Looking for Singlism? Try Lists of Top Cities for Singles
They appear every year – those lists of “top cities for singles.” I keep waiting for one that is not a parody of itself, but sadly, the most recent was one of the worst of the bunch.
The latest list is from Bloomberg News. Unlike most “top” lists that base their picks on numerous criteria, Bloomberg gets right down to just two: (1) percent of the men and women of that city who live alone; and (2) percent by which the median income exceeds the national average.
These are not necessarily bad criteria. I’m single at heart, and I can see the advantages of both. In a city where lots of people live alone, there may be lots of single people interested in friendship. There may be lots of cultural activities, sports, and other events that do not cater to married couples or to two-parent families with little kids. These cities could be places where single people feel welcome to live single, without a lot of pressure to couple up.
A higher than average income level might mean that these cities are places with good jobs. That could be appealing to plenty of single people who love their single lives.
Of course, you know better. By the ways of thinking of the “top cities for singles” list makers, cities with lots of single people are great because all those single people can find partners and become unsingle. The big incomes are good because singles can snag partners with lots of money. What else matters, right?
The Bloomberg story announcing the top cities gets right to the singlism, starting with the headline. The top city is “the lonely-hearts leader of swinging-state cities.” Bloomberg News has already decided that single people are “lonely hearts” and that what they most want to engage in is “swinging.”
The reporters writing the story did the typical reporter thing of going out to find singles to interview in their top cities. They find Garrett Roberts, “who is six feet with blue eyes and a head full of blond curls.” Cute.
I said that the list was created based on just two criteria. The reporters, though, couldn’t resist adding their own. The number one city on the list, they claim, is “the type of place where the broken-hearted sometimes take evasive maneuvers to avoid an ex-flame.” Of course, the relationship ended with “a bitter break-up.”
Oh, so what is that Number 1 city? Hoboken, New Jersey.
Stories about Top Cities invariably inspire further stories about those stories. A report at the Huffington Post swallowed the singlism whole. For example, the writer wanted to say that in Hoboken, 53 percent of the adults are single. That, though, would not be sufficiently patronizing. Instead she said that “53 percent of all residents are still waiting to find their special someone.” Because if you are single, you are waiting. And you may think you have lots of special friends and relatives in your life, but unless the special person in your life is someone you are having sex with, then that person is not so special after all.
I’m such a sucker. I’m like Charlie Brown thinking that this time Lucy will not move the football when I go to kick it. At the end of the Huffington Post article, a sentence begins this way: “But beware: the Atlantic’s Amanda Hess warns against taking ‘best cities for singles’ lists too seriously.” Really – I thought the next sentence would say something to challenge all the singlism and matrimania. Instead, I read this: “Like a shelf stocked full with fancy mustards, too many potential mates makes it harder to settle on just one.”
New Jersey map photo available from Shutterstock
DePaulo, B. (2012). Looking for Singlism? Try Lists of Top Cities for Singles. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 8, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/2012/11/looking-for-singlism-try-lists-of-top-cities-for-singles/