The latest from the Department of Die-alone-ology: big cities are harder for dating, because there are more people to reject. But is this necessarily a bad thing?
The argument comes from psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, who has also written that Ann Coulter should be president and that feminism is "illogical, unnecessary and evil" (one of his books is called Why Men Gamble and Women Buy Shoes). But for those city-dwellers tired of news about how their city is actually the worst place for dating ever, I can tell you that Kanazawa's viewpoint is actually not depressing — because it's so weird. Observe:
See, you're supposed to break up with the first third of guys you date, then marry the next one who's "better" than all of them. Which means that in big cities, there are so many people to break up with, it could take years! Kanazawa doesn't explain why this is the best decision-making strategy, and even if it does work for things like picking job candidates, that's no reason to believe it would be a formula for true love. For starters, the qualifications for a life partner (if that's even what you want) are a little less obvious than those for, say, an HR manager, and Kanazawa seems to assume a coldly rational approach to dating that's not very realistic — and doesn't sound like much fun (except that he seems to be advocating a move to Iowa City).
The fun factor is one of Mary Elizabeth Williams's points in her Broadsheet rebuttal to Kanazawa. She writes,
First, let's get rid of the idea that playing the field is a miserable, self-defeating experience. For some, dating a thousand people before landing on that mythic one sounds nightmarish. For others, it's pretty freaking awesome. Kissing a lot of frogs is only grim if you're doing so in a bid to pair off for eternity. Sometimes it's just nice to, as a friend calls it, "Frankendate" a circle of lovers without fretting that any one of them will complete you as a human being.
As Williams points out, the idea that dating is a soul-destroying grind that one endures only in the hope of finding a mate (as popularized by Lori Gottlieb) isn't necessarily accurate. Still, she seems to make a distinction between daters — those who enjoy seeing lots of different people — and maters, who are looking for true love. I'm not sure the distinction is so clear-cut — I know daters who unexpectedly found people they wanted to spend their lives with, and avowed maters who learned to love playing the field. All of which is just to say that goals and strategies may not work particularly well in the world of relationships, where you don't necessarily know what you want until you find it. And it's probably best, if you can, to live in a place you like — with luck, you might like the people there too.