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Describing Grand Rapids For Linda Tellis, 28 and engaged, moving to Grand Rapids a few years ago has been life changing. The next it’s reality,” says the former resident of Georgia, West Virginia and Ohio.“You have the opportunity to make an impact here.” Tellis glows as she discusses empowering others through music, environment and education. When asked to characterize Grand Rapids, a sense of pride accompanies her descriptions of community-oriented, entrepreneurial and kind West Michiganders.(Monogamy is his style.) A general sense of commitment and trust, however, persists in Grand Rapids, perhaps rooted in those historically conservative values.When it comes to finding a significant other, newcomers and boomerangs agree: it’s easier to meet people in bigger cities, but it’s harder to keep them, because there’s always the next best thing. and a former Baltimore and Seattle resident, Henian Newsome, 29 and in a relationship, knew Grand Rapids was going to be different when he moved here more than a year ago.In other cities, it’s easier to stick with what’s comfortable,” says Newsome.

Messages like this reinforce that being part of a pair is superior, if not an expectation—and put the pressure on to find that better half.Like it did for Jones, minimal degrees of separation might just spark a first date, or provide a validation of character. “I’m surrounded by married people,” says single 31-year-old Jana Green* who lived in Chicago and Washington D.C., among other places, before returning to West Michigan.He acknowledges that dating would have been hard, had he focused solely on that.“But Grand Rapids opens up possibilities and forces you to get to know different perspectives and people for who they are versus their physical appearance.Hailing from the east side of Michigan, Mike Schmid, 30 and fresh off the market, notices stark differences in religious values between the west side and east side of Michigan: “Here, people are more proudly devout, whereas there, faith was quieter and more personal.” Calling himself “spiritual, but not religious,” Schmid says it’s not too difficult to find others with similar values.

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