Interesting and timely article on dating in large cities such as New York City and Los Angeles (I missed it in July but boy I am feeling tapped into the zeitgest these days):
This was a conundrum I faced before moving to this city. If I was going to be single forever, it seemed better to live in a city full of singles. But then, was I dooming myself to be single forever?
If you have ever been tempted by the low-hanging fruit of the sexy Internet slideshow, you may be under the impression that Los Angeles is one of America’s “Best Cities for Singles.” Over the past few years, online publications have periodically culled regional data from dating websites and census tracts, made pseudoscientific calculations of their impact on singletons, then excreted the results into clickable lists. Kiplinger filed its latest tabulation in February, claiming—based on its large population size, high percentage of unmarried households, and relatively moderate date-night tab—that Los Angeles was the fifth best city for single people in the country. Los Angeles also made Forbes’ 2009 list, clocking in at number eight. It hit Travel and Leisure’s 2011 count, too. And alongside college towns like Iowa City, Durham, Bloomington, Ann Arbor—cities so stuffed with single coeds that they ought to be disqualified—New York City joined L.A. on nearly every list.
To anyone who has actually attempted to date in America’s two most populous cities, these results are puzzling. A closer look at the studies shows that they’re often measuring the best cities for single people to stay that way—depending on your perspective, the worst cities for singles. In New York, Kiplinger’s 2012 count notes, over half of the metro area’s 18.7 million households are unmarried ones (the national average is 28 percent), and one in five people fall between the ages of 20 and 34. Of the Los Angeles metro’s 12.7 million people, 54 percent of households aren’t hitched. Forbes’ 40-city list rates L.A. first in its proportion of single people, and second in the percentage of them who actively date online. New York ranks the highest in online dating—singles in the five boroughs make up 8 percent of the entire user database of Match.com.
On logistics– That endless search can prove to be a logistical nightmare. 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, when every platform appears teeming with other options?) Meeting a potential love interest halfway for a nightcap means being stranded in a no-man’s-land that can prove both inconvenient and awkward.
On accountability– Less awkward is saying goodbye forever—the city’s geography is “more conducive to breakups” when you likely never have to see one another again.
On economics–And young people in New York and Los Angeles aren’t just competing for dates—they’re elbowing each other for a shrinking pool of jobs, too. While Forbes ranks both cities highly for singles and online dating participation, they rate poorly in job growth and cost of living. Forbes attempts to resolve this distinction by asserting that in number-one-ranked New York City, “financial stresses have brought a shift in priorities for singles,” who are “taking advantage of generous severances and enjoying the spoils of the city … with dates they’ve met online.” In reality, these big cities are sheltering more broke singles with stoked anxieties and broken creative dreams. They spend more free time hustling than they do staring into one anothers’ eyes. Sometimes, it feels easier to just look away. One night at a low-lit Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, the man at the table next to me asked his bored date, “Have you seen my reel?”