January 15th, 2007

The Urban Dilemma

Cities, by definition, have more people than small towns; and larger cities have more people than smaller cities. And because the single population is a subset of the population as a whole, it follows that if you are single you will find a larger population of available singles in a big city than in a smaller one. (Barring the case where there's an extraordinary discrepancy in the proportion of singles, such that the absolute number of singles in a given smaller city is greater.)

So that's the obvious factor. Let's call that Equation A. But there's another factor too, I think - we'll call it Equation B - whereby those teeming hordes of urban singles KNOW that they are single, and that they live in the city, and that they have a seemingly endless array of potential partners to choose from. So, is the urban population choosier? More fickle? More jaded? To the extent that the urban single population is self-selected, is it because they're looking to find a serious relationship, or looking to avoid commitment?

And beyond Equations A and B, there's just the sensory overload of living in the city. Even if you live in New York and love every minute of it, you must know what I'm talking about. How does that impact our ability to form and maintain relationships?

And finally there are the reasons people live in cities, which may overlap with Equation A but are not identical with it. There is, specifically, the "safety in numbers" principle. If you are an ethnic minority, a political minority, an artist, intellectual, or queer (there's the overlap with A), you want to go where there are others of "your kind". It's sort of the general case of Equation A.

How do you balance all of these things - especially when your politics and your values are a weird mix of small-town (read "red state") and urban (read "coastal liberal")?

I don't know the answer. When I get it figured out, I'll let you know.