Recent graduate dating in DC
July 17, 2009 5:50 AM   Subscribe

I get the impression that DC is not a great dating town for young 20-something college graduates. Am I totally off base?

I'm a 23 year old guy, gainfully employed, more attractive than average, sociable, approachable, no physical deformities, I've had a successful dating life in multiple other cities, etc.

Basically: I don't think my problems meeting people have anything to do with me. I think they have to do with DC.

However: I don't know many people in town. My coworkers -- though great -- are all significantly older than me (29 is the youngest I can think of). I don't have a substantiative friend base to work. I don't want to be the creepy guy who goes to bars or concerts alone to pick up girls.

I'm probably way off base, but my impression after living here for 6 months is that it's too expensive of a town for many recent graduates, especially considering that many of the graduate-attracting jobs are low-paying government ones. And the ones who make it here work crazy hours and multiple jobs, not leaving them much time to get out there.

Or maybe I'm just looking in all the wrong places.

So what I'm looking for by asking this question is this:
1) Affirmation that this is actually an issue with the town (i.e. I'm not being a wimp)
2) Specific suggestions about where I might go to meet girls ("Bars" would be an okay response; "The U Street Busboys and Poets on poetry reading nights" would be a great one). Feel free to email me if you know the town well and would like to get a better idea of what I'm like.
3) Other strategies for meeting people (I've dabbled with things like OKCupid and Meetup with little success, but those would be good examples)

Thanks, all!

E-mail followups:

(Asked anonymously because my account is tied to my name and job)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What part of DC do you live in?

I would call NYC the worst dating scene ever if you were living on Roosevelt Island.
posted by trotter at 5:59 AM on July 17, 2009

You are not a wimp - DC is a totally weird town for dating. My impression of DC, having lived here (ok, the burbs) for 20+ years, is that it is a very, very transient city - in terms of employment, and in terms of dating. Many people who come to work here right out of college are still in their college idea of dating - lots of hookups, often with drama. People often come to the city to get what they can - it's not a place to "settle down" - in terms of employment, homes, and love. Maybe it has to do with cost of living, or crazy hours, but I'm more inclined to say that it's a transient state of mind - people come in, do their thing for a while, and get out.

Of course this does not mean that every 20-something is like this, but it is just a very weird dating scene. If you're only looking for something casual, then this is a good city for that.

If you're looking for something more stable, I would highly recommend online dating to weed out those only interested in casual dating.
posted by raztaj at 6:05 AM on July 17, 2009

Sent an email to your gmail account.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:17 AM on July 17, 2009

I personally hated DC, but I think it is actually an excellent city for recent grads. The city has a surplus of them!

You're not a wimp, but you might just be experiencing what every recent college grad ever eventually goes through, which is that it's a lot harder to meet people once you're out of school. You have to make more of an effort, but DC is actually not a bad city for this because there are so many recent grads who, trust me, feel exactly like you do.

I'll email you with more specifics, but for more general stuff:

Live in a group house in a neighborhood with lots of other people (Columbia Heights, H St, etc), even if you can afford to live alone. Throw group house parties.
Go to happy hours geared towards your political leaning or professional field.
Join a fun sports league or something similar.
posted by lunasol at 6:33 AM on July 17, 2009

DC is indeed a crappy dating down, but not because it has a dearth of single 20-somethings -- quite the opposite, really -- but because the people there are ugly and boring, and there is an extremely limited range of social "scenes." You can make it work for a year or two, but you'd be crazy to spend any more time there in your 20's.
posted by decoherence at 6:46 AM on July 17, 2009

See if there's a supper club in your neighborhood. Something where a bunch of young, hip, up-and-comers get together to try out new restaurants together.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:50 AM on July 17, 2009

In my past experience, DC is awesome for meeting young single people. Try activity groups or online dating. For example, check out this group.

Bloom where you are planted. Attitude makes a world of difference - if you think a place sucks, you will find yourself the worse for it.
posted by exogenous at 6:53 AM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hopefully, you are going to the meet-up on Saturday. I am 29 and have lived in this city since I was 26 and date often. I wouldn't say it's bad city for dating but it's a bad city if you are considering a relationship with everyone you date.
posted by parmanparman at 7:46 AM on July 17, 2009

DC is two places.

The "very transient city" mentioned upthread is composed of the staffs of political appointees and elected officials, as well as media-folk. They come and go, are mostly downtown, and as the OP says, "work crazy hours". We might also include the college students of GW, Georgetown, etc in this group.

But there's another Washington, not so visible, but more like any other place. They work traditional jobs, although many have government (city or federal) careers. Some live in the city, but for the most part are located in the suburbs.

Both groups have ugly and boring members.

Incidentally, you know there's a meetup this weekend, right?
posted by Rash at 8:06 AM on July 17, 2009

Some groups that might interest you:

Professionals in the City
Things to Do D.C.: Experiences for Young Professionals
Young Active Professionals

And you could always apply to Date Lab...
posted by candyland at 9:39 AM on July 17, 2009

I lived in DC all through my twenties and actually I found it a pretty good place to meet people, but you just have to look in the right places (the bars were good, but I'm old enough that all the bars I went to are now closed). But here are some great places to meet people (or at least were four years ago): The Maryland Outdoor Club; the DC Society of Young Professionals, the hash house harriers (my husband met a lot women through this group before he met me) and I've heard good things about the Unitarian group for young professionals and I've had good experience with One Brick (although the crowd my skew older), also there are kickball leagues that are very popular with the twenties single set, and there is the ski club for those in their twenties and thirties. . I think the bars I went to are all closed, but the bars down in Farragut North on M street (once known as the herpes triangle for good reason) are a really good place to meet people of the opposite sex. Good Luck and enjoy DC , it's a great town.
posted by bananafish at 11:33 AM on July 17, 2009

Oh and I made some friends in my twenties by volunteering for the DC Habitat for Humanity Chapter. I was on the PR committee which at that time was almost exclusively people in their twenties. It was a fun committee because we basically just worked the booths at the street fairs and designed graphics for fundraisers.
posted by bananafish at 11:39 AM on July 17, 2009

Yeah, DC has problems.

Try going to trivia night at a cool bar, maybe? Like Wonderland? that way you might be able to meet cool people but not in a situation where you're just trying to pick someone up.
posted by citron at 5:51 PM on July 17, 2009

In response to your questions,

1, no you aren't just a wimp. i meet new people all the time in any other city I've lived in or even visited, and here things seem much more stale. that being said i've gotten used to spending more time with myself and it's a good skill to have. i'll move to another city if i start missing my old social life too much.

2 and 3, apparently in dc if you want to meet people you join clubs of different sorts- smithsonian, stuff like that. I really like Habana village salsa dance classes because you get to meet a lot of different people on a more friendly, non-sleazy basis, and i love to dance. actually, the old advice of joining activities that you're interested in to meet others really works well here. i've met several people in different language meetups.

a lot of people feel frustrated when they first move to dc especially if they've come from a bigger city- time does make it a lot better though. so chin up, ask the next pretty girl you meet to have coffee with you sometime. be bold and look for opportunities to have fun, everything else will come
posted by saraindc at 7:55 PM on July 17, 2009

I think it's easier if you are a guy. There seems to be a shortage of attractive, single guys, especially ones who aren't working all of the time. My first 5 years here, I barely dated anyone. Then on a random night at a bar I hadn't really planned to go to, I met my husband.

Most new people here complain that it's hard to make friends or date because most visible people in this city are transient. You'll have to work hard to find the folks who aren't. I don't know enough about who you are or what you like to recommend specific places.

I do have friends who met successfully on Craigslist. That seems to work out pretty well. While I never dated anyone from Craigslist I did meet a lot friends and concert buddies that way. Whatever you do, don't waste your time posting/reading in the "Missed Connections" section. Instead please follow saraindc's advice and say hi to a girl and ask her out. And then show up on time! My female friends here complain that guys don't ask them out in DC, instead they lurk around or just ask them to "hang out sometime."
posted by i_love_squirrels at 7:39 AM on July 18, 2009

Seconding i_love_squirrels, I think as a guy the DC area is the easiest place I've ever lived in to meet attractive women, especially compared to NYC. Not sure how the demographics balance out, but it just seems like there are a lot more women than (straight) men around. The tip about joining groups is very true, volunteer groups, kickball, anything. Also check out But honestly, just keep going out to bars--Busboys & Poets is a bit too relaxed to really meet a potential date there IMO, I think a lot of people go there coupled up. You want to go to places with DJs and/or live music...Adam's Morgan comes to mind.
posted by the foreground at 6:32 PM on July 19, 2009

These threads about meeting people in DC may help. As i_love_squirrels mentioned, statistics are in your favor. I don't think you're a wimp. I'm early 20s, I feel your pain. DC is a strange place and it's hard to expand your circle.

I have had many experiences with overly aggressive men in bars and clubs here. I'm willing to bet other women have too and will be on the defensive in these places. I find it easiest to meet people in low key bars, most people pronounce this as "dive bars." Bars with activities like Rocket Bar in Chinatown and H Street Country Club are always good times.

Expanding your social circle in anyway will be the best way to find someone. So as others have mentioned a religious organization,,, volunteering (Greater DC Cares is my goto), kiwanis, rotaract, and sports (kickball seems big here & skeeball's a sport, right?). If you play poker or anything competitive look for a tournament.

Perhaps a DC MeFi Meetup is in order.
posted by dcduchess at 9:33 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

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