You might be the girl who constantly jumps from relationship to relationship, or the one who found true love in elementary school, or even the girl who already has wedding plans. Or you might be like me and a million others: perpetually a single lady, wanting to be in a real, committed relationship.
Growing up, I had no problem getting a guy’s attention and I still don’t. It’s getting a boyfriend that’s my problem. I’m tired of one-night stands, unanswered texts, and lies from boys who tell me they care. For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve been deemed “undateable,” and sometimes I fear I’ll end up a Cat Lady (and I don’t even like cats!). So why do we think this way? It’s time to bring in the experts. Dan Lier from Ask Dan & Mike says, “Overall it’s what girls are taught at a young age. It's in the ‘blueprint’ of a woman. Being a successful woman means having a man... and someday having a family.” Michelle Cove, the director of Seeking Happily Ever After and author of Seeking Happily Ever After: How to Navigate the Ups and Downs of Being Single Without Losing Your Mind says, “I realized that one of the reasons that single women freak out about ending up a cat lady or dying alone in their apartment someday is that there aren't many models for single women who are happy and healthy later in life. Statistically, most women reading this article will marry if they want to.”
If you feel like you’re in the same boat as I am, read on to see why you’re still single and what you can do to transform your relationship status from “always single” to “in a relationship” (if that’s what you want). You might even discover you don’t necessarily need or even want a boyfriend… and at the same time avoid the whole Cat Lady thing.
Reasons why you’re still single...
1. Your standards are too high.
If you have a laundry list full of qualities you look for in “the ideal man” and refuse to give any guy who doesn’t fit your criteria a chance, you may have trouble finding a guy. I’m not suggesting you settle for any guy who comes your way, but I do think you should reevaluate what you look for in a potential mate. Does it really matter if he has perfect teeth, jokes that would make a top comedian laugh, and the moves of a pro-athlete? I don’t think so. Cove agrees, “Instead, pick 3 or 4 non-negotiable qualities that you know you will need in a guy (we're assuming chemistry already so don't include that one) and focus on finding someone with those. Forget a certain height or hair color, think about how you want to be treated.”
2. Your standards are too low.
You also aren’t going to have any luck in the dating scene if your standards are too low. Do you hook up with any and every guy who gives you the time of day? Do you use your drunk goggles to snatch men? Do you think every guy you meet is cute? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your standards are definitely too low. Lier points out why this is bad: “Low standards equal low quality guys. The low quality guys are typically not in a position to, nor have the ability to have a committed or serious relationship.” I recommend you make a list of things you love about YOU. When you see in writing how great of a person you are, you will want to find a guy who has just as much to offer—FYI, the drunk guy hitting on you at the bar does not make the cut. “Don't compromise. It's easy to forget our reasoning when staring in the face of a hot guy but if he doesn't have the non-negotiables, it's most likely doomed from the get-go,” Cove says.
3. You’re too shy.
You can’t sit alone in the corner hoping Mr. Right will come to you. If you’re too shy to get yourself out there and start meeting guys, a future romance isn’t looking good. This isn’t to say you will never have a boyfriend, but it might take longer than you’d like. Lier says, “Remember, guys are insecure... so by you not expressing yourself, he may think you aren’t interested... leaving you out in the cold.” Practice being more outgoing and confident by striking up a conversation or showing off your dance moves. Even smiling in his direction is a good move—baby steps. Guys like fun girls so show him you can have a great time (with or without him) and soon he will be begging for your number. Kaille, a junior at the University of Michigan, says, “I honestly just think being shy is a turn off for guys; they'd rather be with someone outgoing and easy to initially talk to which sucks because they could be missing out on a pretty sweet girl.” You hear that, guys?
4. You’re afraid of rejection.
You’ve been rejected by one too many guys in the past and now you are unable to open up to any potential suitors. Although you may feel safer knowing if you don’t “go for a guy” you won’t get hurt, fearing rejection to the point of an “I hate boys” attitude isn’t going to help your situation. Alexa, a freshman at JMU, says, “I think the reason I have always been single is a combination of being very independent, picky, and fearing rejection. I want to be in a few relationships for a while before I find the onebut that scares me because I already know I am planning on them ending and inevitably my feelings are going to be hurt!” Instead of expecting the worst, keep a positive mindset and know that not every guy is going to reject you. And if a guy does reject you, he didn’t deserve you anyways. Lier says, “When you are afraid of rejection, you don't put yourself in a position to succeed. There is no success without failure or rejection. It's part of the process.”
5. You try too hard.
If you’re constantly chasing guys, you’re doing it all wrong. This involves texting and re-texting without any answers, always asking your friends to find you a guy, and being overly flirtatious every single time you meet a new guy (because this will make him want to date you, right? WRONG!). I’m all for making the first move, but sometimes your forwardness is way too much for even the most trained guys to handle. This kind of behavior takes you out of the potential girlfriend zone and into the desperate stalker category. “Trying too hard is another form of desperation. Men can smell desperation a mile away... and we don't like it,” Lier says.
6. You don’t need a man to make you happy.
When it comes down to it, you are perfectly secure with your single self. You are constantly boyfriend-less because you realize being single isn’t a curse, but instead a chance to discover the true you. “You get what you focus on. When you keep saying ‘I don't need a man to be happy’... that's what you manifest,” Lier says. On the outside, you may think you want to be in a relationship, but in your heart you know you’re going to be just fine on your own. You’ve lived the single life for the past 20 years, and you are not going to let it bring you down. “I have never been in a relationship, and honestly - it doesn't bother me that much,” says Meghan, a senior at Appalachian State University.
...But not everyone feels content leading the single life, and that’s ok.
Here are some reasons why you might want a romantic relationship...
1. You want the companionship.
There’s something special about having a guy around, even if the two of you are simply cuddling and watching a movie. You want someone there for you—someone to talk to, someone to laugh with, someone you can count on to keep you company. “I want someone to do nothing with but feel like I'm doing something just because we're together. Girlfriends are fun and all, but there's nothing like hanging out with a guy you're into,” says Laura, a junior at Appalachian State University.
2. You want to feel loved.
“Everybody, everybody wants to love, everybody, everybody wants to be loved.” Ingrid Michaelson knows what she’s talking about. Yes, your family and friends love you dearly, but for once you want to experience the kind of special romantic love you see in the movies. “Maybe it sounds selfish, but I want to be in a relationship because I want to feel loved. I've lived my life for as long as I remembered on a tireless search for romantic love,” says Katelyn, a senior at Western Michigan University. You may feel unloved and alone in your never-ending single-dom, but really there’s no reason to feel this way. Meghan feels confident in the level of love she will find in life—man or no man. “If I'm meant to be ‘alone’ - and really, with all the wealth of friendship that exists in the world, not being in a relationship is not synonymous with being alone - then that's what will happen,” she says.
In the meantime, here’s why being single is awesome...
1. You don’t have baggage.
The whole ex-boyfriend thing doesn’t exactly apply if you’ve been single your whole life. You can forget about the potential awkwardness that comes when you run into him with a new girl. Also, you don’t have any past relationships to compare to your new potentials. “I think in the end, it'll benefit me to have waited to date the right guy. I don't have a bunch of broken pieces of myself to put back together like most girls do because I've never let myself be broken by anyone,” says Laura. “I'm confident that there's a guy out there for me, I just have to be patient and wait for him!”
2. You can casually date a lot of guys.
Not like I’m promoting this or anything… but seriously, it’s good to go on a lot of dates until you figure out which guy is right for you. Just make sure you don’t date three guys in the same friend group at the same time. If and when things do get serious with any one of the guys, you will have to ditch the others (nicely, of course). “I live the college hook-up lifestyle to a T. However, I am not afraid that I will never settle; I really feel like I will grow out of this phase with time (maybe in ten years),” Alexa says.
3. You can focus on other things.
Being single isn’t the end of the world (despite what we may think). It just means you have more time to spend on other things—like your own goals and desires. Bianca, a junior at Belmont University, says, “I don't think there's anything wrong with being single while in college, because we are all so busy with school, extra-curriculars, etc.” You should accept the fact that having a man is not going to automatically make your life magical. Instead of waiting around for a man to make you happy, figure out what you’re passionate about and pursue your dreams. “I advise women who are scared of ending up alone to sit and envision what their lives might really look like if they don't marry. What they will likely see is that they could have interesting jobs, travel, have great friendships, love interests... if you're a relatively upbeat person, why assume you would live this pitiful existence surrounded by cats if you don't marry?" Cove says. Cheers to that!
What can you learn from all of this? Boyfriends can be great, but so are you. Love requires work so figure out what it is that’s contributing to your current single status, and then develop a new approach to the dating scene. Whatever you do, look confident, not desperate. Just because you’re 21 years old and have never had a boyfriend doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. You have your whole life to find a man. Stop hating on yourself and open your mind and heart to all the possibilities that are out there. If you truly do want to find love right now, you may have to make some changes: don’t go home with Bob the Bartender and think he’s The One.
Collegiettes from across the country
Dan Lier, relationship, sex and communication expert from Ask Dan & Mike
Michelle Cove, director of Seeking Happily Ever After, a feature-length documentary about why there are more single 30-something women in the U.S. (available on iTunes), and author of Seeking Happily Ever After: How to Navigate the Ups and Downs of Being Single Without Losing Your Mind (Tarcher 2011)