Relationship Tips

No, the City You Live in *Isn’t* Why You’re Still Single

Maria Del Russo

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Photo: Getty Images/Petri Oeschger
Dating anywhere can be rough, but if the internet is to be believed, dating in a major city is impossible. It seems that every year, data or impassioned personal accounts come out declaring New York, or Los Angeles, or Miami, or some other major metropolitan post-grad melting pot to be the worst city for singles. Just this week, folks from the podcast The Great Love Debate deemed Seattle the worst city in America to live in if you’re looking for a date. Cue the eye roll.

While location can definitely play a factor in your dating life (for example, it's hard out there for rural-living babes like farmer-turned-Bachelor-star Chris Soules, who are kind of at the mercy of low population density), these "findings" are nothing to full-on panic over. “It’s impossible to paint all of the single people in a city with one big brush,” says Brandy Engler, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles. She chalks the city-shaming sentiments up to nothing more than fear-mongering.

“The only reason [location] might have an effect is if there are massive disparities in the ratio of men to women. But even then, it’s less about statistics and more about where these people are in life.” —Brandy Engler, PsyD

According to Dr. Engler, location has very little to do with why people behave certain ways when they date. “The only reason it might have an effect is if there are massive disparities in the ratio of men to women,” she says. “But even then, it’s less about statistics and more about where these people are in life.”

Sure, there may be cases of, let's say, hetero men dating without the intention to be serious if there are way more available single women in the city where they live—because what's the rush when there are so many options? But Dr. Engler says this mentality has more to do with what a person’s desires are vis-à-vis relationships than a physical setting, and that “shopping around,” tends to result in settling down if someone finds a date they truly like.

The biggest issue with this situation—which can totally be frustrating when you're at the wrong end of the population density and find yourself dating a slew of duds—is that it can stomp on the romantic dreams of hopeful singles' dating mentality. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," Dr. Engler says. "If you believe the city that you’re living in is terrible for singles, it’s going to be terrible for you as a single person,” she says.

Her best advice for mitigating the situation? Probably the exact advice you don’t want to hear: “You just have to keep dating,” she says. “Go into every situation with positive expectations.” And if you feel yourself getting disillusioned, don’t be afraid to take a break and work on yourself. Instead of packing up and moving to some far-away land that just won an arbitrary title for Great Metropolis For Finding Your Special Someone, take a soothing bath, enjoy a Netflix night in, and do whatever else makes you feel centered. It's a much better—and cost effective!—strategy for bringing your best self to your next first date.

Bookmark these three tips to avoid dating a narcissist. And if you're dating an introvert, keep these tips in mind

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