Dear Slutever: I’ve done the whole fuck buddies thing, I’ve had casual hookups, I’ve tried celibacy. But all along I’ve wanted a serious, monogamous relationship and I’ve settled for these other things because I couldn’t get what I really wanted. But not one guy I’ve liked has ever stuck around past a few dates. What am I doing wrong?
Is it too obvious how badly I want a boyfriend? I have friends and ambitions and I read books and watch the news and like art and movies and sports. And I have flaws too. I overthink things and sometimes I get too drunk and embarrass myself. But I want to love someone. I’m meeting people through dating apps. I’m introducing myself to guys at events. I’m giving my friends’ friends a chance. Am I too impatient? This is especially fresh right now because I thought I had turned a corner. I went on three awesome dates with a guy and then, poof—I’m doing all the texting and finally two weeks later he says he needs to focus on himself. I still hope that he’ll text me in a few months and say he’s good on his side, let’s go on another date. Ugh, why does it have to be so hard?
OK, you need to chill. I know that’s literally the most annoying advice I could give you, but you’re in panic mode, and it’s impossible to start a relationship mid-meltdown.
I think part of the problem you’re having is very common: Basically, when you first meet someone, it can be easy to become so focused on wanting them to want you, that you forget to assess whether you actually like them or not. Dating becomes more a matter of fending off rejection, rather than enjoying getting to know a person. For instance, this guy you mentioned: did you really want to date him, or did you just desperately want him to want to date you? Sometimes it’s hard to separate our desire for someone from our desire to be desired. (#Deep)
Now, I’m not telling you that you’re confused or that you don’t actually want to be in a relationship. That desire is real. But you don’t want to be in a relationship with just any random bro. And believe me, I feel you. Last weekend I was at my friend’s beautiful wedding ceremony, and him and his husband are so in love, and watching them together made me think, Fuck, I want that! In a very cliche, cheesy moment, I started considering whether my last two breakups had been mistakes—whether I’d missed opportunities to make it work. My mind became a slow motion slideshow of the most romantic moments of my past, with a giant neon sign flashing over the top that read: You Don’t Have This Anymore. Tragique! But I kept having to snap myself out of it—to remind myself that those relationships ended for real, significant reasons, and that in order to find a great partner for me, I can’t be wallowing in self-pity or drunk texting exes or wasting time dating people I don’t actually like. I need to be single, and to have some fucking self control. Loneliness has the power to turn all of us into desperate, needy monsters, but you have to fight it.
Simply put: I think you’re scaring people away by putting too much pressure on them too soon. Also, the line “I was doing all the texting” is a red flag. Personally, I believe in minimal texting. If you just met someone, you don’t need to text them every day. Say you had a really good date—cool, but let it breathe for a second. Hold the tension. You can creepily stare at their Instagram for as many hours as you want in secret, but don’t be up their ass. Leave them space to want you. Then, a couple days later, get in touch to send a functional text—e.g. to ask them out again. But don’t always be the one to make the plans. Generally, I don’t think this type of game playing is always necessary, but because you seem like you might be in the danger zone of scaring people away, you need to set some boundaries for yourself.
Relationships don’t happen overnight. And they’re not easy for anyone. People who pretend they’re easy are lying and insecure, lol. Also, don’t be hung up on this guy. He was letting you down nicely. He’s just not that into you.
From your description of yourself, you sound great. (And FYI we all have flaws and most of us get drunk and act dumb sometimes, so I guess try to curb that if you can, but generally it’s whatever.) But I think the fact that you’re trying to sell yourself by listing your marketable qualities is already a mistake. It’s the most basic, obvious fact, but it’s so worth repeating: confidence is hot, desperation is not. You could have the longest list of marketable qualities in the world, but if you’re desp, no one’s going to be lining up to bang you.
By Karley Sciortino. Main image by Roy Lichtenstein