Washington, D.C. is home to many Americans who come to live the American dream. You have your politicians, lobbyists, post-graduates, college/frat groups, work transplants, immigrants, and the locals who were born and raised there. The sights and sounds of D.C. will leave you breathless including the world famous monuments, museums, theatre attractions, and parks and recreation. When you visit, you gain a sense of pride and humility for the greatness of our nation.
But if you're single, don't sell your house and move there just yet! Dating in D.C. can be a whole other scenario. Although our nation's capital is one of the greatest cities of the world, it's also well known for its challenging dating scene. I've had the great luck of having to maneuver in D.C. as a post-graduate of Howard University. While in school, I never had a problem getting a date. I didn't even realize there was a dating scene! I dated, went to school, studied, and hung out with my friends on occasion to celebrate the end of the term or semester—typical life of a young student in D.C.
It wasn't until I went to graduate school there that I realized dating in DC was no joke! As a newly minted MBA, I was ready to tackle the world. There was one problem though. I still wanted to complete my dream of having a happy family. I had completed my education as my parents asked me to do and now I wanted to raise a family of my own. I found it to be quite challenging despite the statistics of the increasing amount of singles that relocate there every year. It was great to have so many singles but not so great when you only want to settle down with one of them.
So why is the dating scene so difficult? Well, when most people think of DC, they think of the President of the United States, Congressional officials, and the lobbyists. Nowhere else in this country do you have so much power centrally located and accessible by the "metro line": a term used by the natives to denote the subway system. Power is embedded within the culture from the politicians to the college graduates to the average government workers. Even the most humble among us move there and suddenly become enmeshed within the culture and become power-hungry. I had a girlfriend once say to me, "People move here from the farm or out of the ghetto and then not recognize where they came from."
Well, I don't believe dating in D.C. has to be all bad but it certainly does require serious adjustments if you live there or plan to live there sometime in the future. I've listed a few tips below to help you enjoy your stay.
1. Be Open And Friendly. When I first moved to DC, I noticed a bit of reserve in the people immediately. Having travelled all over the world, I found it quite startling how reserved people were in the nation's capital. And it wasn't just me—many of my friends had encountered it as well. The one way to stand out there is to be fairly open and friendly to people. Say hello to people as you go to work or school in the mornings. You will stand out more because most people there are so busy in the "hustle and bustle" of life that they don't have the time nor feel they have to speak to you. But when you're single, you have an extra motivation to get to know people because the next person you speak to may be your wife or husband.
2. When Meeting People, Avoid Starting The Conversation With "So What Do You Do For A Living?" Every region has its own dialect and this one rings true for D.C. If I had a dollar for every time I hear this question, I would be filthy rich! This is not a bad question, but it can be a turnoff when you don't even know the person's name! When meeting someone, ask questions outside of their career or money status. It just lets the person know that you are not superficial and that you have genuinely taken an interest in them.
3. Expand Your Dating Pool Outside Of Your Zip Code. Interestingly enough, there are two major surrounding metropolitan areas outside of DC: Northern Virginia and Baltimore. Most people who live there have a certain ideal commuting area in which they choose to date—usually not more than 30 minutes away or toward the opposite end of the traffic. I don't really blame them for their preferences but expanding your dating pool may help you to reach a wider audience of potential mates.
4. Don't Be A Groupie. Even as a young student attending school in D.C., I would see the amount of people who come here thinking they will meet some wealthy politician or other high profile person who would sweep them off their feet and whisk them off into the life they had always dreamed. Such wishful thinking will get you into some deep trouble in D.C. Just as you come here with "fly by night" dreams, so do the "opportunists". As a matter of fact, there are probably more of them in the city creeping in the night, waiting for some young naïve woman (or man) new to DC to take full advantage of them and leave them with a bad taste in their mouth from living there.
5. Be Selective (Not Picky!) When It Comes To Dating. This doesn't just relate to D.C.; this goes for people in all major cities. When you're in a place where there are lots of beautiful singles, you tend to get pickier about your perceived choices. But just as you think you can do much better than dating the average looking person, so does the other person who probably thinks you're not so great either. It's one of the primary reasons I think people that live in these areas stay single for a very long time. They're always looking for the next best thing. But don't get me wrong, I believe you should show that you do have some selection criteria to eliminate the people who are just not a good fit for you.
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