Atlanta has all the elements to be the best city for dating in America, but instead it is one of the worst.
"Atlanta is a mess," says Brian Howie, creator of the Great Love Debate world tour which seeks to answer the question, "Why is everyone still single?"
Howie's love tour has been to the metro area three times in the past year-and-a-half and after completing more than 100 shows in 70 cities nationwide, the results look pretty bad for the ATL.
"Every time I go to Atlanta, I hear [people saying] 'It is 6 to 1, women to men.' It’s not. It is 50/50 in every city in America," Howie says.
But when it comes to dating, attitude is everything and Atlanta is hostile territory.
"There are plenty of men and a little bit of desperation in the air in Atlanta, so it doesn’t bode well. That doesn't put men on their best behavior," he says.
Women in Atlanta are a particularly desperate daters. There are Black women who are totally frustrated with their options and young women who think they should be married by age 30, Howie says. Men in Atlanta take advantage of that desperation and get away with more crap than men in cities like New York, Howie observed.
During one memorable Atlanta show, a man stood up to share with the audience what he was looking for in a girlfriend when up popped a woman he had gone on a date with six months before. "She said, 'I'm exactly that and you didn't want it,'" says Howie. It was kind of like the Jerry Springer show, Southern style.
"I love Atlanta. Then I get there and I’m scared to death," Howie says. Atlanta women have convinced themselves there are no good guys in the city and none are coming. But Howie sees things differently.
"People move to Atlanta all the time, the weather is good, there are tons of places to go.
All the pieces are in place for Atlanta to be the best dating city in America," he says.
Howie started his love tours as a promotional tool for his book "How to Find Love in 60 Seconds," ($20, 4th Street Media) then it turned into a social experiment. Now, as he says, it is a movement. In 2016, the tour will go to nine countries and 200 cities (it returns to Atlanta on March 2).
Howie has hosted spin-off love debates to address different races, religions and sexual orientations -- Jewish, Christian, Black, Asian, gay and straight. While attendees range in age from teens to septuagenarians, the average age is between 35-55. About half of the crowd is divorced and half have never been married.
No matter where in the country he is or who he is talking to, singles almost always raise the same issues. "People always want to hear the grass is greener," says Howie. "In every city in America, there are thousands of possible matches for you and you have to learn how to recognize it."
For now, Howie's picks for the best dating cities are Washington, DC for single women and Charlotte for single men.
How can Atlanta elevate the dating scene and take its rightful place as the best city for dating in America?
Men and women in Atlanta need to call a truce and learn how to meet in the middle.
"Women want men to try harder and men want women to make it easier," says Howie. "If we can just take a half-step toward each other, it will be so much better."