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Ask HN: Poor dating options for heterosexual men in the Bay area?
20 points by MlEngineer on Mar 25, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 40 comments
I am a male engineer who spent most of his early twenties working for startups in the Bay area. It's been a terrific experience in general, except for one issue: dating.

South Bay gender ratio is heavily skewed towards men. It was virtually impossible to meet single young women anywhere near Mountain View. After several fruitless months I started looking all the way up in San Francisco, and when I finally scored a first date there, the lady told me she's been out with five different men over the past 10 days, two of whom were millionaire startup entrepreneurs.

As the years went by, the dating scene seemed to only get worse, until it ended up being a major factor in my decision to leave the area. I relocated to the East Coast, which was a step down from the technological epicenter of Silicon Valley, but a huge step up dating-wise. I got a lot of dates with attractive young women who seemed genuinely happy to date me.

Fast-forward five years. An old co-worker recently reached out about a senior engineering role at a new startup he co-founded. I flew in to meet the rest of the team and they're all incredibly talented. The issued a formal offer and it looks like an amazing opportunity. However, I am very concerned about getting back to the dating scene there. It seemed to have only gotten worse, with San Francisco undergoing a huge influx of mostly male techies, and equally large outflow of everyone else.

What are your thoughts about this situation? Are you dealing with a similar lack of options? If so, any insights or advice?




Hence the moniker "Man Jose".

For historical perspective looking back to the 1970s, check out the excellent film "Time After Time" (Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenbergen), where Mary's character decries the minimal SF dating pool for straight women in that era, given the high percentage of gay males in SF.


The book Datenomics explains how the out of balance gender ratio affects the local dating market. It was really eye opening: https://www.amazon.com/Date-onomics-Dating-Became-Lopsided-N...


So, the excess of single men may not be that much excess competition if a notable percentage of them are dating other men, not women.


Of course, but this is not the 1970s, and young males aren't moving to SF specifically to practice an openly gay lifestyle in an otherwise intolerant nation. It's unlikely that the hordes of male engineers, relocating to South Bay / SF for professional reasons, are substantially more likely to be gay than the women.


I'm dealing with a similar lack of options. I live in SF and am planning on moving to NYC sometime soon.

I don't think my friend ever even had a date in the 7 years he lived in SF. He told me he pretty much had given up. He moves to NYC, in two weeks, before his apartment even has furniture, he gets a girlfriend. If a girl finds out you are single there, she will push you to go on dates with her single girlfriends.

At many bars here, there may be 5 guys to every girl, and only 3 or 4 girls might be single. Of course they get a constant stream of guys hitting on them so if you are an average guy, you will be shut down immediately.


> At many bars here, there may be 5 guys to every girl, and only 3 or 4 girls might be single. Of course they get a constant stream of guys hitting on them so if you are an average guy, you will be shut down immediately.

Haha, I'll take "SFBA experiences I definitely don't miss" for $800, Alex!

Your friend's experience is quite similar to my own. Dating life completely turned around as soon as I moved east.

This is such a striking and serious issue, I'm surprised there's not a whole lot more discussion of it. Are all these engineers happy to just move to SFBA, and then not have a single date for 7 years like your friend?


> I'm surprised there's not a whole lot more discussion of it.

As someone from outside the US who views "The Valley" as some kind of incredible utopia (ok, apart from the housing costs), I'm also very surprised by this. I imagine it would make a lot of single men think twice about moving there, if it was more widely discussed.


During the Gold Rush there was also a heavily skewed gender ratio in the Bay Area—funny how parts of history can seem to echo :)


I've read all your comments on here OP, and it seems like you know what the correct answer is: stay on the East Coast. Even if you do move back to the Bay, then you're going to feel discouraged in your dating efforts and that will probably be reflective in how your dates go.


I think I was hoping for an answer like "hey OP, there's this one effective way to date in the Bay you haven't tried..."

That hasn't happened. All data and most respondents with any actual experience in the Bay seem to confirm the conclusions from my own experience, that yes there's a big gender imbalance in the Bay, and yes it's a huge problem and the dating scene for heterosexual men is therefore far inferior to say most cities on the East Coast.

I may still decide to move back, seeing how important my career is and that the offer really is very attractive and may well be further sweetened should I initially refuse.

In that case it will just be a straight-up sacrifice of my romantic life for my career.


If you’re looking at MV,MP, etc you’re pretty much requiring married people - it generally takes two highly paid people working full time to afford a house down there, and those cities are vehemently opposed to adding any housing. Similar for Cupertino - especially given the school district.

Seriously you just have to work on it - dating post college is much more work (for all genders and orientations) - like multiple dates a week for months to find someone you click with. That’s just part of life. I think (from over hearing conversations) many people do have difficulty talking about non-work things.

Shrug


> Seriously you just have to work on it - dating post college is much more work (for all genders and orientations) - like multiple dates a week for months to find someone you click with.

I agree with this (and the rest of what you said - MTV isn't feasible for young starving artists or baristas) but this is so much harder when you can barely get any dates.

That's actually my point: the real problem in SFBA isn't having a diverse romantic life (though that's also virtually impossible): it's finding a pool of candidates large enough to have a real shot at finding a compatible spouse, if you're a man.

Precisely because it can take dozens of dates to find one good spouse, one must realize that engineers who can't find dates for years (as someone commented below from his own experience) will have virtually no chance of finding a compatible partner.

And even if you are lucky enough to score several dates and find a woman who is compatible, you'll often quickly discover that she has her own wait-list of qualified candidates, and you are unfortunately not at its top.


You are fishing in the wrong pond.

Having spent the last 4 months in the Bay area I can say with confidence that the pool of women is NOT as well rounded and numerous as the east coast. If you want a vibrant personal life I recommend not coming to San Fran.


If being a millionaire startup entrepreneur is something the women you're seeing care about, then you don't date these women. Also, five different men over the course of 10 days is a lot of dating. Are you sure they don't actually work for the dating site you're on (undercover)? What app did you use? Don't ever let anyone compare you to another person.


> If being a millionaire startup entrepreneur is something the women you're seeing care about, then you don't date these women.

Let's be realistic here. Say you dated two women over the past couple of days. Both were equally attractive, smart, fun, and pleasant. However, one of them is a millionaire serial founder. The other is just a good engineer. You can only have one girlfriend. Which one do you choose?

I don't consider myself materialistic, but I can tell you I'd choose the entrepreneur. This level of success makes her more attractive. And women are attracted to success even more than men.

> Also, five different men over the course of 10 days is a lot of dating.

She was an extreme example that stunned me at the time, but she wasn't unusual. Women on SF OkCupid (the app I used) would get bombarded by thousands of messages. They could easily date a different guy every day of the week if they wanted to.

> Don't ever let anyone compare you to another person.

I do not, but there's no point sticking our head in the sand either. If I'm competing with 5 other men for every single woman in SF, and 2 of these men will be extremely successful entrepreneurs, then I'm going to have a bad time dating.

Which I absolutely did. Getting any dates at all on OkCupid was pretty much impossible south of SF. In SF itself, it was "merely" incredibly hard, and when I met the lady, I would often find out she had an astounding array of attractive options. This often led to them not ending up in any sort of serious relationship with me, and in some cases to unstable relationship, possibly because the lady was well aware of the stupefying amount of eager alternatives waiting for her out there the instant she decides to walk out over the most trivial of inconveniences.

I can speak about this with some confidence because as soon as I moved to the East Coast my dating life became almost the opposite of the above, especially when it comes to starting and maintaining relationships.


> Both were equally attractive, smart, fun, and pleasant.

They are not. Being "millionaire serial founder" will induce specific personality traits, and now it is up to you which type of women you prefer.


That's just an example, though. Personally, I'm not looking for a woman who is a millionaire serial founder. But men who are extremely successful do have a huge advantage when it comes to dating, and especially finding a serious long-term partner.

There's no point pretending otherwise.


> This level of success makes her more attractive. And women are attracted to success even more than men.

Just because this is true for you doesn't mean it's true for every woman.


It doesn't have to be true for every woman, just enough of them to reduce my odds.

I'm not making any absolute claims here. I'm not 100% sure I won't meet a great woman in the Bay if I come back there, nor that every woman will reject me for a millionaire, etc. It's just that the odds of that are lower. Not zero, but lower.


So don't move? It seems you have correctly calculated that the odds of you meeting women is much higher in area A than B, so the correct course of action is staying in area B. I don't understand what kind of help you want.


Maybe I was wrong? Maybe there is a way to date in the Bay that will yield better results?

I'll be giving up an extremely attractive opportunity should I choose to stay on the east coast, I want to ensure I didn't miss any plausible way of making this work.


Maybe I was wrong?

I had the opposite experience of yours. Moving from one place to another resulted in me going from Ms. Popularity to extreme loneliness. But I was very clear that there were multiple factors impacting my social life, including the fact that I got a full time job and no longer had as much free time for my social life.

I will suggest that you sit down and try to do a more thorough analysis and list as many differences as possible between your life in the SFBA and your life on the East Coast and try to figure out how each of those factors may have impacted your dating life. See if you can draw any inferences that may be useful in trying to successfully date while living in the SFBA. The obvious explanation isn't always the correct explanation and there are usually multiple factors in any given outcome. It usually isn't due entirely to a single factor.

If you don't want to consider the possibility that there are more factors than just the male to female ratio in these two locations, you don't have to. But please kindly refrain from shooting me down this time should you not like this suggestion either. You seem incredibly committed to your conclusion that it cannot be fixed. If you really believe that and are unwilling to consider any of the excellent suggestions here for another way to look at the problem space, then you are just wasting everyone's time.


I disagree but still appreciate the comment.


Thank you for deleting your long commentary.


Can't have your cake and eat it too my friend. Although i'd take the opportunity and then if it works out, retire in the East Coast where you'd be happier?


I don't want to waste my prime dating years in a very tough dating scene, unfortunately.


Get married.

It sounds like you have had at least a decade of dating. What are you waiting for?


In order to get married you first need to meet someone worth marrying. It's quite possible he's never met that person.


Sounds like a case of the Marriage problem:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretary_problem


I love it!

I sure didn't mean to sound hard, but sometimes the way through a problem is the way around the problem. Kind of like this illustrates.


my 2cents: to use this strategy, don't forget to have an iron-clad pre-nup, first.


That's actually a big concern: how do I get a good candidate for marriage, when the dating pool is tiny and there's so much strong competition?


You come across as someone who is too calculating of dating and marriage, treating it like a engineering or mathematical problem. Sure, selecting the right partner to spend the rest of your life is very important and anyone should put some thought into it, but imo should not be treated as a game of calculation and trade, to me that really loses the sense of what makes us human. The part where you said have moved to east coast for a few years where the dating pool is not a problem, and yet you haven't settled on a long term partner makes me think the majority of the problem isn't with the dating pool itself (not that there's anything wrong with this lifestyle if that's what you like).


The average age of first marriage for males in the US is 29, so I'm well within acceptable social bounds.

I'm not eager to get married next month, nor do I feign to be. I'm worried about making a decision to relocate to the Bay for several years and eventually running against this problem when I do want to get married.


Tip: Don't worry about the competition. Worry about having positive interactions with women.

2nd Tip: There are over 100 cities in the SFBA. The dating pool is plenty large.

Best.


It's never good to worry about factors you cannot change, and I cannot change the fact that there are more single men in San Jose than in the entire state of Alaska:

https://www.kqed.org/news/11231284/does-san-jose-deserve-the...

What I can change is not enter a situation in which I will be disadvantaged, have to compete with a large group of men over a tiny selection of very picky women:

> “I think it’s pretty good for the girls,” chimes Elizabeth Harris, a recent transplant from Los Angeles who finds San Jose’s legions of eager men “refreshing.” She was the only woman sitting at a bar lined with men at downtown’s Mission Ale House — aka the “Mission Male House.” “You can be more picky. They have to try harder. They all try to one up each other.”

https://www.mercurynews.com/2009/02/10/tech-jobs-led-to-man-...

That article us from 2009, and the situation got a lot worse since then.

I appreciate the attempt to help, but you are advising to "not worry" about very bad statistics that I can also confirm from my own experience. There's no way to simply handwave away the fact that there's a ton more men than women in the Bay, and this scarcity of women combined with the fierce competition makes the dating scene in the area very favorable to women and disfavorable to men.

Just like the lady in the article said.


> there are more single men in San Jose than in the entire state of Alaska:

There are a time and a half as many people in San Jose as in the entire state of Alaska, so there being more single men in San Jose than Alaska says nothing.


Fair enough, here's a more useful statistic from the article:

There are 134 single men for every 100 single women in San Jose.

That means that even in the unrealistic best-case scenario that all the available single men find a perfect female match, then out of every 100 single men, 27 will still have no partners left to date.


> That means that even in the unrealistic best-case scenario that all the available single men find a perfect female match, then out of every 100 single men, 27 will still have no partners left to date.

Assuming a closed dating pool (both geographically limited and no turnover over time), and all single people of both genders both looking for a partner and exclusively heterosexual, sure.

Of course, all of those assumptions are very false, so it means nothing of the sort.


> Assuming a closed dating pool (both geographically limited and no turnover over time)

I addressed both of those in my post:

1. Yes, you can theoretically date women in San Francisco if you live in San Jose. No, it will not be pretty. You will end up commuting for hours each way. Also, the ratio is bad in the whole Bay area, not just in San Jose. So even if you're willing to spend hours on the 101 every time you want to see you partner, it's not like it's easy to find dates on the 101.

2. There is turnover over time. The Bay and especially SF keeps getting less affordable for anyone except techies. As a result, mostly male techies move in, and more women leave. So it's not static - it's getting worse.

3. Of course there are some gay men and women, but the majority of men are still heterosexual. So out of these 27 men, maybe a couple would be gay. Balance that against a 5-6 gay women, and it's a wash.

Saying a huge 100/134 gender imbalance "means nothing" is extremely inaccurate.




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