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I’ve done enough self-reflection (read: therapy) to realize that I’m often the problem, the one who’s foregone intimacy for shinier and shinier objects. But now that I feel like I’m ready for something real, it seems like the only guys left in this town are perma-noncommittal, seriously disturbed, or so young they treat a visit to my apartment like an anthropological field trip into the lair of an older woman. So I accepted the assignment and decided I would try Tinder, Bumble, real-life pickups — anything in search of a good date.. No offense, men of Eastern North Carolina, but dating is scary enough without the possibility of being alone with a guy who shoots two rifles off his hips at the same time.

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And the winner who showed up in sweatpants and couldn’t buy me a drink because he’d spent his last $20 on a beer and wings special for himself. And there’ve been wonderful guys in the mix too, most of whom fizzled out because in this city, it’s just really hard to fit two people, and their ambitions, into one relationship. ”) Maybe a change of location — to New Bern, North Carolina; Miami, Florida; Austin, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Detroit, Michigan; and Los Angeles, California — was the answer.

Things move so fast in New York that I only recently stopped to ask myself how I’d wound up here, over 35 and still single, but not always wanting to be. I’d already crossed the fuck-it-something's-got-to-give threshold of my New York dating life. If this trip had been a blind date, I would’ve walked out of the bar the second I saw New Bern’s offerings, via a terrifying night of Tindering.

That’s the feeling that rises up in my throat whenever anyone asks me the totally non-condescending question of why I’m still single, which I’ve answered so many times in so many tones (“Just haven't met the right guy, I guess! There was the guy who kept taking calls from a number he’d labeled “Happy Happy Fun Time,” which turned out to be his drug dealer.

I've met guys in bars, at parties, while snowboarding, through friends, and online via Ok Cupid, Match, Tinder, Hinge, Happn, Bumble, The League, How About We, Coffee Meets Bagel, and even Nerve.com, a site for “literary smut” that hosted online personals in that early-aughts dark age before smartphones.

Brittany, a 26-year-old waitress, tells me that when she joined Tinder, all her friends called her “Tinderella” because it was so weird to be on it. People love to blame Tinder for hookup culture, but Becky joined because she was looking for the opposite.

Her dad even paid for her to try with her location set to Raleigh because he doesn’t like the guys where she lives — but no one wants to drive two hours for a date.

“Downtown, there’s lots of friends with benefits,” says Paul, a 24-year-old sous chef.

“The women are, what’s the word, well-circulated.” John, a 24-year-old bartender, says that he’ll often have more than one waitress friend come by after her shift and ask if she can crash at his place downtown, and he’ll just sleep with the one who asks first.

But he also lived in the beach town of Morehead City, nearly an hour away from New Bern, and his roommate had the car for the night, so could I drive to him?

We had a great night hopping from a seafood restaurant, to a cocktail lounge, to making out at a bar on a dock so close to the water you could dip your feet in.

“I definitely assume everyone is a Republican,” Becky, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher and Democrat who dates all political persuasions, told me.

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