I really try to be positive about the dating world. For me, my time trying to find love in Philadelphia has been filled with some peaks and valleys. There were times I could meet 3-4 different guys for dates in one week and be loving life. And then, there have also been times when, after rushing out of a second date I really shouldn’t have gone on in the first place, I’ve spilled out onto 13th Street, called my dad laughing/yelling/crying, and questioned, why am I even doing this?! Why does the quest for love seem so “easy” for some, and so, so difficult for the rest of us?
Today, you’ll hear from 5 Philly women, Melissa, Leah, Sarah, Tracy, and Tiffany, who are all out there in this city of ours, trying to make it work with a special someone. And while some of their answers are optimistic (You mean you actually meet men in person? You’ve never had to pay on a date? No dating horror stories…ever?), the last question really just says it all.
But before we begin, let me just say this: (and I’m speaking for you here ladies, so please chime in if I got it wrong) while our attitudes towards our dating lives might not be optimistic all of the time time, we’re still out there. Dating takes work and time and money and creativity and humility and honesty, and here we all are, soldiering on. We’ve seen our friends get married and we’ve heard the online dating success stories, so we keep going. All with the hopes that one day, we’ll find a guy who will laugh at the same TV shows as us, know exactly how we take our cocktails and our coffee, and surprise us with flowers, just because.
How do you meet your dates?
Tiffany, 28, Fairmount: The majority of dates I go on are from meeting people out at the bar, both at night and/or happy hour. At our age, it can be really tough because people aren’t as social in today’s world. If a stranger strikes up a conversation with you, more times than not you’re creeped out. Everyone’s glued to their phones. I did go out with a guy I had met at the gym, but even that, it can be awkward striking up conversations with people when you’re sweaty and out of breath. Meeting dates through friends is definitely the easiest and safest, but it’s only so often you’re meeting friends of friends you’ve never met before.
Sarah, 28, Rittenhouse: I recently finished “App-free August” in an attempt to focus on meeting people in everyday life. It’s just as difficult as you’d imagine, as every else is on their phones! I’m back on apps, but I’m still holding out hope that I’ll meet someone while hanging out in Rittenhouse Square.
Leah, 25, Washington Square West: I’d like to meet more people in person, but for now, I am mostly meeting people through apps.
Melissa, 26, Delaware County: In person & I’ve used a few apps.
Tracy, 35, Callowhill: Apps or in person.
Which dating app/site is your favorite, and why?
Tracy: Tinder – there is generally more immediacy on the app and when conversation gets going it flows pretty well.
Sarah: I’m a fan of Bumble. With only 24 hours to initiate conversation, I don’t get overwhelmed by matches sitting in my queue.
Melissa: Hinge – that’s the one I use mostly now. I like it because it’s more “relationship-oriented” & so far, the guys I’ve talked to on there are pretty straightforward.
Tiffany: I’m part of the minority that doesn’t use dating apps. About 5 years, my friends talked me into Tinder. It was hilarious while it lasted, but nothing more than guys just looking for a one-night girl. Most of my friends have messed around with Bumble. They go on a ton of dates but it’s never turned into anything more than that. I did finally cave once and tried it. I wasn’t really into the guys that much, most guys just take it as a joke, and if they are serious about it then honestly a guy that’s all about a dating app isn’t the type of guy I want to do (I wouldn’t consider it the manliest hobby!)
Leah: To be honest, I am so over the apps! I think they all have their pros/cons. In general, I prefer Bumble. From my experience, I’ve had better quality matches, conversations, and dates on Bumble. However, while I love Bumble’s “Girl Power” mantra and can see the benefits from being able to make the first move, it’s kind of exhausting. In a world where it’s nearly impossible to meet a guy who is willing to go above and beyond or make an effort, this app does nothing to help that. Instead, girls are knocking at guys’ virtual doors, only to wait 24 hours to be met with radio silence or a less than stellar response. In a world full of online options, I want to know who is really interested, and Bumble does nothing to help this or the aloof attitude from single dudes out there.
With that being said, I do use Tinder and appreciate it for the opportunities Bumble does not provide; I can message first, but I don’t have to (and normally don’t). I have remained hopeful that Tinder has moved away from it’s notorious meaningless hookup reputation, but sadly I have yet to see that happen. I have had some fun dates from Tinder, but that is really all it is: someone interested in one date (and usually more, at least for that one night) and then never hearing from them again.
Let’s talk dates – who suggests the first date? Do you have any go-to spots or activities?
Melissa: The guy usually suggests going out, I usually vote for drinks for the first date. My go-to spot right now is Mission Taqueria! You can never go wrong with their spicy margaritas.
Tracy: It’s a mix. Sometimes I do if I’m excited and sense shyness on the other side (or if I get impatient lol), but generally the guy does. I think meeting for coffee or drinks is a safe first date. A good place to have conversation, but easy enough to cut short if it’s not going well.
Tiffany: I think either the guy or girl can suggest the first date! It’s obviously a lot easier if the guy initiates a date, but sometimes you can’t just sit around and hope for it! And I think it shows a lot of confidence in a female if they suggest the first date. There was this guy I saw all the time in my work building (no, we didn’t work together!). At first, we started saying hi to each other and after a while, we were having in depth conversations in the elevator. Finally, after a few weeks and not knowing his thoughts I said, ‘So when are we going to see each other outside of work?’ Needless to say, it worked! Although nothing serious came out of it, we went on a bunch of dates, are still cool with each other today, and I’m not sitting here wondering ‘what if’.
No matter where you go on a first date, you want somewhere with an easy exit if necessary! I prefer drinks and apps if I’m just meeting someone for the first time. Places like Tria Taproom, City Tap, or good happy hour spots like Mission Taqueria, Opa, Uptown, Assembly, Misconduct, just to name a few. If I have met the person before, dinner for sure. I also love to play games when out with a guy. He learns you know how to have fun and that way you don’t have to worry about any awkward silence, you’re being kept busy! I love Buffalo Billards, Independence Beer Garden, Frankford, and Opa’s Drury Beer Garden.
Leah: I like when a guy suggests the first date, but if I’m having a conversation with someone and I’m really into this person, I have no problem asking for the first date! I also think that with some apps, like Bumble, the girl is making the first move, so I feel somewhat obligated to suggest a date. I like trying different place around the city, so I don’t have a go-to. I usually prefer going somewhere for drinks and sitting outside if it’s nice. I think Independence Beer Garden, Morgans Pier, or Tria make for great first date spots!
Sarah: It can go either way as far as who suggests meeting up, but somehow I always end up choosing where we go. I’m a fan of going somewhere casual or even divey. However, according to my friends I need to step up and choose “nicer” places because I set myself up for failure.
How do you handle paying for the first date?
Leah: I will always offer to split or pick up the tip, and since I offer, I can’t really complain if they take me up on this! I don’t think it’s a deal breaker if we split the bill, but it definitely makes a better impression if the guy covers the bill.
Tiffany: I have to be traditional with this answer and say the guy! It’s only right for the guy to pay for the first date, otherwise he wasn’t raised right and that will probably show up in other aspects of his character. Always, always say thank you, otherwise that shows your character and makes him think you can’t take care of yourself. I do however, think the girl should at least offer to pay for things. For instance, if you go out to dinner and he pays the bill and then you get a night cap somewhere, it’s only right for the girl to buy drinks. Or if you go out one night or to happy hour, at least offer to pay for a round! You have to show you respect him also and can hold your own.
Sarah: I’m definitely a traditionalist in that I like when a guy wants to treat me to a drink or two. If things start to get pricey, then I’m happy to buy a round or chip in for dinner.
Melissa: I never assume, so I always make it a point to take out my wallet, but I’ve never had to actually pay for the bill. I always offer to pay the tip, though!
Tracy: I usually offer to split, but generally the guy pays and I take it as a sign that he is interested if he does.
Any dating horror stories?
Tracy: Oh plenty! Lots of talking about exes. I once had a guy tell me his ex was an angel sent from God then hoped maybe I was one as well. Then he cried. No joke. I also love finding out that they are in an open relationship or polyamorous.
Sarah: I’ve had my share of bad dates, but the most memorable would have to be “The Crier.” It turned out I was his first date since his longterm girlfriend had broken up with him. I spent the evening consoling him.
Leah: I’ve had some not so great dates, but I’m not sure if they qualify as a horror story! One time, I was getting drinks with a guy, and we were having a great time! Abruptly towards the end of my second drink, he asked if he could show me something on his phone. As someone who is always bringing up Instagram or opening up my camera, I didn’t think much of it. However, when he slid over and went for the kiss, I was totally thrown off. Also, this happened when I was twenty-five, not fifteen. #awkward
Melissa: Recently went out with a guy who was a total narcissist, talked about himself the entire time! The worst kind of guy.
Tiffany: I can’t think of a stand out time I had a really bad date..maybe because I mostly meet these guys in person first and not through the internet, but who’s to judge.
What one word would you use to summarize dating in Philadelphia?
Sarah: Really just one? Frustrating.
Leah: Disappointing 🙁
Tiffany: Exhausting! One week you’re talking to 4 different guys trying to figure out how to fit them all in and the next week you’re talking to no one. Most guys don’t put much effort into dating because for them it’s easier to just go out on a Friday and find a girl just for the night where he doesn’t have to worry about spending time and money on her. Or you’re on a bumble and have to be the first one to initiate the conversation and hope you can hold it long enough to get a date out of it. And like I said before, unless you’re at a bar more times than not it’s taken as being creepy if some random person strikes up a conversation with you. And meeting a person drunk at a bar isn’t the classiest way of making that first impression.