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London men versus New York men: who's better?
Despite their similarities, London chaps and New York guys are markedly different species. So who's best, asks (Londoner turned New Yorker) Tom Cowell
The New York male and the London male: two species of dude so similar, in many respects they seem to have been separated at birth. Both stomp triumphantly around financial and media capitals. Both feel they live at the centre of the known universe. And both spend far too much time on their hair.
But there are marked differences between these tribes, from confidence and sense of humour, to mating rituals and dress sense.
So who's best? Gotham guys or Big Smoke boys? There's only one way to find out: wholly unscientific means of anecdotes from people who have lived in both cities.
Alexander T., a British-born doctor living in Harlem, thinks that "maleness" is a much more consciously performed thing in Manhattan than in London. “Your clothes, what you order in a restaurant, your ability to deliver a sincere patter about your goals and passions – these are things that will help get you laid in New York. Sometimes the London approach of just relying on being funny and self-deprecating will fail to impress.” But only sometimes, Alexander stresses. “For every woman who judges you harshly for your lack of a five-year plan, there will be others driven so mad with trauma by douchebag New York males that a few hours of you listening and being a nice guy will make you seem like the catch of the century.”
“There’s definitely more of a sense ‘don’t ask, never get’ in the U.S., so New Yorkers are a bit more what Brits would call ‘chancers’, for lack of a better term,” says Johanna D., a dual-citizen film producer who lived in New York for three years but now resides in London. “There’s the sense that a men can ask you out at the drop of a hat in New York. I was once in a discount shoe warehouse and the guy working the till asked for my phone number. Um, thanks, but no. That wouldn’t happen in London.”
Johanna’s American academic partner Daniel H. is stunned by the speed of coupling in London. “There’s less understood by default by both parties in America, which means mating conversations and periods go on longer. There’s more shared understanding of the mating/courting ritual in London, which is basically ‘meet, drink, shag’”. Johanna adds: “A London date very quickly goes from awkward diffidence to incredibly wasted and “you’re f--king gorgeous, mate”. People are more willing to ask questions and find out what you’re like in New York, which for a Brit feels incredibly fake. A British girl’s default response to that is “why aren’t you either ignoring me, or slobbering all over my face?”
Julia B. is a fundraiser in London, who lived in New York for seven years. “London men dress better in general, and look a million miles better in suits. For some reason, New Yorkers are obsessed with boxy, ill-fitting suit jackets, Wall Street types being the worst offenders. New York men are probably more buff, and more image-conscious in general. There was once a big divide in pube-trimming [New York yes, London no], but London has closed that gap.” New Yorkers seem much more reluctant to grow up, she thinks. “New York men try and retain their youth for longer. There are more 45 year olds with skateboards in Williamsburg, Brooklyn than there are in Hackney. London men will want to settle down sooner than New Yorkers. As a woman, there’s more danger of being single in New York since men want to stay 20 in their minds forever, so women don’t want to commit either because they see all these immature dudes around. In London, men understand women’s biological clocks a little better.”
The stock New Yorker has an abrasive reputation, but graphic designer Michael L. says the two years he spent in London upended that stereotype for him. “London guys wear a grim, unpleasant face a lot of the time. People in New York were a lot more willing to be friendly. And that’s what English people will describe as fake. They think the New York niceness is not genuine.” This unpleasant edge extended over into male bonding rituals, too. “London men are a lot more willing to get sarcastic and throw mean jabs quicker than Americans will. With my close American friends, I’ll make fun of them all day long. But it takes time to get there. Brits go for the jugular right away. All that 'taking the p---' culture takes a lot of adjusting to”.
So there you have it. Are you a London man seeking fun and flings? You should definitely spend a few weeks in New York. Your superior wardrobe, mature demeanour and refreshing self-deprecation will land in fertile, man-boy traumatised soil in the City That Never Sleeps. But London women? Avoid the siren song of the New York male. No matter how grumpy your London beau is, he’s a better overall package than the flash-harry New Yorker locked in the throes of arrested development. Yes, that suave Manhattanite just romantically asked you out in the middle of the street. But, a) he asks out every woman with a pulse, and, b) he probably works at a discount shoe store.
What’s your take on the differences between New York and London men? Who would you rather be stuck in a lift, on a road trip, or hitting the bars with? Let us know in the comments.
Tom Cowell is a writer and comedian. He was raised in London and lives in New York. Follow him on Twitter @mrtomcowell