Someone recently told my lover, “In Whitehorse you don’t lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn.”
It’s a pithy summary of the dating experience in this town and perhaps in the Yukon in general.
A quick look at the Statistics Canada 2012 data reveals men out number women in the Yukon by a margin of 50.8 percent to 49.2.
Looking at the data for single folks is a little more revealing. At the time of the last headcount in 2011, the number of singlemen in Whitehorse was 3,585 compared to a mere 3,135 single women. How do these figures play out in Whitehorse’s dating scene?
I conducted a quick and dirty email survey. The small group of survey respondents was comprised solely of women (no men I queried responded to the survey) and ranged from gals in long-term common-law relationships to single women and everything in between.
Perhaps most telling were answers to my question, “Name three adjectives to describe the dating scene in Whitehorse?”
Respondents wrote, “hidden, mysterious and fun;” “limited;” “incestuous, tiresome, sometimes surprising;” and “lacking, sparse, confusing.”
My favourite response (from Marjolène Gauthier) was “alcoholic, hairy and weird.”
Other findings: it’s tough to find new people in a small town and it’s difficult to meet singles that don’t drink alcohol. While it’s easy to hook up for an ooh la la night, competition is fierce for longer-term partners.
Respondents all agreed the size of our community makes finding romance challenging in both gay and heterosexual communities.
One respondent noted, “Dating is not easy anywhere. I think it’s easier for men in Whitehorse. I find there are a lot of desperate women here that will settle for anything.”
Another woman offered this tip to women, “Get comfortable with being single while living in the Yukon. That, or lower your standards.”
The survey respondents also had some suggestions for where to find a potential mate — and all respondents advised mate-seekers to stay away from the bar. They’ve had better luck playing baseball, on the website CouchSurfer.com (imagine how delightful and convenient that meeting must have been), through friends, at work, in Atlin and at other music festivals.
They advise meetings at the grocery store — “pardon me, I seem to have dropped my zucchini in your shopping cart” — in the library, while hiking, playing sports or at the gym.
One woman kindly advised, “Find your interest and then meet someone through your passion. Not a one night stand through which you end up falsifying a relationship.”
“Be involved in activities, open your eyes, smile, be interested in people’s lives and it will happen,” says Marjolène Gauthier. “It’s often someone closer than what we thought.”
Regarding online dating, respondents were split. One woman reminded online daters to be careful what photos and information they post in a small town because there are “unsavoury types,” even here.
Another woman cautions, “In a smaller community it is so important to not let individuals in so quick because you never know who they are or who they know.”
Then there is the option of “importing” a romantic partner from Outside.
In the words of recently married Gauthier: “I never found someone that would work for me here in the Yukon. One day, my boss said to me, ‘Just go travel a little, see the world, meet someone and convince him that the Yukon is the best place on earth.’ I followed his advice and it worked. I am now in the perfect relationship I was looking for so many years. Lucky my husband really likes mountains, landscape and small towns.”
Another woman gave Yukon men some love, saying, “Although dating here can have its limitations, the guys that I have been with here have been really great guys. I lived in B.C. for several years and I discovered that I love Yukoners and would still rather date a Yukoner than anyone else I’ve met so far!”
One respondent noted that her experience dating transient seasonal workers did not translate into longer-term relationships.
In an effort to help Whitehorse singles find one another in a fun, safe and positive environment, Lauren Tuck, owner of Rah Rah Gallery, is hosting a speed-dating event on Valentine’s Day (Thursday, Feb. 14).
For $20, approximately a dozen women and men will enjoy decadent snacks by Louise Hardy, funky music and the chance to meet new people. Women will each be assigned a station and men will rotate through the stations with five minutes to woo potential lovers.
Tuck will later connect the speed-daters who are interested in spending more time together. Matches from the evening will receive a complimentary dessert at Rah Rah at another time.
“There are a lot of fantastic single and beautiful people in Whitehorse with a lot of love to give,” says Tuck. “If they can find someone to give that love to, the community will be a better place in general. Love makes the world go around.”
It’s the perfect chance to test Kim Hudson’s theory:
“There is a prevailing view in Whitehorse that there are few opportunities to date. ‘There are no men,’ we single women chant. I suspect this is a self-fulfilling prophecy and sometimes wonder if single men are saying the same thing about women. Maybe we all just have to believe and reach out with open curiosity.”