Dating in DC

dating is hard

I don't know about you, but all of my dates are like this. We blissfully smell the scent of roses while our perfect hair frolics in the breeze. So quit your complaining. (JK)

Alright, alright. Yes. YES. Dating in DC is hard. But I just can’t cop to it being harder than anywhere else. (I’ve been getting asked this a lot.) The reason I say this is quite simple: In every place I visited when I was dating in other cities for my book experiment, there were always at least two women (and sometimes 10) who told me how hard it was to date in Charlotte, Denver, NYC, LA. (Not Chicago. I don’t have data for that. I’d love to hear from anyone who has a hard time dating there.) Also, if dating in DC really is that hard, then I’d have to move and I really don’t feel like doing that.

The women I talked to all had varying reasons for why they had a hard time, though it often revolved around the complaint of “no quality men.” Nine times out of ten, the men in all of these cities did not think dating was hard and most of them really liked it.

So what’s the deal? Are all men everywhere dolts and duds and just not raised right? Are women just too fucking picky? Is it a more fundamental problem of Mars and Venus? I seriously can’t subscribe to the first idea because I have girlfriends who meet and date awesome guys. I don’t know that women are too picky, either. I think it’s the Mars and Venus thing, sort of. I have an evolving theory:

Expectations change our perspective on dating and whether it feels fun or it feels hard. Perhaps women have higher expectations because they feel like more is riding on the dating process (biological clock ticking etc), and, with men, most of them are of the mindset that it’s just a fun night out with no thought beyond that, which is refreshing and infuriating all at once. For me, dating isn’t as hard as I thought it was 3 years ago because I have mostly reeled in my expectations. Like: A date is just a date until it’s more. This realization took 35 years to settle in. So…yeah, it’s all about setting expectations. (Like I said, the theory is evolving.)



11 responses to “Dating in DC

  1. Hmm. I think it might be larger cultural forces at work, like the idea women fought so hard for-, that we can do whatever we want and not get married so young–is kind of biting us in the ass because men are taking the same liberties and their youth lasts longer than ours.

    Damn, I sound like Ann Coulter, bit I fewest I am a move liberal feminist. I just think single, urban, 30 something women are living through a time of dealing with unintended consequences

  2. I grew up in DC – and now live in LA – and a huge obstacle that I have encountered in both cities is the transience. People just aren’t focused on settling down in DC and LA because they are usually there for a short period of time, to make it in politics or “the biz”, respectively. Our dating culture is already so ADD and this makes the ability to focus on someone, when you are thinking about leaving, or worried that they might, even more difficult.

  3. DC definitely is easier for guys. As somebody who’s lived in Chicago and Boston, those are guy towns with guy industries. DC is chick town, lots of college-educated girls, fewer guys. That’s what the government/non-profit crowd attracts. So it’s much easier for guys in DC.

  4. The Single Scientist

    I haven’t had a single idea for an article in a while. I think this might be it. I’m going to interview some psychologists, experts and such to get to the bottom of this issue. More soon. Thank you for your thoughts!

  5. Hey, I feel like I need to preface this by saying I’m currently reading your book. (I’m in the matchmaking chapter which made me feel better about my attempt with eharmony a year or so ago when everyone I was paired up with was a) signifcantly older than me b) from Annapolis (I never want to read ‘do you like boats?’ ever again and c) short (and I’m 5’3. I have low (no pun intended) (well, maybe a little) expectations.
    I don’t know if it’s because I’m happier when I’m on vacation or if because the cold weather of Chicago makes people appreciate other people with more insulation, but I swear to god, boys talk to me there. They do not, will not, can not here in DC. I don’t get it. I mean, I do. I’m not very attractive, but guys that I would never imagine striking up a conversation with me here have no qualms starting one there.
    It’s almost enough to make me move there but it’s silly right? It is. I know.

    Anyway, I am enjoying your book. Going through kind of the same thing. I’m giving match a try right now and I’m finding all sorts of weird etiquette questions and that’s how I found this site.

    • The Single Scientist

      Tigerflight: I was just talking to a friend about CHicago dating last night. She has the exact opposite experience that you do (She’s from Chicago and lives in DC). She says it’s really easy to talk to guys here but in Chicago, it’s really clique-y. Your observation about annapolis and boats makes me thinks of DC and passports. If I read how many freaking stamps someone has on his damn passport, please, just stab my eyes out with daggers because I don’t want to ever read again. Good luch on match. I recommed OKCupid for your next round. Same people and FREE. Keep me posted!

      • (this is still tigerflight)
        Thanks for your reply! I uh, wow, This feels pathetic to admit, I’ve tried OKC and had a lot of weird interest from married guys. Perhaps I answered one of their 798, 642 questions wrong, I dunno. So I thought I’d try match under the misguidance that people would be maybe a little more….I dunno, real.
        I don’t know if i’ll go back to OKC after this match attempt. I probably will. The lure of the free is strong.
        If you don’t mind me asking, is it wise to reinstate the old profile if i do or start anew?

      • The Single Scientist

        I am still so naive – it always SHOCKS me to hear that married people try to date online. Though there is a web site for people who want to have an affair. Insane. Re: old profiles – I’ve never started anew, but my profile has changed quite a bit over the years. I hate the idea of starting from scratch though, so I just edit and modify as I go along. I strongly recommend updating yours. I personally don’t like coming across profiles of guys who I know haven’t changed their profile in 3 years. Keep it fresh. Resist the urge to add on. Profiles should be concise. You don’t want to make the other person slog through 1000 words about you. Don’t get me wrong. You’re great! But our collective attention span is not.

  6. Dating can be rough in any city even Las Vegas. haha.
    I’m always conscious of the events I’m attending and what kind of person will be there. It’s more than law of attraction but putting myself in a group of people with my same interests. Sure showing up is most of it as long as I don’t try too hard. Letting people like me and getting to know me is more important long term. M in LV

  7. I just recently started dating seriously again and I have to say: it’s freakin hard. I go visit friends in other cities and i have no troubled meeting women. But DVc is like an uphill battle. And I think it’s expectations that women have. It’s seem like every girl I meet wants the same 5 guys. Or I hear “you’re not my type”. Really? L-O-L

    • Rachel Machacek

      Shane, You are right. DC is hard. For a variety of reasons. And some of the women are terrible in their expectations. And so are some of the men. People also tend to come and go in DC. But there are awesome people out there. And if you just started dating again, give yourself some time to get used to it. And also, when you are in other cities, consider what you might be doing differently. Are you less nervous around women because you have nothing to lose? When I went to other cities to date for my book, I found those dates to be 100 million times easier. And I think a lot of it had to do with my own expectations. Just a thought. Also, I moved my blog to, so feel free to get in touch with me there or at Good luck out there!

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