Anyone who grows up in a small town can list many ways in which the experience is both better and worse than growing up in a big city. As a kid, it’s great; you have more freedom to roam about with the perception on your parents’ part that there is not that much trouble you can get into. This is, of course, a fallacy. Due largely to boredom and limited options in the things you can do, by their early teens small town kids are often knee deep in hard core partying.
Kids are kids anywhere, but in small towns the lack of variety extends to the kind of people you hang out with as well. While a big city school might have a dozen sub-cultures ranging from jock to goth to punk to nerd that the young’uns can choose to affiliate themselves with, small town schools generally only have enough to populate a maximum of three categories: cool, not cool and weird. There can be some floaters between the groups, but generally, you slide into a category by the time you are about 7 years old and pretty much stay there until you leave town (or date the right/wrong person).
What, you may be wondering, does this have to do with your dating life now? You are not 12 anymore. You have diverse interests, you are an interesting and vital person, and those categories don’t count once you grow up. Well, wrong. While there is generally a lot more fluidity among adult social groups than there are among high school cliques, when you live in a small town where you are used to having limited options, sometimes people get stuck in ruts, and get stuck with labels that haven’t made sense since some fateful recess incident in grade six.
Ruts can happen in big cities, too, don’t get me wrong. The thing about small towns, though, is this: you already have a limited romantic pool to choose from, just by the sheer fact that there are fewer human beings that live in your vicinity. Subtract from those the ones you have already dated over the years, the ones your friends have dated within the last 5 years, the ones you know are “bad news,” and, the further you get from high school, the slimmer the chances can seem that you are going to meet someone who is going to seem brand new and exciting to you.
Another factor that you have to contend with if you are single, over 25, and living in a small town, is the fact that many of your friends are married, or will be within the next couple of years. While the overall trend in marriage is that people are waiting until they have jump started their careers, when you live in a small town, and if you do not leave town to live elsewhere, even for while, chances are that the people who have chosen to stay do so because they want to settle down. Marriage inevitably follows.
There is nothing wrong with marriage, certainly. But, as a single person, this affects your social life: your wingmen will probably not be able to go out tom-catting like they used to, and couples invariably attract other couples, which doesn’t help you meet any new potential love interests.
Here are some tips to keeping your love life fresh and hopeful if you feel like you are trapped in small town singledom:
Open Up Your Age Range
You are used to looking for people who are around your age. When you were in school, certain people seemed so much older and “together,” they seemed out of reach. At the same time, others are hard to picture as anything else than the 7 year old brat who used to live down the street. But while there may be a big difference between 16 and 19, there is not as much of a life gap between the ages of 26 and 29. Take a fresh look at women who are slightly older, and slightly younger than your usual age range. Since you don’t have the population, you are going to have to pad each end of your pool with a wider range of options.
This has not caught on in smaller towns, because, frankly, it isn’t the anonymous experience that it is in the bigger cities, where it has become one of the primary means of meeting new potential mates. There is still a stigma ion many small towns that online dating is for the desperate. The rest of the world knows, however, that the Internet can open up your dating options by presenting you with a forum to meet people you would not normally cross paths with. The other positive thing about Internet dating is that you know these people are looking for a relationship, or they wouldn’t be on there. Through the internet you can meet locals who you don’t know, but you can also meet people who live in other towns and cities nearby.
Social Events In Other Towns
When you live in a small town, it is difficult to find a place to meet new people. The bars (if there is more than one) are filled with the same people every night. Your local hangouts are filled with the people you hang out with. This are not fertile grounds for meeting anyone new. Whenever you have a chance, go to social events in other small towns (dances, fundraisers, fairs) to open yourself up to a new range of people.
Set Ups In Other Towns
Sets ups can be painful, especially in a place where half the town will know about it before you even arrive on the date. If you have friends who know people in other towns, ask them to set you up with them. The dating world is rife with uncertainty and you don’t want to have to make a report to the grape vine, or worse, consult the grape vine, every move you make.
Join New Activities
This might be hard to believe, but there are people in town who you probably don’t know. The only way that you are going to meet them is by getting involved in a range of activities. Diverse activities bring diverse people into your social circle. Also, if your town is so small that you feel like you know everyone, then it is small enough that, in order to populate activities, you will get people form other towns coming as well.
It can be frustrating, and perhaps a little isolating, being single in a smaller town. People couple up earlier and options dwindle before you realize it. The key is constantly putting yourself in situations where you are going to be able to meet new people who have different interests. Constantly expanding your social circle and having a group of single friends are two important keys to keep your love life alive and dynamic.