Dating in a rural area is not easy

Dear Meredith,

I'm a divorced 44-year-old woman. My ex and I separated three years ago but finalized the divorce this past winter. We have two children together, and we co-parent quite well. We just weren't compatible as partners.

I moved to my current town eight years ago for work. At the time, it was perfect. I was married, and it was a great place to raise children. Well, now I'm single and the dating pool here is very ... small. The closest large city is about two hours away.

I've tried online dating but they all seem to be the same version of the same person, none of which I find very attractive. My question is: How do I find someone I'm compatible with in such a rural area? Moving isn't an option. My children are here, the schools are good, my ex has no plans of going anywhere. Meeting someone through friends is hard because most of my friends are married or in long-term relationships. My family lives two-plus hours away so while they may know some people, the long-term prospects aren't really there. FYI: I'm not shallow. I'm looking for someone who is similar to me: educated, has their life pretty much together, attractive, etc.

– Where have all the cowboys gone?

The first thing to figure out is whether you're on the right dating apps. Sometimes people tell me they're not finding any interesting prospects – even in a city – and then they discover that based on age, where they live, and other random factors, one dating platform might be more popular than another. Those who've only looked at Tinder might find that Bumble is a better fit. Or perhaps it's Hinge, the new app Dig, or Hater. (Yes, that last one is real.) Do some browsing and figure out whether you've shown up to the right party.

Second, you should understand that some people are not so great when it comes to creating their dating profiles. They might be funnier, smarter, and more together in person, and if you're at all on the fence about them based on two or three tiny photos and a few lines of text, it's worth meeting in real life. I'm not suggesting you lower your standards, but please know that some people might surprise you.

The third thing to consider is that this might take awhile. You might not date for months (or more) at a time. We live in an on-demand world, so not getting what we want, when we want it, seems extra frustrating, but that's life. If you were in a city, you might also go months without a date – or a worthy one. People in very populated areas can tell you it's a slow search for cowboys there, too.

It's great that you're excited about finding a partner. People will notice, and that should help.

– Meredith

Readers? Any tips? Also, should the LW consider setups with people who are two hours away?