The information age has made our world much smaller. Just a few years ago one could wield a little black book of girls and maintain relative anonymity in most circles, but the ubiquity of social media has made this virtually impossible.

Men in small towns are most affected by the Big Brother triad of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Word of who’s dating who travels fast and social circles frequently overlap in these areas, causing headaches that a busy man has little time to deal with.

If you’re forced to live in a smaller city, it helps to have ground rules for approaching the dating scene. Whether you’re looking to date a few girls while you search for a relationship, or you’re a player just looking for unattached fun, here are a few considerations while you build your game in a small city…

1. Respect the power of Facebook

Men in this sphere almost universally dislike Facebook, but it can be a powerful ally if used correctly. If you have a profile, lock down your security settings, especially those of who can search for you and whether your profile is public. Don’t ever become Facebook friends with a girl you want to date. If a girl asks for your facebook but won’t give you her number, she’s probably not very interested anyway. Don’t devote much time to sleuthing, but it may be helpful to find a girl’s Facebook page to see what circles she travels in and whether you share any common friends.

2. Diversify

Your city may only have one major college or graduate school. If you’re gaming younger girls, small class sizes ensure that your prospects are at maximum two degrees of separation from each other. I’ve ejected on promising leads because they were friendly with a current girl and I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable drama. This is why you must diversify. It helps to have girls in different types of professions: one girl who’s an artist, another who’s an accountant, and another who is a doctor. Geographic divisions are also your ally—my city has a North Side and a South Side with very little intermingling between two. Force yourself to go to multiple areas, which gets you out of your comfort zone and facilitates dating women of different backgrounds.

3. Avoid lying

Veteran players may disagree on this point, but I prefer not to lie. Women want a shred of plausible deniability when they are dating a man they like, and as long as you don’t make a fool out of them they rarely challenge you until they are issuing an ultimatum to define the relationship, in which case they’ve already made up their minds to walk. Newbies often ask “what if she asks if I am dating other people”? It’s amazing how rarely I’ve been asked this question. If they do, you can go with the classic Heartiste “it’s complicated” or the more nuanced “I like you but I prefer to keep my options open and see where things go.” As a bonus, you don’t have to devote as much brainpower to keeping your stories straight.

4. Get everything on your terms

Get them comfortable with following your lead on plans. Take different girls to different places — Lisa goes to the supermarket with you before you guys cook dinner, while Jenny is your date to the beach. Developing little routines like this helps you bond with the girl, and also helps you avoid crossing paths with other interests. Most importantly, always refuse to meet her her friends — they are a pointless timesink at best, and frequently become nosy and jealous saboteurs.

5. Let them down gently

Unless a girl is a complete mess, make it as amicable as possible when you stop seeing her. Explain that with where you are in life, you can’t give her the committed relationship she wants and “deserves.” This may prevent her from poisoning the well with her friends, who you are likely to encounter in the future. I’ve had ex-girls who later get into happy relationships and introduce me to new prospects. This is rare, but sometimes a bit of effort can at least prevent people from spewing vitriol behind your back.

I am aware that intrasexual competition can sometimes work in your favor, with jealous girls playing off each other. That said, this advice is geared toward someone who wants to engage in minimal-drama mini relationships, leaving freedom to find the right girl or pursue other goals. Small town game is a different animal, but with a bit of forethought you can create a solid rotation for yourself without dealing with the pitfalls common to a tiny social scene.

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