I’m almost 24 and I’ve never been in love.
Before you say anything: I know, I know — I’m far from being the only one. I’m not a special snowflake; it’s becoming increasingly common for people well into their 20s to not have found somebody to say those little three words to (and mean it.)
There are probably different reasons for everyone. For me, I’ve never really known if it was because I was too busy; because I was sexually confused; or simply because I was pretty unfortunate looking for most of my life — probably a culmination of all three. I was always open to the idea of love, but I wasn’t really putting any effort into finding it.
But by the time I turned 22, I was finally in a place where I felt comfortable enough to put myself out there. I had lost the excess weight and acne that had plagued me for a good chunk of my life and had finally accepted the fact that I was bisexual. I was ready to find somebody — male or female — that would love and accept me for who I am. When your dating pool isn’t restricted to one gender, you’d think this would be fairly easy, right? Apparently not.
The past year was a pretty busy one for me — I moved to a new city and started grad school, so I was focused more on meeting people period than meeting someone to make out with. So I compromised and signed up for the dating sites/apps — OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Tinder… you name it, I probably had an account. I went out on a few dates throughout the year, but never felt a spark with anyone. Most would ask me out again, but I almost always said no — why waste my time and theirs?
As 2013 came to an end and I began another year single, I told myself this year would be different. I made a vow that I would say yes to anyone who asked me out barring any major red flags. It’s almost mid-April and I have been on dates with about thirty different people.
I’m not bragging. It’s nothing to be proud of. It’s a little shameful, really. Not that there’s anything wrong with dating a lot (or sleeping around a lot for that matter). I guess it’s just a bit depressing to me that out of all of those people, I haven’t felt a spark with anyone, save one guy I saw throughout the month of January. I wrote about him on here previously, and I genuinely did have romantic interest in him, but he didn’t feel the same way. That sucked, and it still bums me out when I think about it.
People tell me I have too high of standards, but I really don’t think I do. I’m not asking for a lot on a first date, but I think what’s holding me back is that I want to feel that elusive spark. I want to find somebody who I can’t wait to see again. And it’s not that I don’t like the people I go out with; they’ve all been very friendly and relatively normal (save for the handful who say dumb things after finding out I’m bisexual). And I could honestly see myself being friends with a good chunk of them. But I couldn’t see myself dating any of them.
I’ve started to wonder if it’s because I didn’t date in my teens. I’m a total cliché in that I want what I can’t have. When somebody rejects me, they’re all I can think about, but when somebody expresses genuine interest in me, I lose all interest in them. It’s like I’m stuck in a high school dating state of mind. I recently went on a handful of dates with a guy who was totally into me, and he was great in theory, but I didn’t feel anything whatsoever for him. I ended up hurting him by ending things, and I feel awful about it, but I figure it would have been worse to continue leading him on. But here was this guy who was good looking, friendly, funny — and most importantly, liked me — and I turned him down. And yet I still find myself obsessing over the boy who turned me down in January. Why? Because I’m a human paradox, I crave attention and intimacy but reject it comes my way. And if I can’t figure myself out, how is anybody else going to?
So I’m done looking for love. I’m not giving up on it, but I’m done actively pursuing it. I’m deactivating my accounts on OKCupid and POF and deleting Tinder et al off of my phone. Because while they’re great for validation and attention purposes, I need to stop obsessing over whether or not anybody will ever love me. No more “Why can everybody find love but me?” pity parties. There’s nothing wrong with me; in fact, I’m pretty fucking rad. I remember when I was upset over being rejected by that guy, my friend (bless her heart) told me something that has made me smile ever since. She turned to me and she told me, “I’ve known you for only a couple of months and you are already 100% one of my favorite people. You are awesome, and screw anybody who can’t see that.”
So I’m going to stop caring about finding love and start living my life. When I’m walking down the street to the subway, I’m not going depress myself by thinking about how lonely I am. I’m going to smile and laugh while thinking about all the crazy things I did with my friends last night. I’m not going to chase love, or anybody. I’m going to do my own thing, because if someone is meant to be in my life, they will come, and they will stay. Or, you know, whatever, I’ll adopt a cat (or five). That’s cool, too.
But wish me luck because it’s only hour three and my finger is already itching to do some swiping.