I’m fond of joking that we haven’t seen Love in L.A. since that incident on the back forty in ’39. As it turns out, it may not really be a joke. According to Facebook, Los Angeles is the second best city in the nation for singles. And by “best,” they mean that if you want to be single and stay that way, the City of Angels is the place to be. Raise your hand, Angelenos, if you needed an official report to tell you that.
Detroit, Michigan, took first place and New York City ranked third. How depressing is that? L.A. even beat New York in the failure to fall in love department.
If you do want to find love, data indicate that Colorado Springs is the place to go, followed by El Paso, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky. (One has to wonder whether Facebook was only looking at heterosexual relationship formations given this list.)
“In a city where everyone is paired up, the incentive to pair up is even stronger, while cities like New York and Miami are places that people go to be single,” writes Mike Develin on the Facebook Data Science page, which plays with all the data points we lovingly feed our profiles every day. “If you’re looking to find somebody, cities like Colorado Springs and El Paso have the highest rate of relationship formation. If you’re just looking to hang out with single people, San Francisco, Washington, New York, and Los Angeles have plenty of single people and low rates of relationship formation.”
Justin Garcia, a gender studies professor at Indiana University and researcher at the Kinsey Institute, explained the lack of partnering up in a city in terms of choice paralysis.
“Sometimes when you’re in a big city and there are thousands and thousands of people you might find attractive, it becomes so overwhelming that you don’t engage in the dating culture at all,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Facebook also took a look at gender ratios and found another total non-shocker: tech towns are sausage fests. San Francisco and San Jose, two major Bay Area cities, ranked first and second on the list of most single males per single female (anyone else have any questions about why this Angeleno spends so much of her time up north? Didn’t think so). Seattle, which is also a player in tech, came in third. Salt Lake City ranked fourth and the defense cradle of San Diego was fifth.
The most single females per single male are in Memphis, which also has the honor of being the fifth best city for single people who want to stay that way. The place with the most single ladies and the highest likelihood of relationship formation is Fort Worth, Texas.
Of course, no survey would be complete without a look at relationships themselves. If you’ve ever miserably contemplated why your significant other never pokes you anymore, here’s the short answer according to Facebook: “courtship is off.”
“During the 100 days before the relationship starts, we observe a slow but steady increase in the number of timeline posts shared between the future couple,” writes Carlos Diuk. “When the relationship starts (‘day 0’), posts begin to decrease.”
Don’t panic — Diuk attributes this change to a dramatic shift in attention to things happening between the new lovers in meatspace. The data team also noticed that despite the drop in communications following the onset of a relationship, the proportion of posts with positive words (think stuff like “love,” “nice,” and “happy”) increased over posts with negative words (such as “hate,” “hurt,” and “bad”).
“Don’t be discouraged by the decrease in online interactions, as the content of the interactions gets sweeter and more positive,” Diuk said.
Another report by Facebook, this one about interactions following a breakup, shows that the social network provides a platform for support from friends during particularly trying times. The average breakup saw a 225 percent increase in interactions via timeline posts, comments and private messages.
“This points towards people receiving support from their friends in times where they need it,” writes Adrien Friggeri.
“Or it points towards people withdrawing into an unnaturally curated social network for low-risk validation as a replacement for real human connection,” retorts James Hamblin at the Atlantic. “However you want to say it. People can be unpredictable, irrational, and unavailable. A social network will never break up with you.”
And we’ll keep on lovingly feeding it our personal information for more little insights the likes of which the U.S. Census Bureau can only dream of.
Header image by Enrique Gutierrez. Article pictured appeared on the Palo Alto Daily Post on Valentine’s Day weekend.