I've Been Single My Whole Life

I've Been Single My Whole Life

And I'm Okay With That

I am a month away from being 19 years old, and I've never had a boyfriend. Well, I've never had a real boyfriend. I dated around in pre-school just like most kids, snagged a few boys in middle school and called them my boyfriends even though all that meant was awkward notes passed in the classroom, and sitting by each other at lunch so we could trade fruit snacks and animal crackers. The closest I ever got to an actual relationship was my freshman year of high school, and since that romance consisted entirely of text messages, 20 questions, and occasional nervous sweaty hand holding at youth group under the watchful eye of our ever-present parents, I don't actually think it counts. I had crushes, was crushed on, and nearly dated (as in I've only been on one date in my entire life) several times in high school, but never have I had a serious, committed romantic relationship with another person. I've also never been kissed, which is another weird (and slightly embarrassing) thing to admit to the world, but it's true and I have a reason for saying it.

You'd probably think to go all these years without a boyfriend I'd either have to have a terrible personality, or just simply not be attractive. I don't think I'm either of those things, and it's taken me 18 years of being single and coming to terms with it to realize that. For the longest time in high school I felt like a boyfriend was right around the corner. I looked at all the people around me in happy, loving relationships and convinced myself that I would find someone. I wasted months crushing on boys who either never gave me a second look, or just always looked at me as a friend and, yes, it affected me. It made me question my looks, my personality, the clothes I wore, the way I put on makeup (to be honest though it probably was not on point in middle school anyway). It was a major part of my massive self image issues, and then one day it wasn't.

One day, or rather, after years of feeling like I just wasn't good enough for anyone to want me, I realized hating myself for not being able to find a boyfriend was a ridiculous thing to do. Part of that realization was the friends I had, some of whom have been and still are eternally single like myself, and part of it was just accepting that my life wasn't always going to take the path I so desperately wanted it to take. I didn't need a boyfriend to make my life worth living, or to prove that I am attractive and smart. In fact, the only person I needed to prove that to was myself. But through all of this, I discovered that I actually like being single. I am who I am today partly because I've been single my whole life, and for the first time I'm actually pretty happy with who I am.

Being single throughout my whole life allowed me to define myself without having to worry about another person defining me. I've watched too many girls get caught up in a boyfriend and lose themselves in the process, and I never even got close to having that experience. I also got to figure myself out and learn to love myself all on my own, and all without having to worry about figuring someone else out and loving them as well. I can't say I've never experienced heartbreak, but I've also never been truly hurt by a person I was in love with, because I've never been in love.

I've learned that platonic love is just as important (if not more important) and beautiful as romantic love, and I've never had to worry about a boy coming between me and my friends. I know how to be alone and be okay with that, and how to enjoy and appreciate my own company. I'm not hating on people in relationships or saying they can't experience these things. I'm just saying that being single, just like having a boyfriend, taught me a lot about myself and molded me into the person I am.

Saying all this doesn't mean I'm not open to a relationship, or that I turn my nose up at people my age who have had plenty of relationships. I'm just as open to dating as I've ever been (probably more so actually because I was not feeling that vibe my senior year of high school), but I know now that I don't need to rush into a relationship just to be considered "normal."

I know that there's someone out there for me, and I also recognize that someone wasn't in my past but in my future. I still believe in true love, and I probably always will. Unless I'm like 70 and still single, then I'll settle for a few cats and a dog or two instead (which, if we're being honest, is the truest form of love there is). Being single your whole life isn't sad, and it isn't something to look down on. It took me a long time to realize that not ever having a boyfriend didn't mean I wasn't worthy of being loved in that way, and I wish I'd had someone to tell me that I was just as worthy as any other girl.

If you've never had a boyfriend, or never been kissed, know that you're not alone and that you really are beautiful and lovable, you just haven't found the right person to fall in love with you yet. My soulmate wasn't in the hallways of my high school and he may not be on the campus of my college, but that's OK. I love being single. I'm not ashamed of never having a boyfriend, and you shouldn't be either. Love yourself, love your friends and your family, love your dog, and don't be afraid to not be in love with anyone.

Cover Image Credit: Jordan Dark

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How to Break Up With a Guy

Without Being Too Mean

It's not you. No, no, it's definitely him. But nobody wants to be the bad guy, we consulted some top dating experts for advice on breaking up with minimal drama and heartache.

Step 1: Take Responsibility

Maybe he's a two-timing jerk. Maybe you're a two-timing jerk. Or maybe he's just mind-numbingly boring. Whatever the reason, you need to tell him. Dragging things out only exacerbates the problem. You wouldn't want a guy to waste your time, so don't waste his.

Step 2: Plan Ahead

Lay the groundwork for a smooth breakup. Relationship coach Mitchel Fink recommends lining up a new place to live pre-breakup if you're living with your boyfriend. If you've got your own place but tend to leave things behind at his, "start removing it before the breakup," she says. "If he's borrowed stuff, make an excuse to ask for it back."

Write off little stuff like your toothbrush and old CDs. If he offers to return it, great, but it's not worth the drama.

One final consideration: If your guy's got a violent temper, bring friends with you when you get your stuff later.

Step 3: Stage the Scene of the Crime

It is not cool to dump someone by text, email, IM or Twitter. Who are you, Joe Jonas? "It always has to be in person if you have had over five or six dates," says Brad Berkowitz, author of "The 21st Century Guide to Bachelorhood."

So what's the ideal place for dropping the hammer? Lure him to a public place that's quiet, such as a park or a cafe, suggests dating writer Melissa Braverman of Single Gal in the City. "This makes it easier to keep the conversation from dragging on and limits the potential for a big scene. Sit across from him, not beside him, to communicate that you stand firm in your decision."

Make plans with a friend for an hour after you meet your guy, so you have an excuse to leave. And avoid breaking up at home, where you run the risk of a dramatic scene in which he refuses to leave (or pulls a Kenley and throws a cat at you).

Step 4: Keep It Short (If Not Sweet)

Nobody wants to use those trite sentiments ("I really need to focus on me right now"), but brutal honesty ("I'm hooking up with the hot intern at work") won't earn you any points either. Acknowledge that you care about him, but be firm when you explain that it's not working out. Skip the blame game -- it doesn't matter, and you'll only encourage a back-and-forth debate or him trying to rationalize his way out of singlehood.

Adds Braverman, "Give him the opportunity to express his feelings, but don't allow the conversation to go on for more than an hour. A protracted goodbye will only mislead him into thinking he still has a chance with you. Respect yourself and him enough to make a graceful exit."

Wear a velvet glove when blowing off a nice guy, but forget it when it comes to dumping a dirtbag -- he may try to charm (aka manipulate) you into staying. "Tell the dude 'Your bed has become too crowded to include me.' Leave him scratching his head. No drama -- over and out!" says Loveawake.com relationship expert Dr. Stella Painfree

Don't let yourself get over-emotional or over-detailed -- just be firm that it's not working for you anymore. And make it clear that your decision is final: "I just don't think we should be together right now" or waffling makes him think he's still got a chance.

Speaking of weakness, do not have breakup sex. Yes, we know, it's the only good thing about a breakup. It's also rarely good (too much weeping), loaded with mixed signals, and essentially a pity lay.

Step 5: Have a 24-Hour Plan

There's no reason to rush ahead into a friendship with your ex. You both need time to heal. Avoid places that the two of you used to frequent as a couple, or anywhere you might run into him. If you start to feel down in the dumps and like you've just thrown away your only chance of love, Dawn Masler-Ranish, author of "The Broken Picker Fixer", suggests finding a retreat buddy -- "a girlfriend you agree to call when you feel lonely and are tempted to reach for a man-daid."

If mutual friends are involved, ask him how he wants to handle the situation -- would he prefer to announce the bad news first? Be aware that friends often feel forced to take sides, so be honest with them and avoid dissing your ex.

Finally, avoid the usual broken-heart Facebook trauma by simply hiding your status or deleting it from your page, and resist the urge to leave status updates about him. Detox your page and your home by taking down lovey-dovey photos; casual, travel or party photos can stay up. Consider deleting him as your Facebook friend for the time being. It may sound harsh, but you'll feel better without the temptation to cyberstalk his profile.

Tell Us: Have you ever broken up with a guy and had it go really badly? Got any pointers? We want details!

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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An Open Letter To The Boy Who Made Me Feel Worthless

You broke me and tore me down until I was nothing.

You know who you are.

To this day, you still deny the fact that anything you did was wrong.

You made me feel like I was the only girl in you world. You made me feel like I was everything and all to you... in the beginning.

These feelings faded away quickly when you let your ego get in the way of our relationship. You hated me within weeks of us being together, you made me go behind my parents' backs, belittled me, and abused me mentally.

But with this being said, what gives? Why did I stay with you for so long if you did all of these bad things to me and never felt remorse for any of it?

It's because of love. I loved you, but you did not love me back.

Love blinded me of the ways that you made me feel, it blinded me of the words that you used every time words came out of your mouth, it blinded me of the way that you treated my friends and family, it blinded me of the way that you treated me...

I don't hate you. No, I don't. I thought I did hate you. I thought to myself that you were the worst thing that has ever happened to me and that you were a sick and cruel human being. But I can't hate you. Why? Because you were consequently the first person I ever imagined a future with. You were the first guy who ever loved me. The first guy who ever gave me the attention that I oh-so always crave. I forgive you, but I hope that the next girl you're with doesn't get the same treatment that I did. Maybe one day you'll realize that you were in the wrong and you can't get everything in life your way.

But, here I am... still wondering to this day why you did these things to me? What was the give? What was the takeaway? To break my heart and make me numb? Because I can promise you that you did that to me. I can promise you that you made me feel worthless.

I know that you might think that I hate you, but like I said... I don't. I just want people to know what you did to me and how love blinds people. I loved the memories and time we had together (for the most part) because you made me the happiest I'd ever been. But, it was time for the abuse and the dominance to be taken out of my life, as much as I did love you.

Cover Image Credit: Ali Yahya

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