Craig Schattner, 30, has been single in D.C. for 45 months. By his count, he’s been on about 90 first dates in D.C., spending $40 to $60 on each encounter. (He says he always pays.)
Schattner is now setting out to determine what’s gone awry in his dating life: Is it D.C., or is it him?
A videographer for a nonprofit by day, Schattner is creating a “docuseries” on his Web site, dated-series.com, exploring this very topic. He self-reflects on camera, interviews friends and an ex, and talks to passersby on 14th Street NW to find out what, if anything, makes dating in D.C. so unique.
“I hit a lot of check marks,” say Schattner, explaining that on paper anyway, it seems he should be a catch. “I have tried Hinge, JSwipe, Tinder, OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel. I haven’t used any of the pay-for sites. I went to a Jewish event [Monday] evening.”
He’s taking a break from online dating for now, saying it all got to be too much. He once posted a Craigslist ad offering an en extra ticket he had to a sporting event to a potential date. He got 40 replies and two dates from the listing. About a month and a half ago, he applied to The Washington Post’s Date Lab, but he hasn’t heard back. (Sorry.)
Schattner and his friends have a lot of theories on why there are so many single people in the District, yet it seems to be such a despairing place to find real romance. Their explanations hit on all-the-common complaints: The city’s too transient and too career-driven. One subject in Schattner’s documentary suggests that the best sure way to find love is to move out of D.C.
And they may have a point. D.C., after all, was dubiously named this year the best city to find love on Valentine’s Day because, well, the city has so many young people who have not yet found love.
D.C. singles “connect for a minute, and then it’s on to the next,” Schattner’s friend Alex says in one of the videos. “I almost worry sometimes that I won’t want to be a relationship.”
Schattner says he plans to post a five-minute-or-so video to his Web site every Monday for the next month. If it’s successful, he’s going to continue filming, delving into topics such as the best date spots in D.C., the best breakup spots, and who should be paying on these dates.
Ultimately, he hopes this project spurs a larger conversation about dating in D.C., and, personally, he hopes the self-reflection this series requires of him will help him find a happy relationship. Through the filming process, he’s already learned from friends that he can be self-absorbed and a bit cold.
“I may not like the answer,” he says. “It’s easy to write things off and say, ‘It’s D.C.’ But the reality is, we’re here and we have to make it work if we want to be happy … Or be okay with being single and not dating, which can be fine, too!”