I spotted this line in a new Washington Post article about the supposed plunging popularity of marriage in the U.S. If you have not seen the piece – you can find it here.
In general – I think the headline is overly simplistic. In reality, people still want to get married. Many of them are just delaying the accomplishment of that relationship goal (and in fact, jeopardizing it) by falling into a major modern-day trap: shacking up.
But really, as a third generation Washingtonian, I was most puzzled by the statement above in bold. D.C. is in my DNA. The statement has that sound-bite pinch that tends to gloss over the details of real life.
Plenty of people come to town for the social scene and to be among more singles. The restaurants are awesome, and it’s a good place to meet people and have fun. D.C. helps people further their career too. It’s a two-pronged approach. You get a good job and a nice paycheck, which equals nice clothes, exciting dates, and a great start (or second wind?) to your adult life in general.
This paradigm might be especially beneficial for men, who need good career tracks to be attractive to single women who want a somewhat traditional home life. They can build a career in D.C. and also have their pick of great date locations.
Guys from less electric parts of the country have told me that D.C. girls tend to be more trendy and educated than the girls back home. Men may come here for a job – but that doesn’t mean they go blind and forget about falling in love. They are focused on their career – sure – but they also find D.C. appealing for the “society.” That’s the silver lining that maybe they weren’t anticipating, but are happy to embrace.
Women, if they don’t get married at a very young age in more rural or central areas of the U.S., can find both social and professional opportunities in D.C. People marry later on the East Coast than other parts of the country, so a mid-twenties single in downtown D.C. may be perceived differently than they would in other locales. If their girlfriends are all married up in their hometown, D.C. can provide a new circle of single lady friends, more social activities, and interesting professional options.
Even for D.C.-area natives, singles commonly meet downtown. When they get married, they move to the burbs. This is a common pattern, and it just irked me to see that misrepresented in the press.
Happiness and fulfillment, for most people, are about more than a job. I think people carry their full satchel of hopes and dreams with them when they come to D.C. and try to achieve it all. Many of them do!