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Feeling ashamed and being shamed of never having been in a relationship

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  • #372910
    Janet
    Participant

    Hi!

    I am 24 years old and I have never had a boyfriend, I’ve never even been kissed. I feel so ashamed that no one has ever found me attractive enough to be considered a romantic interest (I don’t count some old, creepy men that have hit on me and made me feel uncomfortable).

    While I have no problem being single in general, it hurts me deeply when people/friends I went to high school with still presume that I’m single when they see me. They never ask if I have a boyfriend, they just make comments like:”You should go on this reality show, bla bla bla…to find love.” Like it is obvious that someone like me has no one, that I’m not fun enough or beautiful enough for someone to actually like me.

    Such comments always come from the same group of girls, who, in high school, had me around because they looked more attractive next to me. They always bragged about boys being obsessed with them and it made them feel good that no one was interested in me. Ironically, those girls acted like my best friends (they still do), but they were using me and I let them. I’m not ugly, people have told me I’m cute, but I was a bit overweight in high school (not obese, but a bit chubby).

    After going to college, I was so bothered by their past comments that I believed them for years. I never felt beautiful enough for someone to like me. I still believe them. I feel constant shame, but I don’t know why. The feeling that I get when I see those girl, one in particular, being all smug and content that they are in long-term relationships and I’m not is more than I can continue to bear. Those girls were also very mean and mocked people a lot, but boys were crazy about them. I often wonder what is the point of being a good person if that makes you so uninteresting and romantically unappealing. I’m not saying that my personality is perfect, I have flaws, but I was never mean to people and I was always disappointed when decent, nice boys were only into the mean girls in high school. That trent continued in college.

    I work hard on not letting other people’s opinion affect me too much, but this particular area is so difficult, precisely because I wonder if they are right. I mean, I’m 24. I feel like all the good and serious men are taken and all I’m left with are those who approach me because they want a one night stand or they’re drunk. I am committed to developing myself, being better everyday and being a grateful human being on my own. And I know that people being romantically interested in me should and does not define my worth as a person; however, not even being kissed at my age, not having one single boy interested in me, not experiencing any kind of affection sucks (excuse my language). I’m a human being and I crave positive affection as I’m sure all people do. I crave hugs and kisses. I don’t know I single person who has not been at least kissed at my age and honestly, it makes me feel like a failure.

    Perhaps I’m going on a downward spiral because it’s quarantine and the opportunities of meeting someone will never be normal again. I’m sad to think that I might never get genuine affection from someone, that I might never have a family of my own. I feel ashamed and needy for finally admitting that I would like someone to take care of me for a change, instead of me always being the support and the “psychologist” for other people. It’s funny though that friends always came/come to me for relationship advice when I’m the only one single.

    Has anyone had a similar experience? How did you continue having faith that you are not a hopeless cause? I’m drained and as much as I like cats, I cannot bear hearing another comment about me becoming a single, old cat lady whose highlight of the day is getting up in the morning to wave at the schoolbus who drives past my home. Yes, that has been said to me. By a friend. Supposedly as a cute comment.

    Thank you for those of you who will take the time to read and comment. Bless you all! 🙂

    #372926
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    I can relate to being the one girl in high school without a boyfriend, envying the girls with boyfriends, and I can relate to being hit on, at 17 and on by “some old, creepy men”. I would like to understand your situation better so to have something to offer you, therefore I ask (and please feel free to answer or not, I am okay with either choice):

    1. You wrote: “I feel constant shame”- shame in regard to not having been in a relationship, or is there other shame, shame that originated in your earlier childhood?

    2. You wrote: “I would like to take care of me for a change, instead of me always being the support and the ‘psychologist’ for other people”- when did your role of being the support/ the psychologist for other people start? Have you been a support and psychologist to any of your parents?

    anita

    #372928
    Janet
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    1. You wrote: “I feel constant shame”- shame in regard to not having been in a relationship, or is there other shame, shame that originated in your earlier childhood?

    Both, I guess. My parents were never affectionate with each other and boyfriends were not allowed in my teenage years. We never talked about romantic feelings and we never, ever talked about sex or romance.

    2. You wrote: “I would like to take care of me for a change, instead of me always being the support and the ‘psychologist’ for other people”- when did your role of being the support/ the psychologist for other people start? Have you been a support and psychologist to any of your parents?

    I guess it started in school. I was always the responsible child. My dad is a very strict man and we were not allowed to make mistakes. So I never made the, I never had a “wild phase,” I never dated, I got good grades, I also never expressed my anger. Other parents knew that I was responsible and told me to look after their children at parties, etc. Later, in high school and college, people always came to me for advice, but never asked me how I was doing. I was like the on-call therapist.

    #372930
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    “My parents were never affectionate with each other and boyfriends were not allowed in my teenage years… My dad is a very strict man and were not allowed to make mistakes”- reads like your parents, particularly your father, sent you the strong message that attracting boys/ young men, and having physical affection with boys/ men is a bad, shameful mistake.

    This teaching probably showed in your face and body language all along. Shame and fear showed in my face when I was a teenager and onward: unlike other girls who smiled at boys flirtatiously, who dared look in their eyes- I looked away, I didn’t smile, I moved farther from them, not closer. Boys/ men are sensitive to rejection, so when they see a girl or woman looks away, who does not look inviting- it is like a traffic stop-sign for them, as in: Stop, Do Not Approach this Girl.

    You wrote in your original post: “I feel so ashamed that no one has ever found me attractive enough to be considered a romantic interest”-it’s not that your facial features or your figure are not attractive, it’s probably that your shame/ fear shows in your face and in your body language, just like it did in mine.

    What do you think?

    anita

    #372935
    Janet
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I think you are right. I actually never thought about how my facial expressions and body language might be a big part of that. Rarely did I look boys in the eyes because I felt ashamed of how I looked, how much I weighed, how I mever wear makeup. I had such beautiful, perfect schoolmates around me that guys did not even pay attention to me and if at any occasion a guy showed interest in my schoolmates and very obviously pretended like I was not there I just assumed no guy will ever like me.
    I do have self-esteem issues and I fat shame myself more than anyone else. And while I don’t look at guys with a do-not-come-near-me kinda look, I definitely might project energy that says I don’t feel worthy of love as a chubby girl.

    #372938
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    I will read and reply in about 4 hours from now.

    anita

    #372941
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    I read your recent post and I want to reply tomorrow morning,  when I am more focused, in about 10 hours from now.

    anita

    #372946
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    I will re-read and comment on what you shared so far:

    “I am 24.. never had a boyfriend.. never even been kissed. I feel so ashamed that no one has ever found me attractive enough to be considered a romantic interest… Rarely did I look boys in the eyes“- you formed the conclusion that you didn’t have a boyfriend because no boy/ young man ever found you attractive, but this conclusion is probably untrue:  if you looked boys in the eyes, you could have seen that a few of them were attracted to you. You didn’t look in their eyes= you didn’t see their attraction to you.

    “I don’t count some  old, creepy men that have hit on me and made me feel uncomfortable”- those old men didn’t care if you said No to them/ if you rejected them. Your rejection of them did not hurt their feelings, they simply went on to hit on another young woman. Most young men in high school and college do care about being rejected: they feel embarrassed and humiliated when rejected. When they see that you are not looking into their eyes/ smiling at them, etc., they figure that you are not interested, and that if they hit on you, you are likely to reject them. So they don’t try.

    “people/ friends I went to high school with still presume that I’m single… Like it is obvious that.. I’m not fun enough or beautiful enough for someone to actually like me”- you formed another conclusion that is probably untrue: people assume that you are single simply because you were always single. People assume that what was always a certain way will continue to be that same way.

    “Such comments always come from the same group of girls.. they look more attractive next to me. They always bragged about boys being obsessed with them… I see those girls, one in particular, being all smug and content that they are in long-term relationships and I’m not.. Those girls were also very mean and mocked people a lot.. I had such beautiful, perfect schoolmates around me that guys did not even pay attention to me”- and you didn’t pay attention to other girls who also did not belong to the popular-with-boys group of girls, including the girls who were mocked by the popular girls. I remember as a teenager, focusing on the popular girls and feeling like I was the only girl who was lonely and unpopular. If I paid attention to others who were like me, I could have had a few good friendships.

    “all I’m left with are those who approach me because they want a one night stand or they’re drunk… however,.. not having one single boy interested in me”- it is not accurate that no boy showed interest in you then, a few did, but you assumed that they wanted a one-night stand with you. Maybe it wasn’t true for all of the guys who approached you.

    “My parents were never affectionate with each other”- the message they sent: affection is a  bad thing, we do not allow it in our house!.. we do not allow it in our daughter’s life!

    “boyfriends were not allowed”- the message they sent: having a boyfriend is a bad thing, we do not allow it in our house.. we do not allow in our daughter’s  life!

    “We never talked about romantic feelings and we never, ever talked about sex or romance”- the message they sent: romance and sex are bad… we do not allow these things in our daughter’s life!

    “I was always the responsible child… never had a ‘wild phase,’.. never dated.. got good grades.. never expressed my anger”- the opposite of wild is tamed. your anger as well as your other emotions were tamed, suppressed, subdued, pushed down.

    “Other parents knew that I was responsible and told me to look after their children at parties”- parents trusted you because you were tamed, subdued, not one to get excitable and wild.

    “people always came to me for advice, but never asked me how I was doing”- tamed, subdued, you appear calm. People assumed that being calm meant that you were feeling fine, and therefore, there was no reason to ask you how you were doing. Those who came to you for advice did so, I imagine, because they were troubled by something, and you appear calm/ untroubled (and intelligent), and they wanted your advice on how they too can be calm and untroubled in their circumstances.

    “I crave hugs and kisses”- you feel that craving, it is not completely tamed.  I imagine that this craving does not show at all in your facial expressions and behaviors (?)

    “it makes me feel like a failure”- you were and are a great success in the context of boyfriend, affection, romance and sex considering the messages your parents sent you: you perfectly materialized their messages: no boyfriend, no physical affection, no romance and no sex.

    “I fat shame myself more than anyone else.. I definitely project energy that says I don’t feel worthy of love as a chubby girl”- objectively, some young men are not attracted to chubby girls, others are attracted to both, slim and chubby girls, and yet others prefer chubby girls. Regarding the energy you project- for some young men, in their minds, the energy you project is not about who you think you are (that you are not worthy of love), but who you think they are (that they are not worthy of .. your love). Just as you worry about being chubby, young men out there worry that they are not tall enough or muscular enough, or that they are too hairy, etc. Just as you are focused on your supposed faults, they are focused on theirs.

    anita

    #372950
    Janet
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    wow, thank you! Your response is very insightful and you are right.

    “the opposite of wild is tamedthis hit me so hard, I cannot tell you how much;

    “and you didn’t pay attention to other girls who also did not belong to the popular-with-boys group of girls, including the girls who were mocked by the popular girls.” – Quite the contrary, to be honest…I had a group of friends, we were all deemed physically less attractive, all of us more chubby than skinny and less “fashionable”. This is why I was even more disappointed. The girls in this group were all wonderful, funny, and fun to be around, but none of them had a boyfriend. They expressed similar experiences. They were good enough to laugh with (and at), but not to date.

    “I crave hugs and kisses”- you feel that craving, it is not completely tamed.  I imagine that this craving does not show at all in your facial expressions and behaviors (?) – This, I honestly don’t know. I am a hugger and my female friends always hug me. There was one incident in high school, where a male schoolmate was celebrating his birthday one day and we all went to congratulate and hug him. He was happy to hug my attractive friends, but seemed shocked and disgusted when I went in for a hug. He barely gave a proper hug back. Since then I am afraid to give another boy a hug. It is also weird because people in high school described me as a very warm and compassionate person.

    I have one more strange situation that I cannot understand: in sixth grade, when I was normal weight and not yet affected my no-sex/affection talk at home, a boy told me he likes me. I immediately panicked and was convinced that he was mocking me to get a laugh out of his friends. Even at that age (10,11..), when I was not concerned about my looks and physical affection, I could not understand how someone would like me. That was the first time I experienced this weird feeling and I would experience it every time while talking or spending time with another boy, whether it be in a group conversation with our friends or randomly meeting a schoolmate in the college hall. I was severely bullied in primary school by girls only, so I cannot understand why I’m always more afraid of boys.

    #372951
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    You are welcome. I suggested to you earlier that you didn’t pay attention to the other girls who did not belong to the popular-with-boys group of girls, and you replied that not only you did pay attention to the girls the unpopular girls, you belonged to their group, to the “deemed physically less attractive.. chubby.. and less ‘fashionable.. none of them had a boyfriend.. good enough to laugh with (and at), but not to date'” group of girls.

    You shared an experience in high school when a male schoolmate was celebrating his birthday and all your friends went to congratulate and hug him. His response: “He was happy to hug my attractive friends, but seemed shocked and disgusted when I went in for a hug.. barely gave a proper hug back”-

    – this makes sense: high school and college social life is very much about groups. Every person, male or female, wants to belong to/ associate with the group that is considered superior. The male schoolmate you described didn’t want to hug you because being observed hugging/ associating with a member of a group considered inferior, in his mind, is evidence that he is inferior too.

    The fact that you belonged to the unpopular group meant that you were to remain in that group throughout high school unless you did what it took (significantly changing your looks and behaviors) so to break from the unpopular group and enter the popular group.

    You shared that you were “severely bullied in primary school by girls only”, and that in sixth grade, at 10 or 11 years old (which you say happened when your weight was normal and before you were concerned about your physical looks), a boy told you that he liked you. You then panicked, convinced that he was mocking you, not understanding how someone could like you. You wrote that you experience the same “weird feeling.. every time while talking or spending time with another boy”, and you don’t understand why it is that you were bullied only by girls but ended up being afraid of boys-

    – (1) the nature of fear is that it does not remain contained, much like fire: it starts at a certain location,  and soon it spreads to another location, and another. It makes sense that your fear of being bullied/ mocked by girls spread to fear of being bullied/ mocked by boys.

    – (2) our memories are not very reliable, especially memories of our childhood of long ago. You may think now that you were not concerned then with your physical looks 14 years ago, and maybe you have photos showing you of normal weight at that age- but.. you were already concerned with your physical looks at 10, you just forgot.

    How did the severe bullying by girls come about: when/ how did it start and when/ how did it end?

    anita

    #372952
    Janet
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    yes, that’s probably right. I probably did have self-esteem issues already at the time. And I also think it’s connected to the bullying..

    The bullying started right in my first grade. Two of the most popular girls decided to pick me for a target; one of them was my neighbor. I was shy and a goody-goody. They turned everyone against me and I think what scarred me the most was the fact that I did nothing for them to bully me. They called me ugly, gave me a nickname, mocked my hair (which was beautiful, long and thick), mocked my school supplies, my clothes. The bullying went on for years, all throughout primary school and high school. But it’s the type of bullying that changed. My neighbor was the one that manipulated me all those years, followed me when I tried to avoid her, and threw insults at me. She once told me, I think it must have been right in sixth grade that all boys like her and that I will never have what she has to attract boys. I became friends with her at the end of primary school because I was so used to being treated badly all the time that I took any good treatment that I could get, even if it was periodical. Also, being friends with her seemed like the lesser evil because whenever I tried to stand up to her, all hell would break loose. She was very spiteful. After we became friends, she manipulated me until the end of high school. She was so nice to everyone else that no one would think twice about her being manipulative. All she talked about was boys and how many offers she has. Her moodiness made me so nervous to go to school – I never knew in what kind of a mood she would be. It was a gamble every morning… if she was in a bad mood, I would be the one she’d take it on. She was either extremely sweet or the complete opposite. I was naive and told her my insecurities and problems and I was afraid to stand up to her in fear she would use that against me. If I had only stood up to her early on and never became friends with her, I would spare myself so much pain and regret. This regret is eating me up inside and I don’t know how to handle it.

    #372965
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    I am sorry that you were bullied, and that you were bullied for so long. Reads to me that the reason you were bullied was that those girls, particularly your neighbor, suffered from aggression in her childhood home, and proceeded to pass that aggression on to you, choosing you for this purpose simply because you were “shy and a goody-goody” which to her meant that you wouldn’t fight her back once she bullies you. (It is similar to predators in nature choosing as prey the very young or very old members of a herd because those will not fight back against the predator).

    “I was afraid to stand up to her in fear she would use that against me. If I had only stood up to her early on.. I would spare myself so much pain and regret. This regret is eating me up inside and I don’t know how to handle it”- it is not possible for any child in your situation to stand up to bullies. It was not that you had the ability to stand up to her and you chose to not take advantage of that ability.

    A child needs guidance from her parents. Your parents “never talked about romance feelings and.. sex or romance” or bullying, or standing up for yourself otherwise. An animal in the wild that is not taught how to hunt will not be able to hunt. Similarly, a child who is not taught how to stand up for herself.. is not able to stand up for herself.

    I will be away from the computer for a while. Feel free to post back to me anytime and I will reply when I am back.

    anita

    #372971
    Janet
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita.

    My mother taught me how to stand up for myself, but my father is a people pleaser and always told me to be quiet and to not start any arguments. I was afraid of him for most of my childhood and teenage years. So, I never stood up for myself. My mum even wanted to call my neighbor’s parents, but I would not allow it. My neighbor’s parents thought she was the golden child, spoiled her rotten and I knew they would defend her. I didn’t want my mum caught up in my problems, so I told her that things worked out. If my neighbor’s parents were to react badly and started a feud, my dad would blame me and my mom and accused us of being too sensitive.

    #372976
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Janet:

    You are welcome. I am still around, to be away from the computer soon. I read your most recent post. You wrote that you never stood up for yourself, but notice this- as a child,  you stood up for your mother: you told her that everything worked out (even though you continued to suffer from being bullied), and in that way, you prevented her from contacting the neighbors and suffering from their anger on top of your father’s anger. You stood up for your mother for years, being nothing less than a hero, for her sake.

    anita

    #372977
    pink24
    Participant

    Hi Janet,

    Your post hit home for me. I totally remember feeling that exact same way in my early twenties, like, I was <i>behind</i> everyone else or something. It got to the point where I felt like I’d expired and no one would would ever  like me ever. It’s not easy to have these feelings in quarantine when you can do nothing about it.

    So, my idea for you is to plan to do something about it the MOMENT we get out of this covid mess. Because we will be back in the world eventually, and I think for you, maybe your thinking needs to change. I mean, come on. Some of the most unattractive people are happily in love. I don’t say that to sound snarky, but just to say that finding someone isn’t just about looks.

    First, once we get out of covid,  I think you need to get new friends. I realize this may be easier said than done. But, you are who you associate with.  And if among your friends you’re the one who will be single forever, or the most unattractive, or whatever negative thoughts your friends have about you–FIND NEW FRIENDS. You sound like a put-together, educated, confident woman.   So why not get friends that see you as that, and not as the future cat lady.

    Secondly, do you drink or smoke pot?  NOT to lure you into vices, but…. are you also into going to bars or clubs, or anywhere where you could hang out with cute boys with your new friends?  One of the great things about being in an altered state–even mildly–is that our inhibitions and the stories  we tell ourselves (and they are just that – STORIES, not truth)  sort of fade out. And we become someone totally different. And that’s kind of nice. Even just for one night. So why not make a plan to go out one night to make out with a cute boy?  Just for practice. Unless you want your first kiss to be special. (I kind of abandoned the that and just wanted to get it over with)

    Thirdly, buy a new outfit. Something that accentuates the best parts of your figure–everyone has them.  Buy something those snobby girls you’re friends with would wear, but that you wouldn’t because “it’s just not you”.  I think you need to change your perception of yourself. You need to feel cute. Because once you feel cute, boys will think you ARE cute. Sadly, they’re really not complicated 🙂

    I know being alone, when we’re all alone in quarantine can just be a lot. But don’t worry about it. And don’t overthink things. Like I said, MAKE A PLAN!  And just know that nothing is wrong with you. Nothing at all.  Everyone has stuff they’re dealing with, just like you. They’re just hiding it.

    When I was your age, in an effort to catch up to “everyone”, I started an office relationship with a guy who looked like the Hamburglar. Again, not to be snarky, BUT, I totally got myself into a situation I shouldn’t have been in, and it just wasn’t worth it.

    Cheers to a brighter life, girl, post covid!

    Sending you happy vibes 🙂

    Pink

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