I am frustrated because I haven’t had many dating opportunities. All the boys want to do is “hang out.” What do I do if I want to date boys, but they don’t want to date me?
Frustrated Girl Who Wants to Start Dating
I’m so sorry you’re struggling to find opportunities to date. It’s especially difficult when dating is not only a righteous, spiritual desire, but an innately and powerfully human one as well. We all long for that type of romantic connection and companionship, and that longing is part of what it means to be human.
In college, I started crushin’ on a boy (we’ll call him Thomas) who lived a few apartments down from mine. He was smart, charming, incredibly attractive, and the more time we spent together, the more I realized how easy and natural our relationship was. I fell for him like rain falls in Utah: intensely, immediately, and out of nowhere. Being with him was as easy as breathing. In the beginning, it seemed as though we had a mutual interest in one another beyond just friendship, but while we spent significant amounts of time together, he never took me on any official “dates.” Months passed, we continued hanging out, and I fell for him hard–like desert thunderstorm hard. But I didn’t know what to do, because while we weren’t going on dates and nothing physical was happening, he wasn’t taking other girls on dates either, until one day, he was. My friends encouraged me to talk to him, to demand an explanation, to try and understand where his head was. But I reasoned and justified that it was simply alright, and that Thomas and I could be “just friends.”
And friends we remained. I left on a study abroad and just before, he broke up with his at-the-time girlfriend and told me that he loved me. We emailed and chatted every day while I was away, and while I was exploring ancient canyons and colorful cities, Tom was all I could really think about. I wished my months abroad away, anxious to return home so we could be together at last! It was to be a real-life Nicholas Sparks novel.
But things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. (Are you surprised?) Timing, other relationships, and an inability and lack of desire to communicate clearly and honestly served to be successful roadblocks to our fairytale ending. Then one day, nearly 3 years after I had met him, he got engaged. Taking so long to honestly express my feelings to him is one of my biggest regrets, and years later, I still play the “what if?” game. “What if we had just talked about it all sooner? What if we had just tried? What if I had just told him that I loved him?” We haven’t spoken for years, but I think about him and the what-ifs often. As John Mayer so wisely sang, Wherever you go, wherever you are, I’ll watch your life play out in pictures from afar.
I believe the tragedy in this story isn’t unique to my life. That’s perhaps why it is, in fact, a tragedy. The twisty-turny-whimsical-but-cataclysmic dynamic of friends-but-maybe-more, of hanging out, of falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you–it’s the oldest love story in the world. I believe it’s perhaps even more abundant in a culture where marriage is nearly always at the forefront of our hearts and minds. “Okay, today I need to shower, do laundry, go to work, exercise, find an eternal companion, go to bed, then rinse and repeat.”
Dating is scary. It’s scary for the girls who feel like they’re not going on dates. It’s scary for the boys who feel the pressure of commitment in a culture that lives in fear of it. It’s a dangerous game, because it involves our hearts and minds, and shards of emotion–like John says, heartbreak warfare.
“How do I make him like me?” or “I’m pretty sure there’s something between us, but he hasn’t asked me out; how can I get him to?” Most of the dating advice in this world exists to solve the “how?” Say this, do that, wait and respond after this many minutes. But all these pieces of advice really just miss the point, because if you find yourself asking the “how?” to begin with, you’ve already lost. And while there isn’t a clear and poignant answer to the question you seek, Frustrated, this is the best advice I have to offer:
All you can do is be your best self. All you can do is pursue your own dreams, be kind, and strengthen your own relationship with God. Don’t sit around waiting for a a-friend-who’s-maybe-more to commit. Don’t stay in on a Friday night waiting for a boy to ask you on a “real” date (unless you like staying in on Friday nights, then by all means, do that). Save your money to travel, or buy nice furniture; get a job you love, or go to school and earn a degree that will open doors and hallways and skyscrapers of opportunity. Don’t waste time and effort convincing someone to date you when they make no effort to convince you to date them. I spent three years of my life learning this lesson, and the repercussions of what I learned still haunt the hollows of my heart and soul.
My dear Frustrated, the only real dating advice in this world is self-improvement; everything else you read or hear is really just a futile battle in a grey area you should be avoiding. As one of our brilliant RubyGirl writers penned so beautifully, “He either likes you or he doesn’t. This means you can and should be wholeheartedly yourself.” Have you read the Holstee Manifesto? It’s an impactful ode to soaking up every beautiful morsel of your life. I’ll leave you with some of its powerfully profound words:
“This is your life. If you don’t like something, change it. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.”