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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.

And the also-very-young hero who swooped in to rescue me when a woman was rude to me and held my hand as we ran through the streets to the next stop. Now imagine that feeling multiplied times a tsunami and you’ll know what washed over me when called up to see if I would travel around the country going on dates to find out if location really matters when you’re looking for love.And the bassist who insisted I listen to 10 minutes of his music while he watched me react to it.And then there was Peter, who I met that night in a bar set in the basement of a haunted mansion.He was 34, worked in home restoration, and looked like a guy I’d go for in Brooklyn, with an ample beard and amazing cheekbones.I settled on saying I was “considering moving” to each city; a white lie, but one that seemed to elicit much more respectful and normal interactions.

I’ve changed all the guys' names.)The bar scene, on the other hand, was a blast, at least as the new girl in town.

“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.

New Bern was named by Market Watch as one of the top coastal towns in the country to retire to, so that leaves young, single people dating in the equivalent of a recycling bin.

You will inevitably run into an ex, or many, at one of the town’s three main bars. ’ He ignores me.”New women on the scene tend to be in town for weddings; new guys tend to be Marines, though they’re strictly nonmonogamous, due to a pervasive fear that — I shit you not — any woman who wants a relationship is angling for what’s known among locals as a “contract marriage,” an emotionless ploy to snare access to his good military salary and benefits.

I asked to talk to him for this article and he responded, “So does that mean I can’t hit on you? Then as we kept talking, I learned that he is providing for his four kids, plus their mother (they’re not together), and is a fervent Trump supporter.