Why Dating in London Is Different Than Anywhere Else

You’d think in a city with 8.3 million other fish in the sea, dating wouldn’t be that hard. Well, you would be very, very wrong. London can be a terrible city to be single in, but hey, you can at least take some ironic comfort in the fact that there are millions of others just like you. These are the truths unique to London's dating scene...

One date often means you’re going steady, regardless of whether you planned to or not

In London, when you play tonsil hockey after several rounds of drinks, you will often wake up suddenly in a relationship. Doesn’t matter if you barely know the person yet, you’ll pick it up along the way. 

It’s amazingly difficult to make set plans

The chances of two people having overlapping free evenings in London is so remote that if it ever does happen, you should immediately buy a scratch card or something. It'll get better as the relationship moves along (and you will soon become the reason their diary is perpetually jammed solid), but in the opening stages it's a little like booking a meeting.


You'll probably practice expiration dating

This is a transient city, and while we're reliably informed by The Bangles that love is eternal, visas, jobs, and student programs aren't. Sometimes, an accent is both an aphrodisiac and a ticking time bomb, so unless you want to follow them to New York/Sydney/Paris, best prepare yourself. 

Living in different zones could be a deal breaker

London is huge. Getting from, say, Clapton Pond to Dulwich can easily take you 90 minutes, and that's a walk of shame most people can't afford. 

People are already in relationships... with their careers

This is one of the most competitive cities in the world, and your insane rent doesn't pay itself thanks to all the free time you have. When you’re waking up at 6:30am to squeeze into an overcrowded Tube, working until 8pm, maybe hitting the gym for a bit, and then somehow eating and seeing your friends... who has time for dating?

Flickr/Sarah Tzinieris

With so many options, everyone has developed “what if” syndrome

Just to reemphasize, there are 8.3 million people in London. Even if you do land that one in a million, there're still 7.3 others out there who're just like them, and maybe even better. It’s a trade up mentality that makes it super tough to actually enjoy what's in front of you. 

Dating apps are the norm regardless of age, gender, or occupation

With blisters forming on our thumbs from swiping right on Tinder, there’s still Match, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Happn, and many more to catch our attention. There are so many in fact, that dating services are popping up that're keen to advertise that they're not an app.

Flickr/Tomasz Kulbowski

Missing the last Tube can make or break your date

It’s all going so well and then you look at the time and realize it’s very nearly pumpkin time, with the last Tube is rapidly approaching. There are three options: 1) Resign yourself to the walk of shame in the morning and have a (hopefully great) night at theirs; 2) Cut the night short and run for the train like it’s a lifeline; or 3) accept that an uber-expensive Uber will be in your future. How many relationships have started due to missed trains? 

You won’t be able to tell if they’re interested or just polite

Since most people were raised to not cause a fuss, all those affirmative signals you’re picking up might not be as genuine as you’d like. This can lead to a few hours -- of even months -- of one person thinking it’s going swimmingly, while the other is just being polite and not wanting to rock the boat. Yes, it is infuriating.


Virtually all dates will revolve around drinking

It’s not our fault London has literally the best bars in the world. It would be a crime not to go and, well, drink in all of them. Plus, if you had been 100% sober, would you have had the guts to go in for that goodnight kiss or that gloriously sloppy make out sesh at the bus stop at 3am? 

The moment you realise you’re in a relationship, you move in together

London is such an expensive town that the thought of cheaper rent is usually enough to steer Cupid's arrow to the bull's-eye, regardless of which direction it seemed to be flying in.

Flickr/Francisco Osorio

Having so many tourists is both the best and the worst

London is the number one tourist destination is the world. This means that millions of pretty young things descend on the city looking to create some of the best nights of their lives, and there you are; ready, willing, and able to selflessly help fulfill their dreams. Pro? They’re only here for a few days. Con? They’re only here for a few days.

Speed dating? Pshht. Here, we have pheromone-sniffing parties.

See also: silent dating (your eyes say it all, apparently), or naked ping pong gatherings (something something balls), or Speed Listening (where your playlist does the talking).

You WILL end up dating someone from work

Or even worse, a flatmate. And yes, it’s still a bad idea and if (when) it ends, it will be incredibly awkward. But you’ll do it anyway because if you’re not at one, odds are you’ll be at the other and where the hell else would you meet someone -- besides Tinder, of course.

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