Sex in our City: Decoding Seattle's Dating Scene

Our decade-by-decade breakdown of the Seattle singleton scene

Category: Articles


Publications like Forbes and Marie Claire are constantly ranking Seattle as the center of the singles universe, based on our census data, our high volume of Starbucks coffee shops, and the fact that there are seemingly more sappy dating movies and TV shows set in our city than any other place on Earth.

But what do Seattle singles have to say about the dating scene? Is there one? If so, who’s out there in it and how are they going about it? Do people even use the word “dating” anymore? Or do they prefer some euphemism like “hiking the Pacific Crest Trail”? (And if that’s the case, are condoms one of the 10 Essentials?)

We penetrated the city and asked local singles for answers to your burning dating questions (as for that burning sensation, you really should see a doctor). Read on for our decade-by-decade breakdown of the Seattle singleton scene.

What’s it called? Sometimes it’s “hooking up,” sometimes it’s “hanging out.” Sometimes it’s just hard to explain. In fact, it’s generally hard to explain, because many 20-somethings don’t even use the word “date”—although most of them are dating the hell out of each other (usually until 4 in the morning, after which it’s time to head to the Hurricane Café for a chicken-fried steak). “It’s better if no one calls it anything,” says Johnathon Fitzpatrick, a 25-year-old freelance journalist who cycles into the city from Edmonds, “because you don’t know what’s going to happen. If things start to get serious, though, then it’s dating,” he says. Or going out. Or something.

How do you meet? On Twitter; at a friend’s party; at a bar like King’s Hardware in Ballard; or through Seattle’s Underdog Sports League, where it’s actually OK to tackle the people you think are cute. Other options: a club (Neumos or Showbox SoDo); a coffee shop, especially one of the busy independents where you have to share a table or couch (think Vivace at South Lake Union or Victrola on 15th); or an art-friendly bash, like the Henry Gallery’s Open House or Bellevue Arts Museum’s Finally Friday.

The ask: Via Twitter, e-mail, IM or texting—anything but the traditional phone call. That’s out (VM is DOA). Also dead, that old saw about  women having to wait for a guy to make “the move.”   

The date: Hanging out at the Olympic Sculpture Park or Green Lake or Alki; happy hour at Wasabi Bistro in Belltown; or pizza in the high-backed booths at Via Tribunali on Capitol Hill. Other options: Amid the drinks and DJs at the Seattle Art Museum’s quarterly “Remix” (next one, February 26!); loud rock and smoldering looks at the new Crocodile. Tip: Take a “BlackBerry break” halfway through the date so you both can catch up on texts from buddies.   

It’s serious when: You up your cell phone plan to unlimited texting.  

It’s over when: You catch them pitching their Jones Soda bottle off the side of the ferry MV Issaquah.


What’s it called? Although the D word is passé, most 30-somethings acknowledge that, much like Tim Eyman initiatives, dating happens. The problem is figuring out if and when you’re actually on a date. “It happens all the time here,” says West Seattleite Damiana Merryweather, 36. “Men will say, ‘We should get a drink’ and it’s completely un