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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.

To be in constant chase is exhausting, and to repeat it, at ’s behest, every 48 to 72 hours in six very different U. I’d estimate that 85 percent of the profiles I saw, with my radius set at 30 miles around New Bern, featured guns, military uniforms (there are two bases nearby), Confederate flags, mentions of God, or all of the above.

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

“I can’t limit my options here; I don’t have so many.” She’s not kidding.

Becky told me about a Marine she stopped dating after he told her he was “using a penis pump to get bigger for girls.” Now she sees him out and about all the time. “Unfortunately, New Bern does have that reputation,” says Natasha, a bartender, 29, “that most chicks in this town are trying to get pregnant to trap a guy.” Almost no one I met dates online, which makes sense: If you live in a small town, chances are you like a tight community where everyone knows your name, rather than internet strangers.

From what I could glean, the local servers, bartenders, and chefs in town just sleep with one another.

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.

Still, I both got annoyed waiting for him to come to me, and felt guilty over his two-hour commute.

Jason seemed eager for a committed relationship, but I ultimately didn’t see it going anywhere.

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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.

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