awk date.jpgThere’s something rotten in the state of dating. At least that seems to be the current soliloquy.

On a Wednesday evening, I found myself at a launch party for TRY ME, the newest venture to tackle San Francisco’s frustrated singles. I’ll admit: there’s a certain sort of exhilaration walking into a bar and knowing that (1) everyone is single and (2) everyone is looking for a potential relationship. If anything, an events service like TRY ME makes it that much easier approaching a stranger at the bar. These singles want to talk to you!

Of course, two of the singles I managed to talk to were both on a panel called The State of Sex and Dating in SF. In the hour-long panel, survey says San Francisco is fucked (and not in the way we want to be). That seemed to be the consensus for much of the partygoers as well.

“I know more people frustrated with the dating scene here than anywhere else,” said Beth Cook, co-founder of TRY ME. In San Francisco, Cook explained, people are more focused on their careers. There’s no social pressure to commit and settle down, so many people just float by.

Many San Franciscans will agree that dating is on the rocks for the Barbary Coast. They’ll cite our acceptance of online dating, remind you that we’re a tech hub, and worry over what the iPhone has done to the public transit commute. Obviously, it’s the internet’s fault (and bars, apparently), and we’re going to be single well past the time our ovaries stop producing eggs, especially since we harvested a bunch of those back in our early 20s to pay off student loans.

But now we’re just scapegoating San Francisco’s technology scene. First of all, I’ve never known anyone personally who was a match made in Muni. Oh, I’m sure there exists a couple somewhere who met as they were pressed up against each other in the 5:30 p.m. rush on the N-Judah, but most people don’t really want to try to make small talk and then bomb in front of 50 other people smelling each other’s pits in a plastic and aluminum tube. Just sayin’.

We–as a collective culture–have always complained about dating and romance. Look throughout the past century in our songs, movies, TV shows, and books. And not even the past century! Jane Austen, anyone? It’s not just San Francisco, and it’s not just the year 2000whatever.

Dating is often a means to an end. You date because you want a relationship of sorts: ongoing sex, a casual but regular thing in which you never meet the parents, a serious partner, maybe even marriage. When we don’t reach that end, that’s when dating becomes frustrating. It’s a constant quest, a string of unfortunate first dates–until, eventually, you stop because you’ve found your end…or because they have a nice end (heh heh).

Dating doesn’t necessarily need to be fixed or saved. Regardless of what method you use to find your partners, you will always run into duds or periods of solitude. It’s about finding the right method for you: an events-based service like TRY ME will scare the timid, but a dating site could overwhelm with the paradox of choice.

No matter where I go or whom I talk to, people will bemoan the dating scene. Humans are very social and lustful creatures, so it makes sense that we get frustrated when we don’t have good mates. But it’s up to us to work with our culture–not against it–to make dating work for us, however you define that notion of success. Not all of your dates will end in a mutual declaration of undying soulmate love…otherwise you’d only need that one date (or if you’re polyamorous, like, three or four). You moved to San Francisco because you wanted to, remember? Use what makes San Francisco so unique to your advantage. Who knows? Maybe you will meet the love of your life on the bane of your commute after all.

Image by Exit343.

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  • aeryn

    So very true. A year after this article is still incredibly relevant!!
    Yes we need to embrace what the city has to offer and not make it an obstacle – but honestly, most of the SF population has crazy non committal issues (men or women) I love geeks and gays but it doesn’t leave us with much choice! (yes this is a little exaggerated but oh well)