In case you missed it, in late January Men’s Health magazine ranked Seattle the eighth best city in the country for online dating. Titling its survey piece “Where Couples are Clicking,” Men’s Health ranked Atlanta as the top spot in the country for online dating, followed by Denver and San Diego. Laredo, Texas – among other shortcomings – came in last in the list of 100.
As mentioned, Seattle ranked 8th – an impressive (and perhaps predictable) showing for a city that has staked a heavy claim in the tech industry.
But how much stock can be taken in such an obviously silly list? Is Seattle really a hotbed for online dating? And, perhaps more important, does online dating even work?
Seattle-based dating coach and psychotherapist Kate L. Stewart thinks it can. And she thinks the folks at Men’s Health were right to rank Seattle so highly.
“I think Internet dating is a really great opportunity to access a large group of single people in a much more convenient format than going to coffee shops and bars and trying to strike up conversations with strangers, specifically because it seems that in Seattle most people will give you weird looks if you try to talk to them in public,” says Stewart. “The only other options would be to join softball teams, volunteer every week, and go to as many dance clubs and parties as possible. Here in the real world, most of us don’t have time to do all of those things, and Internet dating is something that can be done in small windows of time, any time of day.
“I think the stats are absolutely true,” Stewart says of the Men’s Health rankings. “Seattleites have a really hard time interacting with each other as strangers, so we need some kind of interface to connect us, and there are so many techies here that most people feel comfortable with that setting.”
Of course, as Manti Te’o can surely attest to, finding love on the Internet can have its risks and drawbacks. Despite the fact Stewart says she does recommend online dating to people looking to find a connection and build a relationship, she acknowledges some of the limitations and frustrations.
“I think that it can take a while to learn to filter out the things that people write about themselves that probably aren’t true,” says Stewart. “If you take a peek around any of the dating websites, most people report that they like to go hiking every weekend and travel. How many of us hike every weekend and leave the country four times a year? It’s just not realistic. You have to be savvy about reading profiles online – sometimes people use old photos from before they went bald or gained 40 pounds, or maybe what they write about isn’t an accurate description of their life. Take everything you read with a grain of salt – very few profiles are 100-percent accurate.”
Stewart also notes that dating via the computer can lead people to be pickier than they might be in person – which can lead to frustration for those who don’t quite live up to society’s standard measures of beauty and success.
“I think the other downside of internet dating is the level of frustration most people endure,” says Stewart. “Maybe you’re a kind, funny, well-educated man or woman looking for love, but you keep getting weeded out of the searches because most women set search parameters for height at on inch or two taller than you.
“People who use Internet dating websites can be very harsh in their judgement of someone’s profile, and can eliminate potential matches based on not having a college degree, not being tall enough, pretty enough or thing enough,” Stewart continues. “But sometimes that same person would seem totally different in person, and would come across as being datable.”
Happy Valentine’s Day, Seattle.