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“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.Had I not set a gigantic Tinder radius, I never would’ve met Jason, a smoking-hot 32-year-old who’d just moved to the area from England for work and had played semi-pro soccer back home.

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There was the young Marine who did an exaggerated double take before telling me I was the most beautiful woman in the bar.

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.

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 went out by myself and by the end of Saturday night was rolling with a new friend group 10 people deep.

I also couldn’t believe the plethora of good-looking, gentlemanly guys who bought me drinks.

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.

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.

So for now she’s in a friends-with-benefits thing with a New Bern bouncer.