Advice for the Pittsburgh single

It’s that magical time of year when a magazine for businesspeople decides to tell us how good or bad our love lives are. As always happens when some national medium rates Pittsburgh as less-than-perfect, there has been a great hue and cry about our low ranking. I can state from personal experience as an average-looking guy that the singles scene in Pittsburgh is actually quite good — IF you stop, think about what you’re trying to do, and take some simple steps to increase your chances of success. I first started looking in a September, and by that March, I found the woman I’m almost certainly going to marry. As a public service, I hereby present some basic tips (OK, a mild diatribe) to help you find Mr. and/or Ms. Right, culled from my own experiences and the combined wisdom of several eligible young Pittsburghers.

  • Men: MOVE OUT OF YOUR PARENTS’ HOUSE. Seriously. Nothing is a bigger turn-off to a woman than seeing that you’re still dependent on your parents (and especially on your mom) for your basic necessities of life. Moreover, she doesn’t want to spend the rest of your relationship having to share you with another woman. You don’t have to have a car; depending on your dating circle, you may not even need to have a steady job, but living on your own is essential.
  • Women: Don’t fear the Internet. Yes, there are some really creepy guys on it. Yes, if you sign up for a dating site, you will get at least one message a day that’s just “Hi, you’re cute, wanna do it?” and is being sent by a guy who messages literally every single woman in Pittsburgh. Guess what? You get email every day from creeps and losers — it’s called spam. Dating spam is the same way — you just hit delete. The risk of getting stabbed/raped/assaulted/etc. is zero if you use common sense; the worse that’s going to happen to you is a bad date. (See below.)
  • Men (but women too): Don’t be afraid to ask. Do you know a woman who constantly complains that she can’t meet a good guy? Of course you do. Why do you think she gets hit on (and/or internet-messaged) by creeps and losers? Because the nice guys watch too dang many Hollywood movies and TV shows in which gorgeous women magically realize how nice they are and fall for them. Real life does not work like this. You need to actively go up to interesting women and ask them if they’d like to go grab a cup of coffee after work, or maybe catch a movie together this weekend. (Yes, around here you can also ask her if she wants to come over and watch the Stillers on Sunday.)
  • Both: Unless you’re a college-age person looking for a one-night hookup, get out of the bars. You will almost certainly not meet your future soulmate in a bar. (The exception probably also involves the Stillers.) I know of nobody who has ever started anything resembling a long-term relationship in a bar; as the P-G article says, even singles nights usually end up being more uncomfortable than anything else. And yes, this includes all those after-work networking events.
  • Both: Know your city. When you *do* finally meet that special someone who you’re trying to impress, you’re going to have a lot better luck if you can show them something unique. Dinner and a movie at one of the bazillion chains at the Waterfront is nice, but if you take him/her to one of the little unique places in your neighborhood, you separate yourself from the competition, and you’ll probably have a better time. Plus, if you know your neighborhood well, it’s a good excuse for one of those little romantic walks…
  • Both: Expand your possibilities. I know; you’ve seen it all and you’re absolutely convinced that what you want is a person who’s in X profession or likes Y music or whose favorite pasttime is Z. As a practicing neuroscientist, I regret to inform you that according to leading opinion, humans suck at knowing what will make us happy. You don’t need to lower your standards (no dating Browns fans or other Clevelandite traitors), but at least try out the unlikely candidates for a single date. The worst that happens is that you spend a few hours with them and then never answer the phone when they call. A bad date is *still* more entertaining than most of the other weekday-night options.
  • If you’re gay: OK, you’re screwed, and you’re one of the few people who can legitimately complain about the Pittsburgh singles’ scene. If you’re gay or non-White/Asian, and especially if you’re also one of those “young professionals”, life is going to be rough. But, there is one thing that many of Pittsburgh’s eligible young gays and lesbians could do to improve the singles scene: COME OUT OF THE CLOSET. Seriously. Your Catholic family will likely be more accepting than you think, and you’re not going to be happy in a cover-story marriage. By my count, there’s plenty of single gays and lesbians in this city, they’re just hiding.

And there you have it. Go forth, find love, enjoy the low cost of housing/living here relative to most other metropolitan areas, start lots of happy little families, and replenish our supply of young peoples.

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