The Singles Map

I recall forwarding this on to lots of folks last year when I first happened upon it and it was received with dismissive sneers. Well, it’s back again and the map looks virtually unchanged:

A quick reading of the map shows that the LA/San Diego corridor (+90,000 more men than women), the San Francisco/Bay Area (+65,000), and parts of the Pacific Northwest, upper Midwest and some urban areas in Texas have a surplus of men. The flip side reveals that the DC (+50,000 more women)/Philly (+50,000)/New York corridor contains a bevy of beauties (with an astronomical +210,000 more single women in New York metro alone).

I don’t really know what the takeaway is here other than it’s pretty clear that you should be a happy camper if you’re a single woman in Southern California or a single man virtually anywhere in the mid-Atlantic states. Of course, there are lots of competing factors and caveats to something like this. For one, it doesn’t appear that sexual orientation or cohabitation are included in the breakdowns here, so I’m sure these figures look a lot different once corrected for gays/lesbians and unmarried couples living together. It doesn’t seem to account for students, either. They fall into the age range for the survey (singles aged 20-64), but I feel like they should be some sort of a removed subset (generally speaking, you don’t have lots of 30 year old men and women dating 20 year old college juniors). The upper end of that age range might be better off removed as well (there’s going to be a considerable amount of divorced people and possibly even some who’ve had a spouse die, and thus may not be “single” in the the way this study seems to consider the term).

But enough about that. Being a San Franciscan, I’d like to examine more closely this quote from the article:

“When I was in Chicago, it was never long between dates” says one single male. “When I’m hanging out with friends [in the San Francisco Bay Area], often times in a large room with few if any women, we routinely turn to the topic of how the dating scene sucks.”

Many women I know here would contest those comments, once they picked themselves up off the floor after being doubled over due to fits of hysterical laughter. I don’t know where the guys they talked to were hanging out, but I can probably easily name a dozen places off the top of my head where the male/female ratio is easily 50/50 if not 40/60. San Francisco has more than its fair share of single, college educated women and (at least according to this chart) even more single men. A lot of my single female friends complain that they find this to be a tough dating city, even though the numbers seem stacked in their favor. So what’s going on?

My uneducated thoughts are as follows: One) The substantial gay population here has to skew the numbers in some form or fashion. But once we’re past that, there are probably still more single, straight men (given that law, finance and engineering, major industries here, are still male-dominated) in the area. Two) San Francisco is a transient community, filled with high acheivers who come here for a few years before heading off to grad school or new job opportunities elsewhere. That obviously affects the dating pool because some of the folks who know they’re not sticking around have little use for a serious, committed relationship while others might take the opportunity to date around frequently (but, again, not seriously). So there’s something else going on here, and I think it has to do with this (also from the article):

One reason young women in the prime marriage years – the 25-44 age range – flock to big cities is to compete for the most eligible men. And smart women who gravitate to vibrant cities are more likely to stay single – for longer, at least – because they rightly refuse to settle for someone who can’t keep up with them intellectually or otherwise.

I think it’s certainly true that any of my female friends could go out and hook up with a random guy any night of the week if they so chose, but that’s not what they’re about. They’re looking for something more substantial and they don’t like to entertain the idea of settling (see here if you want the case for settling) because they shouldn’t have to. However, if you combine points one and two above with the fact that there’s still something of a social stigma for women to be single into their late 30’s and early 40’s and then consider that men have no such stigma and can date women all across the age expanse of the dating pool without nary an eye being raised, I think women end up with LESS choice. That was probably confusing (I confused myself writing it), so let me try to use some numbers (not my strong suit) to explain:

Let’s say you have 50 women and 50 men ( keeping in mind I’m making some crude assumptions for the purposes of this thought experiment, so just bare with me). Of your initial 50 men, let’s say 1o of them are gay. Now you have:

50 women vs 40 men

Then assume some cohort of the remaining men are, for whatever reason, not looking for a monogamous relationship. I’m going to cut another 10. Now we’re looking at:

50 women vs. 30 men

Now, not all women are looking for monogamy either, so let’s slice off 10 women. Now we’re at:

40 women vs. 30 men

Just stopping there, there’s a pretty significant imbalance. This is clearly the case in the New York area just based on the raw numbers, but I think there’s a similar dynamic at play here, it’s just a little more counterintuitive to see how it’s working. In other words, this map makes for an interesting conversation piece if you just look at the big blue and pink circles, but I don’t think it’s a great way to try to find your potential mate.

Update: A reader notes that there might be an additional subset of men whom I might mark as “socially inept or otherwise unavailable” (dudes playing Second Life?), so strike another 10 guys. Now you’re back to a 2:1 ratio of women to men. Food for thought.


~ by uvasig on April 2, 2008.

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