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First thing, let's establish I am NOT a genius. I am not the sharpest tool I've ever seen in the intellectual shed.

However, I think it is fair that I claim to be "smarter than the average bear". I attribute this quality to be the reason I became agnostic then atheist pretty early in life.

Ultimately, this leads me to a situation where with family and friends, I can choose to insist to treat them as intellectual equals and argue with them about their "beliefs" particularly when it affects a choice that will affect both of us. Unfortunately this has typically led to feelings of animosity, anger and perpetual grudges.

Alternatively, I can treat them as addle-brained, letting them indulge in their fantasies and mollifying them as much as I am able to tolerate. .... Unfortunately (again) this leads to feelings of burden, isolation and loneliness.

Now, I am retired. Settled in a new(to me) small town. It seems that conservative and traditional thinking is very popular here.

I have a desperate need to develop a social (hopefully face to face) network of friends. Most of the above described friends deal with this by going to church (Aaaaggggghhhh!!).

Helpful suggestions, please!!

Normanbites 7 July 8

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I am sure that there will be people that think like you there too. Look for the oddballs, the ones who are not 'included' in the social framework and you will find your tribe. You do have to be strong though.


I'm in a small town and also I am reclusive. I would dearly love to find one true and faithful female friend who loved discussion and liked the same things I do. Senior Centers around here do not cut it. They all pray over food, say the pledge, and believe in Trump. I found a big audience today with 4 or 5 different women just by going 30 miles away to my dentist.

I know Bourbon, and I feel for you!!! All my family is still there or nearby. I escaped by the skin of my teeth!


Have you noticed there are many, many, many more conversational topics than religion or politics? Did you know that up until just a few years ago it was considered Incredibly Rude to bring up/discuss those subjects?
Unless you enjoy confrontation, feeling bad/making others feel bad, why not discuss other things?

If you can't talk about religion or politics, that only leaves the interesting topic of sex. Try only talking about that, it isn't pretty.

Beyond that, making all of those off limits makes for a very boring conversation.

@Normanbites ummmmm, you apparently have a sadly very limited education.
Books? Movies? Hopes & Dreams? Restaurants/foods? Travel? Hobbies?
No, wait, you enjoy yelling! Hard Pass

@AnneWimsey I do indeed enjoy yelling. Travel is a good subject, especially if it involves politics, religion and sex.

I am also quite fluent in snark and sarcasm, so don't push your luck too hard.

@Normanbites oh sweetie, I worked alongside 20,000+ men in a shipyard for 13 years, feel free try that on!

@AnneWimsey No need, I'm quite sure you are the better man.

@Normanbites what you Could do, is not hurl random threats around unless you know who you are dealing with........oh, wait.......l

@AnneWimsey Hard to believe this guy has no friends, eh?

@Secretguy I Knoooow!


Retired? Who or what persuaded you to settle in a small town?

My wallet


I looked for better conversations in places like The Unitarian Church or Meetups involving my interests. Don't look for it on SM, even from what were once close friends, but I suppose it can happen.


Join groups who do activities you enjoy. Rock hounding, bird watching, bowling, hiking, etc. As a Democrat, I attend Democrat "coffee breaks" twice a month.

That's a great way to meet like-minded men and women.

I have tried to find a church burning organization, but they are hard to find.


My friend in Texas, Bruce, regularly pickets Stedfast Baptist Church, identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bruce is on the right holding the sign: "Stedfast is a Cult."


@LiterateHiker Now that would be fun!!

@StandUpper I hear Norway is famous for it, hence the idiom, "Hotter than a church in Norway."?


Long long ago I gave up trying to "convince" anybody about the non-existence of deities. I found it to be actually counter productive. Because they try to convince me of their beliefs. Instead, I never initiate those kind of conversations. And if necessary, I respond with the lowest-key, fewest words like "I don't believe any of it." At other times, I'll say, "It's all make-believe" in a calm voice. Then I stay as quiet as possible. Or change the subject. I recognize that people are very emotional about their beliefs.

They sure are in Iowa...

Yea, that's kind of the second option I outlined. Not very satisfying for me.


Is there a local bridge club? How about considering a local civic club like the Lions' Club?

In every fraternal organization I've explored, there is one religion or another lurking just below the veneer.

And I don't care for card or board games, so casinos are definitely fruitless.


My story is similar to yours, however the crowd that I immediately got involved with were the local artists (I'm a photographer that sells landscape photos...) I've found that such people tend to be more left of center than the surrounding neighbours (as nice as they are) to be right of center - church-going, camo-wearing, quad-driving kind of folk. I wear some camo TBH, but I also sport a long ponytail! 😉

Politically, I'm a hard match too ..... I would defend a woman's right to choose and the right for anyone to love who they love, with my AK-47 ..... so both the left and the right are hard for me to relate to.


You will probably have to find your like-minded friends online or drive to a Unitarian church wherever the closest one is. Or find a meeting of Atheists and Freethinkers by looking online for where the nearest meeting is, and attend those. That's the price of living in the sticks... It appears that you live somewhere in rural Washington state. I live in a decent-sized metro area, but unfortunately, it's in the middle of a hick state full of farms, so I am in the same boat as you as far as dating. But at least in my area, it's not that hard to find some intelligent non-believers. The problem is that at my age, they are mostly already taken or coupled up.

Another way to maybe meet some intelligent, offbeat people is to check out a local community theater group, wherever the nearest one to you is. When I was young and living in a new town, that was where I quickly found a group of like-minded people for friendship, even if it didn't have anyone for me to date from the group. They were mostly older than me, but fun to party and hang out with.

The theater community here is not large. But this is a possibility. I know I have no thespian talent, but every production has a lot of technical support needs, which I could provide quite well ..... now to find my tribe .... and therein lies the rub.


Good luck in finding people in your area.

Sheesh, Timothy, you've got it really good compared to me and the OP, at least as far as dating options. There appear to be several attractive, interesting women from Agnostic living in your area, which is more than I can say for me or the OP. I didn't check on whether they are still active on this site, but my guess is most of them aren't. If so, too bad... Yup, most of them have been on here in the last month or so..

@TomMcGiverin I already have a gf, we have been together for 14 years.

@xenoview Figures, and I get your point. My point is, that for me and the OP, the pickings are slim on that front, because of where we live compared to you.

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