Dating in San Francisco sucks. There. I said it. Again. ‘Cause yeah, I know: I’m not saying anything new. But, that’s not going to keep me from saying it. And, yeah, there’s a good chance I’m just rehashing the same issues we all moan about often. But that’s okay, because if we’re all still complaining about how awful it is to date in San Francisco, that means we haven’t really done anything to change it… which means, bringing up these issues is still necessary, and will continue to be necessary until we change how we date. Or, until I meet someone I like enough to stop reflecting on this issue. At which point, I promise I’ll stop writing articles about how much it sucks to date in San Francisco, and move onto discussing the troubles with divorce in California. Kidding! (Ish.)
While I hate to caveat, well, anything, I think it goes without saying that this critique on San Francisco dating is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman. ‘Cause that’s who I am, and that is the perspective I’ve got. So, please, do share your own perspective in the comments—but first: six reasons why dating in SF totally sucks… and a conclusion that you may or may not like.
The Ubiquity of Dating Apps
Complaining about Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, The League, and all of the other seemingly hundreds of dating apps is nothing new. But, if I’m to talk about how much dating in San Francisco sucks—and fail to bring up the very real and often negative effect these apps have had on the dating scene—it would be like bringing up how much the 49ers suck, and not even mentioning the disaster that is Jed York.
Of course, the problems with (and benefits of) dating apps hold true all over the country, but I’ll venture to say that it is even worse in SF, because this is where most of the apps are being created. So, we’re using them first, and more frequently. While I definitely know people who’ve fallen in love because of these apps, and are happily together today… mostly, these apps give everyone dating ADD.
I mean, am I crazy (well, yes), or does it seem like people use these apps for validation (just as much, or maybe more?), than they do for a potential date? I’m only newly back on these things, but even in the last week or so, I’ve found that I’ll have a match with someone and send them a message, but won’t get a reply. Like, why did you swipe “right” to me in the first place? Oh right: because you wanted to know if some random chick on the Internet thought you were attractive. Needy much?
Listen, if I’m willing to admit I prefer napping over using an app where every single dude is looking for someone who’s “active and fit,” the least that those people (the ones that are only there to get their egos—or selves—stroked) can do is just be honest about it. In the meantime, I’ve placed all of the dating apps in the “Games” folder on my phone as a constant reminder about exactly what I’m getting myself into, if I choose to play.
With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.
So Much FOMO
Dating apps provide us a seemingly endless stream of potential mates, but like Barry Schwartz says in his TED Talk (that a million people linked me to when I was asking why they think dating in SF sucks so much), “With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.” The problem with dating in the era of dating apps is that we’re too scared to make a choice—to commit to just one person—because what if we make the “wrong” choice? Plus, why choose at all, when there are so many other people to date/screw/ghost?
The thing is, though, assuming you are dating because you eventually want to find a long-term partner, you can’t worry about if you’re missing out on someone better. Dating is a numbers game, which is why those apps have merit. But ultimately, if you meet someone you like, and they like you, you should probably go on more dates with that person.. because the odds of that type of connection happening again any time soon are, like: ZERO.
Oh, and if you’re not into a girl, that’s totally cool! Don’t text her fifteen times and tell her how much fun you had, only to completely ghost her until you send her a text six months later about something she posted on Instagram… not like I’m speaking from experience, except that obviously, I’m totally speaking from experience.
I’m old enough to remember a time when, if you were waiting for a friend at a bar or restaurant, you did so while either reading a book or, wait for it: while taking in the scene around you, free of any devices or distractions. Yup, that’s right. People used to be alone and just: be alone. While it may sound terrifying not having a screen to bury your face in, it was actually kind of great. It meant that people were paying attention to the world around them, striking up conversations with strangers, and experiencing new things outside of their Internet bubble, in tangible and meaningful ways.
Now, if you walk onto a bus or into a bar, everyone is too mesmerized by the glow of their iPhone screen to look up, and see what’s happening around them in the world they actually inhabit. Again, I realize this is a clichéd complaint that we all make, and yet, do nothing about. So, here’s my challenge: next time you’re alone in a social setting, leave your phone in your pocket. Make eye contact with someone. See what happens. And then, take a selfie with them for Snapchat! (No, I’m kidding; please don’t.)
Perhaps, if we were all a little less reliant on technology to do, well, everything for us, we’d be able to meet new humans (dates, even!) on our own. In real life. Which, turns out, is a much more effective way of figuring out how you actually feel about someone, than, you know, a slew of gym selfies and generic emojis.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
Considering “everyone” in San Francisco is loaded these days, you know, except those of us who aren’t, it seems like money shouldn’t really be an issue when it comes to dating. Unless you factor in the fact that it requires so much money to live here, and the only way to get that money is to work your ass off… which means: more focus on your career and not your sex/dating life.
Plus, considering so many people move to SF for their start-up or tech career, it’s pretty imperative that they find success in that arena. So, is it really any surprise that all of those tech nerds we complain about constantly aren’t able to put any real effort into dating, and instead, rely upon the instant gratification of apps… or, alternatively, just don’t care about dating at all? Sigh.
Dating is time consuming, and sometimes, annoying as hell...
Flakes (& Lack of Weekend Dates)
It actually shocks me how often my friends tell me that they’re excited about a date, only to inform me (when I ask how it went) that the dude “rescheduled.” Except, when people in SF reschedule, they just reschedule to “another time.” In other words: “never.” Granted, flaking is just part of the culture in SF (whether you like it or not), but when you take two strangers—one or both—with a predilection for canceling plans, and try to get them into the same space at the same time (for what might not even be a fun encounter)… I mean, why even bother trying? It’s literally never going to happen.
It also doesn’t help that most of us won’t date on weekends. Whether that’s because we’re escaping the city for a trip, or just don’t want to deal with something as potentially annoying as a date, Friday and Saturday nights are off the table for hanging out… and, so is Sunday (unwinding from the weekend), and Monday (getting back into the work week). That leaves only Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, and really, everyone’s just going to flake anyway, which renders this entire point moot.
Dating is time consuming, and sometimes, annoying as hell, yes. But, the only way to stop dating is either to resign yourself to a life of solitude—or keep goin’ on dates until you meet someone who makes you want to stop. I’m not happy about it either, but that’s just the way it is. I should probably start adopting cats.
Bogged Down by Fog
Occasionally, the east coast suffers through a miserable winter, one that requires turtleneck sweaters and full-length puffy coats—two things that are terrible for everyone’s sex drive. But, as soon as the temps rise and the sundresses come out of the closets, that problem is immediately remedied. The power of bare legs, even pale legs that haven’t seen the sun in five months, is a real thing, my friends. In San Francisco, however, it’s basically always puffy jacket weather. And while I’m not saying that women should have to show a little skin to get everyone in the dating mood… I’m also not saying that if the weather permitted, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world either. And no, going from puffy jacket to puffy vest doesn’t count. Trust me, I tried.
I’d Do Anything For Love (*But I Won’t Do That)
So, San Franciscans, here’s what I’ve figured out: there are a ton of single people in this city, and a lot of us would love to meet someone. But, we won’t stop relying on the apps. We won’t let ourselves be open to the idea of dating just one person. We won’t put down our phones in public. We won’t be open to meeting strangers in real life. We won’t stop working impossibly long hours. We won’t stop making, and then breaking plans. We won’t date on weekends. And we definitely won’t ditch the hoodie for a sweater—or the jeans for a dress—in a minimal effort to make a good first impression.
So, uh… Maybe it’s not dating in San Francisco that sucks. Maybe it’s just us.