Does Houston really have one of the worse dating scenes? Photo: Adobe Stock Images

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way single people date and pursue relationships has shifted. Many singles watched as their social life spiraled down the drain while witnessing the slow death of their romantic lives. Social distancing meant fewer outings and more virtual connections online while finding other creative means of building intimacy with someone. Now that singles are outside, the dating world is still…well… “a dub” as many millennials would say.

A survey conducted by real estate research company Clever recently found that Houston was ranked the sixth worst city for dating due to fewer date night options in the area and an average date night bill that costs $15 to $21 more than the top 10 cities.

Many singles emerged from the lockdown both eager and reluctant due to the lack of in-person communication. Houston for the most part has had relaxed COVID-lockdown restrictions, yet many singles still struggle to navigate the dating waters, even with dating apps and an infinite amount of choices at the palm of their hands.  

Jennifer Obiofuma, Human Resource Specialist

This rings true for Jennifer Obiofuma, 35-year-old HR specialist from Atlanta. Obiofuma moved to Houston two years ago to experience something new outside the hustle and bustle of Atlanta’s infamous party scene and the lack of men interested in-long term relationships. Unfortunately, she found that Houston wasn’t much better.

“I remember connecting with this guy on Instagram for a month and half. He seemed pretty decent from our chats considering we never spoke on the phone but he asked to take me out on my birthday and then one of two things went wrong,” Obiofuma said. “First he ghosted me. Then the next day as a ‘gift’ he apologized and sent me an unsolicited picture of his private parts. I blocked him.”

Obiofuma says from her experience men only want to have a good time. She admits that she is introverted and enjoys her own company. She says Houston is a good practice ground for dating so she can focus on real suitors out of state. In 2020, she applied to be a cast member of the Lifetime hit series “Married At First Sight,” which she ultimately turned down after being called for the second round of interviews.

“I started to think about how I would be perceived and if my Nigerian parents would be happy with this,” she said. “My parents feel like they are running out of time because they are aging and want to see their future grandchildren, so the pressure is there for sure.”

Anuel Modede, Healthcare Consultant

Anuel Modede, 34, is a healthcare consultant from New York City. He also moved to Houston in January 2021. His views on dating during the pandemic are quite different from Obiofuma’s. Pre-pandemic, he enjoyed nightlife almost five times a week, but when COVID-19 hit he created an Instagram show that gave him access to people in his age group.

“Dating online is different because you are juggling multiple conversations at the same time. I enjoy face-to-face conversations so it was an adjustment, but you did save lots of money from commuting, dressing up, and spending money on dinner dates,” Modede said.

“Post-COVID lockdown I noticed that the online attraction faded, ladies weren’t readily available to chat because they were outside, and when I did meet them in real life, they weren’t what I expected.”

Modede says that in Houston he believes that women party as much as men considering the ratio of guys to girls at certain nightlife venues he attends are high and there are certain expectations placed on men in Houston.

“Many folks out here make money and drive fancy cars, especially women. There were two women I met who both drive a 2020 Benz. They go to the clubs with their friends and expect the guy they’re with to foot the bill,” he said.

“…For the most part people are really warm and welcoming in Houston. People want to get to know you. [It’s] very different from how it is in New York.”

Caryn Davis, a Houston-based dating coach and CEO and founder of Exquisite Elite Matchmaking, says singles have to be strategic and intentional about navigating the dating scene.

She says the lockdown had an impact on people’s mental health along with an increased desire for human connection. It has also opened the doors for singles to take dating more seriously with the numerous COVID-19 deaths since 2020.

 “Singles need to have a dating action plan. If you want to have a long-term relationship or eventually get married, why do you have to just go with the flow?” Davis said. “Have an accountability partner, or someone who can give you positive affirmation and motivation for when you face challenges or rejection.

“Attend a fun co-ed organization that speaks to your interests. Don’t join an organization for the sole purpose of finding a man or woman, because if you don’t like it you won’t stay in it,” she said. “Keep your head up and don’t get discouraged. Houston has a lot to offer. Don’t isolate yourself.”

The Defender ask a few Black millennials what their thoughts were about the dating scene.

Name: Jennifer Obiofuma

Age: 35

Profession: Human resources specialist

Defender: How have you navigated the dating scene in Houston?

Obiofuma: I don’t go out as often as I should, but I do meet people from time to time. I’ve been working on getting out of my comfort zone and being more open because I’m very particular about who I want in my life. Social media has been another way where I’ve been able to connect with other singles as well. Although, it’s a hit or miss. Sometimes guys would say something inappropriate in my DM’s [Instagram inbox] or on a dating app and I would block them immediately.

Defender: Do you think Houston is a great place to find a serious relationship?

Obiofuma: Not really. I feel like everyone out here goes to clubs, bars, brunches and smokes hookahs all the time. I don’t live that life. I like peace and quiet. I hope to get married one day, but I’m finding more luck out of state. I give myself two more years in Houston. I was a flight attendant prior to the pandemic, so I didn’t have any attachments to any particular cities. If things don’t pan out the way I want things to, I don’t mind moving elsewhere. I’m hopeful. I’ve never felt the need to rush into a marriage. What is for me will be for me.

Defender: What online platforms or places do you go to meet other singles?

Obiofuma: Hinge, Bumble, and I did about 24 hours on Facebook Dating.

Chilee Agunanna Houston based photographer

Name: Chilee Agunanna [Currently engaged to be married]

Age: 37

Profession: Photographer

Defender: How have you navigated the dating scene in Houston?

Agunanna: During the lockdown, the challenge with connecting with other singles was the consistency. When you are talking on the phone with someone or online, it was hard to meet up with them so it impacted the progress of the relationship. Things didn’t materialize. It was too stressful. I arrived in Houston from New York City in January 2021, so Houston was open and had lenient restrictions, so I took that to my advantage, safely of course.

Defender: Do you think Houston is a great place to find a serious relationship?

Agunanna: I actually don’t agree with the survey that says Houston has [one of the worst] dating scenes. It’s a matter of compatibility. A lot of people act unserious if it’s not the person they want. I’m Nigerian so there are a lot of them here. I’ve met many people here who want a serious relationship so I’m not sure why many singles can’t find other singles whose goal is to be in a committed relationship. For me, I’m in a good space in my relationship and things are going very well.

Defender: What online platforms or places did you go to meet other singles?

Agunanna: Hinge…it was user-friendly in my opinion, and Facebook.

Okenna Nwosu

Name: Okenna Nwosu

Age: 34

Profession: Surgical tech 

Defender: How have you navigated the dating scene in Houston?

Nwosu: I go out in Houston from time to time, but the dating scene drags my energy. I’ve made up my mind. Anyone who I meet now, they need to understand that I’m ready to get married now. I’m tired of spending money on lunch and brunch and the whole getting-to-know-you phase over and over again.  

Defender: Do you think Houston is a great place to find a serious relationship?

Nwosu: It depends on the individual. As long as you’re ready as a man there is no excuse. The city has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with your mindset and attitude about what you want in your life. After all, there are married people who met each other in Houston.

Dating during in lockdown was difficult for me. Before lockdown, I ended a relationship. I tried to meet people on the dating app Hinge. Everyone I connected with on the app, I didn’t meet in person. It was boring and odd. I really didn’t do much. Thank goodness people are out more so it has been easier to meet people.

Defender: What online platforms or places do you go to meet other singles?

Nwosu: Hinge and BLK

Laura Onyeneho covers the city’s education system as it relates to Black children for the Defender Network as a Report For America Corps member. Email her at laura@defendernetwork.com

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...