I Got My First Boyfriend at 19: Here’s Why That Should Be Normalized

Throughout high school and my first year at Emory people were always shocked when I told them I had never had a boyfriend. This shock was usually followed with strangely offensive commentary like “Are you just awkward around guys?” or “But you aren’t… bad looking?!”. The fact that I had never dated always seemed to be a reflection on me, how I looked, how I acted around guys, how shy I was. This conversation exhausted me. When I started dating my boyfriend in May of 2020, there was a similar barrage of commentary like “What made him so lucky?” and “You finally got one!” Now that I am settled in my relationship, I’m happy I waited for the right guy, and I think it shouldn’t be strange for girls to start dating later on in life. 

 

Growing up, it wasn’t like I wasn’t interested in guys. I had crushes here and there, but once I got to the age where people started to date, if you can call 12-year old’s texting all day dating, I was never very impressed with the guys around me. Also, growing up in a small Texas town, most of the boys preferred the blondes rather than the tall Asian girl. Regardless, I was content to focus on school and have fun with my friends. Especially in high school, as some of my friends started to date, I found myself being glad I could be selfish. I mostly wanted to think about myself and my future, and at that age I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Looking back, I was too immature to worry about the feelings of a significant other. 

 

Once I got to Emory, there were certainly more options than my small-town high school. But after an ill-advised fling with a guy who lived in my building, I still found myself wondering if it was all worth it. Unfortunately, many college Freshman boys are allergic to the most basic form of commitment, and I wasn’t exactly interested in hookup culture. So, I struck out on my single journey again, mostly avoiding any romantic encounters with guys at parties. I found myself thinking, “Maybe I’m just too picky, maybe I’ll never find a guy.” As is the case with most 19-year olds, I was being a little dramatic. I certainly had my hands full living in a brand-new city and drowning in homework. It wasn’t like I had an abundance of time to commit to seeking out love. 

 

When COVID hit, I all but gave up on the boyfriend front. I had to move back home and resigned myself to trying for romance next year. Oddly enough, my current relationship seemed to materialize out of thin air during quarantine. I started talking to a guy who I had known from my high school who was a year below me. Much to my own disbelief, I was beginning to realize that I should give the whole relationship thing a chance. When we started dating, I came to realize how grateful I was to myself for waiting both for someone worthwhile and for my own maturity. 

The years I spent without a boyfriend were years in which I found out who I was, independent of anyone else. I didn’t see myself as an accessory to someone else, and never wanted to compromise to make myself more palatable. By the time I started dating my boyfriend, I felt like I was independent and knew exactly what I wanted in a partner. While I would never discourage another girl from dating someone she was interested in, I do think that the girls who chose to wait shouldn’t be scrutinized either. Finding a person that you are romantically interested in is more difficult than it’s made out to be, and just dating someone for the sake of dating can be a lot more trouble than it’s worth. All this to say, to the girl out there wondering if it's normal that she hasn't had a significant other by college: it is. Finding your own independence and confidence will only make it easier to find someone who can complement your individuality.