Two Sense: Why Is It So Hard to Date in San Francisco?


This isn't question, it's a rant. I've had it. I came to San Francisco 10 years ago at age 25 for its progressive values and adventures, believing that eventually I would settle down and enter the next phase of adult life—the one that follows youthful adventure—with a partner who wanted a family. Ten years later, I'm tired, lonely, and sick of the surface-level hookups, three-date encounters, and last-minute texting that fall under the rubric of "relationships" in this town. I've come to the conclusion that San Francisco really is over the edge, that its values are awry. Everyone's in their own little bubble, worried about their personal development, their dozens of hobbies, their "crazy busy" social calendars. They're missing the deeper meaning of life: love, commitment, family. I honestly feel sorry for them. I'm seriously considering moving back to Boston.

He Said: Moving to Boston, where the social climate is as cold as the weather, seems a little extreme, no? Why not move to Tulsa while you’re at it and become an evangelical? See how the dating scene is there. I hear there are a lot of hot conservative Christians.

Seriously, San Francisco is a hard place to date. It's also what makes it so great. There’s always another possibility around the corner. The geography of the city, combined with the adventurous citizenry, allows for constant social and cultural engagements. The job market is strong, offering challenging careers that can bleed into dating time. This can all become distraction from the core life elements you are talking about: Mom, Pop, and a couple of kids.

However, people are people. Depending on how hard you worked on dating, and how good you are at relating to new people, there are plenty of folks here who want to settle down and follow the path you’ve charted for yourself. It’s important to seek out community among these types, rather than the fast-lane social/sexual crowd. The latter group gives lips service to dating, but is really not terribly serious about it. You can find more commitment-minded people online—eHarmony for instance—or through your interests. Join Friends of the Urban Forrest, to name but one example. Or your local neighborhood group. Or even the after-work softball team. You'll be surprised how many people are just like you. Then it's all about your ability to charm. If I were you, I’d cancel that trip to frigid Boston.

She Said: You’re certainly not the first person to leave San Francisco disillusioned with its lack of commitment-willing potential partners. But then tell me, why is the café I’m writing this from overrun with scurrying toddlers and their hipster parents? There is literally one at my feet and another four across the room. (Hint: I’m in Bernal right now.) Why did I just have lunch with my very pregnant and recently married friend and a few weeks ago attend the wedding of another friend from San Francisco? You get my point. The odds may be slightly against you here. But when did odds ever account for the whole story? Most successes go against the odds. Blaming the city you live in for your disappointing love life is like blaming your college for a low GPA or your boss for your lackluster performance at work. I’m not trying to shame you—really I’m not!—I’m trying to motivate you. Snap out of your foggy trance, and while you’re at it boycott the Mission and the Marina for a few months. In fact, get out of the city proper. This is a very small town, geographically and population-wise, but the “outside world” is one bridge away. There’s community-oriented Berkeley and the entire “normal” city of Oakland. There are enclaves of artists and stockbrokers in the hills of Marin, people happily hanging out in quiet Pacifica. There’s even wholesome little all-American downtowns like San Mateo and Burlingame—I know, the peninsula, gasp!

Would it be easier to settle down in Boston? Honestly, I think it would. So move there if you really want to. But it’s nowhere near impossible to settle down in San Francisco. Otherwise there wouldn’t be spit-up on my shoe right now.

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