How To Find Love In A Small Town

Convinced the pickings are slim if you live in the sticks? Pshaw! Try a few of these dating tricks to fill your dance card in no time.

By Laura Schaefer

Small-town dating tactic #1: Bust out of your bubble
It’s simple: To meet people, you’ve got to be around people to meet. In a small town, if you play it “convenient”—order takeout, shop or
Drive or walk to the bank now and then versus banking online. You never know who you’ll meet there.
pay bills online—and stay cloistered in your home, you'll never meet anyone new. If you actually make the trip to the post office or the bank, you could strike up a conversation with someone behind you in line with a simple question: "Wow, is it usually this busy on a Wednesday afternoon?" If you live close enough to walk, you might spot someone doing yard work—try asking “Those flowers you’re planting are beautiful; what are they?”

Moving at-home activities to public places is another great way to create opportunity—read your book at the local diner or coffee shop, or volunteer to walk a friend’s dog one day. The more time you spend outside your abode, the more people you’ll be exposed to, period.

Small-town dating tactic #2: Lay on the charm for everyone
Offer to help an elderly lady carry her groceries to the car. Tell your dentist the color blue looks fabulous on him. Ask your waitress what she likes to do for fun on her day off. Not because you want to date any of these people, but because you never know who might have a cute grandson, niece, or friend who’s single—establish a little friendly rapport and they’ll be more than happy to play matchmaker. Just keep an eye out for an opportunity to make it known that you’re single and looking: If, say, the aforementioned old lady dubs you a gentleman for all your help, tell her, “Thank you for the compliment; I wish good manners meant more dates, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.”

Small-town dating tactic #3: Embrace your place
Any town, big or small, has its share of frustrations for its residents. But whether you’re on a date or just chatting with someone at the hardware store, try to keep your more negative views to yourself, whether that’s “this place is so boring,” “I don’t know why I live here,”
Put the word out that you’re happy to be set-up on some dates.
or “I’m going to move as soon as ______.” Negative people are rarely date-magnets, so instead focus on the positive with small talk like, “I have great neighbors,” “being near my family is important,” or “did you know this town is home to the world’s oldest/largest/best ____?” Or, put that upbeat outlook into action by participating in programs that help better the town, such as a park cleanup, soup kitchen, church choir, or historic preservation effort. People are drawn to those who spread goodwill (and who knows, maybe you’ll hit it off with some cute do-gooder in the trenches next to you).

Small-town dating tactic #4: Remember there’s no such thing as “nothing to do”
Chances are good that there aren’t many four-star restaurants in your area, and that’s not a bad thing—it just means you’ve got to be more creative when planning dates. “Good dates in small towns? Competition always takes the pressure off. Miniature golf or bowling are pretty easy to break the ice, and even if you're not good at it, it's still fun,” says Nici Reeg from Dubuque, IA. “There are usually facilities even in small towns. The best first date I've ever been on was a motorcycle ride. Way fun!” Other good ideas? Get active by borrowing a friend’s canoe or heading out on mountain bikes. Find out about local bands, festivals, or other events by perusing your community paper’s local calendar for ideas. Added bonus: Dates where you’re doing something (biking, hiking, sightseeing) take the pressure off you to fill every awkward silence. Now get out there and have fun!

Small-town dating tactic #5: Keep those bridges intact
Gossip often travels at warp speed in a small town, so don’t ever assume you can act like a chump with a date and it won’t come back to haunt you, because trust us, it will. “Small-town people tend to judge you on your dating resume,” says Brittney Cason of Harrisonburg, VA. “Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does.” Since others are taking note of your activities, be honest in your romantic—and business—dealings. If you owe someone money, pay them back. If you don’t want to see someone anymore, tell them so rather than avoiding their calls until they get the hint. Don’t tell a friend about your date’s bizarre sexual fantasies unless you’re prepared for this tidbit to travel through the grapevine all the way back to the source. Not only are these common acts of courtesy the right way to treat people, they’re absolutely crucial if you ever want to date anyone in your town again.

Laura Schaefer is the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time.
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