I have a secret I have never shared with anyone but close friends and immediate family.
I am 22 years old and I have never been in a successful long-term relationship or even had a boyfriend. Even writing this feels like a giant weight has been lifted off my chest. While I am not ashamed of my relationship status, it isn't something I typically use as a defining characteristic.
Throughout high school, I blamed my lack of relationships on the fact that I went to an art school and most men were either gay or way too short (I'm 5'10" for some reference). I thought things would change when I finally started college, but four years later and about to start my victory lap, I remain single.
While in high school, I hated being single and felt as though there was something wrong with me — that because I didn't have a boyfriend, I was somehow less than my friends who were in relationships. The teen dramas I watched all featured these high school girls with boyfriends conditioning me to believe my experience was the anomaly. I figured there had to be something wrong with me. Was I too awkward, too tall, too nerdy, or too weird? Now, at 22 years old, I'm OK with my status because I don't need a man to have fun, enjoy my college experience, or to be a happy and well-rounded individual.
Throughout college, I have casually dated some pretty great guys. Men with job titles ranging from lawyer to sports reporter to finance manager. My dating escapades even earned me the title of serial dater from my best friend. While a majority of these men were perfectly nice and I could have easily fallen into a relationship with any of them, I wasn't excited about the possibility since there wasn't a spark. There was nothing wrong with them, but the excitement just wasn't there.
My favorite line in the 90s classic "Clueless" is "I'm not prude, I'm just highly selective."
This quotation plays over and over in my brain during dates. Although some men are sweet and plan great dates that involve rock climbing, comedy clubs, great sushi, or theater shows, I have yet to find the Josh to my Cher. Another "Clueless" reference if you will. I didn't want to settle for mediocre, and neither should you.
On the occasion when I find myself complaining to my friends about my lack of relationship experience, they try to be supportive saying things like, "you're just too good for regular college boys" and my personal favorite "you're intimidating to college men." Some of my friends even say I am lucky to be a free agent, that I can go on dates and meet different types of men, and they do have a point.
I don't feel the pressure of relationships, so I can put my priorities and myself first. Plus dating apps are pretty fun and entertaining. I now own all of the qualities which I thought made me strange in high school, wearing them as a badge of pride which past dates seemed to like.
While the term "third wheel" often has a negative connotation, it is a role I grew into and perfected over the past four years of college.
In fact, some of my favorite memories from college are third-wheeling my friends for dinner, road trips to the beach, and the latest, a wedding where I took on the title of the seventh wheel. While being in a relationship and finding that special someone to be that fourth wheel would be great, for now, I get to focus on myself. There is nothing wrong with staying single, or not having a boyfriend whether you are in high school or starting college.
Movies and television series shape what our culture views as reality. In the real world, no high school teenager is being stalked by a hooded figure referred to as 'A' or befriending and dating one-hundred-year-old vampires. We all have different life experiences for a reason. Eventually, it will happen, but anyone's lack of relationship experience does not make us any less worthy of love.
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