I’m in my early 20s and I’ve never had a real boyfriend. I have “dated” a lot of guys, meaning I’ve had a lot of flings with people that consist of hooking up and maybe going on a few dates. Every time I think it’s going somewhere, it ends. I’m sick of having just flings, I want a real relationship. What am I doing wrong and how can I make things last?
It sucks to feel super frustrated with your dating life and not have an idea on how to improve things. A lot of people out there get stuck in a cycle of disappointing “relationships” and struggle to find something that lasts. It’s not uncommon! Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that will help you find the perfect person and get you into a “real” relationship. Dating just doesn’t work like that.
So, first of all, don’t assume you’re the one doing something wrong here. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and it takes a long time to find that special person. A lot of flings doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change something. Don’t take all of the blame!
Second, try to find a common thread between all of your casual flings. Are the dudes similar? Is the reason for the relationship ending always basically the same? Is there something that happens in every single situation? Do you notice yourself repeating behavior that you think could be the cause of things getting weird? Do you notice that the other person is always repeating similar behaviors? There might not be a common thread at all, but taking a hard look at the last few relationships could point to some sort of clue.
The annoying thing about finding a serious relationship is that you can’t force it – it kind of just happens. So, my best advice for you is going to sound annoying, but here goes: don’t look too hard for something “real.” If you do, it puts high expectations on someone, and from there, it’s easy to be disappointed or to feel unfulfilled. Instead of looking at every fling as a potential long-term partner right away, focus on how you feel and follow that. Let things develop without pushing too hard.
You should also be honest about what you want. For example, if you start hanging out with someone who makes it clear that they want to stay casual, stop hanging out with them – don’t assume they’ll change their mind. If the person you’re seeing asks what you’re looking for, be honest and say you’d like to find a more serious relationship. If that scares them away, then it sucks, but at least you find out quickly!
Ultimately, trying too hard and being too focused on finding a long-term partner is going to hurt you. It’s going to make you miserable, because it’s all you think about, and it’s going to put a weird pressure on your relationships. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but try not to make it such a priority. Focus on yourself, doing things that make you happy, and learning to accept being single for now. You don’t need a relationship to be happy, and once you learn how to get there yourself, you might find a little more luck in the dating world.
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org