Top 10 Tips To Surviving Dating In The Nation’s Capital
Washington, DC is home to many Americans who come to live the American dream. You have your politicians, lobbyists, post-graduates, college/frat groups, work transplants, immigrants, and the locals who were born and raised there. The sights and sounds of DC will leave you breathless including the world famous monuments, museums, theatre attractions and parks and recreation. When you visit DC, you gain a sense of pride and humility for the greatness of our nation.
But if you’re single, don’t sell your house and move there just yet! Dating in DC can be a whole other scenario. Although DC is one of the greatest wonders of the world, it’s also well known for its challenging dating scene. I’ve had the great luck of having to maneuver in DC as a post-graduate of Howard University. While in school, I never had a problem getting a date. I didn’t even realize there was a dating scene! I dated, went to school, studied and hung out with my friends on occasion to celebrate the end of the term or semester - typical life of a young student in DC.
It wasn’t until I went to graduate school there that I realized dating in DC was no joke! As a newly minted MBA, I was ready to tackle the world. There was one problem, though. I still wanted to complete my dream of having a happy family. I had completed my education as my parents asked me to do and now I wanted to raise a family of my own. I found it to be quite challenging despite the statistics of the increasing amount of singles that relocate there every year. It was great to have so many singles but not so great when you only want to settle down with one of them.
So why is the dating scene so difficult? Well, when most people think of DC, they think of the President of the United States, Congressional officials, and the lobbyists. Nowhere else in this country do you have so much power centrally located and accessible by the “metro line” – a term used by the natives to denote the subway system. Power is embedded within the culture from the politicians to the college graduates to the average government workers. Even the most humble among us move there and suddenly become enmeshed within the culture and become power hungry. I had a girlfriend once say to me, “people move here from the farm or out of the ghetto and then not recognize where they came from”.
Well, I don’t believe dating in DC has to be all bad but it certainly does require serious adjustments if you live there or plan to live there sometime in the future. I’ve listed a few tips below to help you enjoy your stay.
1. Be Open And Friendly – When I first moved to DC, I noticed a bit of reserve in the people immediately. Having travelled all over the world, I found it quite startling how reserved people were in the nation’s capital. And it wasn’t just me, many of my friends had encountered it as well. The one way to stand out there is to be fairly open and friendly to people. Say hello to people as you go to work or school in the mornings. You will stand out more because most people there are so busy in the “hustle and bustle” of life that they don’t have the time nor feel they have to speak to you. But when you’re single, you have an extra motivation to get to know people because the next person you speak to may be your wife or husband.
2. When Meeting People, Avoid Starting The Conversation With “So What Do You Do For A Living? – Every region has its own dialect and this one rings true for DC. If I had a dollar for every time I hear this question, I would be filthy rich! This is not a bad question but it can be a turnoff when you don’t even know the person’s name! When meeting someone, ask questions outside of their career or money status. It just lets the person know that you are not superficial and that you have genuinely taken an interest in them.
3. Expand Your Dating Pool Outside Of Your Zip Code – Interestingly enough, there are 2 major surrounding metropolitan areas outside of DC – Northern Virginia and Baltimore. Most people who live there have a certain ideal commuting area in which they choose to date – usually not more than 30 minutes away or towards the opposite end of the traffic. I don’t really blame them for their preferences but expanding your dating pool may help you to reach a wider audience of potential mates.
4. Don’t Be A Groupie – Even as a young student attending school in DC, I would see the amount of people who come to DC thinking they will meet some wealthy politician or other high profile person who would sweep them off their feet and whisk them off into the life they had always dreamed. Such wishful thinking will get you into some deep trouble in DC. Just as you come to DC with “fly by night” dreams so do the “opportunists”. As a matter of fact, there are probably more of them in DC creeping in the night waiting for some young naïve woman (or man) new to DC to take full advantage of them and leave them with a bad taste in their mouth from living there.
5. Be Selective (Not Picky!) When It Comes To Dating – This doesn’t just relate to DC but people in all major cities like DC, LA, and New York. When you’re in a place where there are lots of beautiful singles, you tend to get pickier about your perceived choices. But just as you think you can do much better than dating the average looking person, so does the other person who probably thinks you’re not so great either. It’s one of the primary reasons I think people that live in these areas stay single for a very long time. They’re always looking for the next best thing. But don’t get me wrong, I believe you should show that you do have some selection criteria to eliminate the people who are just not a good fit for you.
6. Avoid Becoming A Workaholic – People in DC work a lot. Even during the government shutdown where it was illegal to work, I overheard someone say they still had to work! I believe this is the other part of the reason there are so many singles in the area is because they can’t balance their home life with their professional lives. It is a serious issue, even though it is dismissed by many in the professional help communities (probably because they’re workaholics too!). If you do live in the area or plan to move here, try to balance your career and personal life. Take vacations as scheduled. You’ll notice your colleagues and peers’ working well beyond what is required of them trying to make it up the corporate and government ladder and perhaps even notice how their home lives have suffered because of it.
7. Be Cautious As To Whom You Call A Friend – If there was one piece of advice I could give to you in moving there, it would be to be careful who you consider to be a friend. DC is a big “melting pot” of cultures and ethnicities with people from all over the world. Because of this, people have come with their own agendas. In other words, not everyone may have your best interests at heart. One tip I recommend is to be sure that the people you call as friends have earned the right to have that title.
8. Avoid Political Conversations, If Possible – I generally discourage talking about politics on the first few dates because in this town people get emotional over their political affiliations. But you may be surprised at how much you have in common with people outside of your political party. For that reason, I encourage people to stick to light hearted conversations in the beginning of the dating process. You don’t want to have to break up with a perfectly good guy or girl over whether we should continue to fund Medicare or not!
9. Become Online Dating Saavy – Online dating can be a really useful tool in big cities where you can feel like a little fish in a big pond. Using online dating to find the right mate may save you tons of time that may otherwise be wasted on people who are not the right fit for you. If you can learn to master online dating, you will be off in no time enjoying the sights and sounds of DC with your new beau!
10. Know When To Relocate, If Necessary! – If you’ve lived here a long time and still have not found anyone compatible, than it may be time to decide whether you should relocate to another area. Please do consider whether you have exhausted all options to finding someone because relocation can be a big step. If you’re not prepared money wise or don’t have a job lined up in another area, then finding a mate will become the least of your worries. Still, I believe you’re personal/family life is just as important as you’re professional life. When you are lacking in that area, I don’t believe you can have a happy and fulfilled life.
In short, Dating in DC is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of tenacity, perseverance and patience to find someone special in the area. “This certainly isn’t Kansas, Dorothy.” Of course, there are those few lucky people who meet in college, get married and settle down almost with ease. Unfortunately, everyone can’t be that lucky. That’s why I’ve listed my tips to help you get through the maze. If you stay true to who you are as a person, follow my tips, I’m sure you’ll be fine. And if you find that DC is not for you but you’ve enjoyed your stay, than hopefully you will have created the best memories of your life.