Let me guess. Getting to Los Angeles was something of a goal for you. You knew if you only got to L.A., your career would take off. In no time the world would be your oyster and your life would be a party, complete with perfect views of the city from your living room windows in a house ensconced somewhere in the Hills.
You got off that plane with a mind full of ideas and a heart full of hope only to find the reality in a post-recession L.A. is strikingly different than what you had anticipated. Your taste for gourmet, refined by years of watching the Food network and reading the seemingly endless variety of food blogs based out of L.A., woke to the harsh reality of empty cupboards the morning after your move-in date. The spreads of W and Vogue, which up until this point had propelled you to save up and move west, became insults to the quality of life in which you finally found yourself now that you'd reached your final destination.
Potential, you quickly found, doesn't pay the rent, and if you keep relying on your credit card to handle your overdrafts every time you cut a rent check for that North Hollywood dump you call home, you're going to be maxed out before the best Black Friday sales you were hoping would help revitalize your wardrobe. What's a girl to do?
I'm going to tell you something no other woman in this town has the guts to tell you. Don't tell me you've never wondered how so many of us are able to take four-hour liquid lunches with girlfriends during a weekday or how we can afford to keep our tresses perfect, our couture current and still valet everywhere.
Los Angeles is a tough city, but play your cards right and you'll never have to pay for anything ever again. There is a lot of money in this town. The only thing you have to do is find a generous gentleman - or gentlemen - to help you out.
I know it sounds terrible at first. When I first moved here from New York, I was hell-bent on doing it myself. Feminism had gotten us this far and I wasn't about to revert to some exploitative game where I depended on guys to get me where I was already going.
The problem with this world view is that it ignores that this isn't an even playing field - especially in L.A. It doesn't matter what your talents are - hundreds of people are pouring in to Los Angeles every day to do the same thing for less, and even for free, just to get a mention or say they did it.
Don't underestimate this town's obsession with youth. Young means more beautiful, more affordable, and more adept at this Internet and technology stuff everyone has suddenly become so crazy about. Do you want to spend your youth busting your ass to get noticed doing small parts and small jobs, hardly able to enjoy yourself because you're so worried about how you're going to pay your bills? Wouldn't you rather relax, unwind and let someone open the door of opportunity for you?
These guys don't just have money, they have the contacts - and in this town, it is all about who you know.
You're not using them - at least not more than they're using you. What, do you really think that the guy who bought you a drink last night thought you had a striking personality and great character? Sweetie, nothing registered there above your cleavage. Guys in Los Angeles know that there are girls pouring into this city every day. Their options are limitless. They're in no hurry to find someone to settle down with.
If you're surprised about not getting a call from him the next day, don't be. The revolving door doesn't foster accountability. Men don't have to call back and they know it. And if they do, don't expect it to be at a decent hour with plans for a romantic candlelit dinner.
You're not going to find love here - at least not for long, not with the stream of women who are younger, thinner and less jaded constantly strutting in -- so why not get something out of it, too?
Besides, it's not like they don't know about it. Just today I saw this comment on Facebook from a guy who's friends with one of my girlfriends:
So, I live in Beverly Hills, here in Cali. Tons of billboards everywhere about new TV shows. Let me review one for y'all, based on the billboard alone. It is called "2 Broke Girls" and features two supermodel-looking babes on the billboard. Let me tell you a thing or two maybe you already knew...girls who look like that are *NEVER BROKE*. I see these 20-something hotties in the passenger seats of convertible Porsches, my car, Lambos, and Bentleys every single day of the year. Let me assure you, there is absolutely no way girls who look like that are ever "broke". I've dated more than my share of penthouse [sic] models and hot chicks. One time I asked my babe why she never brings anything out with her but her ID. "Why would I need money?" was her response. She was correct. If I didn't buy her drinks, there were dudes lined up to do so. Fools. "Broke Girl," in my opinion, will be an exciting fictional journey into the world of supermodels who are unable to convince actual, real-life men to pay for their way of life. News flash: If you look like these girls, no money needed. No kidding.
It's true. But remember: Guys don't have to be loaded to be useful. There are guys everywhere who will help you out if you provide them with a little attention. Need a new radiator for your car? Make friends with a mechanic. Need to achieve a fitness goal? Personal trainer. Need an upgrade in bra size? Plastic surgeon.
You don't have to sleep with them if you don't want to. This isn't about that. In fact, you should be hard to get, or at least appear unattainable. Men are a lot more generous on the way in than they are on the way out - unless they're attempting to avoid scandal, of course, in which case anything goes. But go that route if you can avoid it. It's not a nice place to be.
Start to understand that your youth and beauty are diminishing assets and you're halfway there. You're making a trade-off: Your attention and interest in exchange for their generosity. Giving a little bit, but not everything, is the best way to keep them coming back.
More than sex, men love to feel like men. Assisting a damsel in distress is what they do best. Don't hustle them - shower them in attention, ask them to help you with whatever you need (money for a new car, a down payment on a house, a day at the spa to let out some tension, a new pair of shoes for your first red carpet event) and reward them as you see fit.
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It costs a lot of money to maintain ourselves. We need styling, regular manicures and pedicures, intimate waxing, tanning, pilates and yoga, teeth whitening, Botox and other injectibles - it's not easy staying in top shape. We look good for them, so why not ask them to help us out?
You'll get turned down here and there, but don't let it affect your confidence. These rejections will show you just how little some guys really care about the girls they take home with them (aren't you glad you didn't fall for him?) and act as constant reminders that in this town, a girl can only count on herself.
Wendy Jones lives in Los Angeles. She hasn't paid for anything since 2005. Her new blog, fully devoted to helping struggling women take charge of their lives and make the best of their assets can be found at TheTOB.com.
Follow her on Twitter @TheLittleWendy.