When it comes to dating in a small town, thereís pretty much nothing good about the awkward (and unavoidable) aftermath unless youíre with your high school sweetheart and never go on a date with another person as long as you live.
The majority of people in the Peace, however, arenít that lucky.
The rest of us schmucks have to dabble in the dating pool, going out for drinks, dinner, movies or maybe even going a little further only to decide (or have it decided for you) that itís not going anywhere, you should just be friends, or youíre just not that into the other person.
It happens all the time, itís normal Ė†thatís dating, after all.
However, itís a lot different when youíre dating in, say, Vancouver or Edmonton compared to Fort St. John or Dawson Creek.
Dating in a small town is a nightmare, to put it bluntly, and itís almost bad enough to keep some of us out of the dating scene altogether. Or force us to move.
The reason itís such a pain in the butt is because in a small town there are only so many places to go, so many grocery stores to shop at or movie theatres to sit in, which means the odds of you having an awkward run-in are much higher than those of your big-city friends.
Sure it might not be a big deal if it doesnít work out with someone you went out with, but one thing I can say is itís probably awkward at least 98 per cent of the time when you run into them again, especially if youíre the one that cut the cord. Even if it was a short relationship, or just a few dates, itís never a pleasant feeling to run into that person again. You can feel guilt, or even be hurt if theyíre the one that dumped you.
After all, everyone has an ego, and if someoneís hurt that, you donít really want to see them anytime soon.
In a place like Fort St. John or Dawson Creek, thatís almost impossible to avoid, and the odds are youíre going to run into people youíve dated pretty much everywhere.
Go out for drinks to Mr. Mikes on a Thursday? Yeah, if you have a healthy dating life or have lived in town long enough, there will probably be one or two people at Mr. Mikes having drinks that night, too.
Now take things up a notch and say you were with someone for, I donít know, four or five years and you break up. Not only does everyone in town KNOW that you guys broke up and are talking about it, but you have to go around town heartbroken, avoiding the places you know your ex frequented, including your favourite hang outs, just so you donít run into them. It really messes up your life and you pretty much have to hibernate for a while until you heal, otherwise youíll see that person and maybe see something else you donít want to see eitherÖ Like your ex moving on with someone else right in front of your face.
In Fort St. John there are two nightclubs, and what do newly single people generally like to do? Get drunk. So running into your ex whoís also drinking is bound to happen, and so is the fact that youíll see that ex either take someone else home (on purpose to hurt you sometimes) or youíll be the one with someone new in front of your ex, feeling like crap about it because you can see how hurt your former flame is.
But what do you do? Stay home and forego your social life for fear of these awkward run-ins? Stop dating altogether? I guess it depends on how you are in awkward situations.
Really itís a gamble, and sometimes you have to ask yourself if datingís even worth it at all in a place like this. Dating is hard enough as it is; living in a small town makes it that much harder.
Itís a test of how much youíre willing to sacrifice and go through to find the right person. No one ever said it would be a cake walk (and for all you jerks out there who HAVE had it that easy, I hope you realize how lucky you are).
So what can you do?
In my experience, I generally avoid certain places until time takes care of the awkwardness, which it will. Eventually those youíve hurt will heal, or you yourself will heal and things can go back to normal. I mean, you canít avoid your favourite pub forever just because your ex is a regular Ė†it was your hang out too, after all.
Maybe even go over and say hi if you run into someone. Avoiding them in a glaringly obvious situation can just make the tension grow and make things worse for the both of you and your friends. At least by saying hi youíre trying to break the ice and make this small town livable for the both of you.
In the end there is no real solution to the small-town dating problem, it just comes down to how you cope with it.
You canít escape. Itís like living in an oil and gas bubble full of young families, rig equipment and exes and the only way to avoid it is to get out of that bubble, otherwise you just have to deal with it, and hopefully in a mature and respectful way.
After all, we all have to live here. We might as well make it as drama-free and pleasant as we can.