There are 307,910 (potential) singletons in Ottawa…so where are they?

Jocelyn Wentland (blog/Twitter) hails from British Columbia, but is calling Ottawa home while she completes her Phd in Psychology (specializing in sexuality) at the University of Ottawa. Jocelyn’s research interests include casual sexual relationships, female sexuality, mate selection, the ‘technologized’ dating script, erotic photography, sex education, and women’s health.

When Jocelyn isn’t sex researching, blogging, or tweeting, she enjoys observing the mating rituals of Ottawa’s inhabitants.

Sex Research and the City's Jocelyn Wentland

So I’m not from Ottawa. I’ve lived here for two and a half years during which I’ve been both single and non-single, and I’m often told that it’s hard to meet people in this city.

I also often hear that there is a disproportionately higher number of single women in Ottawa, but to tell you the truth, I hear these comments no matter where I have lived, and I can’t figure out why people say this.

We know that there is a disproportionate number of female students on many university campuses across Canada –  and I think somehow that transfers to the overall gender breakdown for many cities.

So let’s explore the 2006 Census Canada – the most recent numbers for Ottawa:

  • 615,635 – This is the number of men and women (over 15) who are not in a common-law relationship (as in, not married but could still be dating someone and potentially not ‘available’). Of these, 322,435 are women and 293,205 are men.
  • 29,230 – This is the number of ‘extra’ women, assuming that all these women are appropriate dating partners for their male counterparts. So heterosexual men may have a slightly larger dating pool assuming that men and women are roughly equally likely to be in a relationship. Non-heterosexual women may have a larger dating pool! Also, there are waaaay more female widows versus male widows which might explain some of this lopsidedness.
  • 669,380 – This is number of men and women (over 15),  not including the widows (30,000) and married people (325,220), so 307,910 men and women in Ottawa who have neither never been legally married (again, may not necessarily be single) or are currently separated (but could still technically be ‘married’).
  • 297,055 – The overall number of men and women between the age of 20 and 44 in Ottawa. Some of these are not ‘single,’ but of these 297,055 there is likely a fair amount that also fit into the 307, 910 individuals who have never been married. Think Venn diagram.

Heck, I’ll even go so far as saying that even if there were only 10,000 single people in any desired age range/gender, I think that most people could find a reasonable match. So when you hear someone say there are no single people in Ottawa, you can kindly refer them to this blog.

So where to meet any of these 307,910 (potential) singletons in Ottawa, you ask?

Location. Location. Location. Where’s the best place to meet people in Ottawa? Well, the short answer is: I don’t know. What may work for me, might not work for you, but might work for your friend from work. And what might work for your brother might not work for me. And what might work for my single Aunt might not work for you.

I really don’t think that the location matters as much as the attitude you wear. That being said, dance clubs are never really my suggestion. I’ve always thought more lounge-ish pubs and bars are where it’s at. Being out in a fun location that can inspire more mingling than some other locations – but it can’t be a pub where people are tucked away in dark corners at tables because that doesn’t encourage people to ‘stop by’.

Think of locations where there are high-top tables (there’s something about being at eye level that encourages more chatting), open spaces (no dark cozy corners – those are for first dates), and a chill environment.

Target specific events. There are obviously events that are more single-friendly than others. For example, my personal motto is to avoid couple-y things like couples retreats, couple massages, or places that are listed as having a romantic ambiance while single.

Living in Ottawa, we are lucky to be home to some great festivals and shows which seem to gather young-ish folks where people are more likely to be single versus other groups. Think Bluesfest, Westfest, Ottawa Folk Festival. How about the Ottawa Wine & Food Show? These events usually cater to groups versus couples. And there is usually a vibe present at these events that is conducive to chatting up others.

Join something. By yourself. I’ve said this before...How about join a social club or team? Try the Ottawa Sport & Social Club or the Ottawa Carleton Ultimate Association. But you gotta do this one by yourself. This will force little shy you to be a bit more social and make new friends. New single friends, even.

Singles Groups. Ottawa is home to many singles groups that cater to the crowd who aren’t fond of heading to the market to ‘pick up.’ There are events catered to singles ranging from group outings and activities, brunches, lunches, and dinners, to dances and for all age ranges.

Click here for a list of Ottawa singles groups.

No big groups. Groups are overwhelming. My best nights for meeting people were always when it was myself and one other girlfriend. Maybe three total. Why? Because big groups are intimidating to approach. Also, most people don’t really give off warm welcoming vibes to others when sitting/standing in a large group. But in a small group of two or three, you’re more likely to be looking around at your surroundings and be making an effort to talk with others.

Leave the cheese. No need for cheesey pick-up lines, groping, or grinding. How about a simple hello? I used to celebrate a faux birthday but you can only do this for so long at the same location before it’s really obvious that it’s just a ploy to meet others. “Hello” is by far the best pick up line.

Body language/eye contact. Make the first move. Send someone you are interested in a positive vibe. No crossed arms. No death glares. Where did the art of buying drinks for someone go? I know times are tight, but $5?! If you aren’t down with sending or buying a drink, then send someone a big smile. Smiles are free. Smiles also break the tension immediately.

One thing I’ve noticed in Ottawa is that people tend to be a bit more quiet or shy, but I don’t think that is indicative of a lack of interest.

So be a brave grasshopper and make the first move!

Do you have a question or comment about dating in Ottawa? Leave Jocelyn a comment below!