Dear Em & Lo,
I am 21 years old. I am currently single and not dating anyone. I have only been in love once in my life, but unfortunately the relationship did not work out. It’s frustrating being the single one in my group of friends. I am constantly wondering how they find relationships so easily, and I have the hardest time finding a guy I can connect with. I can go months without meeting anyone, then when I do finally meet a guy either he turns out being a jerk or I just don’t feel a connection.
At this point in my life, I really want a committed relationship. I have been told that I have to put myself out there more. I have also been told that it will happen when I least expect it. At this point I am tired of waiting, but I also do not think I should make finding a relationship a mission. So my main question is: Should I take a more active role in my love life? Or should I just let things happen?
Dear Miss Connection,
One of our favorite lines in movie history is when Demi Moore, coked out and lonely and broke in St. Elmo’s Fire, says, “I never thought I’d be so tired at 22.” It was funny when we were 22, and it’s even funnier now. (Okay, so we’re not completely heartless: In the context of the movie, it’s pretty bleak, but as quotable lines go, it’s pretty funny.)
Not that we’re laughing at you, of course. But to hear a 21-year-old complain about how tired she is of being single, well… get used to it. Or, rather, find a way to be okay with it. Right now, getting comfortable with being single is a hundred times more important than finding someone to date.
You actually shouldn’t find the person you want to marry right now — what a bummer that would be, in fact! You’re way too young to think about marriage, kids, mortgage, divorce. (Yes, we said divorce: If you head toward marriage at 21, then you better be ready to head toward divorce, too.*) What you should be doing instead is enjoying being single, and all that entails — casual dating, ladies’ nights, not dating at all, booty calls (if that’s your thing), TV marathons, reading marathons, one-night stands (again, if that’s your thing), “finding yourself,” finding your G-spot, staying out late, sleeping in late, and all that jazz. If you find The One right now — and, for the record, we think the concept of The One is B.S. anyway — you’ll miss out on everything that’s fun about your twenties.
If you’re wondering why your friends find relationships so easily, we’re guessing it’s that they’re less picky. You’re doing it right: You’re steering clear of relationships with guys who are jerks, or with guys where there’s no connection. Congratulations, it takes some people until their forties to figure this out! Your friends aren’t lucky or blessed; rather, they’re still learning — or maybe they just hate to be alone (again: still learning).
You’re right, you shouldn’t make finding a relationship your mission. Right now, at 21, your mission is yourself. Your career, your finances, your body (including the many and varied routes to your own orgasm), your hopes and dreams for the future. Yes, those hopes and dreams can include a partner and children, but just not yet. Let those things happen. Continue to be picky. (Oh, and for the record: Some people only fall in love once or twice their entire lives, so to have experienced that once by 21 is pretty good!)
Stay picky, Ponyboy,
Em & Lo
* And yes, we realize there are exceptions to this rule. Two of our most happily married friends got married and had their first kid in college. But not everybody gets to be an exception to the rule, and it’s probably not you.