A culture of single-ism. That’s what we’ve developed. A culture where being single is the preferred lifestyle. A culture where working your ass off, obtaining as many college degrees as possible, constantly striving to get ahead and catching up at a daily happy hour all at the same time is much preferred to finding that one person to invest your time in for a happy life together. Our priorities are different in D.C. This is not small town America where finding a mate and settling down to start a family is your primary focus as you enter your late twenties. This is a town where being single at 30 means you are doing just fine. But why? I refuse to believe it’s because Washingtonians are selfish and only think of themselves. We have huge social networks and work for causes we truly believe in, often times dedicating our lives to helping others. So why, and how, have we developed a culture of single-ism?
D.C. is often referred to as a “top” city for being single in. Arlington was ranked number 2 in the entire country as the best place to find rich, single bachelors and bachelorettes. Every possible dating service seems to have setup shop here too, including some very interesting ones. We even have the transportation dating system, otherwise known as Metro! While I haven’t tried all of them by any means, I’ve tried a few of the online ones (and..um…the Metro). And I’ve met some great people because there are seriously a lot of fantastic people in the area who just happen to be single. The stigma around online dating is slowly going away and more and more people are coming to accept the fact that it’s ok to meet someone through a website. After all, it’s not like you actually date the person through the site. You just get introduced to them through it. The virtual-ness of it ends there. So with all of these increasingly viable local options to meet the love of your life, why are we still the way we are?
It’s cultural. And it’s cyclical. With so many eligible singles in the D.C. area, it’s much harder to actually settle down with a particular person. Forget getting married, it’s hard in this area to even call someone a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” or get beyond a casual date or two. When there’s a good chance that the cute girl you run into at the Harris Teeter tomorrow is going to be single, or that the hot guy you see at the Gold’s Gym has no lady to go home to, taking the plunge of being in an actual relationship is less appealing. Someone better is always potentially around the corner. The grass is always greener. So the more single people there are, the harder it is to stop being single.
But why are we uniquely single in the first place? Well, for starters, the transient nature of D.C. contributes to this a lot. Hill staffers, college students and recent grads, federal workers and their supporting contractors and consultants – a larger percentage of these people come from out of town and usually at a young age with a “woohoo-I’m-not-tied-down” mindset. They may or may not be here for long either, so jumping into something is rarely on the must-do checklist. The other major factor is that everyone in the area is so freaking busy. The average young professional is working well over 40 hours a week, trying their best to prove themselves and show why they deserve that big promotion, and, at the same time, usually going back to school to pick up a graduate degree or two. Not to mention how many group social events we inject ourselves into in the name of networking or blowing off steam. Kickball, softball, even wiffleball. Great, great ways to meet people. But networking to make business or political contacts, or drinking for the sake of drinking until you forget about the stress of the office, is not a good way to make a special connection with someone you could spend the rest of your life with.
This paragraph would usually be where I answer all of my self-imposed questions asked above. It would also be where I tell you exactly how we can fix this cultural “challenge” that faces us single folk in D.C., or where you can go to meet someone that ends up being more than anything from a drunken hookup to a two-or-three-date-ship. But, ladies and gentleman, I’m still single. So anything I tell you about how to find, and keep, a great match in this city would be nothing but a hopeful bunch of lies. But I do know this – it requires a change in attitude. The culture of single-ism may never end, but you can do your part to stop searching for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect and dreaming of how much greener the grass is on the other side of that imaginable fence. Instead, start taking potential mates seriously and start seeing them as someone you could realistically be with. They might just be perfect for you, even if that hot attorney on K Street keeps catching your eye. Only you can end single-ism, and you can only do it for yourself. Now, if only the men of D.C. could figure out how to meet those “at least twenty hot single lady friends that can’t figure out why they haven’t had a date in months” that KatieT talks about in her post!