The UK Dating Scene: Single Lives

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The UK dating scene is a tough environment in which to be single. These days so many of us are single and looking for Mr. or Miss Right and so I thought it may be useful to focus on one country and consider some aspects of dating. People working in the UK dating  industry will tell you that its no place for the shy just now. There are fewer eligible people we all think and more people looking so it comes as no surprise then that dating can be a vicious game.

This first struck me in a London city bar one Friday evening when I noticed just how many single people there were enjoying lots of drink, flirting like crazy and kissing in all corners. Wow, I thought, this must be the place to be if one is single. Then it dawned on my slow- thinking brain, none of the people in this bar are single, they all have partners. Partners are home, or partners doing the same as them in a  bar down the street. They are simply flirting because they can and because staying with one person is becoming harder and harder. Friday night flirtation was their entertainment and release. But over a period of weeks it appeared that this was a regular sport practiced in bars across the UK. It appears then that lots of people are on the lookout for the next best thing in their lives. And lots of single people on the UK dating scene in fact aren’t.

At first the situation too me by surprise but it appears really that the situation of semi-attached couples flirting as single people on the UK dating scene is part and parcel of a worldwide phenomenon – dissatisfaction. Maybe it is part of the need for people to release the stress of long working days, maybe it is the inevitability of being able to split, separate and divorce so easily. Perhaps it is directly related to our needs to seek out the new, the better, the comparable. After all, we are children of a marketing generation..

For those of us in the UK who are genuinely single, we ask ourselves why we are single. Its an often asked question. Looking at many of my single English friends I am often surprised how many eligible well educated people struggle to find someone to date. The UK dating scene has become a world of Bridget Jones and their male equivalent. Commercially aware, business-educated, upwardly mobile, well educated and well groomed individuals with money to burn. But can they find a date on Saturday night? Not a chance my friend.

The UK dating scene I reckon is somewhat ageist. The first phase really encompassed UK daters up to about the age of 25, from students and college people through to those singles who have stepped into their first working roles and matured accordingly. This social age group has no real issues with regards to dating and is generally governed by their peer group. Dating may be through friends and fellow students or coworkers of similar ages, or through sport and interests.

From around the age of 25 onwards UK dating landscape changes significantly, it moves directly into the realm of bar and club culture. Yes social activities, friends and family all play their part as a dating influence under current, but generally, people between the ages of 25 and 34 have money, an active social life and a career of one kind or another. People meet each other in the local bar or pub after work and at weekends singles will flirt and meet up in local bars and clubs or move on the the larger offerings of the city canter. Once again there is an inherent dating dynamic here that allows single people to find an outlet for their dating desires.

As one moves into their early thirties this is when we get Bridget Jones syndrome. Successful career orientated individuals with a good lifestyle, possibly a house or apartment, money invested or certainly some in the bank and plenty of free time. Slightly too old for the trance and rave clubs of those ten years younger but perhaps still on the periphery. Too young to move into middle aged circles we find that an entirely new dating sub culture has grown up around an active, dynamic and slightly lost age group. It is no coincidence the US led the way with the TV show ThirtySomething in the late 1980’s.

Beyond the ThirtySomething age group we then move into troubled waters. Whilst a handsome proportion of UK society may well be married or living with someone and have children, we also have a significant group of people who are once again single, divorced or separated, too old for the club culture that surrounds them but too young for more sedate matters. What strikes me most about single people in the UK is how age is now disappearing as a stigma and a barrier. People of all ages are now taking up their own dynamics where dating is concerned, they are joining agencies, dating regularly and very much in charge of what they are about. Look at the age group of the women of Sex and the City – 37.

The UK dating scene is not a barren wasteland so much as an outdoor assault course. There is much dating to be done and many eligible people about. What appears to be the issue in the UK and elsewhere is an outlet for meeting people of similar age groups. Whilst the bar and club may still provide that bastion of dating ground, the fact is that many single people are tired of relying on the same old formula. And  to deal with this dating demand we are finding society responding. The rise of the UK cafe bar culture, the increase in top quality restaurants, the changes in licensing laws, the burgeoning loft apartment culture are all catering to the ever increasing UK singles population who do have money to spend and desire places to date in grater comfort than ever before.

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