Ask Lynn-She’s Dateless In A Small Town

One small-town resident is tired of being alone and doesn't know where to look for dates. She's had no luck online and doesn't like the bar scene. Can Lynn give her a fresh outlook on finding love?

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
I'm only 27 and it's been over two years since I've last dated or been in a relationship. My previous one was one of those stuck relationships where I'd give and give and I'd never get anything in return. So I decided to take some time off, focus on myself and really figure out what I needed to do in order to get on the right path. I think it's time to start
I don't want to meet people at bars.
dating once again.

The only problem is that my town is a small conservative town where there aren't a lot of options. I've tried the whole online dating thing, but some people are just too far away or some just seem to want a fling. I don't want to meet people at bars, as I've learned that most of those people are looking for anything but a serious relationship. How do I get back into the dating world? Any suggestions?
– Stressed Jess

Dear Jess,
First, just a short back-patting speech about what you said in your first paragraph: this is why breakups, while challenging and difficult, are not net losses. Even when you wish you'd handled yourself differently — or even wish you hadn't dated that person in the first place — if you're willing to take a good look at what happened, you can learn something. Something that will serve you well in your next relationship, which may even be one you wouldn't have had (or wouldn't have succeeded in) without the experience of the one who went before. So, good for you for doing what you needed to do in order to "get back out there."

Now, you ask: get back out where, and with whom? Here are some ideas for you:

1. Don't give up on online dating.
Set the location parameters relatively small, and ignore the fling-ers, if that's not what you want. Just keep at it. You never know when someone else new — and nearby — will decide that it's time for him to get back out there, too.

2. Don't give up on bars.
I know that "the whole bar thing" really exists, which people believe generally does not reap great romantic rewards. But still, just like with my first suggestion, you never know when that guy who's "not into bars" happens to be there for a friend's
Spread the word amongst your friends and online.
birthday or to see a band and then… kapow! I'd pick one that you like, go there with pals, befriend the bartender — all things that make it a fun and comfy spot no matter what. In the right place, you could even get something going there that you enjoy, like 80s music night or a weekly spelling bee or monthly trivia night — and watch the other not-so-"conservative" people in town come out of the woodwork.

3. Tell your friends you're looking.
I know, you probably think you already know everyone your friends know. Again I say: you never know.

4. Find "activity partners."
What do people do in your neck of the woods? Bike? Hike? Play Angry Birds online? What do they not do enough of? Play cards? Make decent lasagna? Spread the word amongst your friends and online, or post a sign on the community board at the grocery store to get in on what's already happening that you're not currently a part of, or launch something new, like "Canasta 'n' Velveeta Wednesdays" or "The Sunday Night Pot Luck Club."

It may take a bit of moxie, but no matter what, doing something will help yield someone. So you don't meet The One over canasta or casseroles but do make a friend that way, you could meet (and date) his or her friend. You see? Do things you enjoy doing anyway, and put that "I'm ready!" energy out there. The universe — even the universe of a small, conservative town — will provide for you.

Lynn Harris ( is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (, of the award-winning website — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times,,, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via Your question may be answered in a future column.
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