Kieri Olmstead

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

The essential guide to dating in Kansas City

For over a decade, the city of fountains has gotten a bad rap for being the worst city to find love in. With a lower number of young people per capita, being spread out, and having few places to hang out that don't involve drinking, it leaves Kansas Citians looking for love to turn to the ever-dreaded dating apps and hoping their friends have single friends that are not a nightmare to be set up with. The topic of dating in Kansas City has come up more than a handful of times on my couch and I'm here to help you navigate.

Love can never possess. Love is giving freedom to the other.

  • Osho

How do I meet someone to Date in KC?

This is the biggest question that I come across in sessions with clients. Where do you go to find someone the old-fashioned way outside of a dating app? This question is the reason that Kansas City and other cities in the bottom 10 places to date get a bad rap is because there are not a ton of options outside of your local bar. At least not obvious ones, anyway. You're going to have to think outside of the box to be able to meet someone "out in the wild." To get you started here are some things that I suggest to clients:

  1. Go volunteer - KC Pet Project is a great place, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Project Breakthrough, your local nursing home, etc.
  2. Join a MeetUp group! This is a great way to try new things and also be around people who have a similar interest to you.
  3. Go to the local farmer's market or River Market on the weekends. You can meet a ton of people and talk to local vendors.
  4. Check out the community bulletin at the library and see if any get-togethers interest you and are geared toward single people.
  5. Church groups that meet on days outside of Sunday can also be great if that's your thing.
the essential guide to dating in kansas city

What about Dating Apps?

Dating apps are the most complained about form of dating in my office, while also being touted as the easiest way to get a bunch of candidates lined up. So, it seems like they're a necessary nuisance and are here to stay. Which dating apps are the most popular in Kansas City? According to a couple of sources, your top four are:

  1. Tinder
  2. Hinge
  3. Coffee Meets Bagel
  4. Bumble

The part that I believe makes dating apps such an arduous process is the higher level of rejection that one faces on the apps. Because you are exposed to a much broader pool of people than you would ever meet face to face you are also exposed to more rejection. For those that are already struggling with self-confidence this can create quite the downward spiral and make you want to give up on it altogether. I hear you and I'm here to help.

There are several ways that you can protect your self-esteem while being on the apps and the first is to be honest. Remind yourself that every interaction that you have with a person isn't going to be stellar. Remind yourself that not everyone on the app is your person. This will help you to remember not to take things personally when something goes sideways with a potential match. Also, stay true to who you are. Just because you get to curate a profile doesn't mean that you should curate a whole new personality. You are looking for a potential partner that loves you and if you don't put you out there then how is that supposed to happen?

Making a Great Dating Profile

The art of making a great dating profile is simple but immensely challenging to most looking for love. It requires you to get clear on what you are looking for and be willing to put it out there knowing that it will cut down on the number of inquiries that you get from your profile. But who wants to be invited to every party anyway? If you are trying and failing at online dating, perhaps your recipe for success is in an overhaul of your profile. Try these questions out to get you started:

  1. Who are you writing this profile for aka what is the audience?
  2. What are your deal breakers and can you put those out there?
  3. How can you make sure your profile shows the real you and not the highlight reel?
  4. Is your profile representing who you truly are or is it trying to be someone else?

"If you have butterflies your nervous system is alerting you to danger - it isn't a good thing."

Collecting Flags on the Date:

When it comes to navigating the actual dates themselves that can be a whole additional challenge. When you go on a date with someone and are trying to assess whether or not this warrants a continuation of your time you need to consider multiple factors including the way that your body is feeling while you're on this date. Disney has told us that butterflies and sweaty palms are all signs of love at first sight, but science disagrees. Science tells us that a nervous tummy (butterflies) and sweaty palms with a rapid heart rate are all signs of a flight or fight response. If you don't normally get these things on a date or a first date then this is a sign that your nervous system is sensing danger from the present company and you're going to need to end things right then and there. If you are typically a nervous dater and get those feelings before any first meeting then you can disregard this as being your typical response to meeting new people. You will need to search for other alarm bells to clue you into whether this person is a good fit or not.

You are on the hunt for flags during dates. These flags can be green, red, or yellow and it's up to you to discern them for what they are. Green flags are things that clue you into the fact the person across from you is truly interested in you as a human being and not just looking to get you naked (unless that's what you're looking for).

Let's Talk Green Flags

  1. They ask about you genuinely. Not just your typical first-date questions.
  2. They have strong boundaries around their wants, desires, and what communication works best for them. Like setting boundaries around how often they text you, call you, date, etc.
  3. They want to see you regularly, but not incessantly. One date a week is a really good rhythm to start with - 3 dates in 3 days could be a yellow flag.
  4. They have friends that they talk about, hang out with, and can connect with emotionally. A robust social life is great for a relationship because you know that you are not solely responsible for their needs.
  5. They've shown that they have capable adult life skills, like making appointments for themselves, cooking, cleaning, doing their laundry, having a decent financial understanding, etc.
  6. They talk about their goals, the future, and how they'd like to grow as a person, and are actively engaging in a plan to implement getting to those goals.
  7. They have a dog. Okay, okay, it doesn't have to be a dog but they have a pet, understand responsibility, and can show compassion for something other than themselves.

Let's Talk Red Flags

What do red flags look like? You would think that this would be obvious, but as my entire career shows it is not. Let's break it down:

  1. Lovebombing: "You're my soulmate." "Omg I've never met someone as amazing as you before" "I can't see myself with anyone else." All or any other combination of these is a red flag, especially within the first three months of meeting you.
  2. Ex-bashing: the way they talk about their ex will reveal so much about the way they feel about the people they date. If they are disrespectful, call them names, blame the ending of the relationship entirely on them, etc. this is a red flag.
  3. Forgetting to ask questions about you - if you find that you know a lot about them but they never ask about you, your interests or your life - red flag.
  4. "Family is everything to me" ok - but like are we talking like, I love hanging with my fam on the weekends and we are good people are we Friend's episode bro and sis kissing on the mouth? Red Flag
  5. Not making time for you: excuses like "I just work so much" "I'm never on my phone" overutilization of Snapchat, "I can only see you once every three weeks." Red Flags - this screams I'm not prioritizing you, I don't care about you and I'm seeing multiple people.
  6. Manipulation: Did you agree to go on a date like the one you're on? Do you feel like you've been signed up for something without realizing it? Have you felt like you are just "so lucky" that they're giving you their time? These are red flags of manipulation.
  7. Not willing to talk about the state of the relationship. Are they willing to talk with you about the state of your relationship without getting defensive, dismissive, or argumentative?

When in doubt - get yourself to a therapist or relationship coach and we can walk you through it. Be open to putting yourself out there and seeing what you can find by using these as a guide.

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the essential guide to dating in kansas city
the essential guide to dating in kansas city

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