MOVING to the Pacific Northwest six years ago, I was apprehensive about my social options because of what I had heard about the Seattle Freeze. It would be hard to make friends, or so I was told.
To my surprise, however, I didn’t experience that infamous cold shoulder from my fellow Seattleites. I was invited to functions by acquaintances and included in happy hours and genuinely accepted into small circles of friends. That was, until I tried my hand at dating.
I quickly learned that Seattle men are far different from any other I’ve encountered: shy, timid and seemingly incapable of striking up a conversation, let alone offering to buy a female a drink. The Seattle males’ inability to successfully merge with their female counterparts reminds me of the colossal cluster that is I-5 onramps. Much like a Seattleite merging onto a freeway, our men’s apprehensive tendencies leave them incapable of finding either the open lane or the open bar stool.
Like a Seattleite’s driving, which is among the worst according to two years of Allstate claims data, Seattle men are unable to properly insert themselves, thanks to a “no, you go first” mindset, creating a plethora of blundering crash-and-burn scenarios.
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Being born and raised in Alaska, I found such dating behavior foreign. Sure, there are more men than women in the great 49th state. According to the most recent census data, 52 percent of Alaska’s population is male. However, Alaskan mating rituals cannot be boiled down to a simple numbers game. The northern, hardworking, truck-driving men of my hometown are born with confidence in their veins and courage in their one-liners.
It’s true not every man from the last frontier can be described as such. Some still live with their parents, are dealing with their third DUI, or are desperately attempting to relive their high-school glory days. But even those men aren’t afraid of letting a woman know they’re interested. They have no problem requesting phone numbers or purchasing beverages or, when the time calls for it, throwing fisticuffs if it means gaining the attention of that one woman who caught their eye. While some of it may be unnecessary, no one can honestly call them bashful.
That, gentlemen of Seattle, would be refreshing. Much more refreshing than having a man’s father ask a woman out for his son, an incident that turned into one of the most substantial relationships in my dating career here. It would be obviously more refreshing than a gentleman needing to down two six-packs to adequately express his feelings with big-boy words. Absolutely more refreshing than a man using Twitter, or poking through Facebook, or finding a friend of a friend of a distant cousin to break the ice.
When a woman is consistently left with the check and the burden of asking for a phone number, we have a problem.
Why the struggle, gentlemen? Are Seattle women too independent or career driven or, for lack of a better word, scary? Or are you simply protecting yourselves from the phenomenon I’ve witnessed of Microsoft/Amazon.com sugar babies desperately seeking a life of leisure via marriage?
Perhaps all of the above. I, however, have a different theory. According to Richard Florida, a senior editor at The Atlantic and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Seattle is the top-ranked tech city in the United States. It isn’t a male’s missing backbone that’s at fault, it’s technology. Men’s Health magazine seems to agree. Seattle is the eighth-best online dating city according to a study titled “Best and Worst Cities for Online Dating.”
It seems our male counterparts need a keyboard and monitor buffer in order to successfully court a woman. What they lack in actual human interaction they make up for in profile pictures and witty online comments.
Some men claim the women’s equality movement, which empowered women to simply take care of themselves, has left a man two steps behind and incapable of putting his foot down. I find such an excuse ridiculous.
Women have been juggling men’s capabilities, egos and independent tendencies for decades on end. Is it too much to ask that men do the same without the support of the World Wide Web? A woman opening her own doors or creating her own opportunities or owning her own home doesn’t negate a man’s wooing capabilities. At least, it shouldn’t.
So while women of Seattle search for answers, it seems men’s confidence, or lack thereof, isn’t changing anytime soon. Thankfully, we have The Space Needle, Starbucks, a Legion of Boom, hipsters, the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier to distract us.
Danielle Campoamor is a Seattle freelance writer. On Twitter @DCampoamor