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Though the shop was “renowned for its huge selection of produce, packaged foods, and wine,” Iyengar “often walked out empty-handed, unable to settle on just one bottle of mustard or olive oil when she had hundreds of options.” The experience fueled Iyengar’s research into the psychology of choice. means only that the single person’s wasteland is that much more vast: New York City’s 305-square-mile expanse offers over 8 million people to pick over.What she discovered were “neurological limits on humans’ ability to process information” that meant “the task of having to choose is often experienced as suffering, not pleasure.” Iyengar concluded that “the explosion of choice has made it more difficult overall for people to identify what they want and how to get it.” Like a shelf stocked full with fancy mustards, too many potential mates makes it harder to settle on just one. After a near decade of dating experience in that environment, my friend Joe Berkowitz tells me, the sheer volume of young singles in the city “gives you the sense that you could meet someone at any time.Most of the time, though, you don’t.” Another friend who uses an online dating site in the city says that the buffet of options means “everyone is looking out for someone better.” That endless search can prove to be a logistical nightmare.One New Yorker told me that “subway distances can make things grueling,” meaning that budding romances easily die on a stalled L train.
In New York or Los Angeles, the high proportion of singles can feel overwhelming. C., it’s intimate—these people bump into each other on the metro, caffeinate at the same cafes, and unwind at the same bars, week in and week out. (How much subway time are you willing to invest in one date, when every platform appears teeming with other options?) Meeting a potential love interest halfway for a nightcap means being stranded in a no-man’s-land that can prove both inconvenient and awkward. “That means nobody's picking anyone up, nobody's dropping anyone off—you meet there.Los Angeles residents are not like the rest of us, they said. A.: It looked like skeletal Asian models pair-bonding with balding producers over low-calorie cocktails.At the time, I wrote off the soothsaying as another symptom of what I had come to see as D.And Los Angeles lacks an urban center where young, single people congregate—they live everywhere.Online dating could help bridge the geographic divide, but it hasn’t caught up.Some online daters have responded by devoting profile space to announce their refusal to date at points too far east or west. After scrolling through thousands of profiles of age-appropriate dates with socially acceptable character traits, your pool of potential future mates can start to look like so many faces stalled in traffic behind the glass.And young people in New York and Los Angeles aren’t just competing for dates—they’re elbowing each other for a shrinking pool of jobs, too.And even minor dalliances take on an added significance, for better or worse. Settling down starts to look better than the alternative. Unlike other coastal locales, District singles shack up with a Midwestern zeal. When I moved into a room in a new group house, I fell in fast with the boy who lived just a floor below me. When we arrived, it felt like a spell had been broken. “I slept with someone I never wanted to see again, and now he works 20 feet away from me and is also friends with all of my friends,” she told me. C.” Last year’s treatise on online dating argued that “dating is an attempt to approximate the collegiate condition—that surfeit both of supply and demand, of information and authentication.” Washington, D. is the closest real-life dating scene I’ve experienced to that of a college campus, or else a nursing home—the city where single people go to die. We bonded over our housemate’s grammatically incorrect passive-aggressive emails, made out, found a new apartment, developed our own language, adopted a cat, stayed together for three years, and moved to Los Angeles. It took just a week for us to untangle ourselves, our breakup keeping pace with my boyfriend’s slow consumption of the big pot cookie I had stashed in the freezer.