I’ve had the luxury of speaking to single men and women all over the world about their love lives and dating habits. While the problems most singles face are universal, and not location specific, there is a common trend in San Francisco that baffles even the most well educated dating experts. Unfortunately, the challenge San Francisco faces is not solvable anytime soon, as it’s a symptom of a much larger cultural shift that the world will see soon enough.
So why is dating in San Francisco so hard?
The present is better than the future.
There’s a lot to be said about “the future”. While in most American cities, having a spouse might mean more security, dual income and children, in San Francisco it could mean living abroad, giving up a rent controlled apartment or leaving your friends, who aren’t settling down any time soon.
The allure of a future with a spouse is only compelling if you find a partner that isn’t going to take you away from the life you’ve currently built for yourself. Living in San Francisco actually feels like a luxury, and many people work very hard to live here. That being the case, giving it up for a “future”, especially one that might force you out of the city, isn’t compelling. Relationships in San Francisco don’t address the question, “How is my life going to be better than it is now?” because life in San Francisco for many is already pretty good.
Finding a partner is not a priority.
“People have become a commodity.” Matchmaker Emily Hahn said to me. And she’s right. There is no shortage of eligible singles when you swipe left and right on dating apps, so the pressure to find someone isn’t that strong. No matter how disgusted you might feel with your selection, you have two ways of thinking about it; you either believe someone is out there for you, so there is no rush, or you don’t… so again no rush.
Emotionally, it’s safer to pour your time into your career, or your friendships rather than in finding a long term relationship. The idea that a partner, or a spouse should come before work, or ambition isn’t well supported in San Francisco. If you’ve started a company, then start another one. If you’ve created a Facebook group, start a Meetup group. It’s easy to see that the need for community is being met through professional relationships making romantic relationships less important.
People in San Francisco travel all the Gahtdahm time.
It used to make me laugh to read the event comments section on a Facebook invitation. “Sorry can’t make, I’m in Paris.” “Wish I could be there, in Bali for a week!” “Have a good time, I’ll be in Azerbaijan!”
That was until I was on a group chat with friends and indeed, I was traveling to Paris and couldn’t make plans. If you live in San Francisco, you understand that travel is a thing and people are always doing it. It makes coordinating with someone new incredibly difficult. Also, with the exposure to new people and new cultures, comes the curiosity for new people and new cultures. Thus FOMO.
Why invest in someone locally when every three months there’s an opportunity to travel and meet someone new? Bumble works just fine in London. The frequency in which singles travel in San Francisco leads to the infrequency of maintaining a long-term relationship. So what does that mean for singles here in the city? In order to improve dating in San Francisco, first take responsibility for your own love life. You have to understand that the culture is different and be able to adjust to the inconsistency and impermanence of relationships.
You might have several two month relationships before you find the one, if you find someone at all. Truth be told, most people of San Francisco are already in love with the city itself. Every other relationship is just an affair.