I live in it.
I have this friend, H, in Philly. We matched on OK Cupid while he was playing zip code roulette. We covered some common interests before he said, “Long shot, but you don’t know M, do you?”
“I absolutely do. We did a reading together some time back. And we had dumplings with his wife and kids when they all came to town.”
We dropped the pretense of the dating app, acting like people who’d met through mutual friends. That was two years ago. We chat regularly and sometimes we talk on the phone. We haven’t met in person but I believe online friendships are real.
We talk about dating, mostly, because that’s our most pressing common interest, though we talk about art and death and politics and travel too.
He’s good-looking and good with the written word. He gets lots of action via the apps. I get next to none. It is hard not to take this failure personally.
But Seattle is a notoriously bad city for dating. This is a known thing.
“I’m glad you’re successful. But can you see how it might be depressing to hear about it? My last date was in December. The one before that, June. You’ve had more action in the last week than I’ve had in the last year.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“Lemme say this again. I have been on two dates since last June. You try dating in Seattle. Let me know how that works out for you. It is a staggering coincidence we connected. But try it. Go crazy.”
I warn him how much it’s going to suck. I tell him he is going to see a lot of accomplished outdoorsy types with little social follow-through. He is skeptical.
“Let’s give it a minute for the algorithm to kick in, let’s wait for the data. It can’t be that bad.”
We swap zip codes. I am now shopping the Philly market, while H is shopping Seattle. Before the day is over, my inbox is full. There is a nice Jewish boy who plays guitar. There is a dreadlocked real estate agent. A retired finance guy. A 33-year-old working visual artist. A history professor. And it’s not just white guys, it’s a rainbow.
Sure, there’s the usual mess of catfishing and socially inept introductions and men who have absolutely not read a word of my profile, but the monotony of disappointment is broken by … interesting humans? With some idea of how to converse? How can this be?
Meanwhile, H is in my chat window wallowing in despair. "How are they all interested in the exact same things? Why is no one responding?”
Loads of ink has been spilled on the wasteland that is the Seattle dating scene. I send H a handful of links to articles on this exact topic.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. You live in a dating dystopia.”
“You didn’t believe me, did you?”
“I thought maybe you were too smart, intimidating to a lot of guys but…”
“But only in Seattle? Not in Philly? Philly guys don’t think I’m too smart?”
“You should move.”
I look at Zillow to see what housing is like there. A few years back, I got stuck in Philly thanks to a snowstorm. I loved it.
“This is stupid,” I tell myself, and I return my dating profile to Seattle where I live.
The silence resumes.