Blaming the Odds

By Kellyn Brown

The holiday season, to the dismay of some, hasn’t officially ended. The abundant pink and red hearts and cupid decorations are a reminder that Valentine’s Day approaches. In the Flathead, like elsewhere, the time is ripe to assess a dating scene that seems – wherever you are – in dire straits.

This time of year, prerequisites and preferences for a companion are discussed as conversations predictably turn to the desperate circumstances surrounding singles. There is, according to many, no hope at all. Love will remain elusive in a valley that is brimming with “haughty” women and “obtuse” men. And, according to my sources, there is somehow an overall shortage of each.

Flathead County is unique in that it is the fourth most populated in the state, but there’s no university. For male stags, the prevailing wisdom is their gender dominates the landscape, which, according to the U.S. Census, is completely wrong. In 2000, there were 100 single women for every 95 single men, a surprising statistic when compared to, say, Gallatin County, a place so dominated by men (there are 118 of them for every 100 ladies) that a typical night at a pub there resembles a frat party and many remaining single women opt to stay in hiding.

Looking at more recent census numbers for the Flathead that measure the overall ratio of men to women in the county by age, not marital status, the numbers are fairly even. And which age has more of one sex than the other varies greatly. While 24-year-old men outnumbered women of the same age in 2006, the reverse was true for 26-year-olds.

All told, the demographics of Flathead County are fairly balanced and may even favor lonely hearted men a bit. The ratio among singles here even favors men more than those living in Missoula County – often thought of as a melting pot of single women who are eager to be entranced and swooned.

These numbers don’t take into account the unique characteristics of the Flathead’s populace – from the irreverent Kalispellian to the Whitefish trustafarian – but they do dispel the notion that either sex, if single, is decidedly disadvantaged. Compatibility to the others that live here, on the other hand, can be debated to no end. And this annual celebration of courtship is a prime opportunity to fuss for those who are not currently courting.

Three weeks is a short time to think about Valentine’s Day – at least for the single man or woman in the Flathead mulling creative ways to ignore the love-fest. Take solace that Feb. 14 falls on a Thursday. Next year, the stags will be much worse off as the dreaded holiday infringes on their weekend.

Those hiding out, however, can revel or dismay in the fact that the statistical odds (at least) aren’t vastly stacked against them. There’s basically as many of you as them. It could be far worse.

In Powell County, for example, there are a whopping 147 single men for every 100 women. And women, you could live in Wheatland County, where there are just 72 single men for every 100 of you. The population in each county – 7,000 and 2,000 respectively – presents its own set of challenges. The only truism is that in both places, like here, discussion has turned to the dreadful prospects for singles as February looms.

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