For a city overflowing with attractive singles, San Diego should be the land of possibility. But talk to locals and transplants alike in this beachside mecca and you’ll hear the same sentiment - that even sunshine and good looks don’t necessarily equal dating success and lasting unions.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2007, at roughly 50 percent, the proportion of singles in San Diego is almost the same as the national average for ages 15 and older. Men and women are equally represented.
“I don’t necessarily think that a large number of singles can be absolutely equated with a great place for singles,” said John Weeks, professor of geography and director of the International Population Center at San Diego State University. “I think perceptions might come these days from people looking at Craigslist or who knows what.”
Anne Nguyen, a 28-year-old from La Jolla who grew up in Northern California, hasn’t dated much since moving here last year, but sums up the few dates she has been on as “One Hit Wonders.”
“There seems to be a lot of Average Joes,if not below Average Joes in San Diego,” Nguyen said.
She finds the dating environment daunting and when she goes out, it is to soak up the company and surroundings.
“If I don’t meet anyone that’s okay because I don’t expect to meet Mr. Right at the bars anyway,” Nguyen said. “Most of the men I’ve met have been through friends or co-workers.”
Forty-year-old Kansas native, Robert, who didn’t want his last name used, has called San Diego home for the past 20 years and has seen the dating landscape change over time.
“You might say my dating experience in San Diego has been exciting and fraught with disaster, like being on the Titanic,” says Robert. “I hope to avoid superficiality and meet someone who is realistic about setting down some roots and sharing our lives together.”
Jennifer Roof, 28, of Carmel Valley, agrees that there aren’t many people looking to settle down and San Diego is more of a tourist destination everyone is eager to experience.
“You meet a lot of military (who) don’t know how long they’re going to be here and businessmen that may have moved here straight out of college,” Roof says. “So it’s more challenging trying to meet someone long-term unless they come from the South or a more rooted cultural place.”
Still, she enjoys the nightlife along Coast Highway 101, from Jack’s La Jolla to the Village of Del Mar, with its charming shops and restaurants, to Coyote Bar & Grill in Carlsbad.
“It’s kind of laid back but classier,” Roof says of the vibe at those establishments.
Though the city caters to singles, there is a disconnect between the active dater lifestyle and finding a relationship, according to San Diego dating and relationship coach DeAnna Lorraine.
“The men and women seem to be on a different wavelength,” she said. “The men are more actively trying to look for women to sow their seed (and) the women are looking for a relationship and they’re meeting these arrogant guys.”
While Lorraine isn’t suggesting people move away to find love since San Diego is a viable area with potential, she thinks they should start modifying and reevaluating the way they seek a partner.
“It’s better to go to places and do activities you truly enjoy, like taking up a cooking class or mountain biking course,” she said. “You’re going to meet someone who obviously you have something immediately in common.”
Erlinda Coronado, a 24-year-old native San Diegan, doesn’t have fond memories of her single days in America’s Finest City. She kept meeting the same dry personalities and found all the good ones were taken.
Now she is happily engaged to a college friend and says San Diego is fantastic for couples.
“It is very relaxed and there are so many romantic places.”
She was unaware of San Diego’s distinction as one of the best cities to be single and is comfortable being in a relationship.
When it comes to being single, San Diego is a gold mine for Carlsbad resident John Miewald, 38.
“San Diego is relaxed but still hip like Los Angeles or San Francisco,” Miewald said. “The women are beautiful California girls but less pretentious.”
He practices his pickup knack four nights a week at Gaslamp bars downtown and Pacific Beach hotspots and said he is always successful in some sense.
“I define success as meeting someone nice and having a good time,” Miewald said. “I don’t care if I necessarily have sex with the girls I meet. I enjoy their company and let our exchange go where it needs to go.”
Content with his single status, he feels too many people lock into relationships out of fear they will never encounter anyone else.
“I am confidant that I can meet a beautiful woman, lose her and find another,” Miewald said. “If I have a soulmate, I am perfect for her already. When I meet her, I’ll know.”