We are the people of big shoulders, not fluttering hearts. Of hardball machine politics, not milkshakes with two straws. When a Chicagoan hears about a meat market, they may just expect a nice slab of ribs. But even Chicagoans want to find love. How is the dating scene in Chicago? The question of how conducive a city is for romance looms large.
We looked at census demographics and statistics from the online dating site OkCupid. But that data was not particularly revealing. Despite slight variations, dating-by-the-numbers in Chicago is very much on par with dating in other large U. Numbers, of course, cannot capture everything.
We wanted to learn specific qualities of dating in Chicago that feel, well, particularly Chicago-y. We also interrupted dates at bars on the North and South Sides. We heard all kinds of stories. Tales from men and women, straight people and gay people, and daters of all ages. You told us about first dates at hot dog stands, and you told stories about falling in love at Chicago landmarks like the Billy Goat or a Neo-Futurists performance. We heard your horror stories, proposal stories, and stories about Cubs and Cardinals fans trying their best to make a marriage work.
From all these anecdotes, two clear Chicago dating themes emerged: Chicago Dating Theme 1: Where do you live? I'm over in Logan. This is never going to work. The text prophecy was right; Meenan and this person never met up. Chicago daters told us again and again that they prefer not to stray far from their neighborhoods for romance, or to date someone who lives along a different CTA line.
In areas with high density of OkCupid users say, Logan Square this trend is more pronounced. In areas with a lower density of users say, South Shore the pattern exists, but less so.
Race is a likely factor in these neighborhood messaging patterns. Chicago neighborhoods are segregated by race and research shows that race has a strong influence on dating choices. This racial bias, of course, exists across the country and is not exclusive to Chicago. If you want to read more about it, this post from OkCupid founder Christian Rudder is a good place to start. Beyond demographic issues, our hotline received several stories of star-crossed lovers living on different train lines.
One Chicago couple told a story of overcoming the inter-neighborhood odds. When Chris and Elizabeth Biddle first met, at a burlesque show, Chris was living near the lake in Edgewater and Elizabeth was living on the border of Norridge, on the far Northwest side. They laugh about it now, but Chris and Elizabeth say that the distance caused arguments early in their relationship, which stopped only after Elizabeth moved further into the city.
Chris and Elizabeth are now married and live together in Edgewater. Daters we spoke with cited not only convenience as a reason for their reluctance to leave their neighborhoods for dates, but also a strong sense of Chicago neighborhood bias.
Chicago dating theme 2: Tecarra Carmack, 29, is originally from North Carolina and learned the phrase when she arrived in Chicago. And there is some data to show that cuffing, et al, is not just urban legend. An analysis of Facebook relationship statuses showed that yearly peaks for break-ups occur May-June, post-cuffing-season.
That date turned into a surprise overnight when his car got stuck in the snow outside of her Logan Square apartment. Imani Hill told us about a recent fling in Los Angeles. The dating doctor's take After talking with so many daters, we wanted insight from a professional. Gandhi speaks with a mix of corporate jargon and best friend-like reassurance. The process helps her identify dating patterns the client may be repeating and give the client ideas for new strategies.
We told Gandhi the results of our own ish review of dating in Chicago. Clients have even told her that they would prefer to date someone who lives in their very same apartment building!
In dating, Gandhi said, people tend to defer to what is easiest for them, instead of privileging what makes them happy. Get over your preconceptions about neighborhoods. Put on your winter coat and go outside.
Consider what qualities in another person make you really happy, and make a list of them. Then, broaden your search radius to 30 miles. Some highlights from them include: Noel, who met a date in the back of an Uber. Gabriel, who, in a deeply unlikely scenario, found love snowboarding in Chicago.