Money Manners

Flirts or flakes? Depends on our poll position

Note: The story originally appeared Sunday,October 16, 2005

Dating polls hate Kansas City. We're consistently ranked low.

So low, that in last year's poll by Sperling's Best Places and Axe Body Spray we were rated worst city for dating and hooking up.

The second worst: Wichita.

Singles in a dry spell are quick to blame our fair City of Fountains for their dating dearth.

But Kansas City has a lot of single folks, and they seem to want to date. They're looking online, speed dating and joining singles groups. Hit up a Plaza restaurant any night of the week, and you'll see couples out on dates. And ever been to Loose Park on a Saturday? Nothing but brides posing with their princes.

So maybe Kansas City isn't that bad. Where do they get this poll stuff anyway? Here's how two different polls came up with two different results.

No. 3 Worst City for Singles

What? Forbes' annual survey analyzes 40 metro areas for how fun (or miserable) a town can be for singles.

We beat: Only Norfolk, Va., and Greensboro, N.C.

We lost to: Denver, St. Louis, Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis ... The list goes on.

How they did it: Count the number of single people, bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Add up the museums, sports teams, live theater and concert venues and university events. Consider the job growth projection and cost of living alone, measured by cost of apartment rent, a Pizza Hut pizza, a movie ticket and six-pack of Heineken. Then calculate the "coolness" of a city by its diversity and number of people in creative fields. Kansas City's low cost of living helped, but we came up lacking in coolness.

Debunked: Rankings can be misleading, says Donald Haider-Markel, who runs the survey research lab at the University of Kansas. Although there should be a noticeable difference between the first and the last cities in the survey, the difference between cities such as Kansas City and, say, Sacramento (No. 15), could be minimal depending on the scale used. Chances are you wouldn't notice it in real life.

The verdict? Kansas City might not be the dating mecca that Denver is, but average-ranking cities on the list such as St. Louis and Cleveland probably aren't dating hot spots either.

So there.

No. 1 Best Flirting City

What? Research done last year by online dating site

How they did it: Researchers analyzed online profiles on in 30 metro areas. Users on the site choose pre-programmed "turn-ons" and "turn-offs." Kansas City online daters listed "flirting" at a slightly higher rate than other cities. Seventy-two percent of Kansas City users said flirting is a turn-on, compared with 66 percent nationwide.

Debunked: Six percentage points barely qualifies as a breakthrough for the Kansas City dating scene. And the research was based on online daters and only on what they consider "flirting." In real life, is anyone actually turned off by flirting?

What about Sperling's?

This is the infamous poll that ranked Kansas City last for dating in 2004. The poll looked at 80 cities and calculated the percentage of singles, the hook-up frequency and the number of bars, coffee shops, dog parks, beaches, health clubs and other venues that make dating easier. Then they counted lingerie shops per capita and how much lingerie and jewelry was bought as gifts. Other criteria included online dating users, sexually transmitted diseases, religious affiliation and political orientation.

The results for 2005 are out Thursday. Find out where Kansas City stands in Thursday's FYI section.

FORBES' Worst Cities for Singles IN 2005

1. Greensboro, N.C.

2. Norfolk, Va.

3. Kansas City

4. Providence, R.I.

5. Tampa, Fla.

6. San Antonio

7. Indianapolis

8. Charlotte, N.C.

9. Milwaukee

10. Orlando, Fla.

FORBES' Best Cities for Singles in 2005

1. Denver

2. Boston

3. San Francisco

4. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

5. Washington/Baltimore

6. Atlanta

7. Los Angeles

8. New York City

9. Chicago

10. Seattle