Lisa Runyon says she's looking for the same thing other women are looking for -- "a decent human being" -- and has had trouble finding a man who matched that description in the Washington area. The 32-year-old Montgomery Village high school teacher was among the 33 percent of single women surveyed who said the region was not a good place to find a spouse.

The single men of the region obviously have better luck on the dating scene, since the bulk of them -- 75 percent -- said the area was a good place to meet women.

But all Runyon found were men who were eager to get lucky rather than develop a meaningful relationship.

"I could have slept around if I had wanted to, but I was looking for a quality person, a good guy, as opposed to someone who was out for just a fun time," says Runyon, who finally met someone seven months ago at Buffalo Billiards in Gaithersburg.

"I was single for a long time, and I started to wonder, 'How the hell am I going to meet somebody that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with?' " she says.

Laura Yerhot, 25, wonders the same thing when she goes out on dates with people she meets in bars, through friends or online. She says she's met some nice guys, only to discover that they're workaholics or here only for the short term or don't share her values.

"D.C. tends to be a very transient place, and some people will tell you, 'I'm going to be here for two years for business school, and then I'm moving back home.' And I refuse to move to Northern Idaho," said the 25-year-old Alexandria resident. "You find a lot of people who work many hours, and I don't want to be penciled in three weeks in advance," she says.

Yet most of the men polled said that if they were looking for a serious relationship, there was plenty of opportunity in the Washington metropolitan area.

"It's the perfect place [to meet people] as far as I'm concerned. There's plenty of people out, and there's constant activity," said Chris Bugel, a 25-year-old District resident who is engaged to one of his law school classmates. He had no trouble finding dates before he met his fiancee. He hit the bar scene, mostly the higher-end, trendier places where he found people amenable to getting to know one another, and he got involved in groups for young professionals.

But just because men agree it's possible to find a partner in Washington doesn't mean they think it's easy.

"I know from experience that I have trouble finding the right people," said Eldon Hiebert, a 65-year-old, never-married retiree who lives in Pasadena, Md. "It's a universal thing that it's not easy in general to find a partner in life. But that's a people thing that's not specifically related to D.C."

Bugel's major tip for spouse-hunters: "If you are thinking towards the future versus the next seven or eight hours, you should be forthright with what you're looking for."

To test his theory, maybe area singles should try a new line -- "Do you want to grow old with me?" Or better yet, "I'm a decent human being."

-- Sara Gebhardt

Lisa Runyon, 32, of Montgomery Village had trouble finding a man.