Hub feels more like a dating black hole than center of universe
Looking for love in all the wrong places? Maybe it’s not you, it’s us. In a recent Boston Herald poll, 59 percent of people surveyed thought Boston was a not a good city for singles, and Marie Claire magazine named us among the worst cities for single women in 2010. And even though the latest Wallet Hub survey ranked Boston fifth best in the country for singles, its data set ranged from “share of single population” to “number of online dating opportunities” to “nightlife options per capita.”
We’ve got lots of those, one of the fastest growing populations in the country, yet federal census numbers show over half is single (68 percent). We aren’t exactly known as the city of love. Or like for that matter.
In fact, dating consultant Emily Romano created a dating app to solve some of the challenges her clients were facing. The app, Paper Airplane, allows users to see in real time which venues single people in their desired demographics are frequenting. Romano, 30, from North Reading, is single and says the Boston dating scene stinks.
“Boston is a tough city to be single in because people are unfriendly. If you don’t believe me, try smiling at a stranger and see what happens!”
Romano notes that our friendships are based on longtime ties, making it difficult to make new connections.
“Roots run deep here, and this causes people to be unquestioningly loyal to each other but also manifests itself in cliques that are wary of newcomers ... and for someone trying to date, that makes it a daunting task,” she explained.
Hub-based relationship blogger, writer and speaker James Michael Sama has carved a successful career out of giving advice to frustrated singles. When it comes to dating in the Hub, he agrees with Romano.
“Boston is a not good for dating. It’s perceived to be a bit cold and very cliquey.”
Sama says West Coasters are much more open to new friends and random conversation.
“I believe men and women here have had enough bad experiences that they’ve become so jaded, that they just aren’t open to meeting anyone new. I say this both from personal experiences and also from hearing the same perspective from multiple men and women.”
Take elementary school teacher Leanne Hall. The 35-year-old Boston resident says finding a partner here is taxing due to a small dating pool and lack of men to choose from.
“When I go out, I find the same crowds of people. I also think there are more single women out there seeking men than men seeking women.”
The chilly welcome isn’t the only subzero reason love is hard to come by. According to relationship counselor Samantha Burns, the cold weather is also to blame.
“Half of the year, it’s difficult to feel sexy in big bulky sweaters and snow boots ... the thought of trekking through snow and freezing temperatures to a bar (or even a gym class) with the hopes of meeting someone new just doesn’t seem worth it,” explained Burns.
The love dilemma crosses gender, age and sexual orientation lines. Publicist Jonathan Nelson, 33, thinks dating is equally as rough for LGBTQ folks.
“No matter the sexual orientation, there’s equal chance for disappointment. I had always had success in L.A.,” he said. “When I moved to Boston a few years back, I thought I would meet guys easily. ... I found it to be a lot harder than imagined.”
Sama says social media is partly to blame.
“Living expenses and long hours make it very difficult for people to actually take the time to go out and be social,” he said. “People figure, why bother when we can just swipe right?”
But many millennials rely on the apps. Hank Schless, 24, is an account executive at a tech start-up in Cambridge. He likes the singles scene in Boston and uses dating apps to meet new people.
“Dating apps make it easier to break the ice. People might be a little more guarded in a random social situation.”
South End based videographer Colin Beatt, 25, said his age group doesn’t want to date long-term because they are focused on their school or careers. Apps like Tinder and Bumble help find short-term connectivity and/or intimacy.
“Everyone is so motivated to be successful here, so relationships fall to the side,” he said. “People don’t have the time for dating seriously, that’s why Tinder, Bumble and Hinge are so successful. ... Users want a quick connection or hook-up ... which can be achieved pretty easily with these apps.”
Romano said it’s harder the older you get.
“You have a large segment of the general population as students and post-grads who are generally all around the same age, and to a large degree transient,” she said. “I see this as a problem for my older clients. There really isn’t anywhere for an older crowd to mingle in Boston, which is truly unfortunate.”
Interior design marketing pro Cheryl Abrams Savit, 58, finds meeting men an arduous process — both online and in person.
“I’m too old for the bar scene, and I was told by a man that men our age go to bars to watch sports and socialize with their guy friends. So it is a challenge and a bit of a kick in the pants (or ego).”
All that said, Boston City Hall gave out over 5,000 marriage licenses last year — clearly finding romance is working for some.