City Slickers vs Country Singles - How is UK Dating Different Across the Regions?

September 6, 2021
uk dating sites

As a dating site review team, Best10 visits global sites; some local, some international, and some with specific niches.

Yet, one thing always stands out - singles in big cities, metropolitan centres and areas of regeneration always seem to want something different from those in more rural environments.

Which made us think; can we define the difference between city dating and rural romance...? And is UK dating a different experience for expats and students who have chosen Britain as their home from home?

Let's check out some of the biggest culture clashes when it comes to UK dating, and why your flirting lines might need to pivot slightly to have the same effect when you head out of town.

US vs UK Dating - Same Language, Different Tongue

There are two significant differences between American and British singles, which impact the way dating sites work, the features they offer, and what demographics they aim at. These are:

  1. American dating is way more casual (at least to start with!).
  2. UK singles rarely consider parental permission as a must-have.

So we've all heard of the bases in US dating - and it marks out the primary variance between these two countries that are, well, 'same, same but different'.

UK singles do not, generally, give a second's thought to asking for permission from their parents before going on a date. If things get more serious, you might expect a traditionally-minded beau to ask your Dad's 'permission' - but in reality, that's a formality and usually a gesture of courtesy and respect rather than a real question. 

In contrast, US dating starts much more casually, with 'seeing people' being a relatively ordinary course of action.

Online dating is on the rise with an estimated 10 million singles using the best online dating app to meet their ideal partner!

Of course, those multiple initial relationships are fledgelings and aren't necessarily expected all to lead to more, but in the UK, such a system would definitely be perceived as cheating!

The conclusion here is that, if you're dating or flirting with someone from a different nation, even one considered culturally similar to your own, it's always best to clarify your expectations and - dare we say it - status before you end up in a spot of bother due to poor communications.

Rural Singles and Dating Pools

It's an obvious point, but if you live in a small town or village, your immediate dating pool is going to be much smaller than a Londoner, or someone living in a bigger city such as Manchester, Liverpool or Bristol.

That immediately changes the mindset when it comes to dating and manifests in all sorts of ways:

  • City singles might date more quickly - because they don't have a great deal to lose if it doesn't go well, and can pick from a much larger pool of dating candidates than their countryside counterparts.
  • Rural towns have smaller dating pools, and therefore can be more intense with fewer people meaning that finding a connection is a more critical moment.
  • In the cities, you have no end of dating choices, whereas in the countryside you're limited to the local pub, a walk in the park or meeting in a public place where it is 99% guaranteed you're going to bump into someone you know. Therefore, you might find that people spend longer chatting online and getting to know each other before meeting up for a real-life date - because the opportunity to have to back-track if it doesn't go well becomes much smaller when your Mum or sister have seen you two out together!
  • Loneliness is likely to be amplified in rural locations, with people being physically isolated as well as single. Therefore you might expect to find more people per capita in a remote town using an online dating website than in the midst of a thriving city - when a moment of peace and quiet might be a blessing in disguise!

Newcomers to smaller towns always seem to have a romantic notion of bumping into a dreamy stranger on the beach, but the reality is a lot less imaginative. 

If you're living in the country, in a small town, or somewhere remote, you'll know that 'new people' are few and far between, and that connection you find online might be your first shot at authentic romance in a month of Sundays!

Recommended Read: Which are the Most Popular Platforms for Online Dating in 2021?

City Dating Cheat Sheet

So a far more common scenario is when a new person moves to London - and while we know it's only one of many UK cities, it is also the largest by a country mile, with a bigger population of singles than any other place in Britain.

If you're new to the city, here are a few tips and pieces of advice to make your dating adventures a little more harmonious:

  • People in London work a  lot. Vacancies are scarce, job competition is vast, and if you want to make a go of things with a career-minded single, be prepared for 9 p.m. dinners and once a month weekends off.
  • The city is a lot bigger than you think. Searching on a dating app? Be specific. If you’re in Dulwich and chatting to someone from Clapton Pond, don't think you'll be meeting up for coffee every morning; that's a 90-minute commute.
  • Londoners tend to be transient, and with millions of expats, students and job placements at play, if you have a great hookup be prepared for the fact that they might not stick around.
  • Singles tend to move in together super-fast - and it's not because they’re more romantic than the rest of us. Rent in London is expensive, and if you find a budding relationship going well, it's always tempting to hand back a set of keys and instantly double your expendable income.

New to an area and getting to grips with dating etiquette? Wherever you are, authenticity and communication is always the key.

Well, we might be drawn like moths to a flame when seeking a bit of flirty fun or harmless excitement; it's always worth being conscious of the emotional impact your responses might cause.

I'd always recommend being kind, honest, and straightforward when it comes to online dating.

  • If you're not interested, say so.
  • If you are dying to meet in real life, make it happen.
  • If you like chatting to them, but don't see it going anywhere, be upfront.

That way, you both understand where you stand, and don't risk crossed wires at any stage.

Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren is a freelance writer passionate about how we develop rewarding experiences, and overcoming the barriers we face to living our best lives. Lauren writes regularly about the modern world of dating, relationships, parenthood, and social dynamics.