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Dating Game In Bethesda Hard To Nail Down

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 8/16/2013, 11:45am  ET

This article was written by Maddy Berner 

Bethesda Lane, Flickr photo by ehpien

Despite the upscale boutiques, spacious bars and diverse restaurants, people just don’t seem to come to Bethesda to date.

“The people in this area aren’t actively searching for someone at this time in their lives,””said Alexandra Ahad, a 26-year-old Bethesda native.

Peruse the corridors of Bethesda Avenue and it’s easy to find a unique eatery or gathering place for friends. The people are varied — an older couple holding hands, a child dancing to a street performer and some teenagers getting dessert at Max Brenner. But for a single someone looking to find an equally single partner, Bethesda is not so much the place.

Montgomery County has recognized the area’s relative lack of nightlife compared to neighboring D.C. and Arlington. Last May, a special Nighttime Economy Task Force met for the first time to discuss ways to improve Bethesda’s late-night atmosphere, which tends to die down around 11 p.m.

“I think a lot of people here go out with a purpose,” Ahad, the Bethesda native, continued. “I just don’t think that there’s as much of a purpose when people go out to actually meet somebody.”

Ahad’s friend, Jaclyn Rosenberg, 25, agreed. People are either searching diligently or not at all, she said.

It probably doesn’t help that Bethesda is ranked No. 1 for highest ratio of women to men in the country. According to Trulia.com, a market trends website, Bethesda has 1.20 single women for every single man ratio.

Dating is not an intentional or natural process here.

Ahad attributed Bethesda’s dating pool deficiency to its changing scenery. While the area welcomes new restaurants every so often, the people change even more — college kids return home and young families move in. If the demographics and surrounding atmosphere didn’t change so often, she said, dating would be easier to tackle.

Like Ahad and Rosenberg, Robin C., 27, said many people in Bethesda enter the dating scene already knowing what they want, which makes it somewhat challenging for others. He said he thinks many young professionals who visit the area are uptight and overdressed.

“You’re kind of just like, ‘Really? Calm down. This is not 90210,’” he said.

Nate Mann, 32, is a bartender at Redwood Restaurant and Bar on Bethesda Lane. Behind the counter, he’s seen it all — a lot of younger, a lot of older and even a few online relationships meeting in person.

He said he’s witnessed two people hit it off after several drinks, and someone trying  to escape after one. Either way, though, he said Bethesda is not a destination spot for singles.

“It’s more people out having a good time,” he said. While he’s seen plenty of young teenagers and older divorcees, Mann said the 35-45 range seems to be is the area’s largest demographic.

Mann said that variety is a positive characteristic about Bethesda’s dating scene.

“You have a chance to meet all kinds of different people,” he said. “That would probably be what I would say is the best thing about Bethesda: the diversity, both age-wise and ethnicity-wise.”

Ian Garrett and Erik Hunstead are somewhat new to the area and wanted to explore Bethesda Row.

“There seems to be a lot of people in the area as well as a lot of great restaurants to take them to,” said Garrett, 22. “All great for the day time, as well as night.”

So while Bethesda may not offer much to the singles who are ready to mingle, it does offer more nightlife options than its reputation might suggest.

“I had no idea that there were so many restaurants and street dining looks really fun,” said Hunstead, 22. “I’ll definitely come back.”

Flickr photo by ehpien