Welcome To The Dating Desert: Is Dating In YOUR City Easy?by Nikki Metzgar on June 21, 2012
Editor’s note: In case you missed them, catch up on Nikki’s previous Dating Diaries posts here.
Every time one of my few remaining single girlfriends (they’re dropping like flies!) laments the lack of viable dating options, someone always chimes in to say, “It’s because we live in Houston.”
One of my friends moved to Philadelphia last fall to start graduate school but while in Houston, she was a super-dater. She was the first of anyone I knew personally to try online dating and she was constantly going out with new people, never really finding a clear winner. A few months into life in Philly, she found a great boyfriend who she loves and admires. What changed? “It’s because she lives in Philadelphia,” reasons one friend.
So as my second month of no dates begins, I’m starting to take the possible existence of the dating desert more seriously. Is the reason I’m not finding anyone I like a result of where I live?
By dating desert, I mean it’s like a food desert. According to Wikipedia, a food desert “is any area in the industrialized world where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain.” The food should be there, but it’s not. I don’t mean to belittle the actual problem of the food desert by holding it against my dating life. There’s clearly no comparison as far as social calamity and I realize that, so I hope you’ll forgive me. All I’m saying is, I live in the fourth largest city in the country—guys I like should be here, but they’re not.
Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I found a map in National Geographic that showed the areas of the United States where more single men lived and where more single women lived. Houston had more single men than women, and as a selfish teen (and I guess now as a selfish adult) I thought of it in terms of dating. The reason for that statistic was because so many immigrants move to my city to raise money for their families back home. New York had more single women, likely because of its fashion and publishing industries. I have no idea if that is still true and take what I’m saying with a grain of salt—this is my boy-crazed memory of 10 years ago talking. But now I’m facing down a marriage-less future where my mother constantly asks me about making babies and I’m haunted about whether where I live affects my date selection.
Houston isn’t technically barren of single men. We have a lot of button-down shirt wearing guys who work in oil and like to drink light beer at sports bars. There’s nothing wrong with that, but my type is more of a literary, liberal kind of guy. I suppose we have those guys, too, it just seems like there’s a lot less of them. And they’re taken.
If I moved to San Francisco, would I be surrounded by dudes I’d like to date? If you’re a Republican in Vermont, should you come to Texas for better romantic options? Then again, if you’re living in a city teeming with young hotties, that could be a problem in itself. My friend who lives in NYC complains that guys up there are never interested in settling down because they have so many options, there’s no reason to pick one.
Broad, unsupported generalizations — they’re the first major byproduct of dating after babies. Without a bearded, audio engineer boyfriend to distract me, I have a lot of extra time for conspiracy theories.