There's much to be said about how the locations of our upbringings impact the adults we later become -- but what about the lovers we later become? Many characteristics and lessons can come from from growing up in a small area with a tight-knit group of people fueled by familiar traditions and thoughts. It changes you, no matter how far you venture in this world. A part of one's heart is reserved for the home, and that home brings a certain light into every relationship. A small-town girl has a particular light that she carries, too.
1. She had to earn her independence.
When you leave a small town or make any other major independent decision, you're not only deeply missed, but maybe even a little resented for doing so. When a woman strikes away from the beaten path and takes on a life outside of the realm of what she always knew, it takes courage. It takes building her own sense of comfort aside from the one she never lived without. It's the kind of independence that makes a woman strong, and there's something incredibly enticing about a strong woman.
2. Materialism isn't for her.
Small towns don't exactly breed an affinity for designer brands and expensive belongings. She was taught from a young age that true meaning lies in the little moments that bring absolute joy. She was jumping into lakes and playing backyard games of two-hand touch football, not looking in store windows at beautiful fashion. She learned to love the shine of a campfire over that of a diamond. She drove that '95 hand-me-down car through the back roads, with the windows down, music up, and not a slight notion of how much that vehicle cost, because it never mattered. She'll never care about the price of anything you do for her, because she'll love you for what matters.
3. She's a family girl, and that affects a lot of things.
Family is the unbreakable unit in little communities. From birth to adulthood, she learned that the love of family could be indestructible. Because of this, she took a lot of positive relationship qualities with her. She understands how to compromise in a group, and listen to the needs of others. She knows how important it is to follow through with commitments and keep promises, mostly because if she ever broke one with her family she had to suffer the ultimate wrath from each and every one of them. She has the underlying understanding that disagreement is needed, and won't allow fights and discrepancies to interfere with the bigger picture of your relationship. She's comfortable with affection, open conversation and blatantly expressed honesty.
4. She'll want to know your friends and family, too.
Relationships mean a lot to small-town folk. The way they express care and consideration is through connecting their circles. Family, friends and neighborhoods all bond together. A romantic relationship essentially means you get the honor of adding another family to your own, no matter what stage of seriousness it's in. She'll want to gossip with your grandma, help your mom with dinner and go shopping with your sister. She'll be at ease around the people you love for games, meals and loud retelling of funny stories. She'll get down on the floor to play with your little cousins, buy your friends a round of beers at the bar and look forward to being around your companions as much as her own.
5. Loyalty is natural.
From your high school football team to your high school sweetheart, small-town loyalty runs deep. When the going gets tough, no one gets going, and neither will she. She had the same best friends and neighbors her entire life, and sticking by one another through everything was an expected duty. It wasn't a luxury to have someone be honest and faithful to you -- it was the only way to be.
6. She's appreciative.
More often than not, small towns mean small pockets for most people. She probably wasn't born into a situation where everything was handed to her on a silver platter. She saw hardship firsthand, and maybe even experienced it herself. The finer things in life are now not expected, to her. For example, some people see a college education as a necessity, rather than a gift. Where I grew up, only 16.6 percent of adults over 25 have a bachelor's degree, and 5 percent have a graduate degree. College was never something I intended to waste, and odds are many from different backgrounds feel the same way. That kind of quality doesn't fade, and few things are taken for granted -- including significant others.
7. She's hardworking.
She grew up in a little world where many people worked one job for 40 years without a single complaint, because it was their responsibility. She learned the ins and outs of hard work by example and personal practice. Laziness is not in her nature, and that's something anyone can come to admire as they fall in love with the way a person fights for their passions and career.
8. She recognizes the public consequences of her actions.
When you live in a small town, everyone knows everyone's business. If you make a mistake, act cruelly or misbehave, rest assured the news will make its way through the masses in a day's time. You can't erase any reputation you obtain. It sort of lingers in the grocery store conversation for eternity. A small-town girl has never been able to blend into the crowd; therefore she has a certain reverence about her behavior that indicates thoughtfulness. She won't treat your heart with recklessness.
9. She'll always be up for playful banter.
She's been enduring "loving" ridicule since she could walk. From the next-door neighbors, to her one great-uncle who still makes fun of her chubby cheeks -- it could come from anyone. She's used to holding her own, so she'll be firing back with her own attempts to poke fun at the silly way you walk or tell stories with your hands. She can take it and dish it out as naturally as anyone, which leads to the type of fun interactions that keep relationships interesting and comical.
10. She has a wide variety of random talents.
At a small school, the strict definition of jocks, theater kids and band nerds really can't exist. There just aren't enough students in the population to actually fill crisp-cut categories. Football players sing in musicals, student body presidents paint murals in the hallways and track stars lead the volunteer efforts in the local retirement community. A girl from a small town had to obtain a strange amount of skills and interests along the way, making her much more unique than your original impression of a small town might suggest.
11. She's typically optimistic in her perception of human beings.
She's not quite as jaded as those who didn't grow up in areas where your parents could allow you to freely roam the neighborhood without a care in the world. She had lemonade stands and went on walks to see friends. She never feared that anyone would hurt her, because no one did. She didn't have to expect the worst of people, and part of that true optimism is a radiant light inside of the adult she grew up to become.
12. She isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.
She's no wimp. She will jump into any creek, kill the nastiest of bugs and deal with animal messes like a master. She's been taking care of pets, babies and gross little catastrophes alongside her mother her whole life. She isn't afraid to get down and dirty. She isn't afraid to take risks. She isn't afraid to stand up for herself and make a statement. She won't shy away from the giant centipede on the wall, or the scary situation you're both about to undertake together. She will lean on you if she needs to, but she'll always be there if you need to lean on her as well, because she isn't afraid to face the frightening.
13. She's excited and eager to learn and travel.
Traveling is not a familiar luxury to many growing up in small towns. Heck, working an hour away from home can often be virtually unheard of -- let alone frequent travel to other parts of the world. When a small-town girl gets to move about, she does so with the kind of gratitude and enthusiasm that shines through her. She's venturing into the world, and is thrilled and anxious to embark upon the kinds of endeavors she previously never imagined possible. She has a thirst to learn more and expand her understandings and experiences.
There's this common belief that people from small towns are set in their ways and have no interest in evolving, and that isn't always true, especially for much of the growing and younger generations breaking out. Loving one's roots does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in the expanding of those roots into uncharted territory. She'll take you with her on this adventure, and look to you to teach her even more. She'll actively embrace new entanglements of heart alongside her familiar ties from home, with sheer exuberance. And that is something it's impossible not to fall in love with.
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