As Valuable As Your Options

a woman holding an ipad and video calling her partner

A piece in today’s Happen Magazine brings up a topic familiar to most online daters – the concept of being geographically desirable.

Writes the author, Bob Strauss: “Did we live a continent away from each other? Not at all–she hailed from the upper west side of Manhattan, while I lived on a less fashionable part of the east side, perhaps a twenty-minute ride by bus or subway. Was she telling me the truth? That’s a more difficult question. On the one hand, perhaps she genuinely thought her life was so busy that she couldn’t afford to date someone who lived more than a few blocks away. On the other hand, maybe she wasn’t really that interested or was a neighborhood snob and was looking for a way to let me down gently.

“Geographic undesirability” is merely a shorthand way of saying that you are only as valuable as your options. The world’s perfect man – tall, dark, handsome, wealthy, kind – might just be residing in a  palace three hours  outside Nome, Alaska – and if he wrote to you on, you’d still dismiss him as geographically undesirable – PRESUMING that you have some potential local options. This is the hardest thing for geographically undesirable people to fathom. They figure that if THEY’RE willing to fly cross-country to go on a date (because there’s not many Hispanics in rural Pennsylvania), then any woman in Los Angeles would be willing to do the same. But why would she? She’s surrounded by a 50% Hispanic population. She doesn’t NEED rural Pennsylvania.

You are only as valuable as your options. People without tons of options need to be more flexible. People with tons of options can afford to be choosy.

The people at the top of the dating totem pole are women in their late 20’s/early 30’s – as they are coveted by men from 25-60. An attractive woman this age, in a densely populated area, has hundreds if not THOUSANDS of men writing to her, all of whom feel they have a reasonable shot at her. What these men haven’t necessarily considered is that she has so many options that she can choose a man who fits all of her criteria. In other words, she’s got no incentive to date a wealthy older man fifty miles away when she can date a wealthy man her age who can deliver her latest gift from Tiffany’s to her doorstep in ten minutes.

And since most men get really caught up in writing to hot, young woman, I feel it’s my duty to report that the odds are long BECAUSE of the number of choices she has. Find that same sexy 27-year-old in a more remote area, you may have a better shot at getting a reply. Same thing goes for women contacting men. If you’re a woman who lives outside a major city, you can assume that any attractive, articulate, successful man has the option of dating other amazing women who don’t require him to gas up his car. And you can’t be too surprised or upset when he exercises that option.

People without tons of options need to be more flexible. People with tons of options can afford to be choosy. As long as they have the perception of choice, they’re going to choose to trade up for someone a little bit cuter, a little bit richer, a little bit closer. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it just is.

You can’t change anybody else, nor can you change what they desire. All you can do is attract a catch with better essays, better email technique, and a better approach to dating.

And if you want to do that, you know what to do.

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  1. 1

    I can absolutely agree — and as a Manhattanite, it’s not just about convenience: it’s just a fact that a New Jersey or a Long Island guy will tend to have a different vibe and different interests than a guy who lives in the East Village.

    I know what I like — and just as I prefer to date guys who are into traveling and food, I just find that I have more in common with someone who also lives in Manhattan. (preferably downtown, but I’m not *that* picky)

  2. 2

    The other point is how do you sustain a relationship, especially when neither of you can drop your lives to go nor live somewhere else or even spend significant periods of time there? I have tried the long distance thing, with people who moved away (e.g. literally to the other side of the world), and after a while, I find that everything begins to fall apart. This is magnified when you work in a job that means that you are in different countries all the time. It’s tough…

  3. 3

    I wish websites gave better distance controls, the website I use gives me a smallest radius of 25 miles. I live in center city philadelphia, which is part of a 6 million metro area, I don’t want to see people who live 45 minutes outside of the city!

  4. 4

    Yeah, I’m an attractive 32 year old woman with a witty, interesting profile and good pics – where are all these hundreds of guys I’m supposed to be attracting? LOL I think “hundreds” is an exaggeration (of course, if you’re a part-time Megan Fox impersonator, then that’s different). I’ve been online dating for over a year and I’ve never gotten that many emails.

    1. 4.1

      I already know Evan is going to tell you that you might be overestimating how attractive you really are. Just give being flexible a chance.

  5. 5

    What if… the only people who want to be with you are uneducated, drug dealing, domestic violence committing ex-felons… Then what?

  6. 6

    I need to be more flexible and accept guys who can’t read and write at a tenth grade level and are butt ugly and overweight 🙁 I want to kill myself. Seriously. I have NO OPTIONS.

    1. 6.1
      Karmic Equation

      If those are the only men contacting you or available in your area, you need to MOVE! That is an option you can exercise.

      Or you may need a professional to assess and/or rewrite your online profile.

      Try to change something and see what happens.

    2. 6.2

      I see what Evan is saying here but, just want to give encouragement to those people, like me, who are less “marketable” and have less options.   In the end, we all only want and need one person.   It ultimately doesn’t matter how big or small your group of options is, as long as there is just one person in there that you can be happy with.

      I found love at my least “marketable”.   I was always “geographically undesirable” by living in a suburban area, not a metropolitan one.   I also gradually garnered less attention online, as I moved from my early to mid 30s.   However, I finally found love at 35.   My number of options was smaller at 35, but it didn’t matter because my one “perfect for me” guy was in that small group–whereas he wasn’t in the bigger group when I was younger (was with someone else at the time).   I hope people take heart that you can find love even without a vast sea of options.

  7. 7

    Although I lived in a big city, it was notorious for having way more women than men and the below average guys could have their pick of women while my very attractive and successful single girlfriends remained single as we got a little bit older. This wasn’t an issue in my 20s but as I became gasp! Slightly older and re entered the dating scene it was more than difficult to get a decent guy. So, looking to escape anyways I headed West to a new, rapidly growing city and my dating has improved tenfold. I still haven’t met Mr. Right but I feel like I’m much closer than I would have been had I stayed on the East Coast. I’m not even 40 but dating became hell in my old city, guys out here seem to value real women a bit more and I’ve heard that there are more men than women here which probably helps. Unless you’re married to your city, if you want to improve your odds sometimes you just need to move!

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