Is It Weird That I've Been Single My Entire Life?
I am 18 years old. Never had a real boyfriend. (My "ex" truly doesn't count. I call him an ex with quotation marks because he acts like one. I went through the whole emotional process as if he was one, but truly I've never had a true, real boyfriend.) I’ve never been on a real date, never been kissed, or never had sex. I can't even get a guy to look at me, let alone talk to me, unless it's for something they need. All my friends have boyfriends. Everyone I know thinks this is super weird, but I've been content with it until I got to college. This summer my coworker harassed me about being a Virgin Mary, a goodie two shoes, etc. It sucks. I'm against this whole hookup culture thing and my parents would shame me if I did any of it, anyway. But honestly, is it weird I've never had any of this before?
First of all, the idea of a “real” boyfriend is up for debate, like how the definition of a “real” relationship is ambiguous. Just because you didn’t have the boyfriend-girlfriend talk or never had a white tablecloth dinner date doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valid thing. That said, even if you were 18 and had never dated someone, never hooked up with someone, or never kissed someone doesn’t make you weird. It’s actually way more common than you’d think.
It doesn’t help that the entire concept of dating feels almost antiquated these days, thanks to social media. Our grandparents had drive-in movies and diners, we have...Snapchat. This alone makes it tough to know if a group trip to the movies is a “date,” or if it’s just a bunch of friends hanging out. In other words, real dates (outside of, say, prom) can be rare, no matter who you are.
Although it doesn’t make it any easier, take comfort in the fact that there’s no “right” time to do all of this stuff. It’s not like a checklist you have to complete by a certain deadline—as long as you’re cool with the pace you’re taking things, that’s what matters. So props for recognizing that.
It may feel like guys aren’t giving you any attention, but 18-year-olds guys don’t really know how to give attention to girls. Just like you’re learning to work through these feelings, they are too. (And, at the risk of making a sweeping generalization, dudes aren’t quite as good at the whole feelings thing as girls, no matter their age.) But seeking attention from guys does a weird thing to your self-esteem, and you’re honestly better off without that kind of empty validation. Having a crush feels good; being on the receiving end of a crush feels even better. But don’t let yourself think it defines your worth as a human, because it doesn’t. The same goes for actually having relationships: Having a boyfriend doesn’t change who you are as a person (and if it does, then you’re in big trouble).
As tempting as it is to focus on what you don’t have, the best way to change your mindset is to think about the awesome stuff you do have. Just take it from the totally genius writer of Spinster, Kate Bolick, who told us why she loves being single. "There are so many great things about it, particularly when you’re young," she said. "The number one thing is that you have so much time when you’re a teen. This means you can spend time making art, or having a job to get money, or reading books.” The romantic stuff will come at its own pace; until then, we recommend pouring your energy into what you love. Because, no offense to crushes, but this will be more gratifying both now and a decade later.