Written By Eden Carswell
Dating in the DC area is kind of a sour patch kid. Some people will say that the DMV is great for meeting educated, successful young, and seasoned professionals in a variety of different bars and restaurants. Others will tell you that the DMV dating pool has pee in it–that it’s tainted with arrogance, privilege, elitism, and overpriced New American restaurants. Essentially, the reviews are mixed.
While age, sexual orientation, assets, ethnicity, and preferences play a role in how your DMV dating experience goes, ultimately, it’s what we choose to make of what this area has to offer that determines how successful we are at finding quality prospects. So, here are a few cheat codes that will make things a bit easier and help you avoid DMV dating pitfalls.
1) Ask any other question but “What do you do for work?”. The question itself isn’t inherently bad, but folks in the DC area seem to be allergic to it because they react horribly. To an extent, I get it–people don’t want to be judged by their job titles and what they make. The DMV is full of highly-paid federal contractors and corporate folks that ask about your income and position to assess your worth and determine how much they should actually respect you. Leading off with that question might detonate a defense bomb, one that can kill the vibe at dinner quicker than a fart at the table. Though you might be asking with innocent intentions, maybe err or the side of caution and save that question at least until after their mama likes you.
2) Don’t use dates as a networking opportunity. Swiping right on dating apps or giving out your number while out and about gives the recipient the impression that you’re interested in something romantic and/or sexual. Showing up dressed like a Dunder Mifflin employee, briefcase and coffee mug in hand, ready to talk business, is you sending a completely different message. I know DC, and it’s tempting to use every opportunity you have with new people to plug your job title, career trajectory, and products you’re selling, but please call on any and all your ancestors to help you resist the urge on a date. Folks want to feel like you’re interested in who they are, not what they do or how you can benefit from it. So, just for the night, keep your business cards in your wallet and focus on the person in front of you.
3) Don’t sequester yourself in DC. I know leaving DC to go on dates feels like a pilgrimage to Mecca when everything you need and want is in the city. But DC itself is a tiny bubble; dating people that dated people you know and seeing the same faces at bars or clubs will make you want to pop that bubble real quick. There are a ton of singles and places to meet them in PG County, Montgomery County, and Northern Virginia, most accessible via metro (i.e. not that far, y’all). We’ve all traveled a little further out for things that we felt were worth it, and potentially meeting someone special should qualify as well. Relax your standards, buy a Smartrip, and bring a book to read . . . The train ride to Tyson’s is a hike.
4) Don’t count people out for having roommates or no vehicle. Chile, DC is Whole Foods expensive! The cost to rent or own a home in this area is more inflated than a hot air balloon, and parking has increased in price exponentially. DC is also notorious for handing out parking tickets like Oprah handed out prizes, which is discouraging for people who want to drive to work or leisure activities. Knowing this, DMV folks are choosing to rent rooms, take public transit, and use rideshares to cut costs. Sure, you may want someone with a car and their own place because it’s cute, but it isn’t always feasible in an area that’s pricing most people out of it. To avoid ruling out potentially great suitors, consider being more amenable and take folks on a case-by-case basis. Or, you know . . . Get your own stuff?
5) Log off the dating apps and meet people in person. No matter what city you’re in, dating apps are quickly turning into a dumpster fire on wheels. The ghosting, slow or bad conversation, photoshopped pictures, and unwillingness to transition off the apps are reason enough to rebuke them and find another way to mingle. So, consider spending less time swiping and more time out in the world meeting new people. Though the DC area is becoming saturated with generic, gentrified spaces, there are still gems throughout the city that might have the kind of patrons you can vibe with. And trust me, photoshop doesn’t work in person, so there won’t be any optical illusions.
Well, there you have it! Take these tips to-go and navigate the DMV dating landscape as best you can. If you work with what’s here and increase your own odds, I promise the dating pool will be just fine for you to swim in (just wear your water wings).