Your Call: How Can She Get a Boyfriend?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!


Dear Em & Lo,

I am so frustrated being nearly 24 and never had a relationsship. I’m outgoing, I have great friends, I’m doing well in grad school, I have traveled extensively and I have many interests. My confidence is usually okay, I’m actually most confident in clubs as I do get a lot of looks from guys.

But the problem is I feel most guys look at me as hookup material. I’m blond and have a nice figure, but I usually try to chat to guys about my studies and things that interest me or my travelling (and of course ask a lot about them as well).

Why is it so hard for me to find guys that are looking for a girlfriend? I have not been on a date for half a year and very often I am not attracted to the guys that ask me out on dates. I usually say yes just to try it, but without attraction there’s no point for me to continue seeing them.

I hope I do not come off as shallow, I did date this great guy for three months but in the end I realised I was not attacted to him at all. Some friends of mine later said I really should up my standards, which made me question why it’s so hard for me to find an attractive guy to date. I do catch handsome guys on the street looking at me quite often.

So how to find guys I am actually attracted to who do not just look at me as hookup material? Are my standards to high? You might suggest internet dating which I have tried and did not like. Also my spare time is limitied, so I find clubs and bars to be the easiest place to meet guys.

Thanks so much.

— One Is the Loneliest Number

What words of wisdom do you have for OITLN? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.



  1. I would say it sounds like now is just not the right time for you to find your prince charming.
    You are in grad school, traveling, and have an active social life. You are enjoying living your life. If a boyfriend came a long and it got serious too soon, down the line you might resent the situation.
    Truth be told, I am in the same exact situation as you and this was the advice I got from many people.


  2. Pushing yourself – I think that’s what you’ve done with the “date guys”. Gone on a series of dates hoping that feelings will develop. “Very handsome guy” is someone that you would’ve previously branded as just a “hookup guy”. Now that you’re exploring the potential in him, I’d say the danger is that you’ll try to sabotage the whole deal. He could have the goods required for a serious relationship, and you’ve been successfully avoiding that for some time now. If you’re gonna push yourself, try to recognize attempts at sabotage.

    Something else – you’re smart enough to intellectually realize how family issues have impacted your relationships. However, getting yourself to truly feel something like, “I don’t need to be like my parents” is a quantum leap upward from that. Think of the scene from “Good Will Hunting” where Robin Williams keeps repeating, “It’s not your fault”. It might not be terribly difficult for you; heaven knows that I haven’t been too successful(shrinks included). If pushing proves too blunt an instrument, you may need a better technique. There should be an online community relating to your family issues. Could be a valuable resource. I’m pulling for you 🙂

  3. I’m so grateful for you both taking the time to write your responses – I have a lot more perspectives to reflect over now. I do have family issues which perhaps have smitten onto my relationship (or lack of) with guys. It’s funny, cause I’ve done so many other scary things, like moving to another country all alone, I have always liked to push myself. I need to project that onto relationships as well.

    And I think I will meet that very handsome guy when I get back, it’s the only way to find out!

  4. Hmmmm. I think you might be engaging in low-risk behavior because you’re scared of getting hurt. If a guy seems a bit lusty, you get wary and don’t let him get too close. And if a guy is relationship-y, you can string him along, but never feel much of a spark.

    OK, love is scary. Letting your guard down and letting your heart get involved could get you really hurt. It fucking sucks. Also, does your heart tend to get involved when you have sex? That makes things a bit tougher. Keeping your guard up, though, probably won’t get you the deeper connection that you want.

    I think that, in your 20s, even the good guys can seem like walking boners. It’s a horny time. This guy who’s been texting you for two months sounds interesting. Physical chemistry, really good conversation. Sounds like he’s worth a roll of the dice. A guy who pursues you for two months could still only want to hook up, but you don’t know until you try. Take a deep breath and wade in.

    Oh, and please forgive yourself for not desiring some of the sweet boys out there. If you’ll never want to jump his bones, it just won’t work. Plus, dating a “great guy for three months” could unduly hurt him. Guys like that are good friend material; just be clear about it.

  5. Well, that’s how I met my long-term partner. Neither of us were looking for anything serious, but we found it anyway. We had sex immediately, and that went well, so we did it again a few days later. As we spent time together we grew on each other and fell in love.

    Being an eligible bachelor at the time, I was sleeping with 3 other women too. Obviously I didn’t wind up with any of them. So, what are the odds? I guess 25%, if we’re going by my experience.

    But look, you said it yourself:

    “I would generally never see the guy again if we had a drunken hookup,”

    … which is exactly what you’ll find in a club, and,

    “I felt all he wanted was sex and then I got a bit confused since he still was trying to meet me after two months of me being very unavailable.”

    What’s confusing about that? He’s contacting you despite 2 moths of unavailability because he likes you. The idea that he just wants sex is all in your head. Clearly it’s you who doesn’t want more from him.

    You don’t want a relationship with this guy, and you’re probably aversive to something about relationships in general. It’s the only explanation why an attractive, educated, globe-hopping, city-dwelling young woman would spend so much of her time alone. Bam! There’s my diagnosis.

  6. In this specific instance I felt all he wanted was sex and then I got a bit confused since he still was trying to meet me after two months of me being very unavailable. Can’t really tell until I meet him I think, and now I’m overseas for some weeks. Plus he always texts in the weekends, usually later afternoon or evening.

    But Johnny, can I ask you if a guy is generally looking for hookups, how likely is he to want more if he meets up with the girl later on and gets sex but also gets a very good impression of her? I just feel if a guy is generally not looking for anything serious, it will be hard to convince him to invest anything more than casual sex. The guy I’m talking about is in his late 20’s, maybe he can be up for more, but I’m just sceptical to just go and hookup without even a date prior.

  7. ^ False! You’re projecting. Guys do not loose interest if they get sex right away. They might lose interest if the sex wasn’t great, and they might have sex with you despite having low interest in the first place. But no guy who really likes you will lose interest after great sex.

  8. imp: Thanks for your lovely answer! Made me feel a lot better about my situtation (and frankly, I do really love my life and in some ways I see love as something as a bonus).

    Neeva: I just moved from a European country to Australia – and indeed I think you’re right. Met a guy two months ago that just seems interested in hooking up with me, and I thought it was weird because we also had a long and really good talk. Now two months later, he is still trying to meet me (I’ve been beyond busy and rejected him like six times, poor guy). I have decided to actually meet him and if it leeds to a hookup (amazing kissing chemistry, so it just might) and nothing more, at least I’ll know.

    I do however think it’s very tricky for girls if that hookup culture is the “only” way to find a relationship. I do not like sleep with a guy the same night I met him and I also think guys easily loose interest if they get sex right away. I would generally never see the guy again if we had a drunken hookup, even if it was good.

  9. Another single lady graduate school here! I’m a lot like you, in that I am cute, highly educated, very independent and very picky. I’m a bit older than you, in that I took half a decade break before entering my PhD program, so I have some perspective.

    My overall advice is to be patient, and be true to yourself and your feelings. It is hard to meet someone that stirs your loins, is interesting enough to compete with academics/friends for your time and energy, and occupies your same emotional wavelength. You will meet people with some of these attributes, but you need them all. Hold out, and have faith in yourself.

    A lot of the advice above is useful, in terms of where to be and how to meet people. I do agree that the clubs are not the best venue for finding partners for emotional intimacy, but you’re doing the best you can. Diversify to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, grad school does not grant you a lot of time to meet and get to know people, so do the best you can.

    During my mid-20’s, I was not in grad school. I did not get into any serious relationships, I met and connected with WAY more people than I do now that I am in grad school. There was just more time for that stuff than there is now. I’m not sure how long your program will last, but chances are extremely good that dating will be much easier when you are done. I promise: you are really not doing anything wrong, and you are not weird. Try to make the best of your time now, and I hope things work out with this new guy, but try to be at peace about the pace your personal life is going. Things should fall into place one day, for both of us.

  10. Hm, might be different cultures, because I’m German. But in my picture, among singles there’s no clear difference between hooking up and planning a relationship. Hooking up is like the test run. If you get along well, great, you meet again, if the sparks didn’t fly, well you know more than before.
    Of course there are people looking for one night stands explicitly, that’s quite another kettle of fish.
    Maybe that distinction between hooking up and dating isn’t so useful.

  11. Hi guys, loneley girl here. Thanks for your input!

    Johnny: Thanks for your responses, it’s really good to get some outside perspective. I would not say I constantly meet guys who want to be my boyfriend, my last date was more than half a year ago. But I do live in a very big city and I see handsome guys every day. It’s just a bit hard to actually get in touch with them (I’m trying to chat more to people in queues). Yes, you’re right a club is a hookup spot, but it’s one of the few things I do outside of school where it’s natural to talk to strangers. But yes – I should change my environment a bit!

    Ralphie: I am involved in clubs at school, but there’s very few guys in my program. Also, grad school students here tend to socialize outside of Uni, really frustrating that so many in Uni here are under 20! It’s been hard just making friends from my program. But I agree that activites and clubs have a lot of potential, I will look outside of Uni and go for something where there are more guys than girls.

    Dave: Very interesting, thanks for that. I probably am a bit scared of an relationship, I’ve been single all my life and that’s what I’m used to. The problem with the guys I wasn’t interested in was mainly that there was no attraction, and I could often be bored. Okay, I could kiss them and be fine with it, but I didn’t undress them with my eyes and thought about all the ways we could have fun. I can’t really see any point in dating people for months when there’s not an attraction there.

    I did go out with a guy last night, it wasn’t really a date and we hung out with his friends, but the conversation was great and he walked me all the way home (just a kiss on the cheek when we said goodbye). This is a guy I connected with and would like to see again (he also texted me the same this morning, so that’s great), but I am not convinced I could be attracted enough to him.. seriously, I hate myself a bit and I do feel very shallow, but he’s shorter than me (5-6 cm) and that is something I know bothers me. BUT I will of course try to meet him again and see how it goes.

  12. My idea is essentially an extension of what Ralphie said. I think you’re either not ready for a relationship or kinda relationship-phobic. There’s lots of evidence to support this:
    1) You’re most confident in clubs(hookup spots)
    2) You’re not attracted to guys who ask you out on regular dates(relationship potential)
    3) Quite often, handsome guys look at you on the street

    What are the chances that the pool of guys who have asked you out on dates doesn’t contain someone as attractive as the favorable club guys and street-oglers? Reeeeeaaally small. If you’re not ready for a relationship yet, go out and sow your wild oats! When you finally tire of the constant stream of assholes and how bad they make you feel, then maybe you’ll be ready. Heck, it’s called your 20s.

    If you’re relationship-phobic, things are a bit more complicated. You’ll have to figure out why guys with relationship potential are automatically classified as unattractive. What’s so scary? What happened? You’re at least part of the way toward having a relationship by desiring one. Figuring out the emotional part of the equation and making it work FOR you gets you basically the rest of the way there.

  13. ^ I suspended my skeptical side for this one, but you’ve just given voice to the other thing I was thinking when I read this, Ralphie.

  14. So, you’re all this and a bag of chips, huh. I don’t buy it. You say you want to be involved with someone, yet you’re cruising clubs and are only interested in guy who are looking to hook-up. I find it hard to believe that there are no guys who meet your standards that are interested in a relationship. You say you’re in grad school. Aren’t there other grad students who might meet your standards? What about other activities, clubs, organizations? There’s a lot of opportunities out there, and a lot of interesting people to meet. They wouldn’t take much more time than the time you’re spending cruising clubs and bars.

  15. A few years ago, I was you. Grad school, travelling, fairly self-confident… and unable to find a guy to whom I was attracted and who was interested in a relationship.

    Eventually, I made the conscious decision to stop looking in clubs and to seek out places where I thought I’d be more likely to find someone who would work for me. I went to friends’ parties and to hang out with them in the pub. I volunteered with student council, which I highly recommend as a great way to meet grad students outside your own program. Because I figured I’d be happiest with another grad student, I started hanging out in the grad student pub.

    It worked for me, at least: I’m getting married next month, to a guy I met through my volunteer work, in that student pub 🙂

  16. First of all, the club is a hookup spot. If it’s a relationship you’re looking for, that’s not the best environment.

    Second, you CONSTANTLY meet guys who want to be your boyfriend. You’re just not into them.

    As for your friends advice to raise your standards… your standards ARE high! In fact, you’ve lowered your standards every time you’ve said yes to a date in the name of open-mindedness and non-shallowness. I applaud you for making an effort, but I think it’s time you embraced your naturally sky-high standards. Screw the haters who will tell you that makes you shallow – this is your emotional and sexual happiness we’re talking about. Go for what you want.

    Sounds like you belong to the upper percentiles of physical attractiveness. Obviously it’s lonely at the top – not that many guys up there with you (ah, luxury problems). What kind of place do you live? Country/suburbs/campus? A big city will improve your chances.

    Actually, that’s my advice. Get to a major city. That’s what I did. With certain exceptions, like super-outdoorsy parts of the American West, big coastal cities are where the sexiest people are.

    If you do live in a big city, and you still claim you can’t find anyone who wants a relationship AND is attractive to you, then your problems are not what you say they are. There’s something else the matter, in that case.

    Good luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *