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Finding Love in DC

Looking for love in all the right places

By Erika Hernandez

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Everyone in life wants love. From the 10-year-old that grows up fantasizing about Prince Charming, to the 70-year-old man who tries online dating to find love. The denizens of Washington,DC  are no different. In a city where advancing one’s careers is the top priority, the need for settling down and having a family becomes relevant later in life. This presents a challenge to the Latinos who value family, forcing us to choose between these two.  

According to DC Health Matters, the ratio of women to men is 52% to 48% percent. These numbers, along with the need to strive professionally, generally make it hard for DC women and men to find a lifetime partner. 

“What has been your experience dating in DC after your divorce?” I asked Pedro. 
“I waited about 8-9 months after my separation to start dating. It was during the first year of the pandemic so it was complicated getting out and meeting people. At first, there was a lot of virtual dating. I hadn’t been dating in 13 years so that was unusual. I have dated different kinds of people. Some in politics, outside of politics, different ages, races, ethnicities. I’m trying to meet people and find someone that is a good match,” he answered. 

In her early forties, Lucia is starting to date again after being married for a few years. She expressed that culture is very important for her. Referring to her ex-husband, “We bonded very quickly based on our strong family background. I was married when I moved to DC. My husband was finishing graduate school and I had just finished my degree.” She mentioned he still had 4-5 years to go. “The long distance was too hard for us. We were equally motivated to pursue our careers. I thought it was better to part ways. I had been 9-10 years trying to date and it’s very hard. I wanted to date someone culturally similar to me. I used to think that I wanted to only date a Mexican-American guy because my family is Mexican-American, but now I have expanded to other Latinos though it is still very hard. There are limitations here in DC as I’m not in my 20s or 30s.”

People from across the US come to our nation’s capital to pursue their dream job with hopes of leaving a positive footprint in American and international politics. This causes young people to focus on their professional development much more than in long-term personal planning.  

In this respect, Lucia said, “When I was younger, I had a couple of relationships that lasted a few years. Most of the time, I was the one that was very ambitious and driven. You know, my focus was my career. But now that I’ve gotten older, most guys in my age range are married and have families so that’s not an option at all. Honestly, there isn’t a large cohort of Latinos (here) that I have come across that are single,” Lucia said.  

For Pedro, “DC is a bit difficult because you have young career-oriented people so a lot of times it’s difficult to find people who are focused on a serious relationship. That’s not their priority and they’re focused on the next job. It has been a bit of a challenge in DC. I still have my house in Capitol Hill but earlier this summer I bought a condo in Chelsea [New York)]” he answered. He has now decided to spend time in New York City at least once a month because he has found it easier to date women there given that there is less professional pressure.

For Claudia, another Latina in her forties, “I feel dating also depends on your age. I have lived in DC for ten years. In my thirties, I was perhaps looking more to have a family. I was in a couple of relationships then. I’ve always been very clear on what I’m looking for. I dated a guy for about two years and a half and suddenly he wasn’t sure if he wanted to get married or have kids. So we split. Time has gone by and years after, I’m now dating divorced men with kids who usually don’t want more. I feel I have also evolved. I am no longer defining my happiness on [being married and having] children.”

Personally, I have been moving much lately and faced the challenge of defining happiness in places. While this forced me to find my happiness internally, I must confess that life is better when you are surrounded by people you love and, especially, a partner you can count on. Like Claudia, I have been in the DC area for 10 years. Life in the district is a lot of fun but, for me, it has come to a point in life that I just want to settle down, although not settle for anything. This is regularly a challenge in DC – long-term aspirations of two people also need to match daily life attitudes and quirks. Lacking a match in these areas is often the source of divorce.

“There’s a bit of a DC-women stereotype in the perception that women are driven, not necessarily wanting family. I have heard that some men are looking for women coming from somewhere else (perhaps a country, maybe a Latina), because they’re looking for a more traditional relationship,” stated Claudia. 

This could be a common stereotype, but Latinas in DC also value their professional standing. Ultimately, balancing family and career is a common denominator that we women (married and unmarried) face in modern life. 

All the Latinos I interviewed answered that they relied on social media to meet potential romantic partners and are no longer meeting others at bars, parties, etc. Apps like OkCupid, Bumble and Hinge were amongst the most popular. For some, going to a place where they can meet other Latinos means being near work colleagues, perhaps not making it the best environment when it comes to pursuing romance.

Carl Jung once said, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” Perhaps, the better we know ourselves, including our own quirks, the closer we will be in finding a partner because it will be easier to know what we can live with and what we cannot. 

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