I’m currently a senior in high school, and I’ve never been in a relationship. Like ever.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a lot of people out there with the same problem, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to die alone or anything. And maybe if I were a friendly but plain-looking girl who doesn’t attract much attention in general, I’d be a little more accepting of my present situation. But I’m not that girl, and I never have been. No matter where I go, it seems like people always notice me. For one thing, I’m pretty good looking. I’m not trying to brag about this, I’m just stating a fact. However, that being said, I’m also a huge nerd. I mean, I take lots of AP classes, read constantly, and I love Dr. Who and Star Wars. I’m outspoken, and I love having discussions in class. I like to wear interesting clothes, things that go together but kind of don’t at the same time. I’m also an artist. I’ve got a whole notebook full of poems and drawings I make during class.
I’ve always been the weird girl in school, but I’m not bullied anymore like I used to be. My classmates have a grudging respect for me, but I’m still considered a little bit off. And for the most part, I’m totally cool with that. I don’t need their approval, I’m just trying to go about my business and enjoy my life. But needless to say, I’m not exactly popular, and although I have my share of friends, nobody ever seems to be into me romantically. That’s not to say that nobody finds me attractive: I know for a fact that a lot of people do. I can hear the stuff that they whisper as I go by. My sophomore year I was borderline sexually harassed by most of the football team. Oh sure, it’s fine to call me names and mess with me, but to actually date me would be socially unacceptable. If I’m being honest, it makes me feel bad about myself to be treated this way. There’s no worse feeling on earth than being attracted to someone and have them be obviously attracted to you too initially, only to watch them back away once they get to know you. It’s like guys are interested in me, but I’m just too weird to actually date. It’s like how nobody ships Luna Lovegood with anyone—she’s too different. Well I don’t mind being different, but I do mind being alone.
How can I get someone to like me without changing my personality? I try to be myself but it doesn’t seem to get me the results I want. Any advice?
Just this, Sparkler: Wait ’til you’re out of high school.
Which is totally useless on a short-term basis, I know. I’m sorry. But this, right here, is your problem: high school is the smallest and most confining of dating pools, and you’ve been in yours with all the same people since you were all about 14 years old. It’s no wonder that the water is getting a little stale and warm and pee-saturated, if you know what I’m saying. And it’s not that there’s something wrong with you; it’s that all those years in such close quarters have branded you, as they brand everyone, in a way that’s incredibly confining to your ability to branch out socially, let alone romantically.
The thing is, what you’re experiencing is not only not personal, it’s also not even unusual. As trapped as you feel in the dumb box that high school has put you in (“Cute But Too Weird To Date”) there are tons of kids struggling just as hard to escape boxes that say things like “Sleeps With Anything In Pants,” or “Smells Like a Ham Sandwich,” or “Gym Class Bully,” or “Will Eat Any Bug For One Dollar”—labels which hardly reflect the person they’ve become since freshman year, but which have proved obnoxiously tough to shake. (Somewhere, that poor bug-eating kid is pounding his head against a wall and screaming, “For Christ’s sake, people! It was one beetle, one time!”)
And when the limiting effects of the high school social scene are what ails you—and based on your letter, it’s almost certainly the primary source of your problems—the solution is not to change yourself. It’s a change of scenery. You need to get out and meet people in a place where your quirks are welcomed and appreciated, where you’re not battling against the prevailing opinion that you’re some kind of reputation-compromising liability, and most importantly, where you’re not getting in your own way by constantly, subconsciously waiting for the other shoe to drop when the other person figures out what a weirdo you are. Let’s be real: despite that hard-won DGAF attitude of yours (for which you are to be commended!), you also still have some pretty serious hang-ups about your likeability. And where being smart, geeky, offbeat, and/or eclectically dressed won’t hurt your romantic prospects, having a chip on your shoulder about your lousy high school love life will, and it’s a waste of your energy in the bargain. In a few short months, you’ll be out of that tepid, pee-filled high school dating pool and out in a bigger, wider world full of people who will not only be unbothered by your quirks, but who will find you that much more interesting and attractive because of them. All you need is a little patience… and maybe a quick rewatch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because while Luna Lovegood may not have had a boyfriend during the majority of her high school years, I seem to remember her exchanging meaningful glances with this ridiculously hot specimen of manhood before the credits rolled.
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