If you are in your 20s or 30s or even older than that, and you have never had a romantic relationship, maybe you are not as alone as you think. Read More
People and Institutions study what they want to study, and often come to the conclusions they want to believe, regardless of the data. I think it was Dr. DePaulo who cited a study in several posts back that said that high school girls involved in romantic relationships are more likely to experience depression. Has anyone studied young adults in this same manner? Or all adults? Maybe having a romantic relationship isn't the life-affirming positive experience that everyone wants to believe.
"Personally, I have a very positive view of some of these people – the ones who have no romantic relationship experience because they just aren’t interested."
Wait, does this mean that you do not have a positive view of us "relationship virgins" who want relationships but haven't been able to form one because of chance or circumstance? Maybe you don't understand what it's like to be in this group, but I can tell you we face the same "singleism" that your "single-at-heart" face, but with a big, steaming pile of self-doubt heaped on top. If we'd had a good relationship in the past, we'd at least know that it's possible to find someone who appreciates us. If we'd had a bad relationship in the past, we'd find it easier to appreciate the perks of being single.
Furthermore, the fact that we see coupling as a desirable state means that the single-ism stings all the more. You guys know that you're single because you want to be. You have an explanation. We only have the explanations provided by the single-ists, that we're single because we're "too picky" or "too desperate", "too needy" or "too antisocial", "too fat" or "too ugly", "too average" or "too weird". When these accusations are levied, we can't proudly assert that we could have a romantic relationship if we wanted one, so we're left to wonder if maybe we really do possess negative characteristics far beyond most people, and every day is a struggle to keep our self concept from sinking deeper into the quagmire of self-loathing.
Why any of that makes us less worthy of respect is beyond me.
I'm so sorry you have to hear all that nonsense from extreme relationship conformists. There are plenty of "picky," "desperate," needy," "antisocial," "fat," "ugly," "average," and "weird" people that are married. What about those people who've been married/divorced two or three times? They're just plain nuts (I know it's mean but it's true: I have never met person that was divorced more than once who was actually sane), but they've been married. So much for conformists' reasons you're faulty and everyone else isn't.
I didn't get married until I was 33, and boy did I have plenty of people reminding me that I was an old maid. At 33?! Whatever. So I didn't pick the first guy that came along. So I have some standards. Keep being your awesome self and know that the problem isn't you - the right person may come along, or they may not, but you know what? That's ok. The loudest in the room are just being idiots - we're not all judging you - I promise :)
It's not entirely about picking the right person. None of us are static and unchanging over our lifetimes. By marrying late, you essentially shorten the amount of time you can be alive and married, reducing the number of life changes you and your partner would have to deal with.
For example, it's really tricky to marry at 20 and stay married for the rest of your life no matter how "right" that person was by any criteria at age 20.
I didn't mean to imply that. I added a sentence to the original post.
Choosing to make snide remarks at your readers is not.
I was a relationship virgin before I got married.
I had only casual sex prior to that with about 20-25 partners.
The reason I didn't form a relationship was that I knew myself. I knew that I would have a hard time breaking away from any commitment, even with the wrong person. So, I just refused to commit to any relationship until I was certain that I found someone compatible.
Once I found her, I committed and we have been married for 27 years.
I will say that it turned out that we weren’t as compatible as I thought, however, because I have a strong sense of commitment and responsibility I find it extremely hard to approach divorce.
Yes, I would like to get divorced, not because I have a problem making a commitment, But because I have a problem with NOT committing. Once I commit, I cant seem to be able to break that commitment.
Maybe if I had relationships prior, I might have learned to say "its not working".
I was a romantic relationship virgin all through high school, easy to do when you're a nerd and no one sees you as dateable anyway. I had no interest in dating until my early 20s, when the pressure from my friends to date got too intense and they convinced me that a man would "fix" what was "wrong" with my life--which was nothing, really, but I couldn't convince them of that, and I actually believed something was wrong with me because I wasn't doing what everyone was doing, that seemed to be so terribly important. It was their problem, really, they couldn't handle a RRV in their group (who would have been content to remain so indefinitely). My first boyfriend was so exciting, he was appropriate for me in so many ways that my family would approve of, but after a really disastrous attempt to "go all the way," I realized I didn't care a bit about this guy and I had almost risked pregnancy to prove to my "friends" that I was ****able.
A year later, a guy developed an interest in me and I shot him down many times, until the pressure from everyone (he's nice, why are you so mean to him?) led me to date him. He was horrible, he was intensely needy and he threatened suicide when I broke up with him just 3 weeks later. Lucky for me I realized he had no right to put that on me and I had none of it. (20+ years later, this loser still mentions me in his blog, which I discovered when I Googled myself to find out what a prospective employer would see when she did so.)
Shortly after that, I started hanging out with a male friend who didn't expect a lot from me in the bedroom, didn't expect me to dress up in slutty things I disdained or anything like that, and I ended up marrying him, I realize now it was to protect myself from any more stupid dating and relationship expectations. I had found the Least of the Evils and I was signing up for my bodyguard.
If only Single At Heart had been something people even knew about in the 80s, I could have spared myself so much. But it made me who I am now, a strong, Single At Heart woman who doesn't owe anyone an answer to the wet-blanket question, "why aren't you married?"
Well said, Psyngle.
I have always been single, and at 31, I have managed to "miss out on" all the pitfalls of dating and marriage. It seems that almost everyone ends up experiencing the same regrets and heartache, though they would never admit that.
I dated a whole bunch of women, and one of them became my wife. I had a lot of fun. No regrets and very few heartaches. I think it's all about having a good attitude, not taking it too seriously, having a sense of humor, and being considerate of other's feelings. Which means also recognizing when you should not get involved with someone, and to what degree.
I'm a "romantic relationship virgin" myself. My experiences mirror that of JorduSpeaks to an extent. I wouldn't call myself "single at heart" because I don't know what it's like to have a romantic relationship. I'd like to try it but it seems to be so difficult for me whereas many others my age seem to breeze in and out of romantic relationships like it's nothing. (I'm aware, of course, that that likely means those relationships aren't very intimate or satisfying, of course).
I'm a relationship virgin because I don't want to play in my league. I have a feeling this is what mainly causes people to remain single into mid adulthood. The effort's just not worth the reward.
There are lots of people in the world all looking for different things, and it's not at all unusual for conventionally attractive people (the people with physical traits that mass media tells us are desirable) to become attracted to people who are less conventionally attractive. The flip side of the coin (from my experience, anyway) is that the conventionally unattractive are no less likely to reject you than the conventionally attractive. If you think in terms of "leagues" and you keep your eyes open, you'll only make your arm tired from all the head scratching.
It's wrong to couple up with people if you're not attracted to them, because you make it harder for them to find someone who is. Similarly, it's wrong to write off people if you think they're "too attractive" because you are making it harder for them to find you. Doing so also fails to respect they're ability to form opinions for themselves.
So, keep on doing what you're doing.
I was interested in a woman a while back who was kind of a "catch" in the lesbian community. I asked her on a date to go berry picking and she said yes, and we had a lovely time. Her best friend came home from overseas shortly after and confessed her love and begged her never to go out with me again. A former friend (this is partly why) said she was way out of my league and I shouldn't have tried to "get" this woman. I asked how she was out of my league, she's a successful massage therapist and I'm a science professional, we seemed pretty well matched socioeconomically. That was just a mean and hurtful thing for my former friend to say, and just because she had low self-esteem didn't mean I wasn't allowed to believe in myself. No one is out of your league if you connect and care about each other. That's just more societal nonsense, like the idea that you have to be in a "relationship" even if you don't want to be.
The woman I dated the one time and her now-partner are people I see around town often, and it was awkward until I told them I was happy with the way thing turned out and I wished them all the best. I shared my single-at-heart revelation and they were actually delighted to hear that.
I think I know what you are saying, anonymous. It depends on two factors - where you fit into the attractiveness scale and how much you really want to be part of a couple. Although I also agree that attractiveness is a very subjective thing.
Tried dating in my late 20s. Every date felt like a job interview. Guys tell me I'm too "intimidating" — somebody please tell me wtf that means. I'm not really attracted to people anymore, and have no idea what I'd do with an SO if one dropped in my lap. Right now if something happens, it happens; but if college was any indication, I'm not terribly interested either way.
I've gotten that "too intimidating" as well. It probably means you are not so quick to blindly agree, go along to get a long, stay quiet, be giggly and agree to sex. That would be "too intimidating" for daters who don't really want to put effort into getting to know a person and being considerate of their partner.
It's not you, it's them.
It's just something people say when they want to blame you for being single while to make it sound like a compliment.
Most people find the idea that people can go for long periods of time without meeting someone with whom they are mutually attracted to very scary. So, they try to mitigate their fear of random misfortune by imposing artificial blame. They think, "You're having trouble because you do X, but I do not do X. So, if I were in you're situation I would not have trouble."
...my favorite description of dating.
I haven’t been in a relationship and I am going to be 30 next week. It has been tedious trying to explain to people why life turned out this way for me. I liked someone when I was 28 for the very first time in my life but it was unrequited affection. I struggled to get over it and kept thinking that maybe I am not meant to be with someone, destiny wants me to be alone. But I can not accept the societal norm to find some one and settle down just so I don’t end up alone. Ofcourse with all my friends marrying it has been really difficult socially, I don’t seem to have company for even the most basic things like movie going. It hurts sometimes that you have to be alone this way just because you chose not to settle. Not that I don’t want to be in a relationship ever but I have given up, I am not waiting. I cant imagine any scenario in which my current situation would change and it is daunting. But I still refuse to settle. Many of my relatives and friends think I am being too headstrong and will regret this decision in future when the window closes completely. I really have no counter argument except that this is one thing I refuse to compromise upon and also I don’t want to hurt someone else in the process of making a compromise wherein I might just feel the intense urge to get out of the relationship with “guy right now” because that was what I dint want in the first place.
I'm sorry to hear that you are giving up. I can relate to your situation as I was single until I was 30. I never even dated until then. Not because I didn't want to but because I found (still find) it difficult to approach new people and start talking to them. My interests were mainly male oriented (chess) and as I hate nightclubs and didn't get invited to many parties I found it difficult to meet potential partners.
I eventually joined a dating agency and ended up meeting my wife who I've been married to for 9 years now. I got married at 33 so it can still happen and there's plenty of time for you.
I wish you good luck if you want to keep looking for a SO.
I like cookies. With milk.
This is the first time I have come across any article that sort of describes my situation. However, like the first poster I agree, that I am not single at heart. I am sick at heart because I am approaching 46 and I am female and like another poster on here I have given up. I don;t want to be "dating" or "looking" at 50. So I have simply given up.
I just recently turned 37, I didn't go on a date till I was 30, and even so, I've only been on 2 other real dates. If I include coffee meet and greets, Im up to 9 dates in my life. I'm a decent looking guy, athletic, smart, have my own car, my own place, a good job, many different talents, genuine, honest, trusworthy, and I'm social, but I've never had anyone truly interested in what I have to offer. I'd bet I've shown interest in over 1000 people over the past 25 or so years, and still no luck. In this day and age, it seems that having no relationship experience and never having slept with someone is a death sentence at my age.
I hate going through life alone. Its not fun anymore. Sure I go places and do things, but the whole time I wish I could be sharing the experience with another person. Heck, eating out and a nice restaurant makes me feel self conscious. For me there is little worse than asking for a table for one. I'm down to having only one single person I know (who happens to be a very good match with me, but she isn't interested, and never has been and likely never will be.) everyone else has paired off and would rather spend time with their partners than with me, and if it is with me, I feel like a 3rd wheel every time.
While I don't know if I want kids, the opportunity for that is all but gone. I would have liked to have been able to make the choice to start a family of my own, but I don't want to start a family after I turn 40, and that is too close, unless I settle for the first person to come along. I don't really want to do that. At this point the one and only person I'd even think about marrying is the friend I mentioned above, but we have known each other for 15 years.
Do I want to give up? Yes I do. My dislike of going through life alone is the only reason I haven't done so. Do I know if I would like being in a relationship? Nope. I have to have one to find out. I feel I have a huge amount to offer another person, but no one is interested. Even though I am the common denominator with every person who has turned me down, I can't say its all my fault. It takes two to tango, and if only one person is interested in dancing,that person is going to spend a lot of time alone.
I'd be happy to change in some way to be more attractive to women, but I don't know what I need to change. I'd love to learn what my obvious yet hidden fault is that keeps anyone from being interested in what I have to offer. Not knowing is the one thing that frustrates me most in life.
This is very much my experience, only I recently turned 27 instead of 37. It seems a lot like the job search, you have to have experience in order to get experience, whether it's with a job or romantic relationship.
I think there are lots of people (men and women) who feel and experience the same as you do. My situation is different. I'm 62 and a widow of about four years. I find it very difficult (impossible) to meet anyone no matter how much I 'get out there' and whatever I do. I - like you have a lot going for me. I feel really bad and that something is wrong with me. I would recommend Sara Eckel who has written a book on 'Its not you' - essentially about reasons about being single - i.e. Its not 'your fault'.
I would also comment that there is a heck of a lot NOT being discussed in the public domain about difficulties for both genders across all age ranges finding it difficult to find a partner. I think we also need some subversion of stuff like internet dating sites (scam) and dating in general and go for real living!
My warmest wishes to you. There is also an increasing level of awareness of singleism, critical mass still has not been reached (in terms of ooen discussion) but it will do soon! Please remember that there are a LOT of folk out there in bad partnerships and convenience partnerships and of course who are together because of dumb luck.
But I noticed you mentioned you hate eating in nice restaurants alone. I don't know why so many single people think a romantic partner is the only one they can eat with. I have a single neighbor who I've become friends with over the last couple years, and we go to nice restaurants together often. A new place opens in town, and we dress up and go try it.
I am in a different class, the one who tried marriage and hated it, and a lot of people who wish they weren't single resent me voluntarily giving up what they wish they had, but I doubt anyone would have stuck out my marriage as long as I did. It was an unhealthy, controlling situation. When I walked out, the idea of "going through life alone" never occurred to me. There are so many people in the same boat and they all want to do the same things couples go out and do. I rarely, if ever, feel lonely.
That is great that you and your neighbor go out. I don't have the luxury. The only single person I know lives 600 miles away. Not exactly local.
One of my worst fears is finding someone who gives me a chance in a relationship only to discover that after all these years (my whole life) of being single, I actually don't like being in a relationship. I'd feel horrible if that happened, and its a very possible outcome.
Being single isn't a bad thing if you know that is what you like. Being single because you can't find another person willing to take a chance on you is a totally different story. Being single not by choice is a rather miserable experience (at least it is for me). Being continuously rejected for no apparent good reason does nothing for one's sense of self or self esteem. In my case it leaves me starved for a little affection.
I think what you and I and most others out there need is a society not so hell bent on coupling! We need like minded single people to be our friends and live close by. I don't mind being single,as what I really want is a good company to do various activities that raise eyebrows if done alone, like movies, fancy dinners, travel etc
I'd very much like to know what its like to be in a relationship. I don't really like being single. Unfortunately nearly all the people in my age group aren't interested in even dating someone who has never had a relationship, let alone the possibility of a relationship with that person. Personally I think I'd do well in a relationship, but finding someone who is compatible who is willing to take a chance has proven impossible (so far).
I have no problem with coupling, there is a lot of good that can come from it. What I do have a problem with is people judging others who have not been so lucky as to find a compatible person in their lifetime. People, especially single people need to be more open minded. It could just as easily be them in my shoes. Just because they have had a relationship that didn't work doesn't mean one with someone who has never had a relationship won't work, it might just work better than they think.
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Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?