The world of online dating gives you the amazing opportunity to rise above the local pool of single people, and to zoom around the globe. You can create a list of “must haves” because you’ll now be starting with a pool of millions of daters, rather than a few thousand or hundred. The common side effect of this process is that you’re introduced to a person who lives outside your immediate area – sometimes the person is hundreds of miles away or more.
I spend a lot of time talking to single people about their search for a relationship, and it’s not uncommon to hear this interesting statement, “Yes, she was awesome, but she lived too far away.”
Really? How awesome was she? Was she the “I want to live with her, love her, have children with her, share my entire life with her” awesome? How far away did she have to live to have you forgo on that chance of a life of loving happiness?
There’s no question that traveling to meet, date, and start a relationship with a romantic partner is difficult. There are few things in life that turn us upside down like moving to another town. But, depending on where you live, insisting that you will never leave may have a powerful effect on your chances of finding love. I’ll take my own hometown — Hartselle, AL. Hartselle has a population of approximately 14,000 people. Doing a little rough math, I end up with 81 women between the ages of 30 and 40. How many of them are single? Probably less than 20. I can promise you that layering on just a couple of dimensions of compatibility will mean the chances of any of these 20 women being right for me is very, very small. (I probably dated all 20 of them before, anyway.)
What does this mean for a resident of my hometown who wants to find a great relationship partner? You gotta travel, or you gotta get realistic about your search. I don’t say this lightly. I know that children and jobs and exes and elderly parents and responsibilities mean that for some people traveling to date, or moving to a new town for a relationship is very, very difficult. If that’s you, logic dictates that you be brutally honest about the criteria that you’re using. If your pool is small, and you’re insisting on a man who is your height or taller, maybe it’s time to re-think that or some other standard. To do otherwise is to constantly beat yourself up with poor online dating results. Online dating isn’t magic, of course, and the smaller the number of candidates the harder it is to match someone with extremely detailed standards.
If we move this example to a big city, often, the problem doesn’t get much better. We’ll avoid New York because its geography makes it such an unusual example. Let’s take Los Angeles. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard who live in Santa Monica say, “Oh, I would never date someone from Silver Lake.” It’s 14 miles from Santa Monica to Silver Lake. Should it be possible to find a great match in Santa Monica? Maybe. That depends on who you are and what you want. The question is, if you were served a match in Silver Lake and he was a wonderful person and a great fit for you, don’t you want to know about it? Isn’t the potential for a life together worth that effort? (Yes, I live here and understand how much effort we’re talking about.)
Finally, what about those who have no responsibilities, but just don’t want to move. It is a free country, as they say. If you want to live where you are and try to date the indigenous population, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to live where you are, and be happy without a relationship, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But I would encourage anyone who wants a relationship and hasn’t meet the right person to consider a wider geographic range. After all, if you met someone who lived in the next state, and ended up in a loving long-term relationship that included a move, wouldn’t that be worth the trouble?
There’s an old adage that says, “You can curse the darkness or you can light a candle.” I think for many daters geography is the candle.