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Unhinged, A Dating Series: Seeking Answers

Unpacking San Diego’s (slightly scary) dating stats in the first installment of editor Nicolle Monico’s new dating column
Nicolle Monico

In Unhinged, San Diego local and SDM editor Nicolle Monico shares her experiences dating in the city, seeks advice from relationship experts, and dissects the current landscape—while hopefully finding love in the process.

Last year, WalletHub named San Diego the ninth best city in the US for singles wanting to date. But if my dating apps and convos with other local singles are any indication of how true that is, I call BS. Sure, there are plenty of people open to dating, but finding commitment in a city full of Peter Pans is a different story.

I’ve lived in San Diego for 15 years and have dated in this town in my 20s, 30s, and now 40s. I’ve spent weeks chatting with a potential partner only to learn later that they aren’t ready for a relationship (even though their profile said otherwise). I’ve even had a guy leave my side to pick up food for a BBQ, then text me from the road that he’s breaking up with me. 

I recently read a quote from Glynnis Macnicol, author of No One Tells You This—her debut memoir on women and singleness—that rang true. “Culturally there is a lot of messaging out there that after the age of 40, if you have not acquired a partner or child, you are sort of in a no man’s land of invisibility,” she told Refinery 29.

Oof. I feel this.

Being single in your late 30s and 40s (not by choice), feels invisible—at least as a woman. You’re unseen, you’re in the way. No one really knows what to do with you in the dating world. You’re out of the PB nightlife scene and past the cut-off for young professional meet-up groups. Your married friends only have married friends. And dating apps just aren’t working anymore.

Then you have the US Census Bureau telling us that, currently, 57 percent of single adults aren’t interested in a relationship or casual dating. Great. Perfect. And according to a recent PEW research study, “A quarter of 40-year-old Americans have never been married, more than in any other time since data has been collected.” 

Have we all just given up? Or has the culture shifted so far to one side that we’re all messier, more discontent, and unsure of how to make real connections nowadays?

I’d like some answers, or at least, some guidance on how single people are supposed to navigate a world filled with swipes, ghosting, and grown-ass adults saying they aren’t ready to commit. 

My last relationship lasted three years, but there were so many ups and downs that I’m still working through some lingering whiplash. I inevitably redownloaded the dreaded apps. Hinge was my go-to. After a year, I deleted it one night in a fit of frustration. 

So, over the next few months, I’ll be ditching the apps (getting un-Hinge-d, if you will), diving back into the wild world of dating, and sharing my experiences right here for all. I’m hoping that by getting vulnerable, while digging into San Diego’s dating scene, those who also feel unseen can start to realize they’re not alone. Together, maybe we can learn how to better find love in 2024. I’m genuinely hoping to meet someone special.

I’ll be documenting my personal dating experiences while working with local matchmaker and relationship coach Sophy Singer, dissecting dates and conversations, talking with experts in the field, unearthing current research on dating and mental health, and recounting the stories of other singles in San Diego so that we can figure this out together.

Up first: Tonight’s Valentine’s Day workout and mixer with F45 and Sophy Love. A little flirting, a little sweat, and a healthy amount of awkwardness—honestly, it sounds just like my first time.

Follow along for all the fun and updates at @monicles and @sandiegomag.

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By Nicolle Monico

Nicolle Monico is an award-winning writer and the managing digital editor for San Diego Magazine with more than 15 years of experience in media including Outside Run, JustLuxe and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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