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Single, but Not Ready to Mingle: Why RI sucks for dating

It’s February, and we all know what that means: long walks down supermarket aisles filled with heart candies, liking your friends’ long tributes to their partners and engagement announcements on social media, and asking your Bumble Boo / Tinderella to make plans, realizing it’s Valentine’s Day, and rescheduling, because that would be weird. 

Some of us ask, what’s up with this, RI? Why is it so hard to date around here? 

Motif wanted to get to the bottom of this, so we put in a call to the expert: Sandy Daigneau. Daigneau has run different types of dating events — mix-and-mingle events and speed-dating — in Rhode Island and in Boston for years, so we appreciated her insight into the romantic quagmire that is our state. 

Daigneau told us that for the most part, the struggles that Rhode Islanders experience with dating are similar to those around the country. What does make us different, though, is Rhode Island’s six degrees of separation from everyone else that lives here. 

“I can’t say how many times that people walk into an event, and will whisper to me: I know the guy at table ten,” said Daigneau, “or I’ve gone out with them a few times.” Daigneau went on to say that in RI, the mix-and-mingle crowd is so small that regular attendees are used to seeing the same people in the same circles, and the same is true virtually in the world of dating apps and websites. Sometimes, Daigneau explains, this is a good thing because it allows potential matches to see each other in multiple settings to explore chemistry; other times, it can be embarrassing and having history might cause the pair to avoid each other. 

When comparing the dating scenes of Boston and RI, Daigneau used one word a lot: “It’s different,” she remarked. “It’s got a different vibe.” She added that sometimes people are looking for particular ethnicities and religious backgrounds, and while Boston is a cosmopolitan, international city, RI is definitely not, and lacks a lot of the variety that bachelors and bachelorettes might be looking for. 

A few months ago, Motif received a raving letter from disgruntled RI resident Kelsey Erickson who was determined to move away. We read this excerpt to Daigneau and asked for her take: 

“MeetUp groups are nonexistent, and dating sucks. I don’t mean to be shallow, but women here are hags, and men are scuzzy. I could go to a social event looking like a complete scum bucket and I would fit right in. For some reason, people here look 10-15 years older than what they really are. Everyone here looks like they’ve had a really tough life. There is no chance of me ever having a romantic connection because apparently I don’t have a high school sweetheart in RI, I guess.” 

After laughing together for quite a bit about this, Daigneau acknowledged some truths. “I do think we have a population of people who think the only way they’re going to meet someone is through my mom’s friend or their cousin’s friend,” Daigneau said. She went on to say, too, that nine out of ten times when people move here it’s for work, and they don’t have the network of friends and family to lean on to find a match. 

Regarding how people dress: “I would encourage people to turn to your best friend and ask about dressing for the part,” Daigneau said. “We want to see that someone did a little effort to dress to impress. They didn’t just roll out of bed.”

Lastly, we asked Sandy: What can we do differently? 

“That’s a hard question,” Daigneau remarked, before sharing what she always asks her friends when they say they’re struggling with dating: “What are you doing to meet someone? Are you going out? Do you respond?” Daigneau understands that we all get down on ourselves sometimes, but she shared reluctantly that often, dating is a numbers game, and the more interactions have with more people, the more likely we are to meet the one. 

“[Rhode Island] is where we live. We have a lot of great venues for activities — we have to inject ourselves into it.” Daigneau said. As a parting note, Daigneau mentioned how RIer’s strong identity with their own towns and cities can restrict us from meeting folks who are only five minutes away. 

Driving to the next town over? Forget it. I’d rather stay single.

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