We've all been single — so chances are you can relate to 41-year-old Clevelander Katie Greenlee's vexing story: "Somebody actually said to me, 'What do you mean you're not married? You're so happy,' " she says. "Well, why would you think you're unhappy if you're single? I am happy. I'd be happy if I met somebody, too."
We've entered an unprecedented era of singledom. Nearly half of American adults — including more than 46 percent of Clevelanders — are unattached, the highest rate in recent history, according to the 2010 U.S. census.
Instead of being tethered to a person, more men and women are wedding their careers, says relationship coach Kathy Dawson. "People aren't as dependent on each other as they once were," she says. "People don't hear that clock ticking."
Yet there's a broken link between our independence and our innate desire to share our lives with someone special. Nearly 90 percent of Northeast Ohioans we surveyed want to eventually settle down — but only 16 percent rate our city's dating scene as better than mediocre. In fact, 25 percent think it's downright terrible.
The complaints: Everyone knows everyone. Too few young professionals come and stay. There aren't enough places to meet new people.
"Cleveland is largely a place where people have grown up and have strong support systems. They don't have to reach out and welcome new people," says dating coach Elana Averbach. "To become accepted, to find someone special, you have to really keep showing up and become a member of the club." So in addition to rounding up this year's most eligible singles, we've given you a bevy of tips and ideas to defy our city's dating odds.
"Get rid of the word never," advises Dawson. "We sabotage ourselves because of the language we use in our heads. Say instead, I'm taking my life one day at a time. You never know what will happen, or who you'll meet, tomorrow."
How we did it: This year, we asked more than 200 Clevelanders to tell us what it's like to be single in Northeast Ohio, from how they met their last date to when it's OK to have sex. From Nov. 20 to Dec. 30, 2013, respondents answered questions online at SurveyMonkey. The margin of error is 6.9 percent.