am) or sketchy (we were crossing midtown).

Finally found an empty spot on the East Side with seats at the bar, space for a little makeout sesh, and (gasp) the AUX cord to plug in Reggaetone. She even, wait for it, gave me her red hoodie to stay warm on the cab to bar walk (of course, I left my jacket in the Taxi).

At this point, we’re clearly VIBINGGGG, and despite the “I did not know Jewish boy before you,” the night ended with a walk to the 6-train subway for her to return to (another gasp) Brooklyn.

Did she come over the first night? No. Did we decide this has “forever” potential? No. But did we have a true adventure full of wine, sensational dialogue, a few passionate kisses, tattoo debates for my first one in 2020 and more? Yes.

Since then, the adventures have continued. We fired off the exceptionally RARE & equally exceptionally effective Sunday evening WhatsApp FaceTime call to each other and spoke, at length, for almost two hours as we cleaned our rooms, lit charcoal candles as I attempted to learn Spanish & make my Sunday evening granola parfait. Yep, adventure.

Finally over my fear of texting someone without an iPhone & seeing the confusing green bubbles (ugh), planning for the following adventure — Salsa — began.

Not only were we going salsa dancing on the (gasp) vaunted West side of Manhattan, we were going on what I reckoned was in between a first and second date — the 1.5 date.

After dropping $40 on the coat check & cover combined (look, when your former Hinge profile said how much I’ve been intrigued by Salsa, you can’t really be counting pennies), we entered the club, the two youngest by about 30 years surrounded by adventurous couples I aspire to be like one day. Luckily, my mind turned to the wide amount of sports I’ve been playing recently (4 hours of yoga every two weeks…ya know, sports) — so I knew I was prepared for just about any challenge that was to come my way.

Low-key this bar was lit: J.Balvin music videos, multiple dance floors with my improving salsa, 15 (FIFTEEN) types of margaritas (even though we only had one drink each because well, if you;’re international it’s less about the booze & more about THAT ENERGYYY).

After Salsa…we continued the night. I was genuinely intrigued & curious to learn more. Date 2.5 has been lined up. To be continued.

Spanish-learning, wine-pouring, Palo Santo-showing, Fajita-cooking and so much more. I learned about her streets / upbringing in Argentina, how American men have sadly failed to get social cues about her interest in them on dates, and who’s more dramatic: Latin women or Jewish men (in our case, it’s a tie).

See, this was NEW adventure. Intimacy. Conversation. A to B in New, foreign parts of the city with New types of people in New types of situation. New was cool. New was sexy. New was addicting.

What I loved about “New” relates directly to pits of emptiness from an almost 2-year single kick. Yes, it’s easy to forget the little, cool moments with someone: making breakfast together, wandering aimlessly into bookstores drinking chai, Googling “Things to Do” in Time Out New York (shameless plug: UpDating came up multiple times) together. It’s easy to forget all of that, but it’s harder to make actual progress to get that back. That is, unless, you focus on the “mini-ships,” the ADVENTURE!

I don’t think I’ll ever really understand what a “mini-shpis” or “weekend-ships” actually is, but what I do know is that it’s the kind of gray areas I’m finding are necessary for my own dating life — you know as the attention-obsessed extrovert I am.

Rather than the black & white of going from 0–100, simply going from 0 to 15 to 8 to 30 to 40 to 20 all in the span of a few tequila-infused, Jacket-losing, hoodie-gaining cold Winter nights can make all the difference.

All I can say is I’m curious about more adventures with her & excited to learn more. Will my “getting-ghosted” negative track record come up to bother me again? Will the achievement of date #2.5 for next weekend be closer to 100 or closer to 0? Only time (and well, me) will tell. This is New York City after all; anything can happen. Stay tuned.

A Blind Date My Future Grandkids Will Learn About

A tale of live poetry, Elvish language lessons, and too many blindfolds

There she goes again…

I did it. Finally did it. No, I did not make it a week without getting ghosted for date #2, and no, I didn’t break the news to my parents that I completely forgot about Hanukkah. Something more important happened, much more important — perhaps even life-changing.

I, Harrison Tyler Forman, the first of my name, was casted for a show I’m all too familiar with! A show I co-created & produce with my guy Brandon Berman; a show my friends & family have been practically bribing the creators to see me on — that’s right, I was casted for UpDating.

Before the cries of nepotism come out, I was casted for UpDating just like everyone else; by applying through our rigorous application, removing myself from the entire casting process, and, like so many New Yorkers, anxiously awaiting the casting decision which would grant me the experience of a lifetime.

Now, I’d be lying if I said removing myself from the casting process wasn’t difficult. Once I knew I was going to be on the show, endless, tireless, grappling anxiety piled in on the only question that mattered: who was my date going to be? My trust & potential love life fell into the hands of my co-collaborator, Berman, and I couldn’t help but try to poke for details. Was she cool? Will I be in a birthday I’ll never forget? WHO IS SHE?! Wait, but actually, WHO IS SHE?

Truth be told, I thought he would cave and fill in any details on who she was but the man stuck to the process & plan: to keep me in the dark so I could go through the entire UpDating experience like everyone else. I received one line: “you’ll be in for a treat tomorrow.” Looking back now, I’m pleased to say the casting decision was more than a treat: it was an 8-course Michelin star meal.

After helping produce nearly 40 of these shows, I was ecstatic to go through the dater experience just like everyone else to:

  1. See what all the damn hoopla was all about.
  2. Better empathize with the fearless, incredible daters we have on our show.
  3. To see if my date could become a famed UpDating success story
  4. Experience a birthday extravaganza that was shaping up to be my second Bar Mitzvah.
  5. See #3. Find love. Duh.

The date was set. My female counterpart blindly casted for me, venue locked & loaded and my grandparents & rabbi — praying she’s Jewish. The show — sold out. UpDating’s 12/13 — go-time.

After getting rushed into the green room to avoid my dater and given AirPods by the production assistants (standard UpDating policy), I couldn’t help but notice the nerves I had before the show. I was schvitzing and the ruminations started piling in:

What if she doesn’t like me? What if my original poem and flowers I brought for her completely missed the mark? What if my ex girlfriends watched the livestream? What if I was forced to talk about my deepest, darkest fantasies?

The nerves rocked back & forth from fear to excitement, but nothing could change what was about to happen: walking onstage to a crowd of 100+ people about to watch me attempt to successfully go on a blind date.

Family members & friends all watching me (for the umpteenth time) put it all out there for the world to see. Although this time it would be slightly different than the Bar Mitzvah dancing days of my past: a wonderful woman awaited to join this journey with me.

As I sat back & admired the darkness of the blindfold while bumping Rufus Du Sol into my AirPods, a sort of sixth sense called to me back-stage that there was a certain aura in the air that my match tonight would be excellent.

Once I made my debut on stage for my pre-interview with Berman, the electricity of the crowd was something resembling a Super-Bowl level hype. Their eyes glued on my wavering steps & flinches. Their ears fixated to the inner workings of my dating life (the need for “edge”), my foibles & San Francisco exes, and the reason as to why I was still single today (hint: “I haven’t found the energy match dude…not yet”).

Moments later, it happened. Our blind date started and instantly, my breath was taken away in a moment that could only match that of when Harry when met Sally. She opened the date by kissing my forehand “adieu” and in a romantic accent I originally guessed to be Portugese. She then introduced herself as “Lauren” (…saving the name for privacy purposes & yes, my name was forgotten multiple times during our date) & we dove right in!

To say we we hit it off from the getgo would be an understatement. Our conversation (& future 💋) with the blindfolds on saw it all:

  1. She openly addressed her infatuation with Jewish men, specifically “tall and handsome” Jewish men who are great kissers. Let’s take out the tall.
  2. After I taught her Yiddish (well, mostly just the only word i know, “schvitz”), my date enthralled me with a hidden language I only thought existed in Lord of the Rings — Elvish.
  3. Exchanging pleasantries around the sizes and feel of our respective earlobes (later followed by a brief smell of our armpits).
  4. Shared a brief electric kiss after describing the suppleness of our respective lips (yep, this is when my sister put the blindfold on).
  5. Riveting discussions over the importance of the PISCES horoscope & why Harrisons’ and Henrys’ have more in common than you think.

The thoughts racing through my mind after these moments were nothing short of positive disassociation.

Did the Swedish painter of my dreams actually just kiss me with blindfolds on? What was going to happen with the blindfolds off? Would she still be into me? Ah, what if she’s disappointed?! Was I becoming a part of UpDating history? Was this date actually going to lead into a second date? Did my grandmom just watch us makeout?!

…and that’s only 20% of the questions that popped into my brain at these pivotal moments!

When the blindfolds came off, I was stunned. Not only was she gorgeous with an indescribable energy, which I subsequently said to her in front of the entire audience, it appeared (GASP) she was still into it!

My fears of our chemistry waning without the blindfolds were later put to bed instantly as we threw our chairs & table to the side of the stage to lie down next to each other for a brief moment only Shakespeare, Drake & probably Leonardo Dicaprio could relate to: I read her my poem and asked for a second date:

They say a blind date on stage has a lot that can go wrong;

But after these few minutes with you, it’s clear date 2 is where we belong.

At this moment, speechless pandemonium hit the crowd. Audience members shrieked in delight at our chemistry & the UpDating success story taking place. Even Berman was speechless, taking a seat with the front row of the crowd oo’ing and ah’ing at these intimate moments only found UpDating.

After the poem ended, we exchanged another earth-shattering kiss, but what followed was the most confusing five minutes of my life.

In the final minutes of the show, my heart dropped. My date grabbed the mic and started advertising my dating services for the audience:

“This boy is handsome. He’s great. So freaking great. Line up for him ladies.”

Me, practically crying:

“But what about us, Lauren? What about the magic we’ve had together? What about our second date?!”

Her whispering in my ear:

“Let’s talk after, there’s some news.”

When the show ended (emphatically after a duet of “this man is incredible” no no no “this woman is incredible”), I was in a state of shock. Bewildered. Confused. Elated. Confused even more.

Silence even met my glimmering Hail Mary of a line at the end of the show: “how do we avoid typical New York City dating where we just hit it off for two hours only for one of us to ghost the other preventing a second date from happening?

Did that just happen? Where are my friends? Wait, that’s my sister right there. Ugh, my date though!

As I slipped down the staircase, we finally had a moment alone outside of the bar:

“Don’t fall in love too quickly. It’s complicated.”

Huh, what’s complicated? Weren’t we just making out on stage in front of 100 people 10 minutes ago?

“I’m moving to Sweden.”

Wait, which Sweden? You mean the Swedish part of New York, right? Similar to Little Italy, but Little Sweden?

“No, like Sweden. Sweden.”

Oh, awesome! Like in a few months, right? When is best for date #2? Tuesday or Wednesday? I know a great spot in the West Village called Emily!

“Nope, next week.”

Mic drop. Speechless. It was over.

Well, I’ll move to Sweden too…..

For a brief moment, the “high” of our magical (and it was MAGICAL) date subsided by a feeling of isolation. Once I heard the bad news, the after-party elation (and “late-night shenanigans” I had dreamt about over the past hour) lost a bit of the sizzle. We almost made out two times afterwards but she was bombarded by close to a dozen friends, females interested in her, men interested in her and when it was all said & done — something was off, missing from the equation. Our relationship would end tonight and only now was I coming to grips with that.

We exchanged a few brief DM’s and texts over the weekend (no, she devastatingly did not even exchange my IG follow with a follow back of her own) and a woman I will never forget the rest of my life metaphorically (and digitally) drifted away. Of course, the physical drifting away happened a week later as her IG Story sealed our fate:

“Bye new york. Forever.”

The dagger. My Swedish UpDating Success Story had come to an end.

The comedown over the next week was sort of surreal — a mythical week filled with “Harrison, I need the deets” from about a dozen friends, my endless searching of the perfect photos to share on my IG celebrating the joyous evening, and the occasional Google Flights search for NYC > Stockholm.

After going on UpDating & remaining single in the process, you begin to walk through the streets & world with a different hint of confidence (despite the continued what if’s and self-questioning a hopeless romantic can only dream of ridding himself of). It’s a badge of honor. A right of passage. A manifest destiny in the confusing world of modern dating only few can relate to. An honest, hilarious show I’ve now told thousands of people can really change humanity & culture.

Most importantly, I learned more about my peculiarities, my “type” (she’s not a figment of my imagination), and my own self-professed power existing deep within all of us that the best therapist in Manhattan would have taken months to discover…

More than all of that, I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this wild journey and to work with such an incredible team from my creative partner & host, Brandon, to our sensational production coordinators and most importantly, the best live audiences in New York City.

As for what’s next? Well, the single life continues on & I’ll just have to keep my Bookmarked folder “WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN” with all of the amenities of my future west village apartment with the charcoal ritual candle, new west elm furniture, and our Blue Apron referral codes!

In other words, the unknown of the infinite abyss of modern dating awaited me. And I am more than okay with that.

To join the movement, see you at UpDating in 2020. Tickets & casting information can be found on our site here.

The Most Traumatic Two-Date, One Week Adventure of My Life

Energy. I’ve been using this word a ton lately when it comes to dating. It’s the abstract fourth category of matching with someone that arguably means more than all of the others combined (if we’re using personality, looks, and timing as the other three).

via (cecile_hoodie)

The tricky piece with energy — is that when it translates to text, it’s very difficult to track or keep that going. That’s also why dating apps and I have never been a great fit, no matter how many “Super-Likes” I threw in (I eventually realized my “NJ -> MI -> SF -> NYC” dating app bio reads more like a college admissions tour than a display of my many worldly travels). You can’t swipe based on energy, and that’s always been the issue for me.

…and of course, getting off dating apps & attempting to only date in the real world has led to an average of 1.5 dates every three months, which is ironic considering I run a fairly popular dating show here in New York City. So yes, I battle every day — just like all of us — with whether I should DM the 🤓, (the most subtle “I’m into you” passively to my ex-college crush posting wedding pics or whether I should just “watch her story).” And also just like the rest of you, I still cannot figure out how the second I’m into someone…it ends. Before. I. Can. Even. Fill. In. My. Jewish. Mother.

After a brief fling with a nice gal from Kansas, I’ve been laying lowThat is, until I met the plumber.

THE ENERGY, THE EDGE, and THE VIBES. CAN’T YOU SENSE HOW PUMPED I WAS ABOUT HER?! While thinking to myself, “Carrie Bradshaw would be proud of me.” We exchanged IG’s and a nice kiss on the cheek, I complimented her set (…a story for another day, men don’t compliment women enough), and ended the conversation strong: “I’d love to go out with you sometime.” Direct. Bold. Confident. Tequila-enhanced. The perfect way to end our first encounter.

What followed was the most topsy-turvy, up-at-dawn, morning walks with Marvin Gaye-blaring romantic week of my New York City life.

As I boarded my flight to California, I noticed two highly specific notifications: a 4am IG follow from the plumber (after 1 AM, you know it’s a great sign) and a text. “Hi…I have a friend for the show.

My six-hour flight originally planned to consist of rest, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, and two overpriced roasted turkey sandwiches… turned into my greatest texting feat to date.

Time stood still. The plane hovered over the clouds as we sent hundreds of texts to each other over the course of the flight. This was the type of thread I love, the type where it’s cool to send 3–4 texts in a row, even if your entire screen looks blue. We discovered our moms had the same first name, “Lisa.” My most beloved HBO shows, Sex & The City, Entourage, and Curb, were her favorites, too. We expressed interest in breaking Jewish tradition for a tattoo. We even discussed our shared disdain for the so-called “mind games of texting” today.

This was not just a texting conversation; it was a Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone flick on steroids. It was just so raw, so real, as if she was sitting in the empty seat next to me on the flight. So real, in fact, she hit me with the:

“Why do I feel like I like you. I don’t even know you.”

Mic drop. I feel the same! Should I text her that? Okay, I’m about to.

“Same here :)”

I decided there was way too much synergy here to wait an extra day for our date on Tuesday. My flight was landing at 10pm tonight. I didn’t want to wait-after all, this fling was throwing out the rules.

“Look ‘rules will tell me to wait until Tuesday’ but F*** the rules. Can I see you tonight?

“What time do you land?”



“Um, yes.”

I dropped my bags off, debated the “should I shower?” question for thirty minutes with my roommate (opted in for the Biore Facewash #sponsored) and then scooped right over to the empty bar venue.

When we decided to sit next to each other instead of across from each other on the suede tan seat, I knew the texting vibe would translate to the in-person vibe.

The date immediately had it — we drank tequila, I played with her pink necklace, we talked about going to yoga together, and then the first make-out happened. From all of the texting over the past few days, it already had that 4th date “Can we bring our friends out with each other?” vibe. Most importantly, I could see myself inviting her to yoga. And even more important than that, she had the edge I longed for.

After the date, the shenanigans continued at my place with a chill sesh of mostly talking until 4am. Miraculously, I still made it to my 8am meeting on time.

The texting energy was everything you could ask for after a successful first date. She shared the great impression I made on her with her friends. We set up date #2 for the same night. The three-day bender with no sleep could not stop me from wanting to see her again — this time, with the finest Balsamic flat breads & wine this side of Murray Hill.

Again, we sat at the bar, schmoozed, vibed, and (gasp) held hands. Date #2 (n my eyes) was a massive success despite mutually opting out of the late-night shenanigans so we could both get some sleep. Before the Uber departure (in what later may have been the ultimate red flag), I threw in my dose of PDA. “I’ll have to warm up to the PDA,” she said. Then…she left.

From here, my whole world turned upside down. Wednesday saw a few scattered texts (mostly me throwing in inside jokes to spark the convo). Again, she and I decided on Day #1 we weren’t going to play by the rules of the game, so I assumed texting first would be okay. A few haphazard responses with ZERO emojis from her side told me something was up.

Thursday saw not a single text exchanged. Thursday also saw three panic attacks, 10 separate moments clicking into our texting thread, and at least two occasions of typing out a “hi!” only to backspace moments later.

Friday…I decided to text her first again. I just had to. After all, how could anything be astray?

I fired off a semi-aggressive, but flirtatious text: “my mom is so happy I went out with a Jewish girl…” Not my greatest text in the world, and ironic considering I’m not really in the “she-has-to-be-Jewish” camp for dating. Regardless, I sent it. her response was scattered and confusing with a few “haha’s” was “she got her wish.”

The vibe was off. Our vibe was off. The nonstop flirty texting. The “I like you,” the “baby, baby,” the “what would we do in bed together now?” from her felt like texts from centuries ago — yet they were entering my inbox less than 48 hours ago.

The short exchange ended with her wishing me good luck on the show; my “Hola Hola” after the show, received a passive (albeit disappointing) response “Sup.” It was clear we were not linking up tonight, and seeing her again would be unlikely.

…and so here we are. Dissociation. Confusion. Sadness. A lot of sadness.

Why is it that the second I really pursued her, she pulled away? Why is it that the “mind games BS” we excitedly decided to not follow the second my flight landed turned into the “mind games BS?”

Over the weekend, the monologue in my head over the weekend on how to react complicated everything even more.

I want to call her — should I? I just don’t really understand how this is happening. Our physical, emotional, and intellectual connection was so there. We talked about hanging out consistently. We plotted a Salsa night at the Playboy Club. Even Yoga! UGH! Classic New York. Wait for a cool girl. Vibe with said cool girl. Then she’s gone. JUST. LIKE. THAT.

The saga did not end there, unfortunately. I was hit with multiple passive Snapchats — yes, I actually re-downloaded Snapchat after a two-year hiatus to multi-platform our communication. And yes, I did reply to most of her snaps with the glasses emoji I discussed above (no, they were not answered back).

I decided, at 11pm, I must move on. That lasted until about 5am, when I texted her showing I had not in fact moved on yet.

After almost 10 panic attacks over leaving the city for Rosh Hashana dinner, I finally did it. No, I didn’t text her. I decided I wanted to text her, at least one more time, like a “hail mary” in football: it’s unlikely you’ll win the game, but the game hasn’t officially ended, so you take the leap in hopes that something will change.

“See you this week? Or Rosh Hashanah goals won’t align with that?”

Funny. Direct. On-brand.

“Haha Yas we can hang”

Weds?!” (Yes, I figured it would be slightly cooler not to type out the full Wednesday.)

“I might have plans can I text you tomorrow?”



The next day: Nothing.

Ballgame. Sadly.

Closure is a tricky chain of events in dating today. Rather than receive a full text from her on the multiple reasons for the pull away, I’m now left wondering “what if.” What if I opted for the pepperoni flatbread instead of the Balsamic? What if I never sent the text about the Jewish mother? What if I really was “a lot of person” and she realized I’m just too extra to handle at this early juncture? What if Salsa dancing at the Playboy club happened on date #1 instead of the nonexistent date #4?

The optimist in me is saying she pulled away when she realized she actually might end up liking me (after all, this was a direct quote in our honeymoon texting phase anyway). The pessimist in me, well, is continuing to say “man, your overthinking and neuroticism caused this. Too much too soon. Did Cali teach you anything about chilling?”

Well, forward we march. Contemplate we shall. And yes, continue to look out into the Empire State Building drinking overpriced Trader Joe’s Cabernet, longingly curious on the whereabouts of the amazing future bae I have yet to meet.


These UpDates from UpDating will happen more regularly chronicling the trials & tribulations of dating, life, and everything in between right here in New York. Yes, Date/Able podcast did call me the male Carrie Bradshaw once. And yes, oh yes, will I get back out there tomorrow and finally ask for digits from the cute Starbucks barista always giving me a venti Chai when I ask for grande. And most importantly, yes, don’t wait too long to buy your ticket to UpDating. It’s more fun than my dating life, trust me.

Consumer Trends I’m Noticing

Read below the massive vertical photo for my thoughts on how the digital & physical media worlds are colliding and other trends you should know.


Brand & publishers are starting to take the Anthony Bourdain approach with local marketing. Cities are rising in popularity. One of the most common questions we hear when we travel: “How do you like living in <X>?” I’m fairly certain a way to scale your company is by focusing on locale-by-local execution (see The League, Thrillist, Color Factory, etc).


There is too much content out there. Do I have data to back it up? Not really, but I do know we are becoming jaded by the abundance of content or shows launching on digital platforms. With this in mind, the rise of premium experiences has only begun (Music Festivals, live dating shows).


Alright just hear me out for a second. Emojis are a universal communication language everyone in the brand/marketing/tech world needs to take seriously. Marketing campaigns with emoji subject lines perform well, Emoji movies are on the rise, and even Emoji domain purchases are supposed to be the next big thing. Stay tuned for more here, or should I say 👀.


With too much clutter available for everyone at all times, exclusive content or limited release product “drops” are all that remain (and something extending beyond fashion into burgers & tacos). When you can have everything, what we really want is what we can’t have during a time when we can’t get it. Brands taking advantage of this in a smart, structured way will generate buzz. It’s only a matter of time.

Owned/Operated Networks

Glossier is moving off social to launch their own network and other brands are following suit. A social media presence is still important, but forward-thinking brands are recognizing the power & rise of niche social networks that they can control.

Self-Validation, not Self-Help

I’ve said this for awhile now, but I believe the self-help era does not appeal to Millennials. What an expert once was is simply a talking head to our generation. The voices that really resonate with consumers are the ones similar to their own, telling relatable stories. I call this self-validation.

Thoughts? Think I have no idea what I’m talking about? I did predict the rise of the V-Neck in High School, so let’s have at it in the comments below.

UpDating is The Future of Broadway and Dating

Introducing UpDating: the live first date experience involving an interactive audience.

Almost here…

****Originally published in so figured I’d share the goods****

Forget everything The Thirty Something Man has taught you about dating. Forget everything he has taught you about Broadway shows. Coincidentally, he’s taught you nothing on both subjects. UpDating is going to change the way people like me go out on first dates.

The creators of Brunch Media bring you their next venture: UpDating. Updating is a first date in front of a live audience. Through the lens of society’s current rewriting of what it actually means to go on a first date, two single New Yorkers are opening up their first date for YOU, the audience, to join the action, ask questions, and interact every step of the way.

To really dive in to what this experience is all about, The Thirty Something Man sat down with Harrison Forman, the brain behind the operation. Here’s what he had to say.

So, how in the hell did you come up with the idea of UpDating?

The idea of dating is just fascinating and interesting to me as well as a lot of friends and New Yorkers in general. Some time ago I decided to Facebook live a lot of what went through a first date- preparation, commuting to the venue, and even a sort of “halftime report” midway through the date when I excused myself.

When I did it for the first time on Facebook live, it was relatable. People consumed it and it caught on. I think it’s because it was different. That’s the thing about sharing content. Even if it’s fire content today, unless you’re a celebrity, it’s not going to be shared to a wide audience. We (my partner & former NBC Page & standup comedian, Brandon Berman) thought, “what could we do different?” And so sharing live experiences of first dates caught on.

What can we expect from the first show?

Constant audience interaction. Before the date begins we’ll have drinks, encourage the audience to share crazy dating stories or even let us know if you are on a first date.

Then the date begins and we’ll see how it goes. The audience will throw in a topic on what to talk about. We have two interesting people that haven’t met before. It’s gonna be interesting.

That’s the thing about dating in New York. There’s no rhyme or reason. We wanna capture the aurora all of that. Maybe they hit it off or maybe they hate each other off the bat. Those are the nuances of dating in general. One might be interested, the other might not be.

About halfway through we’ll stop and have a halftime report. Basically the guy will go off stage and our amazing emcee will ask how she is feeling about it. The audience will offer feedback and advice. After she gives her thoughts, we’ll then do the same for him. It’ll be fun because the audience will have a better understanding of how they feel before the other does.

At the end the audience will vote on whether they should go on a second date. Then we’re gonna wrap it up.

What happens if the audience votes no but the couple want to go on a second date?

It’s tough to stop true love.

What would a first successful show look like?

Great question. [Editor’s note: humble brag by The Thirty Something Man for that question.] I think it’s one that has every emotion involved. It’s hilarious. It can be emotional. The participants are talking about everything from their last first date. Maybe it went well for her and he didn’t have a condom. We went it to be really unfiltered.

But then a great show will have real emotion and they’re talking about dating in New York in general. But we also want the audience to take something as well, almost like a dating lesson. It’s so valuable that when people are leaving, they text their friends and say “I know what I’ve been doing wrong on these first dates.”

It’s successful if it’s authentic, absurd, informative. If we do that then I think we’re on to something.

What’s next for UpDating?

We want to create an experience that’s never been done before. These aren’t actors, these are real life people. Everything is real.

We’re gonna build an exclusive audience for this. We want to create a network and the only way you find out is if your friends have gone. People that go to this first show are members of a community. And that’s why we’re doing this- to change the perception.

We want to do this show once a week. This could go beyond dating too. We could have one in every neighborhood and get liquor brands, clothing brands, all that involved. It’s very exciting.

Are you going to bring a date?

Well I have to do a quick introduction and I want to make sure all the guests are having a good time. My date would probably be upset if I ignored her all night, so I’ll spare her.

Should I [bring a date]?

You should. In fact Sam, I’d be upset if you didn’t.

Speaking of me, I understand that I’m the first alternate for the male lead in this live event should something happen. That being said, am I first in line for the next show as the man?

I’ve only known you for about a month and I can think of no one more suited for the role.

If somebody wants to be one of the two leads, how can they go about signing up?

If you wanna go on the date, go on our website, drop your email and we’ll email out these opportunities. Or find me on Instagram (@htforman) and slip in my DMs.

But we do have a casting call for this. We went through about 50–100 people for this first show. It comes down to the people and the personalities. It takes a certain type of person to do this.

Final question: Who wins in a fight a bear or a gator?


Despite his atrocious gator prediction, Harrison has created something that is truly unique. The first show of UpDating will take place on Thursday, September 13th at 8pm at Zona Tribeca‘s private stage. The Thirty Something Man will be in attendance and will give his own feedback during and after the show.

There are still a few tickets left. If you’d like to attend, you can sign up and buy tickets through this link.

There are more distractions to find new friends in NYC then there are in San Francisco.

There are more distractions to find new friends in NYC then there are in San Francisco.

High school friends, college friends, camp friends, insert other jewish youth group from childhood friends et al. Notwithstanding family, there are quite a few cliques already in existence a northeastern heeb like myself can pick when moving to New York City. Yes, there is shared history with all of these folks — an Israel trip, a ScoreKeeper’s bar and grill run, etc.

This is fine and don’t get me wrong, I love (and need) a support system BUT (and it’s a first world problem “but”) I thrive off of everything new. I am in my groove when things are new — new people, experiences, even a new type of burger. “New” takes me outside my comfort zone — the natural habitat for all things growth.

So while moving to NYC, a city I’ve never lived before is inherently new, is inherently “new” — many of the people are not. A chicken and a (bagel) egg & cheese all in one confusing new social puzzle. The puzzle can be cracked — but it will take some work, outside the box thinking, and the most difficult, strategic “nah I’m cool” when invited for the Friday night pregame in Murray Hill.

I’m starting to realize the key social elements with your “Crew” in a city are not the predetermined overpriced Taqueria happy hour on a Tuesday not the Saturday pregame into an output show. It’s the gym runs before work, the 3–4pm “No-man’s land” in between brunch and the night out.

It’s time to find the “new” and to be patient in the process.

Otherwise, well…there is no other choice.

Early NYC Observations

Breaking down early observations of New York City


I have had “write a blog post” on my to-do list for three months and guess what happened? Well, I never wrote a blog post. You know why? I thought (and my ego accentuated) that my early writing success made it mandatory for every post I write to be this big shabang, an enchilada of a home-run creation. Problem: this never-ending search for perfection, completed tasks, and ruling the blogging game led to absolutely nothing getting done…

Which brings me to the new mindset with writing: write when I have something to say, at that moment I want to say it and don’t think twice before doing so. “Write a blog post” inherently should never be on a to-do list. It should be natural, consistent, and provide the creative venting missing from my life over the past few months (moving to NYC from SF has been trying, but by no means, a worth excuse of not doing anything).

Topics will continue to be dating, neuroticism-centric, but will probably include odes to the latest art gallery showing I hit up in Chelsea (shout out to the See Saw app for helping me find out where to go), the Brooklyn Bagel I try on this particular Sunday (next up is the Pumperknickel everything), and just how much better the West side of NYC is to the East.

Though I personally am in a relationship (the dope AF LDR mentioned here), I’ll continue to explore the culture around dating in NYC, my new home. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the first to know the details about the upcoming comedy show I’m producing with an emerging comedian about the first-date experience (hint: venue in Tribeca is locked in).

Let’s rock & roll with these quick observations about the BIG APPLE:

Relationships escalate faster here.

Summers are for engagements and leaving NYC.

Everyone single is still on a dating app.

Dating in each borough is extremely different.

New York and San Francisco might as well be in separate countries — the cultures are that different.

People work much harder here than the Bay.

NYC restaurants are for couples. They look so cool, yet so-well-made-for-IG.

Instagram is life to these people. (my off-on self-enforced IG ban is going swimmingly in case you were wondering…okay, can you still follow me @htforman)

My single friends are 10 years away from marriage and my non-single friends are any day now getting wedding dates. The gap is real.

Edge may be harder to come by in NYC, but the ones who have it, are the edgiest.