Are You Single Because of Where You Live?

Are You Single Because of Where You Live?

After eight years in D.C., author Amanda Hess decided to move to Los Angeles in hopes of finding a better dating scene. She was under the impression that Los Angeles is one of America’s “Best Cities for Singles.”

“But between dark basement beers during my last month in Washington,” she writes, “my friends presented me a phantasmagoria of single life in L.A.: It looked like skeletal Asian models pair-bonding with balding producers over low-calorie cocktails.”

Guess what? Dating is hard in every city.

Regarding New York:

One New Yorker told me that “subway distances can make things grueling,” meaning that budding romances easily die on a stalled L train. (How much subway time are you willing to invest in one date?)

And Los Angeles:

If New York is too big, Los Angeles is too wide. Not everyone is inclined to navigate three freeways for the chance to get laid, stone sober. And Los Angeles lacks an urban center where young, single people congregate–they live everywhere.

And D.C.:

In New York or Los Angeles, the high proportion of singles can feel overwhelming. In D.C., it’s intimate — these people bump into each other on the metro, caffeinate at the same cafes, and unwind at the same bars, week in and week out.

Turns out, Los Angeles is not for lovers. No more than any other place, that is.

I receive thousands of emails a year from women all over the world, and they all seem to agree on one thing: dating is hard. It’s hard in NY. It’s hard in DC. And LA. And London. In Chicago, Charlotte, Des Moines, Boise, and Seattle. It’s hard everywhere.

Read the article here. Are you blaming your town for your dating troubles?

Join our conversation (74 Comments).
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  1. 1

    I live in DC and I agree with this line from the article “One friend in D.C. told me that the scene can be so claustrophobic that dating online means weeding through a selection of coworkers, friends, and friends’ exes.”   The network in DC is so small it can feel incestuous at times. I always joke when you break up with someone in DC, it better me amicable, b/c you will see your ex again.

  2. 2

    @ Dizzyluv,

    That is very, very true.   I have been through that, as another DC-area resident.   As a matter of fact, I have run into a number of guys I had a first date with, went out for awhile, etc. on a few occasions.   A few times, it was just brief, seeing them in the same bar, or in one case, an ex boyfriend who was in the end, a mama’s boy and coward, nearly ran me down in the grocery store with his cart.   Turns out we only live a couple of miles from each other.

    And then you see them on Match or whatever site and it’s like, oh it’s you again.   Jeez.

    This area is a very small world indeed!  

  3. 3

    Your dating life does, to a point, depend on where you live. I’ve been able to make do with what I’ve got pretty well, but I heard horror stories from some of the men I met online. Apparently, small college towns in the middle of nowhere are the worst. The dating pool is tiny, gossip spreads fast, and the nearest location with decent available candidates is 90 miles away, unless you want to try your luck at the nearby farms. Most of these guys cannot move, because they have tenure and/or exes with tenure (that they share custody of their children with) in this town. I once had a guy drive six hours one way for a date with me — apparently he does this on a regular basis.
    I’ve heard scary things about LA as well, but it being a big city, I’d imagine there has to be a layer of geeks, which is where I would look if I were dating in that city.  
    @ Dizzyluv25: it’s not just DC…

    1. 3.1

      I agree with this 100%. While I haven’t been dating for longer than i’d like, I’ve seen that in interacting with many people in smaller areas and towns. Where the economy is low and crime is high and people will be more on the defensive more often. Even people who are making broken middle class wages will have extremely high expectations for love and what they see in a mate and tend to stay stuck in their ways for long periods of time.

      I’ve joked about this with some friends of mine, but you could be brad pitt and hit on a girl in certain   areas in the US and those girls will still go after the washed up ex jock with no prospects who knows how to act tough. Basically it amounts to the fact that they like seeing someone who is in charge and can boss around the boys. Any guy that acts different in any way is usually painted into a corner for whatever habits they keep because people generally don’t understand them.

      I’ve heard gossip reach levels of total hysteria about people  with even the most minor social ticks or behaviors  ( he never goes out, he must be closeted. Or his clothes are too nice. Or you know he sucks dick right? etc ). Contrast that with any larger metropolitan area where there are literally seas of people. Everyone looks different and unless you give off an obvious vibe, people don’t really care what you look like or that you’re a book worm or a music enthusiast with a million tattoos, if you’re interesting they will at least give you the time of day.

  4. 4

    @ Goldie,

    Yes, you are right that your dating life can depend somewhat, on your area.   I do see EMK’s point, and it’s valid, but at the same time, like I’ve said in earlier posts, I’ve come to realize that where I live (DC area) is full of very alpha-male types (hello, Capitol Hill’s in my backyard practically), very used to having what they want, when they want it.   And that’s fine if other women want to date that type.   For me, that type doesn’t work.   Been there, tried that, married to that.   No. Way.   Also, this is a transient area, a lot of people coming here for temporary assignments, training, etc.   And that was not an option for me either, I didn’t really want a long distance relationship, and oftentimes folks coming on temporary assignments, were already married/attached and looking for some “tail on the side” so to speak.

    I’ve had to learn a few things.   One is that I have to keep in mind where I’m living has alot of types that I don’t mesh with in relationships, very well, and so my pool will be very different and more narrow.   Secondly, as my very wise Mom once advised me, “If you’re fishing in one pond and just bringing up fish you have to throw back, you might want to look at fishing in another pond.”   Point being, yes, this area is tough for dating.   But that doesn’t let me off the hook to find a solution to my issue.   I knew I had several.   One was to take a break for awhile, since I was getting frustrated and annoyed.   Another was to try my luck in another city and since I was toying with relocating to Philly before my Mom was diagnosed with advanced cancer, it made sense to start looking.

    At this point it’s a moot issue now that I have someone, but I can relate to my female and male friends and colleagues who bemoan the difficulties of DC dating.

  5. 5

    I agree with Evan – dating ANYWHERE can be tough, although often for different reasons.   I dated non-stop when living in one city but few of those guys seemed to want permanent relationships and those who did were super-type-A jerks.   In another city, no one gave me a second glance.   Where I’m living now: most people married in their mid-20s and folks don’t like to strike up conversations with strangers and seem uncomfortable straying from their insular little social groups.  
    I remember in my late 20s, there seemed to be an ongoing conversation with all my girlfriends in various cities & towns across the continent that consisted of nothing more than, “Is it any better where you live?”   We all agreed that dating was terribly difficult, no matter where we lived.   And yet, most of those girlfriends are married today, about 15 years later, so clearly most were able to connect with at least one decent, interested, interesting man.     What this taught me is that you don’t need a pool of great candidates; you simply need one.

  6. 6

    Goldie, I married a professor… who drove four hours one way for a date, and we proceeded to drive back and forth until I moved to be with him. I moved, of course, because he has tenure. We don’t even live in the middle of nowhere, but his school is in a rust belt town where educated and creative types generally leave.
    The bright side of all this, however, was that I found someone eager and willing to put more effort into dating versus those in my larger town (where I lied before) who would only date someone within a 30-minute drive or the same county or come up with some other reason to rule people out. In a way, the lack of options available to him made him treasure the good options more — he didn’t have the attitude of always looking for someone better.
    I highly recommend dating professors!

  7. 7

    I think dating is way better in my new Midwestern medium sized city than it was for me on the east coast. People in general are friendlier here, so making more friends means more dates. We’re not such a huge fast paced city like NYC that people think they have a gazillion options. The one challenge I find with Midwestern guys is sometimes they seem so nice and gentlemanly that I confuse that for actual interest. Guys really are similar in most places, but in a friendlier city you can expand your social circle and meet better guys that way. And while i know undesirable people who found love in dc and NYC easily – still, I’d hate to have to try there, because I do think there’s a difference in uber competitive cities.  

    1. 7.1


      What city are you in?

    2. 7.2
      Konnect Life

      You are 100% correct that DC, New York, etc. a majority of the northeast is an extremely difficult and horrible place to date, and the people here are typically not friendly. Not to mention, you’re a woman saying it’s difficult, so imagine how bad it is for a guy! I made the mistake of moving here and I’m suffering the consequences of it.

      If, as a male, you’re not nearly perfect or a jerk or a bad boy, or if you’re a straight forward, respectful, average male looking for an honest, committed relationship, then stay away from DC, New York, or the northeast in general. Even if you do manage to find a woman as a nice guy in this area, you better not screw up or make any dating / social mistakes at all with the unusually high amount of other options out there because you will quickly be dismissed for the next or cheated on. A lot of times, people simply just don’t commit because there are so many options that people have more fun playing the field and looking forward to the next best thing.

      I haven’t been cheated on yet, obviously, being that I haven’t been able to date or get into relationships easily since I’ve moved out here, but I did have a woman cheat on her boyfriend with me for a while.

      It’s interesting to see someone in the midwest talk about how nice, gentlemanly guys are respected, appreciated and (possibly) wanted in the midwest, although, I’m very skeptical to believe / fall for it since pretty much all women say they want this, but never go for that type of guy (nowadays I need to see proof before believing what people say).

      Anyway, I’m moving out of this city. I miss dating and meeting friendlier people and being able to not have to do and say the perfect things the right way all the time and still get dates. The level of perfection I must live up to in this town just to be up to par with the incredibly large amount of average and slightly above average guys out here to choose from is too high for me. I’m going back to where people are friendlier and I can be accepted for who I am and actually get more dates.

  8. 8

    I agree. Dating everywhere is a nightmare. However, I would say I found it even worse in Switzerland than the UK because being in a country where most people have a different mother tongue and culture and does in my view make it more difficult than in your home country. Beyond that, I would say each UK city is as bad as the next one and I assume it is the same on the other side of the pond.

  9. 9


    “And yet, most of those girlfriends are married today, about 15 years later, so clearly most were able to connect with at least one decent, interested, interesting man.     What this taught me is that you don’t need a pool of great candidates; you simply need one.”

    Great point Henriette.  It sounds too simplistic but with so many choices we have, it’s the best reminder.  

    And I wouldn’t say that dating is difficult everywhere.

    It takes a lot of discipline for sure. But difficult?

    Compare that to the kids who get straight As in school.

    They didn’t think school was difficult.    

    They have average IQs.

    They did their homework.

    They studied hard.

    They worked together.

    And they got their As.

    Was it a lot of work and studying?

    Sure…but difficult?

    Probably not.

    Now, do you have to know how to date  so you don’t make it too hard on yourself?
    Do you have to know the difference between “settling down” and “settling?”
    For sure.  

  10. 10


    Some professors are cheaters! So….I think it depends on the professor? I’m a college student and get hit on by a lot of professors. I mean…most of my male professors have made a move on me and most are married and well over 35 years old.

    I say, date guys with integrity! =)  

  11. 11

    That is very true…

    My advice would be to not seek the ‘ideal location’ to find a suitable partner, but to play your cards wisely and decide what type of a partner can actually best fit your needs.

    Once you have a reasonable profile of your ideal mate you could start your search, and  possibly  find that ideal guy or gal, in whatever city or country you may live.

  12. 12

    I think perhaps whether dating seems easy or difficult in a certain location depends on how in tune you yourself are with the prevailing attitudes and lifestyle in the place you’re living. I would have thought in that respect that most big cities would be advantageous, as there are generally several different “subcultures ” going on, wheras in a small towm, life tends to be more homogenious and so if its not your thing, there aren’t many options. Maybe if we feel that we are not meeting the kind of men we want in our city, that’s a sign that WE are actually living in the wrong place??! You know, in the past people used to generally marry someone from the same VILLAGE – might seem like not a lot of choice but if you liked your village and the way of life there, chances are the guys around would be pretty well suited to you….

  13. 13

    I mean, having a good attitude is important, but demographics really do matter.    I’m a minority and the willingness of people to date people from my group definitely varies a lot depending on where you are.   So I can be as nice as possible, but I don’t see many men picking ladies who are my color where I currently live, and a lot of people say “absolutely not” in their racial preferences(added to the fact that you do see the same people on all of the sites, which does at least let you know who not to bother contacting).   So that isn’t an imagined state and mindset doesn’t change it.  

    And in a place where there are more people from your group, I think things are better b/c even people who aren’t your race are more “used” to seeing you and realizing that you are a normal human.   So the choices are leave or find someone who is willing to at least start something from a very long distance.


  14. 14


    “added to the fact that you do see the same people on all of the sites, which does at least let you know who not to bother contacting”  

    Just curious,…why not?  

  15. 15

    Unless you live in a hick country town with a population of 50 , I don’t think location is the issue. People need to look   long and hard at themselves and consider whether they are marketing themselves effectively. Ladies , it is all about how you look, at first. Make sure your dress in a sexy but not slutty manner, wear makeup, paint our nails etc. People say be yourself, no think about what the majority of guys want you to be .

    1. 15.1

      That also depends on where you live and peoples preferences.   When I lived in Illinois I got attention from women.   Then I moved back to small small rural town in va.   I can barely find anyone walking the sidewalks.   Maybe an old lady, sometimes girls but that’s rare.   Chicago is more racially diverse, which works for me being a black male.   Here it’s like trying to catch fish with the wrong bait.   My clothing is more dressy casual or conservative.   I’m not what the country girl type is mainly looking for.   I go out of town, women approach me, go figure. Lol Thank God I’m leaving soon. With that said, some people do need to work on themselves to be more attractive.

  16. 16

    If I see your profile on one site and you say “no blacks” then I’m not going to try to contact you on another site.   You don’t like black people for dating and it’s just that not all sites give you the option of making that public.   How is that complicated?   

    @Catherine, your point doesn’t refute mine since mine has to do with people rejecting people of my race, and that also includes men who are the same race as me.   So that is a real thing that people have a way of overlooking when it doesn’t pertain to them.   So unless I market myself in “whiteface” and a blonde wig, that much isn’t changing.   I don’t really care that they do, but the rate at which they do does vary from region to region.

  17. 17

    @14… Nicole can answer to clarify, but as a minority, I think I know what she means. If you see a guy on one site and he’s made it clear that he’s not open to women of my racial background, then you see the same guy on another site, you already know his stated preference so you don’t bother to contact him. It gets frustrating when the same guys are on every site in general, but particularly when you know that they already excluded you from the beginning.
    @10   Yeah, some men in every profession are cheaters. Don’t see what your experience has to do my statement about a single, unmarried professor in a small town potentially being willing to make more of an effort to date.

  18. 18

    Nicole, I kind of get what you are saying. I am half white and half South Asian and most people think I look Filipino or Spanish – luckily, I am thin and have cacausian features and hair, but just happen to be brown, so I have had an easy time at least physically appealing to men of all races. I think non-white women are at a slight disadvantage in online dating – which favors white people, sorry – but in real life in a major metro it’s not a big issue. Based on my experience, I feel that nearly 100 percent of the (white) men I’m interested in at least, at a minimum, find me physically attractive when they meet me.  And I’ve experienced this not only on the more diverse East Coast, but in the Midwest, and even with white guys who grew up in the middle of nowhere in, say, Idaho or Montana. I try to be understanding when someone on match says they only want white women, or some race that I”m not, because I think I’m an exception to what they expect, being Christian, totally Americanized, and having really white facial features.

    Another thing to consider: luckily, men are NOT as racist as women. Yeah, some guys want only a white girl – or they THINK they do – but if they meet an attractive non-white compatible girl, they’re cool with it. One of my best guy friends is as white as a ghost and usually only dates white girls,   but recently decided to get in a relationship with a dark black girl because she was cool. (They met at a bar.)

    That said, you will have more success depending on where you live. My sister was pursued by gorgeous white guys when she lived in South Africa, and in Atlanta, which is really white, she gets NOTHING. I was pursued by gorgeous men way more when I lived in Asia, and know I’d get way more attention in Europe or elsewhere in abroad, but it is what it is.

    Finally, being biracial, I’ve found non-white men WAY more racist toward me and wanting someone of their own “culture” than white guys, so I stick to white guys. If you want a white guy into non-white girls, go to California … I don’t think it’s a coincidence that out here in a Midwestern city, one of the few very attractive (Jewish) men who expressed an interest in me over a few dates grew up in the Bay rea.

    1. 18.1

        [email protected] Mia…  luckily, I am thin and have cacausian features and hair, but just happen to be brown, so I have had an easy time at least physically appealing to men of all races
      luckily? whats wrong with having non Caucasian features in your opinion, just curious

      1. 18.1.1

        @Tia, I agree with your question.


        @Mia, I’m a little taken aback by the fact that you assume that EVERY woman wants a white male as a partner. I’m a minority and I personally would date a guy of any race other than Caucasian.

  19. 19

    Yes, I have no doubt that dating is hard everywhere.   However, all cities have their own personalities, and if you are outside of that personality, your dating pool is much smaller than someone else who fits the town’s profile.
    I currently live in an isolated, one-horse town town in the Southwest of approximately 25K people.   This quirky town is chock-a-block full of super-smart Phd scientists, more than half of which are married.   Not to knock Phd scientists, I have many good friends that fit the description.   But social skills are not high on their priority lists.   So, if you don’t quite understand the geek humor (or understand it, but don’t find it funny), you like people who look you in the eye when they are speaking to you, and you appreciate not having to make the first move all the time, you will be unhappy in the dating scene here.
    However, when I visit my family in a large metro area one state over, I go to one party, have easy conversation with a dozen people, and leave with 3 men asking to see me tomorrow.   So, yes.   I firmly believe that I am single because of where I live.   And I have had that confirmed to me time and time again.

  20. 20

    @ Catherine: “People say be yourself, no think about what the majority of guys want you to be .”
    I could not disagree with you more.   Looking good is one thing.   But “marketing yourself” as something that others want you to be but is against who you are is fraudulent and ultimately leads to disappointment and heart break.   “Be your best self” is more like it.   The guys who want what your offering will appreciate the honesty.

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