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And in an interesting, gender-equitable twist, research on China has found that women there are more likely to sneak away for extramarital sex in communities with too many men.**With those findings in mind, it seems reasonable to suggest that instead of pointing a finger at the internet for Jacob's relationship habits, we can keep things simple and just blame Portland, where going to a bar, going to a concert, or even going to work would probably leave him surrounded by available women. In truth, my goal here isn't to convince you beyond reasonable doubt that sex-ratios are turning young, educated American adults into commitment-phobes.
Even if you look at Portland's wider metro region, which offers up a larger singles population, the ratio is still fairly skewed,* especially compared to cities such as Austin, San Francisco, or nearby Seattle.(And love, ideally.) If it weren't for the algorithms, I could meet all of these people IRL and they wouldn't know I was 40 unless I showed them my birth certificate — ah, the very idea made me irate.How dare they reject me before I could reject them! Whether they were the ancient ads I helped beta test as an intern or the old standby OKCupid, I'd invest time and energy into meeting men I wouldn't otherwise come across in my day-to-day life (read: freelancing at home, usually pantless).There was the ex who brutally dumped me but wouldn't stop emailing me for months, whose presence at dorky work gatherings made me dizzy; the sociopathic film critic whose shoulder I virtually cried on; the go-nowhere first dates; and the great, wide swaths of time spent single, usually pining after some unavailable director or writer who'd relish my attention and nothing else. There were a few things that sent me into a panic about turning 40, but the biggest — looming larger than the golden ring of a book deal or a staff job or, like, finally going back to yoga — was what it meant for me to still be single and actively looking for a partner at that age. If you're not familiar with the exciting world of online dating, sites and apps let you set search parameters that range from location to body type to education and, yes, age range.
Not so much even that I was single, but that I and what that implied. There are plenty of things I simply do not give a single solitary fuck about when it comes to what women my age are supposed to be doing. Just as there are movies on Netflix you might never stumble across in your bleary-eyed scrolling, there are plenty of people you might never see through some whim of programming code.
**If any of this research sounds familiar to you, it may be because Kate Bolick reviewed some of it in "All the Single Ladies." My overall argument here is, of course, somewhat somewhat inspired by hers.