I’m 27 years old and I’ve been living (and dating) in New York City for three years. And to be honest, I’m totally sick of the dating scene here. I also know that as a woman in NYC, I’m not alone in feeling this way. There are more women than men, and it can make the dating situation feel pretty bleak.
The numbers issue I’m facing was made crystal clear to me on a recent trip to Colorado, which seemed to be teeming with hot, single men. It was like a dream. They were everywhere — hiking, skiing, drinking craft beer, eating ramen, and working on their laptops at every coffee shop.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Denver has been affectionately nicknamed “Men-ver” because of its large population of single men.
Upon my return to New York, I couldn’t help but think, Should I pack up my things and relocate to a city with a better dating scene?
I know, I know. At first glance, it seems like a totally silly (or even absurd) reason to move to another neighborhood, city, state, or country. But with headlines like, “Sorry, ladies, there really is a man shortage” and “Single on Valentine’s Day? It might be where you live,” it’s hard not to wonder how much changing locations might transform my dating life.
We move for our careers, for our families, and we’d definitely do it for someone we were already dating or married to. What’s stopping us from moving for a better dating life?
According to Jon Birger, author “Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game,” there are 38% more 20-something female college grads than male ones in Manhattan. It’s not just New York City, either. Go to any place with more women than men — Charleston, South Carolina and Houston are two examples — and you’ll find discouraged daters right and left. As Luisa, a 21-year-old college student in Charleston, says, “We all just accept the fact that we won’t find a relationship here because of the amount of boys, so I feel like I’m just waiting to meet someone when I get out of college.”
Her friend and roommate, Faith, also 21, believes that the small number of men affects her dating life. “Honestly, I just feel like I settle for boys who are so beneath my standards because those are my only options,” she says.
Brian, 26, feels the same way about the LGBTQ+ dating scene in Washington, D.C., which he says is very transient. “People are laser-focused on career; the city feels like a revolving door and people don’t commit either because they openly don’t want to or because there is a fear one person in the couple will find an opportunity elsewhere.” And while Brian did meet his partner of a year-and-a-half on Tinder in D.C., that’s not the experience most of his friends have had. “Despite the city being really queer-friendly and having a really strong queer culture, it’s a bad place to date. There are a ton of fish in the sea and yet sometimes it’s like they’re all swimming in different directions,” he says.
Hearing that, I feel a little more justified in my disdain for the NYC dating scene. And relocating is starting to seem more strategic than silly. We move for our careers, for our families, and we’d definitely do it for someone we were already dating or married to. What’s stopping us from moving for a better dating life? Instead of just wondering if I’ll be single forever, I could actually be doing something about it.
As a single person, you have the right to prioritize your love life as much as a person in a relationship. Anyone that tells you otherwise is perpetuating the already obvious discrimination against single people — aka, singlism — in our society.
Natalie, a 29-year-old marketing manager, actually packed her bags in favor of a locale with a more favorable dating pool. Although it wasn’t the only reason she moved, the dating scene played an important role in her relocation from the Oakland area to Missoula, Montana.
“The dating culture is absolutely different here,” she says, referencing the fact that men keep asking her on a second date before the first one has even ended. “That never seemed to happen to me in California.” Still, not everything has changed. “I’ve run into the same basic struggle of dating people who don’t really know what they want long-term,” Natalie adds.
She hits on an important point. If you think a move will somehow magically transform your dating life from a zero to a 10 out of 10, beware. “A lot of people blame their location for their bad dating lives,” says Julie Krafchick, co-host and creator of the Date/able Podcast. “It’s just such an easy thing to do,” she continues. While she’s not against relocating for a better dating scene, she suggests asking yourself a few questions before you take the leap: Could the issue be your mindset? Do you have friends in your city with a healthy dating life? If so, it might be best to look inward instead of searching for a solution in another city.
If you’re considering relocating based purely on gender ratios, you need to acknowledge that it doesn’t all come down to numbers. “In San Francisco, there are more men than women, but there’s also a culture of putting work before relationships and open relationships are very common,” says Krafchick. The truth is, there’s no such thing as the perfect place to date, and you’ll run into challenges anywhere. Relocating may be a way to optimize your dating life, but it won’t magically transform it.
As for me, I’m giving myself full permission to relocate for a better dating scene. As a freelancer I can work from anywhere, and I’m way too curious about how my dating life would transform if I traded the unfavorable dating scene in NYC for what Denver has to offer — almost 20,000 more single men than women — to pass up an opportunity to find out.
No, numbers aren’t everything, but I don’t see any shame in wanting them to be in my favor, either. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to optimize my career, friendships, health, and finances. Why not my dating life, too?