We’ve previously discussed how where you live affects your love life, and how New Yorkers feel about inter-borough dating. Recently, The Atlantic‘s Amanda Hess, a Washington D.C.-to-L.A. resident, made an interesting case rebutting several recent studies claiming cities like L.A. and New York City are the best cities for single people. That stat is puzzling for anyone who has dated there. She says that what these stats really mean is that NYC and L.A. are the best cities for single people to stay single, making them actually the worst. “The surplus of singles in New York and L.A. means only that the single person’s wasteland is that much more vast.”
In New York, some daters blame the transportation. Hess’ pal said, “Nobody drives here. That means nobody’s picking anyone up, nobody’s dropping anyone off — you meet there. A goodnight kiss might require some forethought because you have to factor in, ‘will we be saying goodbye on the subway?’” (Which seems off to me, because when I was single I think the subway enhanced my dating life.)
In sprawling LA, on the other hand, “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.”
Dating in Washington, D.C, where the high proportion of singles is more intimate and leads to more organic relationships, was summed up by one resident as, “I slept with someone I never wanted to see again, and now he works 20 feet away from me and is also friends with all of my friends. That is how I feel about D.C.”
One could weigh the cock-blocking nature of any city forever, but I think it all comes down to a study Hess points to from the ’90s by Sheena Iyengar about the psychology of choice. Iyengar found that making decisions is often “experienced as suffering, not pleasure,” and that “the explosion of choice has made it more difficult overall for people to identify what they want and how to get it.” Makes sense to me: My New York dating experience was frustrating because there were so many options that it was easy to move on to someone new with zero consequences. Also, rash generalization alert: everyone here (including me) lives at least five years below their maturity level at least.
Hess moved from D.C. to L.A. with her boyfriend; then they promptly broke up, and he moved back east. Finding herself at a party, paired off with a friend of a friend who took interest in her, she asked:
“Is that what love is now? Proximity? Dating in D.C., I never felt that I loved out of convenience. But there in the middle of 500 miles of sprawl, it was all of a sudden strange to be sitting too close on a couch with the clock ticking down. Los Angeles is not for lovers.”
Well, I think we’d all like to know, what city is?