The Dating Game: Is It Really Harder in Wichita?

Wichita has a reputation for being a tough town for singles — at least, according to some very unscientific rankings. Here’s what a few young single Wichitans and a dating expert had to say about what modern dating really is.

Joseph, 29, in a relationship

“I think it’s tough to date. I think it’s tough to date anywhere. I think what makes it tough in Wichita is the fact that I don’t think we have, now we’re getting more community spaces where we’re allowed to interact with different people our age and be able to hang out with friends, but it could also spark a conversation with the table next to us because it’s a common table. There are more bars, more brasseries, all that, but we are so I think we missed a few years of space for people to meet.

I think every place has its own issues, though. The bigger the city, the harder it is sometimes to meet people. You tend to feel a bit more isolated. And I tend to find that we have a really nice community here in Wichita where everyone sort of knows each other if you show up at the same places over and over and over again. I think it’s really good and I think we need to enjoy it more.

Again, I’m part of a community that’s even a subset of a subset of a subset of a community, right? So, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve gone through pretty much every gay available in town and there’s five left, so let’s shoot one more’, right? It’s very difficult, and I think a lot of people, especially in the LGBT community, feel pretty limited because, [like] I said, everyone knows everyone. I think it’s amplified even more in a small community. For the LGBT community, it’s quite difficult here, it’s quite limiting, and I think it’s an even bigger amplification of what the straight community is going through.”

“It’s really hard to get a date in Wichita. I have friends who are in the same boat as me and we keep finding guys who seem really great at first and then it just turns out to be one dud, and then we’re back to square one. You don’t have much to choose from in Wichita. It’s a big enough place that you don’t know everyone, but it’s also, if you are connected somehow you know everyone start meeting these guys and you may not know them but you know all their friends you have worked with their friends you have relationships…it’s like Kevin Bacon’s nine degrees of separation.

I’ve been living in other places temporarily, and I’ve been living in a foreign country and dating, which is pretty cool and interesting. I dated a guy for a while in Spain, but he was British. We met in a bar that we didn’t meet [on] the new Tinder thing, Bumble, which was pretty cool. Today, I feel like you have to meet people online before you meet them in a bar. I think we don’t know how to communicate with people in person anymore. It’s still there, obviously, but it’s quirky, it’s now that we’re on our phones and we’re texting each other and we’re Snapchatting each other and you’re messaging people on these dating apps.

It’s also hard, I think, because it’s the instant gratification of browsing profiles, like “Oh, she’s cute, he’s cute”… It’s like you can meet someone and that he might be awesome but in his back pocket he got thousands of girls they could hook up with immediately. I think it changed the way my generation dates people because they have everything right at their fingertips and they can immediately move on to someone else in a jiffy. They can just slide. They might slip and it’s all done and they’ve moved on and they’ve met someone else, and that scares me because it’s not authentic.

I feel like I have less stress in my life that I’m not on these dating apps. I mean, I have it on my phone and I’m looking at it, but I probably haven’t texted anyone in three months and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. New year, new me, no new dating apps.”

Suzanna Matthews, Founder and President of The Date Maven

“Every city, almost every city, thinks it’s the worst place. Wichita isn’t the only one. Wichita has a unique challenge and a lot of people I work with have confirmed that. It’s a big little town, or a little big city, whatever way you want to see it. And sometimes, “Oh, you’re dating Joe Bob? Well, Joe Bob went out with Nancy, who’s next door to my cousin’s dentist, or whatever. There’s this six degrees of separation that’s really reduced to two or three in a town this size. And I I’ve had a number of people say, ‘I just don’t want to date someone because either I know something about them or they’ll know something about me, and then things are a bit distorted to begin with.

I know there are a lot of women here who feel like they’ve exhausted this market in terms of what they’re looking for. And so I encourage them to maybe look a little more regionally, like Kansas City, or Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Denver, Chicago, etc. Unless you literally have kids you’re raising, or grandkids you’re raising, you know, the two best reasons to move are love or a great career.

A few years ago, a psychologist by the name of Barry Schwartz published this book called “The Paradox of Choice,” and it has a lot to do with how dating apps work. When we have the perception of having an abundance of choices available to us, we tend to not only be pickier and pickier, but we also tend to make choices that are ultimately less satisfying and which we are not as satisfied. Or we completely push back on making a choice, which means you slip and slip and slip and stay single.

One thing I would tell people on dating apps is first of all, you have to be on at least two to do it really well. If you only have one, you’re probably not really giving it the effort it deserves. Second, you should plan to stay there for six months or more. You can’t say you’ve made an honest effort until you’ve been there for six months or more.

Really, I would never say low expectations, but I would almost say some sort of release result. If your goal is to have fun, you can’t go wrong. This was my result when I got on Bumble. My bottom line is to meet nice people and have great conversations. I’ll probably get some good stories that I can use with my clients. I had no expectations of anything else. And that’s where the magic happened.”

Jayde, 28, in a relationship

“I think it’s probably horrible everywhere. I don’t know. I really don’t know. But my part of my problem is that I get really nervous when I talk to women. If I’m attracted to a person and my the brain shuts down and it’s like I can’t talk to my mouth anymore, you know.

I had Tinder and Bumble and Hinge, and I think I even had OK Cupid at one point just to see if there was something there. Certainly, in a city like Wichita, which looks like a big city, like a small, actually a small city, there are a lot of people in each of them. So you will see the same people on the other side.

It is very difficult to find someone to correspond with, especially especially in this small town. Since we are not such a big city, you quickly run through the available options. You’ll slide and he’ll say, “Oh, you’re all caught up.” Try again tomorrow.’ Maybe there will be two or three that you haven’t seen yet, which is a little disappointing too, I guess.

I never really dated on Tinder or Bumble or Hinge or anything. I’ve talked to a lot of women there, but it’s like, I don’t know, if I get too nervous to ask them out, or what’s really going on. I think once I get to that point, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I really want to do this.’ And so I just ended our conversation – ghost. I ghost them, that’s the term.

I met my current girlfriend through Instagram, which is something new for me. I never thought I could do this before. But I think Instagram is cool because you can see a bit more who the person is whereas Tinder can only give you six photos to look at and a bit of a bio. I feel like Instagram or Facebook or social media in general can give you a deeper dive into the person, I think that may have helped.”

Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx. To contact KMUW News or to send a news tip, contact us at [email protected]

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