Finding Love in rural areas
By Tom P Blake – Finding Love after 50
Last week, we wrote about Gretchen who, after her divorce, moved from Atlanta to a small farming community in the Midwest to be near her daughter. But, she isn't meeting any men. Many of you responded with sage advice. She wondered what she should do to meet men. Finding love in rural areas is difficult.
Two women named Joan responded. The first Joan said, "If you want to find a mate, move back to Atlanta and spend your money flying out to see your daughter. That would give you an opportunity to find active singles groups who travel the world and share all kinds of interests."
Cydne emailed, "The idea that this woman will move away from where she is now just to meet a man is next to zero. She should attend church functions. The best strategy is to befriend people. Once they know you're looking, they will be more than happy to play matchmaker."
Donna had questions for Gretchen. "How far away is the nearest big city? What kind of volunteer opportunities are there in her area? Why did she stop riding the motorcycle? Would she consider cultivating an interest in gardening? Farmers are good men and women; they appreciate people who share their interests. A willingness to venture out of one's comfort zone can go a long way."
One Midwesterner (Michigan), Mary Ann, said, "As a life-long resident of a rural/small-town area, I know what Gretchen means by 'all marrieds.' But if she searches beneath the surface, there are always a few singles lurking. Recently divorced after 30 years, widowed recently, newcomers, etc., or, as in my case, a few towns away. Maybe her writing skills need a bit of work, too. A good extension course in speaking/creative writing might help."
Jennifer said, "Gretchen should consider moving to a more densely populated area, where the concentration of singles is great. Rural singles, once they reach adulthood, tend to leave their small towns and migrate to cities. She should take short trips to her state capitol or other large cities in her state, just to explore and see what they're like.
If she moved to a city in her state, she would have a wider social life, and still be fairly close to her daughter. If she relocates, I would advise her to build in some sort of daily structured activity into her day, such as working part-time, attending school or volunteering. Structured activities will help prevent her from feeling or becoming isolated."
Two women empathized with Gretchen's Internet frustrations. Jan said, "This newsletter hit me right where it hurts. When it comes down to meeting men online, even when they're in your same town, they usually chicken out of the meeting. I met two online. One disappeared after numerous phone calls and two meetings. The other one wasn't interested in me."
Jeanne, over 60, said, "I'm around Gretchen's age, pretty, vital, in shape, lots of fun, intelligent, etc. I've had no luck on the Internet. Some disappear when I think, 'yes, this might be someone I'd like to meet.' The ones I've met (in person) have little appeal generally.
"If you are a good-looking woman, many men 'hit' on your ad based on looks alone, and when the dialogue starts, you find out they have read nothing about you and you find out they are definitely not a match."
The second Joan, 64, wrote: "Many of us are 'pre-programmed' into thinking that we MUST be in a relationship, or have a permanent love partner, or be a couple, before the world has value for us. I've come to realize that it may be only the 'pre-programmed' traditional thinking that keeps us believing this is what we want. It's OK to be single." She feels Gretchen should stop worrying about meeting a man, that the having-a-mate goal shouldn't be the end-all, be-all, for singles.
"Many over 50 singles are quite happy being single, even men. Once you've been through a couple of marriages, or even a very long-term marriage, or even widowed-and you've gotten over the first year or two-it may begin to dawn on you, that there are certain advantages about being single," Joan said.
The advantages to which she's referring: "Having your own place, your own space, coming and going as you please. You're kids are out of the nest, and maybe, for the first time in your life, your only true responsibility is to yourself."
Joan added that most over-50 singles have paid their dues. "It's ok to put your life first and your personal responsibility is to make yourself happy first. That may or may not lead to sharing your life/space/place with a love partner. It's OK to be single!"
One thing that wasn't mentioned: Some singles who desperately want a mate end up finding one. But, they rush into relationships too soon, move in together, or get married, and then soon discover they were much happier and better off being single. They got what they wanted, but now they don't want it, thereby moving from one quandary to a new quandary.
From all of this, one thing is certain. Single life over 50 can be challenging, whether you live in the rural Midwest or in the heart of Atlanta. She may need to turn to internet dating to broaden her reach.