Empty Bar in Seattle

She took off the last of her clothes and pulled me closer, kissing me and tightening her embrace. I thought I knew what would be next. I reached for a condom and began to tear it open. Suddenly, she said she needed to go and fetched an Uber; she was gone within minutes. She’d been delightful and I’d enjoyed her company the whole evening but seriously, what had I been doing in bed with a 24-year-old from Tinder? Apparently, in that moment, my date was asking herself the same question. The next day she texted, “you seem really great but I think our difference in age is too much for me.” Of course it was.

The honest answer to my question is that I was eager to have any kind of companionship – intimacy and sex of any kind have become increasingly scarce over the past several years. In fact, I’ve found sustaining friendships and fostering community more difficult as well. I’m long past college and have worked independently for over a decade, most of my friends have paired off and had children. Sometimes I wonder if the opportunity to begin deeper social relationships has passed me by.

I’m sharing all of this because I know that a number of you relate.

Seattle’s Changing Face

In May 2014, I blogged about Amazon’s impact on the Seattle dating scene, put simply: “not enough ladies too many mans”. The post quickly went viral and spawned a number of follow-ups – the most popular of which, “Amazon is Killing My Sex Life” by Tricia Romano, made it into the late New York Times’ columnist David Carr’s curriculum for his communications class.

Sad Google Search on Seattle Dating

Sad Google search that appeared in my web analytics

When SeattleMet included me in last July’s “Perfect Dinner Party” with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, I felt a private, poignant irony in how at odds it seemed with my actual social life.

Then, in November 2014, I wrote “‘Amageddon’: Seattle’s Increasingly Obvious Future”, which hit a nerve and received well over a hundred thousand page views. In the wake of these posts, I’ve heard from a lot of people about their love-hate relationship with Seattle and its changing face.

I also hear it frequently on my dates – of which there have been many. Too many.

If there’s one thing I can do as a writer, it’s initiate conversations about what’s happening where we live and in our society. As ill-advised as it may seem, I want to share my experience with dating, friendship and the Seattle Freeze after forty.

Friendship and the Seattle Freeze

Seattle historian and columnist Knute Berger says that “despite our smiles, we can be a passive-aggressive, cold-shouldered kind of place.” He calls it “Seattle Nice”:

If you’re the kind of person who invites neighbors you’ve never met to a get-to-know you barbecue, well, it might help you to know we have a name for people who do things like that: They’re called ‘stalkers.’

I’ve had the same neighbors for 15 years and while we’ve house-sat for each other’s cats and come over to wish them farewell on the eve of their euthanasia, we’ve never actually had dinner together.

Seattle is infamous for its freeze. For a long time, I was a skeptic but the growth of the city and its male-dominated tech scene has brought a unique new chill.

My housemates and I have hosted a number of fun dinner parties but in Seattle one serves as a perpetual host because the invitations are nearly never reciprocated. After a while those unrequited relationships get really old. I’ve gradually begun a purposeful fade from acquaintances who rarely make the effort that I do to reach out.

I’ve also signed off Facebook. The company exists primarily to market deeply personal information about us to for profit corporations. Science tells us that it can make us feel badly and “the heaviest users are either neurotics or narcissists.” Plus I thought (perhaps naively) that anyone who wanted to keep in touch would do so in person. Honestly, most haven’t.

As comfortable as I remain with my decision, my departure from Facebook has impacted my social life, as Portlandia so eloquently captures: once Carrie disconnects, Fred forgets he ever knew her:

As I’ve matured, I’m seeking more quality relationships from both friends and loved ones – relationships that are regularly nurtured with equal effort. I’ve learned that the path of finding this can be a long and solitary one.

Most of my married and/or parenting friends used to invite me to their daytime parties with other families, but slowly we all realized it’s not much fun to be the single person at those events, and my attendance and the invitations slowed.

I went to college far from where I grew up and settled in a town across the country from there. I’ve worked independently for 15 years, either running small teams or working alone. I’ve considered leaving consulting to return to traditional work partly for the social benefits but I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable if I deepen my roots any further in Seattle. I’m concerned about where the city’s headed and its values. (If “Amageddon” concerned you – note that Amazon’s acquiring enough office space to double and possibly triple its headcount by 2019.)

Isolation in the evenings is more pronounced than it used to be since few of us talk on the phone anymore. I had dinner with a woman who’d recently begun dating again after a divorce. “It seems like people do a lot of texting,” she said. I know millennials experience this differently but texts still feel transactional to me, best used when you’re running late (if you’re one of those people who still meets friends in person).

Perhaps it’s that talking on cellphones still sucks. Who wants to punctuate their conversations with, “No, I didn’t move! Can you hear me now?” Or perhaps it’s that the average American watches five hours of television a day. No wonder we’ve stopped calling each other, it interferes with “House of Cards”.

Dating in Seattle

Something broke for me when my Tinder date rode off in her Uber. Certainly, the social scientist in me found it interesting to see someone’s brain flip so quickly from sexual expression to the intellectual assessment of risks and consequences, cultural expectations, and potential emotional baggage. Ultimately, I had to accept that dating in Seattle was no longer working for me and it’s been this way for a long time now.

Frankly, dating in my 40s here has sucked.

In “You’ve Got Male”, I estimated that Amazon’s Seattle headcount has grown by nearly 20 thousand since 2010. The company refuses to release its technology diversity numbers. They’ve brought so many men to Seattle a friend said she’s heard their tech workforce is 95% male. After my dating article, I began to take more notice around town – even geekily counting at times. Once at my favorite coffee house, there were 18 men and one woman. These are numbers that don’t naturally occur in nature.

Seattle Gentrification Capitol Hill

Credit: Cultures clash as gentrification engulfs Capitol Hill: Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times

Make no mistake, the culture of Seattle is changing. In addition to Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing, Google, Apple, Facebook, SpaceX, and many other firms are moving in or expanding investments. The San Francisco-ization of Seattle is well underway.

Critics said “You’ve Got Male” sounded “entitled”, but it’s a natural human desire to find a partner and demographics matter. When every community activity you attend is overpopulated by guys, it makes finding a potential match significantly harder.

Undesired Attention

Another downside to the abundance of men in Seattle is that women are bombarded with unwanted come-ons and requests for sex. A woman I met who just arrived in town said she’s already had a dinner out interrupted by a drunk guy hitting on her and on another night, received drunk texts from a coworker. Another woman said that she frequently receives texts with unsolicited dick pics as soon as she gives out her number.

Browse any dating site and you’ll see large numbers of women with disclaimers: “NOT looking for casual hookups,” “NOT here for random sex!” or one of a plethora of variations in this theme. It’s a way women are trying to deflect this type of undesired attention.

But one of the challenges I’ve found with dating in my 40s is that most people are so focused on finding long-term relationships, that physical intimacy in between those rarified relationships is scarce.

We’re immersed in a dysfunctional culture that celebrates male promiscuity and largely shames female promiscuity. This and the current demographic trends may have other consequences as well.

Berger reports, “Seattle’s sex industry is undergoing an explosive period of growth with brothels replaced by social media and online sex sites…Human trafficking is again a major concern; feeding libidos is a lucrative business.” Diplomatically, he says, “There’s no evidence that this is due to Amazon men.” Maybe they’re only buying cars.

If women want sex, I presume it’s easy for them to find – there are guys lining up for that (with dick pics!) In “What I Learned About ‘Myself’ From Internet Trolls”, Romano found it curious that no one had suggested, “the girls are obviously not sleeping with [Reifman] because they can sleep with hot 20-year-old guys with ripped abs.”

She may be right; I’ve slept alone most of the last two years.

When I occasionally check in with “Savage Love”, I frequently wonder what universe people write from. In my experience, sexual fluidity and the opportunity for experimentation is scarce. However, I empathized with the husband who opened his marriage only to find that his wife was in high demand and he was not:

She has hundreds of men lined up to take her out on dates and is gone most nights of the week. I am happy for her and love that she’s having a good time, but I am bored and lonely at home and have no idea how to meet like-minded, young, attractive women.

Good luck with that. But let’s be honest, my dating difficulties run deeper than gender imbalance.

Shopping For People

I’ve had literally over a hundred dates in the past two years but connection has been elusive.

Maybe it’s me, but maybe it’s because the ubiquity of online and mobile dating is changing the way we meet and build relationships with people and not for the better. It’s turning us into shoppers of people.

Sharif Corinaldi, a geeky OKCupid hacker, recently wrote in The Guardian, “online dating sites are built on this perverse, inverted pyramid of desirability.” He says, “Women rated as highly attractive get 28 times more messages than women rated on the lower end of the hotness curve.”

Young women and women that reflect cultural perceptions of attractiveness are more empowered dating than ever. In their hands, they hold apps with queues of men waiting to take them out or take them home. A young sex positive female data analyst I met via OKCupid told me proudly that when she swipes right on Tinder in Seattle, 98% of the men match her back.

hacker made tinder bot

Artist Tully Arnot’s Tinder Robot

Most of the women I’ve met on OKCupid say they typically receive from 15 to 50 messages weekly – and many of them are also receiving messages on Tinder. That’s the noise a Seattle guy has to break through. Corinaldi estimated he might need to send four hundred messages to get a date.

Women frequently complain about the short messages men send them online; the reason may be that we’re exhausted. I’m a writer and even I can only send so many intriguing emails before the lack of response saps me of my last ounce of cleverness.

Yes, online dating in Seattle feels like work and as such has turned some users into professionals. Many first dates feel like interviews. Checklists are inventoried and it often feels like people are swiping me left in their mind. I try but it’s hard to inject any playfulness into these outings. A nurse I met who gets three days off weekly said she once scheduled four dates in a day (it didn’t sound to me like a one time thing.)

The amount of time people spend on Tinder is ridiculous:

Mobile Dating Apps Market Share By Session - Tinder

And its growth the past few years parallels the changes I’ve seen in the culture of dating:

tinder-mau

Tinder may be the one-click ordering of the dating world for some but for me the opposite is true. If I want to feel badly about myself, Tinder is the go-to app.

Stories abound of geeks like Corinaldi hacking dating sites, a sure indication the technology’s not working well for everyone.

Dating technology creates a perception of abundance but many men and women feel left out.

Says Corinaldi, “The problem is that the likelihood of a successful pairing decreases quadratically with the pickiness of the participants.”

Second and third dates are no longer part of the dating culture; why bother when there are always more people? This may be the first time in our lives when you meet a date that they’re comparing you to scores of recent suitors and return home to messages from half a dozen more.

Even if you set aside time for a date, same day cancellations are epidemic – it happens about a third of the time:

Seattle Dating Last minute cancellation

It used to be commonplace for me to build friendships from first and second dates that weren’t a romantic fit. These days, women I meet are often so busy socially and professionally that it’s hard to make new friends. More recently, most of my exes moved so quickly into new relationships that we drifted apart or our friendship ended as their new relationships deepened. An acquaintance that wanted to set me up said the friend she’d planned to connect me with just got engaged with a guy she recently met online.

Most of the women I’ve met in Seattle are fluidly cycling in and out of relationships, whereas I’ve been single for most of the last four years.

Fuck Yes or No

I agree with Mark Manson’s eloquent “Fuck Yes or No”:

The Law of ‘Fuck Yes or No’ states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say ‘Fuck Yes’ in order for you to proceed with them [and] that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a ‘Fuck Yes’ in order for you to proceed with them.

But one thing I’ve noticed from my dates is that few people seem satisfied – in fact, most seem less satisfied than ever.

Recently I had a promising first date that went well enough to last three and a half hours. A few days later she emailed me, “I must say, I had a really great time with you over the course of dinner and the evening. I found you to be very relatable and I believe we share many similarities in terms of our worldview and approach to life. You certainly did and would challenge me to aspire to be my best self.” But that wasn’t enough, she continued, “At this point, I’m not sure if I feel like there is much potential for us to be great romantic partners.”

In my experience, the combination of Seattle’s gender imbalance coupled with mobile dating technologies mean that I much less frequently meet women in public who are single. In the past, I began a number of serious relationships with women I initially met offline. We’d flirt and I’d ask to join them. It might just be me, but straight flirting seems dead in Seattle. I sense a distinct lack of availability.

It might be our laptops, smartphones, headphones and our constant texting and swiping – I just don’t know how to make eye contact with people anymore. And I rarely sense that women in Seattle are open to meeting people in the real world, although if I were getting all those texts of dick pics I would probably be a little more closed off too.

The avenues by which we used to meet and build relationships in real life have been slowly closed off by our technologies.

Aging and Obesity

I’m a lefty activist with strong political views; I’m vegetarian, drug free and I prefer to live a healthy aware lifestyle inspired by yoga practice and philosophy, so meeting people out at night is difficult for me.

Age definitely makes it harder to find partners that are health conscious and have a desire to remain active.

A fit older friend who practices yoga regularly complained to me that she’s stopped dating because the men she’d met online were completely out of shape. But even a woman in her 30s told me she’s having difficulty finding fit men her age.

Seattle Techies at Happy Hour

Seattle Techies at Happy Hour

The CDC reports that 69% of adult Americans are overweight or obese. In researching How Seahawk Are You Seattle, Sorry Not Much, I learned that the average weight for men rose ‘dramatically’ from 166.3 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002; women went from 140.2 pounds 164.3 pounds.

These results have played out in my experience in the Seattle dating pool and in my own body. An injury and surgery derailed me from running and hiking and keeping up with more active communities the last couple of seasons. I put on weight. I wasn’t obviously overweight but over the last eight months I’ve managed to lose a surprising 30 pounds and counting.

Author Brene Brown says, “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.” Whether with food, prescriptions, or recreational drugs, a lot of us medicate to handle the challenges of modern life. The New York Times reports, “One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four.” And those are just the pharmaceuticals.

What I’ve Learned About the Seattle Freeze and Dating

Microsoft brought me to Seattle more than 20 years ago. You could say I was part of an early wave of “program bromanagers.” I’m also a beneficiary of the region’s technology successes.

Street Art Capitol Hill Gentrification Seattle

While you can make a lot of people a lot of money, you can’t hire mostly men for decades without breaking something in a place.

I’m pleased to see Intel and Apple make significant investments in diversity but regional behemoths Amazon and Microsoft have not.

I’m not sure present and future Seattle is for me. Certainly, the demographics make dating an uphill battle I no longer want to struggle with.

There’s amusingly terrifying logic to David Kestenbaum’s anecdote from This American Life: basically the odds of finding an ideal relationship partner where you live is essentially zero.

And unfortunately for Northwest guys, gender balance is nowhere nearby:

Metros with More Single Men

As much as technology erodes our real world communication skills, I know it can bring people together. But, at the end of a day on the computer, the last thing I want to do is get back online sending messages in the hopes of meeting new people.

The week of my Amazon post, a dormant article I’d written about relationship cutoff from the year before suddenly went viral when an advice blogger wrote about it and an acquaintance of my ex launched a harassment campaign against me. For a week, my Twitter feed was filled with rage and personal attacks. Some of the nicer folks said they were glad my photo appeared on the article so Google could ensure I never got a date again. Others mocked my Amazon post and suggested I look in the mirror, that the problem was me.

Rest assured, over the last few years, I’ve considered that seriously too.

Facing Yourself

Living with sustained isolation has forced me to face myself and focus on changes I wish to make. For me, yoga has helped build capacity for this process. And, it’s also made me more selective about the kinds of people I want in my life – yet another reason that these days I date less, not more.

This past year, my writing and consulting has taken off. I’ve never been more satisfied with the person I’ve become and other areas of my life. Routinely I hear from women I date that they feel quickly comfortable with me and from acquaintances that they’re glad I’m a part of their community. I’ve stepped up my friendship game. I’ve become a better listener. I make time for people and I try to stay playful.

But in Seattle, none of this has translated into deeper friendships or meaningful romance.

I’ve never been a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of guy; I’m more of a “tend your lawn” type. But, after years of my best efforts, I have to accept that something in the soil here may have gone bad.

So I’ve decided it’s time to get out of Seattle for a bit. I’ve traveled more frequently in the Northwest and have made arrangements to be increasingly nomadic the remainder of the year.

Evolution-based theories of attraction say that online dating undermines a legacy of subtle cues we’ve developed to identify optimal partners. I’m ready to try meeting more people in the real world away from saturated areas of tech culture. Wish me luck.

Note: There’s now a landing page for sharing on social media if you want to post with a bit of added discretion: http://jeffreifman.com/peepless-in-seattle/

Related Stories About Dating and the Seattle Freeze

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. Check out Portland Wild, a visual map-driven guide to Portland's public art, its Heritage Trees and its Little Free Libraries.

48 Comments

  1. First, you’re not going to find a woman you have a long-lasting connection with on tinder. You’re going to find her by building a real social network of friends, branching out, and growing as a person. I know plenty of great girls who aren’t on tinder because they know that’s not going to magically find someone they really like and have a lot of shared interests with.

    Regardless of whether or not you agree with the above, I find your perspective on same day cancellations (flaking) very unfortunate. I used to feel the same way as you. I’d get frustrated the 9 out of 10 times (much worse than your 1 out of 3, but the women I date are a bit younger than the ones you date) that a woman would flake on a first or second date. Just as you do in this article in citing the The Law of “Fuck Yes or No,” I’d think “if she really liked me and wasn’t just screwing around, she wouldn’t have flaked. She was just leading me on.” The hypocrisy is that if YOU really liked HER that much, you’d forgive her for cancelling and say that the two of you should meet up another time. It goes both ways.

    What’s so funny about the text message conversation example is that she apologized profusely and you didn’t respond to her. At this point, most women just move on because they figure you’re a jerk, but she even texted you again to try and get a response. She obviously was really interested in you but was, like many women are, apprehensive about meeting one-on-one in person. If you persisted over a longer period of time, got to know her a little more, she might warm up to you and would be hoping and waiting for you to ask her out again. Women become affectionate and fall in love very differently from the way men do. If you’re actually looking to connect with a woman and not just have sex, you have to show her that by courting her over time. If you’re just looking for a hookup, then I guess you’re SOL.

    I always expect women to flake on the first date. I usually even already have plans to go out with friends the same night because I know she’ll flake. If she doesn’t, it’s a bonus and I’ll see my friends another time. When she does, I just say “no problem, maybe another time!” You don’t know what mental space she’s in at that moment so it’s best to just have a good attitude and be understanding. She might have had a horrible date last week and she’s worried that this will be a repeat. She might like you so much that she’s afraid the zit that popped up on her chin this morning is going to ruin her chances with you!

    Anyway, I follow up a few days later with a short conversation. Something funny or something that reminded me of her and ask her how she’s doing. From that conversation, I try to think of another date (something a little different from the first one. Not just asking her to drinks again) she might like. Guess what? If she’s still talking to you and you’ve been a little flirty so she knows you’re interested in her romantically, she’ll almost always muster up the courage to not flake out on you again. There have been times when I’ve found that a girl who flaked out on me ends up being the one inviting me out because I kept talking to her and didn’t get my nuts twisted over her cancelling. It shows her that you’re easy-going, grounded, and secure. No woman wants to go out on a date with a winy bitch!

    And guess what? If you’re not willing to forgive her for cancelling and keep trying, you actually probably weren’t that into her anyway and we just looking for someone to sleep with. In that case, she was right for cancelling because that’s not what she was looking for in the first place!

    Reply

    1. Hi Seattleite, thanks for sharing this. Personally, I think you’re reading deeply into a few anecdotes and making broader assumptions than I feel are true for me.

      With regard to same day cancellations, this has happened so frequently that I’ve made a decision not to give second chances – if someone plans something with me and I plan with them say a week or so ahead of time, I would like people to show regard for my time just as I have for theirs. I think the phrase, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” applies here. These are people we don’t know – and flaking out doesn’t trigger my desire to try harder but to simply move on.

      Certainly, I could be more patient or persistent but I’ve actually had people flake out the second time as well at a high rate. The phrase “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” comes to mind.

      Reply

    2. Some people hold themselves and others to a higher standard. Commitments have to mean something. If a woman agrees to meet you at a given place and time and then decides she wasn’t romanced enough, then SHE IS A WASTE OF TIME. She is clearly not above wasting YOUR time. Why should you play this game? Should we treat women like infants? Is that what you’re advocating?

      Reply

      1. Thanks Wh1te. I’d also add that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to realize I want a partner who’s intellectually strong and has a high emotional IQ … having capacity to manage her schedule and having regard for other people’s efforts and time is a pre-requisite.

        Reply

  2. I loved this post – thanks for sending it. Glad I am still on your list from last year as I can’t attend the WDS this year. Just want to say – I am 60ish but what you say is very much applicable to us as well. I am in Mexico over the winter months, and there are many singles (Gringos) here although the scale is tipped the other direction. There’s a huge writers’ community in this area – now and historically. Google “Lake Chapala” and “famous writers visits” and you’ll find DH Lawrence, Somerset Maugham and Tennesee Williams all wrote here.

    Reply

    1. Hi Sue. Mexico sounds nice 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

  3. Why, enjoy the feminist society that you’ve helped to build as a lefty activist. It’s only going to get worse for smart and intelligent beta men like you.

    Reply

    1. Thanks this is so well crafted and humorous I can’t bring myself to mod it down.

      Reply

      1. I feel humbled by your snarky witticisms and intend to retire to a monastery in order to change my worldview ASAP.

        Seriously though, I know it’s mean, but there is some poetic justice in this. Leftists and feminists have been working on lowering the sexual market value of average men and raising that of average women. Now you discover that you’re priced out of the market. Shocking! Kinda like a guy who would gentrify a working class neighborhood only to discover he cannot pay the rent anymore.

        Reply

        1. Well, there is the answer, we can win by not playing. I think single American men of all stripes and colors have become too fixated on the attractive American white 20-something. They’re garbage, honestly…whiny, materialistic, manipulative, self-centered, controlling gold-digging whores, the lot of them, with a few morbidly obese exceptions. There are tons of attractive, modest, and traditionally raised women on the islands, and south and central America that would be grateful to have an American man. We can eat other men’s lunch in most places in the world because we carry the American dollar. 😉

          Reply

    2. Diclonius Franbunny March 24, 2015 at 9:15 am

      I’m not sure if you’re stupid, just trolling, or if you’ve drank way to much of the kool-aid.

      Reply

      1. All of the above.

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      2. I’m not used to his type writing so articulately.

        Reply

  4. Thanks so much P.D. I appreciate it. I’m really hoping my next Nora Ephron title will be “When Jeffrey Met Sally”

    Reply

  5. “But one of the challenges I’ve found with dating in my 40s is that most people are so focused on finding long-term relationships, that physical intimacy in between those rarified relationships is scarce.”

    So this might sound snarky but it’s really not meant to be. Why not just hire a prostitute if that’s what you’re after or get a sugar baby? It’s really f’ing expensive to live in Seattle and I know plenty of gals that would be interested in that sort of arrangement. And I thought having resources was the whole point of being a white straight male over 40.

    Reply

    1. Who in their right mind would trust a mercenary?

      Reply

  6. You probably need to create an app to connect Seattle dudes with NYC ladies….a friend shared this post with me, and basically every single woman over 35 in NYC (where I live) could say the same thing from opposite side 😉

    Reply

    1. There’s an awful concept company called the Dating Ring doing that and sadly the Startup podcast is featuring next season on the company.

      Reply

  7. His messages show him going out of his way to be as accommodating as possible to her – giving her every option as to time, venue and food – and you declare he’s ‘asking her to cancel’ and being ‘strict’ and ‘inflexible’. I’m at a loss as to figure out your motive for writing such tripe.

    Also, it is highly offensive and sexist of you to write about women as a monolith. This particular woman is a flake; that doesn’t give you the right to declare every woman is.

    Reply

  8. Ronan_Tha_acuser May 4, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    People who complain about the “Seattle freeze” are usually just boring, we don’t find you interesting in the least.

    So, please kindly go home.

    Reply

    1. cardboardurinal June 17, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      People who say the Seattle “Freeze” doesn’t exist is likely from Seattle and has never noticed it. Besides, how can you tell someone is boring when you don’t talk to them?

      Reply

  9. I’ve read a few of your articles on this subject and some of the followup ones that were done in regard to it.

    My theory is that some of the Seattle Freeze comes down to having a lot of people with the same personalities all in one area. Of course, it also doesn’t help that several of the largest employers either hire work-alcoholics or make their schedules so you have to work tons of hours.

    The technologies of course are a huge contributor to the lack of people talking and being buried in their phones – leading me to think it’s a societal freeze anymore that is not unique to Seattle. From the discussions I’ve had with friends across the US, they’re seeing it as well. I feel like it is very hard in this day and age to make connections with people – they’d rather talk about TV or games than have real conversations.

    The dating scene in this era where more of it seems to be online vs in person is frustrating. I’ve tried OKCupid and EHarmony. On OKCupid, I find I usually get a number of lewd remarks or a few decent conversations (i.e. they actually read the profile and came with questions from it). I’ve messaged a few guys before – had one that just went with a straight “Thanks for the message but I don’t think we’d work” based purely off my profile. Another that seemed nice and we talked without a problem – we were going to meet up but then he revealed he had just started going through a divorce. Of the ones I’ve met up with but haven’t wanted to date, most have either been too involved in their work to not have any other hobbies, haven’t shown interest in my work/ hobbies, or we just don’t have enough in common in terms of hobbies to talk much/ no chemistry.

    I feel like having engineer in my profile as a female actually is a detriment. One of my friends tried to set up a blind date for me with someone she knew – upon hearing I was an engineer, his response to her was “No, I don’t think I want to date a girl that’s too smart”. I recently took my profile off OKCupid, but had seriously considered getting rid of the job area just to see if that actually had an impact.

    I’ve just decided to focus on making myself happy/ doing what I want to do and if the rest works out, so be it.

    Reply

  10. This is an interesting article from the male perspective. I’m not single myself but I have a number of single friends here in Seattle in the 37-42 age range and they complain that there are no single men anywhere. It seems to be true – I know many attractive, successful, fun, active single women and I know approximately zero single men. Is it just that men in this same age range have a larger pool of women to date? 35-45 year old men have no problem dating in the 25-35 age range but any woman over 35 is like dating anthrax. You say you have gone on over 100 dates, but my friend (thin, fit, attractive, successful, witty) can’t even get anyone to meet her in person for a date. It’s just horrible online conversations where people don’t talk like normal people, maybe one message every other day that is completely boring. Is it just that there are too many other options out there? I’m always looking for someone to fix her up with and it’s impossible. I look at more guys now than I did when I was single! But her online dating stories make me want to cry.

    Reply

    1. Thank you for posting this. I can absolutely see how 35+ year old women would have the same experience that most (non-studly) Seattle men have, and it’s valuable for me to read.

      The important thing for everyone who isn’t a 20-35 year old woman or hunk of a man to understand is that this is a shitty situation for just about all of us. It can be easy to get into an “us vs them” mentality when enough dates fail or flake or you don’t hear back, but overall we’re a bunch of alright ladies and alright gents. It’s just something about the combination of supply/demand, technology, depressing winters, and the sheer number of us that are transplants that effs it all up.

      My strategy is to just stay positive, focus on myself, and trust that it’ll all work out in the end.

      Reply

      1. Thanks for sharing this.

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  11. Hi Jeff,
    It’s not any easier for older women in Seattle. I’m 64 and divorced. Even with all the online dating options, Seattle is a tough place to meet somebody. Men my age all want women who are 20 years younger. Maybe that’s where women your age are ending up – exchanging fucks for bucks (cute younger women with older, retired men with money.) In any case, the dating scene in Seattle sucks for seniors as well. Good luck with your quest!
    Sunsetsu

    Reply

    1. 64? What is the point of dating a 64 year old woman unless she has a lot of money to share. : )

      Reply

  12. Stuck in your own perspective much?

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  13. Great article Jeff, I’m based in San Francisco and dating is just as hard here. I’m keen to know if you have had more luck in your new nomadic life away from Seattle?

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    1. Hi Chal, I’ve been dating someone the past few months in Seattle – she’d recently moved here when I met her. We’ve traveled the Northwest a lot and my sense is that Seattle has the worst ratio north of the bay area. Portland’s not great but better than Seattle. I don’t expect Amazon’s employees to remain here happily – they’re more likely to rotate out after 1-2 years with the company (as is common now).

      Reply

  14. Move to NYC, it’s the best for men!

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  15. Alexander Scott Johnson October 13, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Jeff,

    I’ve been on well over 100 first dates here in Seattle myself. Despite the age gap (I’m 31) our experiences have been nearly identical… The feeling that you’re just another number… The flaking… The desire not to be a part of the unwelcome attention problem… The horrible evenings spent alone with the dreadful understanding that our phones and computers will never provide us with intimacy… It’s hard to shake the feeling that things are very out of place.

    Picking ourselves back up again, brushing off, and finding the wherewithal to put genuine smiles back on our faces and enthusiasm behind our efforts only seems to get harder every time. I can see why you blog about it. We all need to feel that we’ve been heard, that it’s been recognized that we’re genuinely struggling, and witnessed that we haven’t given up yet.

    There really do seem to be different universes of culture out there that are completely oblivious to these issues, as I’m sure we are to theirs.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for sharing this Alexander.

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  16. I’m not comfortable with some of the language you’ve used here but I think it’s important for Seattle-ites to see how people feel. I have heard women talk about feeling uncomfortable with men in Seattle approaching them in person.

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  17. Catch some YouTube videos by the author and you’ll notice a major factor in the supposed trouble with landing women by virtue of the city’s culture vs. one’s own qualities. Context matters.

    Reply

    1. Have any favorites you’d like to share?

      Reply

  18. Super interesting and useful search site (I’m not currently single but otherwise would be at dinner alone in Edmonds right now) 🙂 I’ll share this with Geekwire.

    Reply

    1. I’m glad you found my site interesting, and hope that readers of Geekwire also will. Maybe Edmonds will be a popular place to hang out, yes 🙂

      Reply

  19. Coupling: or “pairing off” as you called it and having children –– isn’t the only way to have deep social relationships – platonic or otherwise. I think that today, you can build a small, network to satisfy emotional needs that may not be met from just one individual. As a woman, I have two best friends that are my intellectual equals and the often fill voids that may be present in relationships as no one person can usually be the all-in-all for their partner (kinda like those tech unicorns that VCs are always looking for).

    I don’t think we’ve missed anything waiting longer in life or having that dealt to us by life, most of my friends are envious of my freedom and now that I’m 35 and wise, I’ve developed to the point where I know what would work or not. Many couples I know that married early evolved into other people and aren’t really that happy. The best part about doing it later is you know you and thus, when it happens it’ll hopefully last.

    Friendship & Reciprocity: I think in any major metropolitan area, relationships are superficial for the most part. You hosted dinners and gatherings that went unreciprocated. Do you think that those that showed up may have thought that was the reciprocity? Their presence? Coming form Los Angeles, that was most often the sentiment. I showed up, braved 101 to 405 traffic for you, thus my presence is the give back.

    Again, to a point above, I find that having two best friends that live in different ends of the country better than immediate access to many. I travel to them, I get a journey, a story and quality time.

    Consulting: I’d never leave it again, my perceived value is way higher than being in-house. Also, the freedom of scheduling leaves you free to find new relationships in many other places (as you’ve been traveling).

    Leaving vs. Deepening Roots: It seems your at the end of your tenure in Seattle. As I said, I just moved here for Los Angeles, you think Seattle is bad for dating, move to California, you may come back with a new found appreciation. I was in LA for 13 years, I left and returned 3 times because I ultimately wasn’t ready to leave. Before I decided to leave this time, I explored 5 other states – almost bought a house – and then I hit Seattle. It blew everything else to hell. I went back, packed up and moved here. Yes I live right net to Amazon and the socially awkward guys that mostly live in my hipster high-rise all work there. Explore before you leave, or leave temporarily to the perspective is clearer. The beauty of what we do is that it can be done anywhere as long as the Internet isn’t complete shit. Ultimately, all places my have time limits and we leave when they no longer match the person we’ve become.

    Dating: As a woman who’s lived here 30 days, dating here (Seattle) is better than Los Angeles as I don’t have to compete with size 00, siliconed, blonde Barbie doll actresses with blow problems (a common girl men of any age want in Hollywood).

    But what Seattle has left me with is that, “Wow, maybe I should become a call girl and get paid for what I’m asked before I even go out with someone.” Your statements about casual hookups and random sex are correct – but that’s PG. Seattle has some sickos into some pretty disgusting things that I’d never actually think a man would put into writing to a woman he doesn’t know, maybe one day I’ll blog them. It’s seems, that random hookups defines the majority of dating.

    It makes me wonder – are the woman that become transplants gonna balance the dynamics or just become a part of the pattern.

    You say that you’ve met those over 40 that are strictly looking for long-term relationships and that because of that, “sexual fluidity and the opportunity for experimentation is scarce”. Is it a by product of those that live here? Women don’t think that they can enjoy the journey to their final goal? I ask because it’s a well written part of your piece and want to grasp the thought fully.

    Jeff, there a few points in your article that are common thread to dating anywhere.

    Emotional Inmaturity: The letter you linked to off SLOG, when you read down, they were married in their late teens and early twenties. No matter what anyone say, you’re still forming who you’re going to become. Technology IMHO has made this development even slower.

    Technology: We both write about technology’s impact on behavior. You’ve already pulled out the studies so I’ll just sum it up – it’s emotionally stunted both men and women. I think people have an idea of who they are online that then translates to a distorted image of actual self. When that’s translated into modern day dating situations, it leads to all you’ve described – flaky women and horny men. Thus Tinder is created and makes $$$ (Let’s right a post to VCs about funding sex/need based mobile apps, we could make something out of that???).

    It’s almost a no-win situation. So that’s why I simply go my merry way. If I meet someone that will fit my life, isn’t too overly connected to tech, etc – great! If not, I’ve decided that I’m going to be happy living with myself and always seeing this world first hand. Why, because:

    Conscious Living

    There’s no better way to live. I guess, after the run around in online, I’m back to thinking that I’ll meet someone in the real world that like to explore and practice yoga in. I think you’d like visiting Eugene, OR. I spent a few days there, a little to hippie for many but it was nice, people were real and the community things I connected with were genuine. Including impromptu drop-in yoga. And isn’t learning to face yourself grand? It will ultimately take you to the next place or back to Seattle for the next phase.

    I’ll continue to read through your discoveries and journey as it’s something I’ve walked that last year alone. And maybe we’ll both come to the conclusion – alone is okay.

    Reply

    1. Ten Northington January 13, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Macala,

      Great post. I sincerely wish that I could meet and connect with persons like yourself both here in Nashville, within the states, and internationally. You touched on many topics that are not often discussed within the community that I live in here in Nashville. So first, thank you.

      Friendships: I have found that my closest friends, and those that took the time to learn me and invest in my life all live hundreds of miles away. I severely miss the days when I could just pop up at a friends house to chat, eat, laugh, or go hiking and etc. Although it took me a long time to “get here”, I have finally arrived at a place of acceptance that distance is not an indicator of emotional or social connected-ness… That said, I still have many times that would be made more rich if I had a community of like-minded progressive adults within reach. My goals this year are to locate new communities to blossom within.

      Career: I am turning 30 in March, and that has led me to start “leaning in” to my life’s potential. I’ve planned my first international trip to Europe for March, and will then begin to stow away funds to travel through Africa. I’m a late bloomer, as I’m spent the majority of my 20’s obtaining multiple degrees… all to become an HR Consultant. Now, I’m pursuing my personal desires too. I figure, that I don’t know how many days, months, or years that I have left on this planet, so I need to ensure that I don’t tarry on any desires of my heart and soul…

      Relationships: I was all “gung-ho” for marriage, love, and companionship until my last 3 year relationship. It was abusive, and I was too naive to see that I was being emotionally “abused”… Now, I am dealing with the result of that experience, in that I am more cautious about who I spend my time with, and I am in the process of determining if marriage is truly something that will add to my happiness. Not quite sure on that one. #ToBeDetermined

      Balanced Lifestyle: This is a goal that I have off put for the past 8 years… I became aware that I must take care of my body, mind, and spirit around age 21 -22, but I chose not to make it a priority until this year. I’m learning that there are other parts of me that require attention, like my “spirit” or soul… For example, I think that my desire to travel has much more to do with my souls journey than it does my appetite to see new things… I keep getting this “draw” that there is something bigger or more impactful waiting for me somewhere… This “thing” could be literally anything, as I have not received enough information to understand what Im searching for. I suppose that is a part of this path Im on. Knowing that I am being led, but not knowing “to what” until I am prepared to understand or receive it. I also see the benefit and the joy of eating cleaner. That is a priority this year as well. I just hope that I can stay focused on “me” this year.

      Reading your posts inspired me to join Disqus. I wish you well in you life of peace and balance.

      Reply

      1. Ten … there are much more intelligent commentary news groups to join, but you will eventually discover that yourself. Hope your skin in thick, and you are as intelligent as you sound. Disqus needs more of us. 😉

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  20. Jeff hon, Im just going to tell it like it is. Someone needs to. You’ve been blabbing about this issue all over the place, when its not exactly a huge conundrum.
    Your problem isnt Seattle. Its the fact that you are a goofy looking techie who’s bald.
    You’re unattractive (or at best, ‘borderline ok’) and in a city where its 3 women to every guy, most of the women, even the ones who are less attractive themselves, are going to be uber fussy about looks, wallet size, house size, penis size….etc. Ugly dudes – no matter how sweet, kind, educated, witty blah blah blah – stand little to no chance. (well, unless you’re a zillionaire, then its a whole other story.)
    You’re better off moving back East. Disagree with me all you want but that’s the honest truth. You’re only going to be stuck with the super-desperate fatties, old dames and weirdos. Which I’m sure is something you don’t want. And here’s the kicker. Even THOSE ladies are going to find something about you they don’t like.
    And don’t try to pretend you wouldn’t be JUST as shallow, if the odds were in your favor…..!

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  21. So, true. I’m leaving, too. Seattle is not for me and never was….there has to be a more livelier place than this in which real connections can be made…not disingenuous ones. Let’s not even talk about the food…

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  22. about the part about obesity. It kind of irritates me, because it implies that it is automatically the fault of the person that is obese. While certainly obesity can be the result of a person’s life choices it is also a sign of malnutrition . Are you aware obesity is associated with poverty. I think at least partially is a result of the increase in income inequality and the fact that healthier food is either more expensive or requires time to make from scratch this is especially relevant if you have to work 3 jobs just to make ends meet and that you actually have somewhere to cook. Thus making it a challenge for someone on a strictly limited budget to eat healthy. Not impossible, but certainly much more difficult then it seems at first glance.

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  23. 1. Glad I got married when I was in my early 20’s (still am, to the same woman)
    2. Glad I moved to the South from California
    My family are all still all in California, but I find the people in the south to be initially more cautious, but eventually more warm, supportive and accepting than the great majority of people I knew on the West coast.

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  24. I can see both sides to every story, but at the end of the day, I’m still going to have an opinion. Amen Seattleite! Agreed… Perhaps the
    flakiness of the women can be attributed to the tech scene’s icy cold lack of connection in the first place, and not to mention, their AGE. Do you remember when you were in your 20’s?? My bullshit o-meter agrees.

    In the meantime, my 31 year old vagina will continue to shrivel up in this extremely passive, techie saturated, but gorgeous city we call Seattle. As much as I love this city, I can’t handle the loneliness and detachment that comes along with it. I will have to find myself moving back to the Midwest where the guys are more traditional in romance and make you feel like you’re actually a lady.

    My advice to single men (AND women) living in Seattle. Put down your phones, make eye contact, and smile at strangers. I promise, it feels great… And be ballsy!! Walk up to that girl across the coffee shop, interrupt her book, and ask if the seat is taken!! I promise, it will yield results (and chemistry!) with the right person!

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  25. Thoughtful words. Thanks for taking the time to share and write about this. I share your pain. I was born here, and lately I find Seattle to be soulless and rather cold. This phenomenon is deeply troubling and we all should do everything we can to counter the cold trend.

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  26. “We’re immersed in a dysfunctional culture that celebrates male promiscuity and largely shames female promiscuity. ”

    You had little credibility to start, and lost it all at that line. Just another “It’s all men’s fault” piece. Best leave that ideology well alone …

    Reply

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