Are You Single Because Of Where You Live?

are cities making us single?
Love, Self

Single adulthood used to be a brief moment between adolescence and marriage. Today, according to one study, the median age of a first marriage is rising for both men and women, and singles make up 41 percent of American adults 18 and older.

In places like New York City, Miami and Los Angeles, singles rule the scene. Thousands of ambitious, good-looking men and women flock to these and other urban centers aiming to work hard and party even harder. But many of these singles don't prioritize relationships and commitment, and can have a hard time securing a partner once they decide they want one. Why are so many people having difficulties finding the one? The city itself might be part of the problem. How The Recession Forever Changed Relationships

"In a lot of cities where professional status really matters, people  focus on their careers, valuing their jobs over quality of life—things like relationships, marriage and kids get put on the back burner," says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., sex therapist and relationship counselor and author of Passionista.  In cities, "there is a higher proportion of eligible, interesting people, so the need to settle down doesn't feel as much as a priority." Why Am I Still Single?

Most people assume that the opportunities for meeting Mr. or Ms. Right in urban environments are better than in suburbs or smaller towns. While that might be true, men and women move to big cities with high expectations of finding someone who matches their needs, making them less likely to settle down with any given person.

"I figured when I moved to Manhattan that I'd have better luck meeting someone just because of the sheer number of single women," says Eric, 28, a literary agent. "I'm very picky and will focus on what I don't like about someone because I know there is the potential to meet someone else who may have everything I do like. By living in a big city I knew my odds were better." Does Mr. Right Exist?

Mara, 24, a sales representative in fashion living in Manhattan also looks for ever-greener grass. "Usually, I never make it past the third date. It just falls apart, partly because I'm only half interested. In a lively city with a good nightlife, there's always something to do and an abundance of single, attractive men, so if I'm not that into him by the third date anyway, I don't mind staying single until I meet someone else."

A city considered "best for singles" (like those released on Forbes' annual list) can actually translate into "worst for finding a life-partner." This year, for example, Forbes picked New York as number one, but anyone who's watched Sex and the City knows it's not easy to settle down in the Big Apple. Take Twanna Hines, 34, a relationship blogger known as "Funkybrownchick," who moved to Manhattan in 2005, a few months before she started chronicling her dating life online.

"Coming from Illinois, the dating scene was unexpected for me," she says, "It was so easy to find dates. I met so many interesting men every night I went out." However, almost five years later, she hasn't had an actual boyfriend in the city. Still, she sees the delay as a function of looking for the right partner, not just taking what's there: "Finding a relationship is much more difficult and challenging than it is to get dates—but when you do, it's that much more rewarding because you're finding someone who is a good match for you, rather than the best match out of the five people available to you back at home."

People living in the suburbs, however, often feel they can't be as choosy. Julie, 30, a former city-dweller who moved back home to Brick, New Jersey, to start graduate school says, "The single friends I grew up with are always so into every guy they meet and jump into relationships with the next guy when something doesn't work out with the old one. It seems fake. Don't you think if meeting a guy was so easy I would have had a boyfriend after so many years of living in the city?"

Julie is single, but she wants to focus on school and a new career path. "It's definitely harder to date in the suburbs because all my friends are in relationships and everyone I meet is either a friend from childhood, not my type, or someone I keep seeing around town. There's nobody new!" She plans on giving the online dating scene a try to avoid making the next guy that asks for her number into a long-term thing, even if he's not quite right for her. 

For city girls, keeping in touch with suburban friends in long-term relationships can create added pressure to find a boyfriend and make them feel discouraged about their current situations.

"If you come from a suburb, when you first move to a big city you sort of rebel against what your friends at home have: the high school sweetheart relationships that will most likely turn into marriage," says Kerner. But on the other hand, it's easy to get pulled toward it when you go home. Mara says that although she respects her friends' who stayed home and wanted to get married just a few years out of high school, she knew she wanted different things with her life and career: "I moved where I'd fit in, even if it meant sacrificing my love life for the time being. Sometimes I do wonder, if I could have the same professional life that I do, but in South Carolina where I grew up, would I be able to have it all?" Career And Family: Can We Really Have Both?

Kerner says that either in the city or out, it's just about being pro-active. "Most women I talk to think they need to leave the city to find the right relationship, because their friends at home are getting married and having babies. Regardless of where you are, if you put yourself in new situations, doing things you like with people like you, you're going to meet a great match. It's a little like a numbers game."

Annie Robbins, a professional matchmaker at LifeWorks Matchmaking tells her clients to have a dating plan.

"Where you live can have a positive or negative impact on how you meet people. Girls will always be hopeful of meeting someone permanent that they can settle down with, regardless of where they live, but when you're in a big city it compounds the problem. Randomly going out hoping to find that special someone in a big city full of hundreds of prospects is overwhelming." She suggests going about dating as you would with a job search: network with people you like who will introduce you to people they know, and very naturally you will get to someone who's right for you.

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"If you're living in a large city with lots of single people, you have to narrow the playing field. Go places where you'd like to find a like-minded person with the same values or hobbies as you. Visit art shows, take tennis lessons, go to parties that your coworkers invite you to. It won't be as daunting as not knowing what type of people you'll meet in a bar."

How To Meet Someone If You're Single In A City:

1. Have a dinner party. Invite three or four single girlfriends, and ask each of them to bring a single man you don't know. Create a seating chart so everyone is seated next to a someone they haven't met. If a seating chart is too forced, play hostess and as soon as a woman and her non-date walk in, introduce them each to someone they don't know. The Secret To Dating Like A French Woman (Have A Dinner Party!)

2. Go to a bar alone. Our friends at The Frisky recommend suggest picking a location you're familiar with, ordering food so you have a reason to be there, and finding places with theme nights, which provide great conversation starters. More going-it-alone tips here: How to Go To A Bar Alone.

3. Ask your friends to set you up with people. It may seem like a bad idea, but according to Ryan Dodge, Glamour.com's recently-departed Single-ish blogger, friends are "excellent matchmakers. After all, these are the same people who have been listening to me wax philosophic about women for years. And there's an added benefit: Gossiping about your mutual friend is a great way to get the conversational ball rolling on a first date." 4 Dating Tips From A (Near) Professional

4. Go on a lot of dates. Really—if you're serious about meeting someone, going on three dates a day could lead you to the one. Hey, it worked for this guy: 3 Dates A Day Leads Man To Marriage

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