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The next night, we had another terrific date wandering around New Bern and going on a ghost tour (half the town is haunted, apparently).Still, I both got annoyed waiting for him to come to me, and felt guilty over his two-hour commute.

Then I practically fell asleep at the wheel coming home.

He immediately struck me as sweet and affectionate — one of the only guys I’ve ever met online who wanted to talk on the phone first to make sure I wasn’t a bot and that we’d enjoy spending an evening together.

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?

You will inevitably run into an ex, or many, at one of the town’s three main bars. ’ He ignores me.” New women on the scene tend to be in town for weddings; new guys tend to be Marines, though they’re strictly nonmonogamous, due to a pervasive fear that — I shit you not — any woman who wants a relationship is angling for what’s known among locals as a “contract marriage,” an emotionless ploy to snare access to his good military salary and benefits.

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.

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