Politics And Preps: 12 Things That Define The D.C. Dating Scene
Thinking of moving to D.C., you young, ambitious political science major?
Be prepared for a dating world unique to the dating world. D.C. has been called Hollywood for Ugly People, and this nickname captures the essence of our nation’s capital. The District is dominated by politics; it’s a one-industry town, like Hollywood. And the people in it are wholly consumed by it. So consumed by it, in fact, that they seem to have no time to develop a sense of personal style, style their hair a little bit (except for the men, who over style it), or foster a lot of interests outside of their office softball/baseball/kickball team that plays on The National Mall once a week.
Guys and girls, unless you love Longchamp bags, boat shoes, Jack Rogers sandals, and men with fluffy hair delicately combed over and hair-sprayed until it doesn’t move in the wind, you may not love dating in D.C.. Good and bad alike, here’s what you can expect from your date:
1. Over-educated egos.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you, too, went to Princeton. But here in D.C., you’ll find that most of the people you go on dates with have a master’s degree from Georgetown or one of the very preppy southern Virginia schools (George Mason, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia). They were probably in a sorority or fraternity, and they probably don’t have too many friends who decided not to go to college so they could pursue their dreams of being an actor/actress/singer. Get ready for men and women alike to ask what college(s) you went to, what you studied, and how you plan to apply your degree to your career. Education and career are inevitable topics on pretty much any D.C. date, so if you don’t like these topics or are embarrassed of the school you went to, well … try dating in nearby Baltimore?
On a side note, a lot of the men in D.C. are more inclined to flaunt their careers and education than the ladies. So women, whip out your diploma and get ready to talk about the Ivies you got into. It’ll keep the conversation going.
2. Everyday uniforms.
D.C. is not a fashion capital, and as such, men and women tend to put clothing on the back burner. If you aren’t into personal style/fashion, this may be great for you. You’ll be around someone who also just … doesn’t … care. You won’t feel like you have to compete to be the better dresser, and worrying about your clothing on your date definitely won’t be an issue.
Young women here tend to dress the same, in clothing from Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, J.Crew, and Banana Republic. They pair their clothes with Kate Spade purses and Tory Burch flats in the quintessential preppy uniform. This clothing goes from work to date night, so no need to worry about what to wear. Women, you can also rest assured that your date will probably match. He’ll likely wear his suit from work, a polo/khakis combo, or a nice button-down. No jeans, no t-shirts, no baseball caps here.
3. Fitness prioritized.
D.C., for all of its career-focus, is still a fit city. You have to walk a decent amount to get to and from work/the Metro station. On weekends, people usually want to get out of the somewhat claustrophobic city that they spend all week in. There’s usually an exodus to Maryland/Virginia, where there are forests, mountains and all of that other lovely greenery that city folk miss out on. Your date will usually include some kind of outdoor activity in his/her list of hobbies, since they spend their weekend going on casual hikes, walks, runs, or more adventuresome activities. This can be a great thing, of course. It’ll give you something fun to do as your relationship develops … assuming, of course, that you don’t mind the rampant mosquitos, the humidity, and the random torrential downpours characteristic of the region.
Also worth noting, that girl you go out with will probably regularly attend a yoga/SoulCycle class, and that guy will most likely love going for runs in Rock Creek Park. So don’t be surprised when they can’t go out one night because they have a yoga class at that time. Hey, you gotta de-stress somehow!
4. Drink up!
Speaking of de-stressing … people in D.C. are usually pretty on edge. That means Happy Hours are definitely popular, meeting for “work drinks” is a common and essential trend, and your date will most likely be at an elegantly casual bar or a restaurant with a killer drink menu. If you don’t like people who drink, this isn’t your city. Ever notice how Frank Underwood in “House of Cards” always seems to be pouring a glass of bourbon in the evening, and Claire loves her wine? That’s because they live and work in D.C., where your job’s more bearable when you’ve got a drink in your hand.
5. “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you” conversations.
The CIA, NSA, and FBI are all conveniently located in and around Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, meaning a lot of the lovely folks you meet for dates will work there or have worked there. They’ll casually tell you, when asked, that they work for “the government,” the Department of Defense, or “in linguistics,” and love that they are able to then leave you wanting more. Sometimes, they’ll laugh and say, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you,” which is sort of funny, and kind of scary.
Dating someone in this career field is actually pretty great, though. You don’t have to get upset when they don’t text you back during the work day. Usually, they can’t bring their phone into the office. This also means they won’t be harassing you via text with filtered photos of their sushi lunch or afternoon smoothie. It’s a win for all!
6. Strong political opinions.
You can’t live in D.C. and not have an opinion. If you don’t work in politics, you still know a lot about it. It’s the world you live in. People here still read newspapers, talk about the Iowa caucus, and work on political campaigns (or know someone who does). There’s a reason the floor of the D.C. Metro is littered with copies of The Washington Post.
If you don’t know that much about the political world, do some online research before your date. And worse comes to worst, say you love Hillary for her awesome pantsuits.
7. A Commitment to commitment.
D.C.-ites take everything seriously, from their cars (usually black, foreign-made sedans or station wagons) to their coffee (also usually black and foreign. It’s a no-nonsense city, which means that people usually have lofty goals. Focused on the big picture, D.C. daters are all about settling down and checking off that next accomplishment: a wedding. Then it’s on to bigger and better things, like running for office!
P.S.: A spouse is essential if you do want to run for office, so if you’ve got political ambitions, better have some dating goals as well!
8. Disdain for the West Coast.
L.A. is pretty much the opposite of D.C. People in D.C. won’t always admit to liking, being from, or visiting California. After all, in L.A., they only care about how they look, the film industry, and diets. And in D.C., people care about much more important things … like number 9: brunching.
Brunching is serious business in most big cities; D.C. is no different. So if you spend the night, be ready for her to ask you to brunch tomorrow, where you’ll most likely go to Open City, Ted’s Bulletin, Founding Farmers, or one of those other massively popular spots with long lines and slow service. It’s about seeing and being seen, showing off your conquest from the night before, and maybe saying “hi” to some work colleagues at the table next to you (then gossiping about them when they turn away). Most D.C. brunches have bottomless mimosas, a gluten-free menu, and cheekily named entrees that play on the names of past presidents, so get ready for a little bit of sass with your Sunday morning meal.
10. Serious conversations.
A lot of D.C. residents are well traveled, went to great schools, and come from fairly privileged upbringings. They are more inclined to talk about where they studied abroad their junior year of college than the latest movie they saw. So better hope you studied someplace chic like London, Paris, or Prague, because if you spent your year backpacking across Europe with dreads in your hair and five Euros in your pocket, your date probably won’t relate.
11. Clean cuts.
Still along the lines of being chic, classy, and consummately preppy, your date probably won’t be tatted up, with lots of piercings all over. That usually doesn’t fly well when you work for a congressman or senator. You’ll find that many of your dates grew up in Virginia, a fairly classy southern state where some people talk like Frank Underwood in those honeyed, sweet southern drawls, and everyone loves pink, green, lacrosse, and rugby. Men and women usually don’t have mohawks, brightly colored hair, or any of those “looks” you see at Coachella. D.C.-ites just don’t do Coachella.
12. Fancy feasts.
Going to a bar for your date? Even dive bars are trendy with craft beers and a fairly clean environment. Washington, D.C., has beautiful architecture, fairly clean streets, and pretty great restaurants (especially in Northwest), meaning you and your date will be hard-pressed to find a grungy meet up spot (if that’s your scene).
Yes, there are those rare non-drinkers in D.C. There are people there who don’t work out, have incredible personal style, don multiple tattoos, and never went to college … but they’re like unicorns. In other words, when you find them, treasure them (if you like them of course) because they are rare creatures who you may not meet again. For the most part, D.C. is filled with fairly serious, studious people who will remind you of that kid in class who always had his/her hand raised and graduated with honors. This is the city they come to, so if you can’t take the D.C. heat (which is very real, by the way), get out of the capital.