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June 9, 2010

Your Geographical Guide to Finding Love

Having trouble finding Mr. Right? Discover how where you live affects the men you meet — and what you can do to up your chances.
Plus: Find out the truth about the 7 worst cities for single women.

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man looking at his watch on a date

Photo Credit: Nisian Hughes

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Seven years after moving to Los Angeles from San Diego, Heather's life was great on paper: She lived in a cute, mid-century studio in the hip Los Feliz neighborhood, had a close group of friends who did everything from camping to karaoke together, and enjoyed her job in finance. But there was one part of L.A. the 34-year-old couldn't adjust to: the men. "My last serious boyfriend was awesome, but he was so focused on having the ideal relationship that he couldn't enjoy our time together," Heather says. Another, who worked for a film director, "was frustrated with his life because he wanted everything to be just so," she says. "But he didn't want to have to work for it." All of her friends agreed L.A. guys were obsessed with perfection, so Heather packed up and headed to Denver, where she'd heard (rightly) that single men outnumber single women. It worked: "I'm turning them away!" she gushes. In one weeklong stretch, a cutie from a pub crawl asked her out, she had a coffee date with a jazz musician, and she met a foxy, 40-year-old master plumber who shared her love of literature. It may be sunny in L.A., but in Denver, Heather says, "It's raining men."

Every city has a man myth, that sweeping generalization about the local males based on years of anecdotal research conducted by its single-but-looking women. Boston's preppy boys marry young, so you're a fossil if you're still on the scene at 30. New York has the inverse problem: Guys don't want to settle down — and why would they when they're outnumbered by single women 3-to-1, a bone-chilling stat overheard at girls' nights out across the city? Census data proves that San Francisco has more single men than women, but the guys are gay, or their first language is binary code, or they're constantly checking their OKCupid inbox for a better match. Austin's male-dominated music industry means droves of mop-haired guys in flannel dominate lively hipster bars most nights. "It's easy to meet men here, but they have this Peter Pan thing. They don't take things very seriously — especially relationships," says Leticia, a 27-year-old artist and founder of her own design firm. Meanwhile, in our nation's capital, ambitious Capitol Hill types would rather schmooze than flirt, says eight-year D.C. resident Gigi, 30. "The local joke is that guys here are either gay or taken — or douche bags."

The trouble is, some of the rumors are true: If you're single, the odds of meeting someone vary dramatically across the country, says Richard Florida, Ph.D., urban studies expert and author of Who's Your City? "Women tend to have an advantage in the West and Southwest, while men fare better in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast," he says. That said, women's habit of scapegoating local men to feel better about their bad dating odds has reached epic proportions, says Andrea Syrtash, dating expert, author of He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing), and New York resident. "My clients tell me, 'Manhattan men are materialistic because it's the finance capital of the world and it's so expensive. And they're fickle. And we outnumber them,'" she says. "Maybe some of it's true, but are you just going to give up dating completely?"

Scott Neustadter, who cowrote (500) Days of Summer, about a hopeless romantic guy trying to find love in L.A., has dated on both coasts and places in between. He doesn't deny that certain single-guy myths are based in reality, but insists that they don't tell the whole story. "Yes, some guys in L.A. are narcissists and will only date models," he says. "But so are some in New York. And Philly. At the same time, there are really good men in all those places who are not self-obsessed and who are looking for someone real."


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