Teen Talk

Teen Talk: What feels like a void is actually a strength

Kelly Richardson
Kelly Richardson Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

DEAR KELLY: I’m a senior and I’ve never had a serious boyfriend. I’ve had a thing with people and I went out with one guy for three weeks, but it wasn’t anything serious. My friends all tell me I should try and date someone long-term so when I go to college I won’t be like, “No, I’ve never had a serious boyfriend or had sex or been in a committed relationship.” It kind of makes me feel like something might be wrong with me that I’ve never been able to either get or keep someone interested in me for a long period of time.

I hate being single. I’m scared I’ll go to college and people will think I’m weird or something because I won’t even be able to say I have an ex or anything when everyone else is talking about their high school boyfriends. The problem is that the one guy who I could see myself dating doesn’t like me like that and just wants to be friends with me. I can’t seem to focus on finding anyone else to be interested in. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to get over him and spend all year chasing the wrong guy.

Please give me some advice.

DEAR HANNAH: Let’s start by tackling the fear of never having a serious dude before you hit college. Just because you don’t have any past relationship experiences or boyfriends to share with other girls doesn’t make you a freak, an anomaly or outcast. It makes you look secure (“Who needs a guy?”), cautious (“I will wait to find someone special”) and confident (“I don’t need to settle for just someone”). You won’t be the only one in college without an ex, and you will still have plenty of stories to share during gab time.

Getting into a relationship just so you can say you were in one is the worst possible reason. Odds are, it would be unfulfilling, unrewarding and a bad start to learning about relationships. Being in a relationship should involve genuinely liking someone and having a true interest in getting to know that person better. Your motives in being in a relationship help predict the direction the relationship will go – the wrong motives are certain to create an unhealthy relationship.

Don’t be desperate to find a guy. The harder you look, the more likely you will be to either settle or never find what you are looking for. Be good with being single. It shows you are strong enough to not need someone to depend on. Being single doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough to be with the right person, you’re just too good to be with the wrong one.

Your senior year can go in many different directions, all based on the choices you make. If you choose to make having a boyfriend the most important thing, you will miss out on memories with girlfriends because it won’t feel like enough or allow you to fully enjoy the moment. If you choose to have fun, then laugh with friends, be silly, focus on yourself and get to know people who may become lifelong friends. Make choices that allow you to walk with purpose and be comfortable with your independence.

If the guy you are interested in isn’t interested back, move on. Stay friends but accept that he is not the guy for you. Please don’t make your entire senior year about him. He is not worth it. Your senior year shouldn’t involve chasing someone all year, it should be about having fun with friends and getting yourself ready to launch next year. Getting over him is about your making the choice to let go and move on. You can choose to either continue down a dead-end street or turn around and head in a new direction that opens you up to new people and new experiences.

You make your own choices. If you want a different result, make a different choice.

Going to college should elicit feelings such as excitement, anticipation, enthusiasm and openness to new experiences. If you enter college feeling judged or different because you haven’t been in a relationship or had sex, you are choosing to focus on the wrong ideas about college.

Stop listening to your friends. They are giving you bad advice. Fly solo until someone special comes along who feels you are just as special. Don’t rush into something just to say you did it. Being single isn’t a status, it is merely a word. Love yourself and your own life first. Share it only when you are ready, not as a way to fit in or define you.