Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rural vs Urban: How does any rural people find the right guy/gal?

It is a long standing fact that rural dating is much harder than urban dating.  They have a much smaller dating pool.  In fact, it's amazing to me that anyone living in a rural area finds someone to marry.  I have asked out more women then guys that live in a rural area meet during their entire life time.  How can they ever hope to get married?

First of all, throughout most of the world, the marriage and divorce rates are much higher in urban areas as compared to rural ones (Source - UN stats - but doesn't compare USA rural vs urban).  This is not surprising at all - it is easier to find a person to marry in a big city, but at the same time, you get more temptation and generally make enough money to afford a divorce.  In addition, rural areas tend to be more conservative and therefore more likely to discourage divorce.

In America however, that has changed.   The monetary problems and conservative stigma against divorce prejudices has mostly vanished.  Women can easily get jobs and no one looks at them funny when they say they are divorced.

In the most recent census, divorce rates are pretty much the same in rural vs urban areas (Source = examine the graphic chart).  Honestly, this just indicates to me that people in both the rural and urban environments have the same resources to survive divorce and also the same ability to judge if the relationship will last.

Getting information about marriage rates is much harder than divorce rates.   From what I can tell, they are similar in the USA.   That is pretty shocking to me.   


How do people in a rural environment ever find and meet someone they want to marry at all, let alone someone they are willing to stay with, as opposed to divorcing.   If I have had such a problem, how do they do it with such a tiny dating pool?

Well, I think there are several factors helping them.

They come from a similar culture.  Everyone went to the same schools, work in the same place, do the same things for fun.   Those that don't fit in, move away from the rural environment.  Cities are not like this - we have a mis-mash of more cultures.  Even if you are in Kansas City, while you might not have the foreign immigrants, you have some people that love comic books while others think they are devil's handiwork.   Some people that like to get drunk, others that despise the drunkards.  Cities have more variety, which makes it harder to find someone with similar goals and interests.

But that's not all of it.  In addition, there is the BBD (Bigger Better Deal) effect.   In a rural area, you know your dating pool is limited.   You know exactly how many people you went to school with and exactly how many of them are totally undateable. You also know right off the bat all the flaws of the pretty people.  Everyone knows the beauty queens and the wealthy men - and which ones are dumb as a post, which ones are alcoholics, which ones screw anything that moves.

In effect, you cease to judge solely based on the shallow stuff and are forced to look beyond it to the more important things.  

In the city, there are too many beautiful people.   It takes too long to figure out their flaws.  As such you always think there is someone better out there for you - because you see them all the time on the street and don't have time to get to know their flaws.

The thing is you still end up seriously dating the same number of people.  Oh, some of the city folk go on more one night stands, but a serious attempt to date takes time as in months, so the limit is not how many people you meet but instead how many hours you have available to date.

As such, both rural and urban people should tend go on the same number of serious dates before marriage, and have the same degree of success.   In both cases, people end up selecting the best out of a rather small pool of people they dated.

The rural people pick their dates from a smaller pool that they know better and have similar cultures.  The urban people pick from a larger pool that they know less well from a larger variety of cultures. 
For the mathematically inclined, think of it as a bell curve, with a set compatibility level which happens to be the average + standard deviation.  The rural people start out a bit higher on mean compatibility, but have a much smaller standard deviation.   The urban people start out a bit lower on mean compatibility, but have a much larger standard deviation.   But both differences cancel out at about the same point.

That is, the big rural mean + the small rural standard deviation = the smaller urban mean + the larger urban deviation.    End result, both rural and urban end up with the same compatibility levels.

A perfect world would have the innate cultural compatibility plus extensive deep knowledge of the rural environments with the larger dating pool of the urban environment.  Unfortunately the large dating pool is exactly the thing that prevents the cultural compatibility and in depth knowledge.  That is, the larger the group, the less similar, and the less you know about all individuals.

Theoretically the internet could solve this problem - if we could find a way to enforce truthfulness and measure the deep inner workings of the human mind.

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