Without a Valentine, again? If you’re looking for love and coming up short, it might be time to expand the search.
To help in your quest, The Daily Beast set out once again to discover which places provide the best backdrop for a love story. As in years past, we looked at cities where singles swarm and social life pops. But this time, we were looking for more than just a couple of great dates or a fling. We wanted to discover where you’re most likely to find the real thing—lasting love.
To rank the country’s largest cities, we started with the percentage of single men and women—because the more people to meet, the better one’s chances. To measure the longevity of these relationships, we then looked at U.S. Census data to find which cities had the lowest incidence of divorce.
From there, we wanted to know what it is that makes love last. A study published this year in The American Journal of Family Therapy found a significant association between “emotional intelligence” (EI) and romantic relationship satisfaction. And the three main traits that indicate EI are happiness, confidence, and kindness, according to Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence.
We used the most recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index to measure the happiness of city residents, which looks at physical and emotional health and healthy behaviors via survey. Census data provided us with information on educational attainment and income, leading to a confidence score for each city, and we looked at volunteer rates to get a kindness quotient.
Nearly 30 percent of couples now meet online, according to Stanford’s How Couples Meet and Stay Together Survey. So we talked to the fastest-growing online dating site, OkCupid, to find out which cities have the most active users. Then, for people looking to meet the old-fashioned way, we examined the number of bars and restaurants per capita to find the cities with the most places to meet and, eventually, woo.
You might be surprised by what we found. But anyone who has seen the Lincoln Memorial lit up at midnight or spent a spring day strolling through the cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial will understand why Washington, D.C. ranked as the best city for love. With a large population of singles and a low divorce rate, our nation’s capital also boasts the most places—both online and in real life—to meet. The data also show that Washington residents are happier, healthier people, scoring highest in our emotional-intelligence ratings.