Every year, unmarried Americans are inundated with Internet lists of the best cities for us, in an effort to keep us clicking sadly through stock photos of metropolitan areas instead of actually getting out there to mingle within them. These lists often highlight cities where high proportions of single people already reside. That makes them “the best” in one way: It means that we have better access to friends who are not married and establishments that will accommodate our dining alone. But if you’re a single person actually looking to form a romantic relationship with another human, these places are kind of the worst.
This week, Facebook joined the love dataviz game by aggregating anonymous data from its billion-plus users and churning out charts about their romantic prospects. Today, it crunched the numbers on the cities-for-singles front and found that the five U.S. cities with the highest proportion of single people are Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Memphis. But Facebook also looked at the cities where users were most likely to change their relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship” in a given month and found that the top five cities for “relationship formation” are Colorado Springs, El Paso, Louisville, Fort Worth, and San Antonio. In fact, the more single people that live around you, the less likely you are to start a relationship with any of them:
Maybe singles in Los Angeles and New York are uniquely uninterested in notifying the world every time they find somebody to kiss on the mouth over an extended period. In cities where there’s not a huge amount of pressure to enter into traditional romantic relationships, the couplings that do form may not require a Facebook “In a Relationship” stamp of approval. (And the only time anyone should utter the phrase “It’s Complicated” is in the context of dialing up the delightful 2009 Meryl Streep–Alec Baldwin vehicle, preferably alone). But the fact remains that, as Facebook researcher Mike Develin puts it, “in a city where everyone is paired up, the incentive to pair up is even stronger.” That's either wonderful or horrifying, depending on how ironic your deployment of #foreveralone.