Last time, I broke the shocking (to me) news that only 16% of America’s singles are actively looking for a romantic partner. In fact, if you recall, a full 55% of these disinterested reprobates (over 30 million people!) had NO current interest in finding a special someone. (Sigh…no wonder we can barely maintain a replacement birth rate in this country. But, I’ll wax profound on our social conundrums later),
As promised, I’m taking a look today at how my previous dating strategy (circulate, use lip gloss, sprinkle witty banter with vocabulary zingers, but let him make the first move) holds up in a scenario where only 16% of singles are on the prowl.
In short, it doesn’t hold up so well. It’s a bit of a sinking ship, really. Here’s why.
To start the analysis of my old dating strategy, let’s walk through the “market size.” Let’s assume, for simplicity’s sake, that men and women are represented equally in this group of “active seekers.” Even though Hollywood would have you believe that every single woman is looking for love and every single man is playing PlayStation and scratching himself, it may not be true. Online dating sites, for example, skew about 60/40 men to women. As I’m not sure how the ratio breaks down in the off-line world, let’s assume that it’s about equal. In their Romance in America report, the Pew Research Center pegs the total singles pool at 62.5 million. As 16% of them were “actively” looking for a relationship, that leaves us with 5 million men and 5 million women who consistently put themselves out there.
Now, what about waiting for men to make the first move? I was waiting for a smaller crowd than I realized. It would have made perfect sense to wait for cute single guys to ask me out if most of them were looking for a relationship. My restraint was, I assumed, weeding out Nervous-Nellies, Commitment-Phobes, and those with Awkward Nasal Conditions. But, if only 5 million men IN AMERICA are paying lots of attention to the single ladies around them (which is barely half the island of Manhattan to go around), and 26 million aren’t, then clearly my strategy was a bit weak. Perfectly nice guys, who might well have warmed to a relationship if nudged, were just letting me walk by every day.
But how many, exactly? Well, we have to whittle our pool of 5 million men down rather considerably, to account for geographic proximity or having a mutual friend. If even 5% of interested single guys could have theoretically bumped into me, then I was waiting for a piddling 250,000 guys total who might have made a move. Sheesh. That’s less than 3% of Manhattan. Impressed with my strategy yet?
Obviously, someone who wasn’t looking for love could have run headlong into me, fallen desperately in love, and make a move. (Hey, it happens in Love and Other Drugs, Crazy, Stupid Love, most other things with Love in the title, and anything Natalie Portman seems to be in). So, I’m not saying that only 8% of men in America could possibly have asked me out. But, short of fairy-tale-like circumstances, only 8% of guys make a habit of looking around.
Okay, so maybe picking up local guys is an uphill battle. But what about online dating? (Which I tried several times, without much success) What were my chances there? Surely something purposeful like online dating attracts a greater percentage of men prepared to make a move? Yep–it does. Pew found that 37% of the people who had tried online dating were currently “actively looking,” or just about double the alertness levels in the general single population. The numbers work out to about 2-3 million guys who might be online right now. (We all know that some guys are online but not looking for a “relationship” per se…ick) Geographic inconvenience aside, let’s say all of these men are available for meeting. Pew reported that over 40% of people who try online dating score at least 1 date. Only 17% reap a long-term relationship or marriage out of the deal, though. In my online dating days, I was a bit picky; I wanted a man within 1,000 miles who had finished college and has all of his teeth. So, at best, let’s say I could have met 500,000 guys online. If I had a 17% chance of resurfacing with a significant other, then online dating was putting me in the queue for a piddling 85,000 guys. That’s barely enough people to fill two U2 concerts. (and good luck getting tickets to those!)
All in all, by favoring an indirect approach, by waiting for guys to come to me, it seems that I was ignoring 92% of available single men. Those 92% made me pretty frustrated sometimes. I lamented their spinelessness. I occasionally “broke down” and tried to jump-start a romance myself. It never occurred to me that it might not be personal. Lots of men simply aren’t looking for a relationship. They might have accepted a date, but they weren’t going to offer one. Who knew?
If you want a date, but you subscribes to my old strategy, just remember that the people you notice might not be doing any noticing themselves. I don’t know why, but it’s apparently a common ailment. If you’re a go-getter and you don’t mind taking some risks, maybe you should find a way to take a more active role. After all, if you don’t, who will?
Prior Posts in this Series: Post 1
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