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DelVal Singles Face Tough Dating Landscape

You are not alone if you are a single person in the Philadelphia area and find dating difficult. The dating landscape has changed over the last decade or so.

For those seeking long-term relationships, the quest has become more challenging than ever.

And the task is tougher in the Philadelphia area than elsewhere. The personal-finance website WalletHub ranked 182 U.S. cities as to their desirability for singles. Factors included the size and percentage of the area’s single population, the types of recreational activities available, and the actual cost of going on a date (a movie and a meal) and dating opportunities. Nearly half of U.S. adults are single, the website said. An average date costs around $90.

Considering all those factors, Philadelphia ranked a hardly inspiring 89th in terms of being a desirable locale for a single person and 109th in available dating opportunities.

In the former category, it fell well behind San Francisco (4th), Minneapolis (6th), Atlanta (10th), and even Pittsburgh (18th).

Kristi Price is a dating consultant and life coach based in Conshohocken. She started KP Matchmaking 15 years ago following a divorce to help others avoid her own dating mistakes.

Price says when she first launched her service, it was common for singles to meet each other through online dating sites. But over time, that medium has evolved, and Price noted not necessarily for the better.

“I think it’s become very transient,” she said. “Many people think there’s always something better around the corner if they’re online dating.”

Price says a significant problem with online dating is the flood of misinformation that confronts those looking for a relationship.

“Fifteen years ago, a lot of people did meet (online) and have relationships and are married,” she said. “But now, it’s such a difficult time, especially after COVID. (Online dating) is more saturated with scammers, people in relationships looking for validation, and those types of obstacles. So, it’s much harder to meet people who want a relationship.

“People are really relationship driven. Online is a tough place to meet a quality individual,” she said.

Karin Sternberg, a lecturer in the psychology department at Cornell University, said, “Online dating gives people access to a much larger pool of potential dates. It is OK to write and have video chats at first. However, I suggest people move their dates to an in-person format sooner rather than later. After all, you are most likely looking for an in-person relationship and not an online relationship. People behave differently in real life than on the screen, and when you meet someone in person, you share actual experiences, which helps you bond and get to know the other person.”

Price describes the online dating landscape as a chaotic mess.

“It’s ridiculous online,” she said. “You get ghosting, and people don’t get back to you. It’s like people have lost the value of humanity and being kind through online dating.”

“It’s about immediate gratification,” she added. “Look at photos instead of trying to get to know a person and get to know who they are.”

Price advocates doing a background check on any potential date, particularly someone you know only through online communication.

“It’s easy to do,” she said. “All you need is a first and last name, and if you know their age and location, you can pretty much figure it out.”

“You can’t just trust people for what they say online. Not only that they are single and want a relationship but also that they are not a criminal.

“So, it’s always important to get information on a (potential date) before you meet them. Even if all you have is a phone number, you can reverse search who they are, if they’re actually saying who they are. Even if I meet with a client, I do this. I do background checks on anyone I work with before I work with them. That’s the easiest way to protect yourself,” she said.

Price admits finding a compatible partner is challenging.

“It’s difficult to meet people who are looking for relationships and are quality individuals, professionals,” she said. “People who are in the same stage of life, looking for mutual relationship goals, and that type of thing.

“They claim they want relationships. They’re out and about and going to bars, which is totally fine, but they’re not really emotionally available. You see that across the country, but I see that a lot in Philadelphia.”

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Pennsylvania Picked as a Top State for Singles

Pennsylvania is one of the best states in the country for single people, according to a WalletHub report.

The state ranked fifth, behind California, New York, Florida, and Texas. Among the worst states for singles were West Virginia, Arkansas, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Mississippi.

“[Pennsylvania] ranked high for online dating participation and openness to relationships,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at communications director at WalletHub, told the Delaware Valley Journal. “It also scored very well in terms of romance and fun, due to the large number of restaurants, nature parks, and other similar institutions, fitness and recreational facilities, movie theaters and amusement parks, as well as bar accessibility.”

WalletHub has published its Best & Worst States for Singles report annually ahead of Valentine’s Day since 2017, updating its methodology each year. It was prompted to complete the report since the average cost of going on a date now approaches $100, according to Gonzalez.

“It’s no surprise to us that Pennsylvania ranks as one of the best places to be single because our commonwealth offers an amazing range of activities year-round that can help you meet that special someone or just enjoy time on your own,” said Carrie Fischer Lepore, Deputy Secretary of Marketing, Tourism, and Film at the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

In addition to ranking states overall using three key metrics (dating economics, dating opportunities, and romance and fun), researchers also broke out the best and worst states for other areas of interest. For example, Louisiana has the highest share of single adults while Maine has the best “gender balance.” For online dating, Washington State leads the way.

Conversely, Utah, North Dakota, and Mississippi scored the worst in those categories.

Because of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, this year WalletHub also looked at mobile dating opportunities, with Hawaii ranked the best and West Virginia the worst.

“The pandemic has definitely had a negative impact on dating friendliness in each state, though some were more affected than others,” Gonzalez said. “Because of lockdowns and social distancing, in-person dating was almost impossible. Though virtual dates have risen in popularity as a safer alternative to going out, an increase in vaccination rates should bring more opportunities for dating in person across the country.”

In addition, researchers looked at median annual household income, adjusted for cost of living, restaurants per capita, movie theaters per capita, and crime rate. While Pennsylvania did not score among the top five states for any of those categories, the state also did not score within the worst five states.

And, according to the Census Bureau, Keystone State couples who get together tend to stay together. Pennsylvania has one of the lowest divorce rates in the U.S. as well.

“We did this analysis to help unattached Americans find love,” Gonzalez said. “We believe location is very important and can lower or increase one’s odds to find a romantic partner.”

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