PICKY. QUIRKYALONE. Player. Slut. Labels aside, a number of young Seattleites are choosing not to settle into steady relationships or marriage just yet. Some haven't found "the one." Some don't feel emotionally or financially ready for coupledom. Others are having too much fun playing the field to consider getting serious.
Of course, casual dating is nothing new. It's more as if Web sites like Match.com and Nerve.com (plus Friendster.com) have given a new, user-friendly technological spin to the swinging '70s, especially compared to the bar scene. Says Duncan, 32, a clerk at a downtown law firm: "People are just wusses, basically. It's not so hard to take rejection through e-mail."
Alene, 26, a producer, finds it's easy enough to meet men in Seattle without going online. Her biggest challenge isn't meeting casual partners—it's keeping them under wraps in her insular social scene. "Everyone is in everyone else's business," she says. "It means you have to keep [your romantic exploits] a secret."
Thirty-three-year-old Web engineer Alex is busily dating three women. "I used to be a serial monogamist," he says, while avowing he's not into one-night stands. "I like to have people that I can call up and have fun and enjoy sex with. The same things I look for in a friend, but with intimacy."
Maurice, 26, an unemployed writer, doesn't feel emotionally or financially available for monogamy. "I just don't know if I could be a good boyfriend right now—I'm self-absorbed," he says. Like those identified in San Francisco author Sasha Cagan's Quirkyalone (a Web-based cult of people who would rather be single than in a less-than-perfect relationship), he'd prefer to grow up before coupling up. But, until then, he admits he's "just trying to get laid."
Duncan, the law clerk, remains in a similar mental space. After being burned in a short-lived relationship last year, his current MO is "to pretty much avoid [women] unless it's just for casual sex."