When it’s not you AND it’s not them — turns out that where we live has a huge impact on our dating journey.


Undressed is a column about gender, social norms, dating rules and what happens when we break them. Read the last Undressed here.

Sometimes I forget that the way I date here in New York City is unique. NYC is the most densely populated city in the US. Here, career-focused daters work long hours, a cocktail costs $15, and there are over 200,000 more single women than men. And this, I console myself, is why my first messages on OkCupid so often go unanswered: in NYC, millennial men reply to only 24% of all messages they receive — the only place the odds are less favorable is Los Angeles. And it’s even harder for men; New York is the very worst US city for guys messaging women, who reply to men’s messages only 10% of the time.

While New York may be the most difficult place to get a message, it’s got some upsides —daters don’t ghost here as much as they do in other cities. It turns out that every city has its own idiosyncratic dating culture, and in this Undressed, we’ll take a look at what those cultures are.

Portland, OR is the best city to startup a convo.

If New York is the worst city for messaging, then Portland is the best. Here, men reply to half of all messages, and women reply to 20% (the highest female reply rate across OkCupid’s top cities, tied with Salt Lake City).

This likely has something to do with gender ratios per city. When looking at only straight daters on OkCupid, the ratio in Portland is skewed in women’s favor — 2 men for every 1 woman — while in New York, the gender ratio is roughly 50/50. So one can reasonably determine that men’s pickiness in replying to messages is a factor of their available options. But this pattern doesn’t hold for women, who reply the least in New York City, where the gender ratio is least in their favor, and the most in Salt Lake City, where the ratio is most in their favor (where straight men make up nearly three quarters of the dating pool).

Daters in Miami ghost, but Bostonians never would.

It may come as a surprise to some that women are more likely than men to ghost — or it may just be that women are more likely to admit to it on OkCupid (36% versus 26%). Regardless, both genders have the worst manners when it comes to the vanishing act in Miami. Here, 40% of women and 34% of men of men say they ghost, which is way more than the national ghosting average (a very real, scientific thing). Women are equally as likely to ghost in Houston.

Bostonians, on the other hand, are the least likely disappear. Only 19% of men and 28% of women say they would.

Women keep it casual in the Pacific Northwest.

Dating manners aside, I tend think of New Yorkers as being particularly reticent to DTR (define the relationship). Yet it turns out that New York is on par with the rest of the country when it comes to casual dating. On average, 32% of women and 61% of men in the US say they’d be down to have a casual relationship if their partner were reliable.

For men, this rough percentage holds throughout the country. But women in Seattle and Portland are the most open to casual relationships (39%).

New Yorkers are open to open relationships.

Casual relationships are fairly mainstream, but open relationships — one where both partners can see other people — aren’t quite there yet. About a third of men and only 13% of women on OkCupid say they’d be open to an open relationship. Looking at the percentage of members in the US who say they’d be willing to consider an open relationship, an unsurprising pattern is uncovered: Members in the central and southern parts of the country, which tend to be more conservative, are less likely to be open to open relationships. Yet for women, they’re also fairly unpopular in liberal states on the East Coast, like New Hampshire (10%) and Connecticut (11%). Los Angeles (33%) and New York City (18%) are the cities where the most women would be open to open relationships, while NYC (35%) and San Francisco (34%) are home to the most open men.

Now that you know, does that help explain that ghosting situation from last week? Or make you feel better that you’re not the only one who’s just looking for something casual right now? This data captures dating patterns in broad strokes — it certainly doesn’t mean that every guy you meet in NYC is looking for an open relationship. So please give us your thoughts on your city and your dating experience there in the comments below.

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