With Valentine's Day just gone, it's easy for single Londoners to question their love life - and whether they're in the right, or wrong, city for romance. In this week's Big Debate, Joe and Charlotte argue it out: is it hard to find love in London?
YES, says Joe:
Is it hard to find love in London? Yes, obviously. No need to even use that pope joke to illustrate the point.
Let’s look at the statistics. There are over 8 million people living in London and more than 15 million if you include the wider metropolitan expanse. Let’s assume that you only have a proclivity for one gender, which means you can instantly cut the eligible group of suitors in half. It’s also safe to guess that you want to hook up with someone who is A) Over the age of consent and B) Born somewhere within a decade of you.
According to the 2011 census exactly 25% of inner London’s population is between 25 and 34 years old. You can add another 10% if you want to cast the net a little wider and go for anyone older than 18. So again assuming you’re only going to be targeting half that group, you’re looking at over 1.4 million potential partners.
That’s a healthy slice of prime relationship material right there. But I’m not saying that that’s a good thing. Quite the opposite. It’s such a ridiculously overloaded smorgasbord that you’ll never reasonably be able to sample all it has to offer and actually find a morsel worth clinging onto. And bisexuals have it twice as bad.
For people who live in a one horse town, on the other hand, it’s much simpler. You’ll happily settle for the horse, because the pool of potential playmates is much smaller.
That’s not to say that people in London can’t get laid. We’re just as happy to exchange fluids with one another as the rest of humanity. But it’s difficult not to wonder whether you can really have met ‘the one’ in a flurry of booze and sweat, because surely with so many other people out there, you’d be mad to stop looking after a few minutes of genital mingling.
But most of all it’s hard to find love in London because it’s an emotional trick played by your body to make you reproduce. Some think love is as solid and tangible as a brick wall, but in reality it’s more like jelly; delicious in small doses, but also quite childish and impossible to grasp firmly.
So go speed dating, flirt at the office and accept invitations to awkward couple-oriented dinner parties where you’re forced to engage with the only other single person, like hollow-eyed veterans of some awful war. It’s tough out there in the big city, and you’re more fragile than you think.
NO, says Charlotte:
I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard someone excuse their (lack of) love life with the words, 'but it's hard to meet people in London'. You mean to tell me that, in a city with over 8 million people, and the highest proportion of singletons in the UK, there's no one to go out with?
Too often people, women in particular, expect Mr or Mrs Right to roll up, knock on the door and invite them on a date. But it's easy to wait for someone else to make the first move; days eventually turning into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and before you know it, you're back at Christmas dinner, being asked all over again by nosy relatives 'why are you still single then?'
To find love, one must stop being so fatalistic. It's about taking charge of your destiny and circulating; going to interesting places, spotting attractive people, and plucking up the courage to say 'hello.' And goodness knows, Londoners are spoilt with opportunities to mingle with members of their desired sex.
Just think of all the dating nights on at venues such as the Book Club, and even 'Slagbox' - 'the single's night for people who don't like single's nights.' If the concept of engineered romance makes you quiver, simply joining an exercise or activity class will do the trick - and allow you to sell yourself to your target market.
It's self-defeating to say 'it's hard to find love in London.' It's a cop out that prevents people from going out and making things happen themselves. As with most things in life, finding love is about exploiting opportunities and taking the initiative; and London is the perfect place to do so.