You Need Help: I’ve Never Had a Date and I’m So Lonely

Q:

So I’m having a really hard time meeting anyone. I’m not even talking about the pandemic even though it has made me nervous to meet up with anyone or go anywhere, despite the fact I’m vaccinated, but I actually have never had a date in my entire life. I don’t even have luck talking with people. I keep going back to online dating sites and apps and just don’t have any luck. I’ve even considered joining a dating site to meet men and I’m a lesbian who has no interest in men but I’m so lonely and desperate for companionship it just seems like my only option.

Online I start talking to women and then I’m ghosted and I’m not sure why. I don’t think I reveal too much in my profile and I don’t overly share. At the same time I’m also not ready to share my past so I’m a closed book there, mainly because people have left me when they find out. I also don’t have any friends or anyone I can ask to review my profile. If I am boring, how does one become less boring? I’m just wondering what to do so that I’m not continually ghosted or feel like my only option is to date men?

A:

Oh, babe. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. Before I get started on offering some concrete suggestions, I want to be very clear: There is nothing wrong with you, you do not have to date men if you’re not interested in dating men, and other people have felt like this before. You are not alone. Now, let’s talk about meeting people.

I’m not sure how old you are, but I did a quick informal survey of a few friends and here is an age range of when three different dykes went on their first dates: age 15, age 27, age 36. Which is to say — it’s very likely that many other people your age have also not been on a date yet. I don’t mean to belittle your feelings or to invalidate the idea that you are lonely, but I do wish to introduce the reasonable suggestion that this might not really be a “you problem” but rather a circumstantial situation that will shift over time. That said, there is one very specific thing you can do differently right now (based on the details you’ve shared in the question): you can look elsewhere to make connections. Your whole question revolves around the idea of finding companionship on the internet (not having luck on dating apps, considering a straight dating app, talking to women online, not having friends to review your profile, etc) — but you do not have to find companionship on a dating app!

I really understand feeling hesitant about doing things out in the real world because of the pandemic, but (in my opinion) at this point if you are vaccinated and able to wear a mask, there are options you can explore for spending time around people. You will have to do your own risk calculus and this may not apply if you are high risk or immunocompromised, but in general I think it would be useful to come up with a list of things that you think could be safe for you to do right now. For example I haven’t been eating indoors at restaurants because I still don’t want to take my mask off around strangers, but I do go to small gatherings inside my vaccinated friends’ homes and I do go to public events where I can keep my mask on. I have been teaching at a high school and my students and I are always fully masked around each other, and that feels safe too. It’s frustrating that the pandemic adds a layer of stress to the (already somewhat stressful) task of getting out there and meeting people in person, but I think it will be a really high reward rate to take on this challenge, and I encourage you to do so.

If you’re wondering what some IRL activities might look like that would encourage companionship, I’m thinking of recreational sports teams, reading groups at your local library, craft classes in a medium you enjoy, game nights at an arcade or local comic book shop, zine swaps or festivals, stitch and bitch knitting groups, group hiking or other outdoor activities… I’m not sure what your specific interests are, but I’d make a list of those too (along with your list of activities and actions that feel worth the risk for you right now re: going a little bit outside your pandemic comfort zone in a safe and measured way) and then pick some corresponding activities that sound exciting or fun to you. The thing is, I wouldn’t plan to go to these activities with the intention of Finding A Date!!! I would just go because they will naturally introduce you to new people, they will help you feel less lonely, and they will enrich your life.

Which gets us to the part of your question that I really wanted to spend a minute on, because it made me sad to think of you blaming yourself for your loneliness. You say, “If I am boring, how does one become less boring?” This tells me you think there is something wrong with you, and that your state of loneliness and lack of companionship is a punishment for something you are doing wrong. That is likely not true. One of my best friends once told me, “Loneliness is the human condition,” and unfortunately I think she’s right. So many of us are lonely. So many of us struggle to connect. I do not think it is because you are more reserved with new people, and I do not think it’s because you are boring. But — let’s just say, for the sake of this thought — you were boring? Well, one becomes less boring by investing deeply in oneself. It is oft-repeated advice but it is oft-repeated for a reason: if you are lonely, you have to find a way to make your life less lonely with or without romantic partnership. I am not saying this will fill the void you are hoping to fill with love and romance and sex and dates and flirtations (although it might, and although it is possible to do those things with friends, depending on how you wish to live). But I am saying that pouring time and energy into yourself and making your life as full as possible whether or not you connect with someone on a dating app is the only way you have control of how you’re currently feeling.

The answer to loneliness is not necessarily found on dating apps, and it’s definitely not found in trying to date a person or a whole group of people who you are not interested in. In fact, dating someone you’d rather not be dating is the quickest way to feel deeply lonely and alone even when you’re sharing a bed with another person. No, the only answer here is to find a way to actively bring more people into your life that you may connect with on a platonic or a romantic level, and see how your inner loneliness compass shifts from there. You can’t control people ghosting you (sadly a pretty common dating experience) but you can control what you do with your day to day life. So make some lists and see what happens when you put yourself out there. I’m rooting for you!


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.


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Vanessa

Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. She used to be hot and fun but now she’s mostly hot and sad. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 358 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. OP, Meetup is a phenomenal place to find out about events that people in your geographic area are hosting. Some of them are online on Zoom or a similar software, and some are in-person. I also love that Vanessa suggested looking into events at your local library – there are likely to be non-book-centric events there, too! My own local library hosts a ghost-hunting group, a film club, and a Spanish class, all 100% free. Loneliness is hard, but I think the pandemic has made some people feel more strongly about getting involved in their local community and reaching out to their neighbors. You may be lonely, but you are not alone, not ever.

  2. I second the library comment as it is an amazing place for meeting people. I would also like to suggest bumble bff, it is still an app so ghosting can happen but I found the experience so much better when people are looking for friends instead of someone to date. I have met some lovely people, not all turned into friends but some did and through them and activities with them I am expanding my social circle even more.
    Making friends is also great practise for when you do run into someone you want to date.
    There is no shame in telling people, “I think you are cool would you like to grab a coffee to see if we could be friends”.
    It might feel weird but so far everyone has been absolutely delighted as who doesn’t like to be told they seem like good friends material:)

  3. plus to everything. i’m also adding here a couple things that can help us feel connected and belonging without ppl – for anyone feeling bereft, lonely, some quiet time with plants, birds, running water (or still water), the sky, or lying on the earth is a way to remember we belong . . .

    some ways to connect with plants, animals, and place: https://www.trueearth.org/free-school

    http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/archive/oliver_wildgeese.html (sometimes I read this quietly out loud to myself over and over)

    and an online way to be with others grieving (op didn’t say they are, but most ppl i know are)
    http://grammarofgriefhandbook.com/

    this was posted about the pandemic but i think the actions here can help any time – they are small, accessible rituals for our sadness, grief, etc: https://www.sfchronicle.com/culture/article/In-this-time-of-loss-and-change-a-Bay-Area-15429029.php

  4. I can relate to the OP as someone in their mid 30s without too many friends locally(half of them moved away); but, thankfully the internet can help connect people. As much as I dislike FB, their group function has been useful to me in finding other lbtq & FTWN-B(femme, trans, women & NB) people who like the same activities I do. There might even be an active community in your area of something you are interested in. Once you start getting to know people, your friends group starts to get bigger.

  5. I’ll bite, I was the person who asked the question. Thank you Vanessa for your answer and everyone else that replied to this. I should’ve clarified that I don’t own a car (actually I don’t drive) and I’ve been living with my dad and his wife and my dad recently found out he has cancer again. I’m not out and I’m afraid to go to queer events. And I don’t have anyone I can ask to take me, actually I don’t like to be a bother in asking anyone to take me anywhere and there isn’t really public transportation here so I don’t really go out.

    I’ve tried Bumble BFF and it’s not for me and I guess I can make another Facebook and try I’m just not really into social media since I’m not out and there’s a whole other thing that happened to me 2 years ago and I was all over the news and it wasn’t for something good. While Meetup is cool there’s just mostly events here I’d never attend, like Trump supporters meetings, I live in a pretty conservative area. But I’ll keep researching and seeing what’s out there. Maybe something will come up for me.

    Anyway thank you again Vanessa for answering my question.

    • Ashley,

      1st thing – this is utterly brave and i hope you are feeling awesome about that because you really should. this is really the opposite of what a boring person would do.

      2nd – i’ve never lived in a conservative area so i have nothing to offer there except thoughts of peace and fortitude while you try to cope. in your circumstance, trying to meet like-minded folks for any social contact would have to be a lot. doing what you said and continuing to look and keep trying seems like good next steps.

      3rd – if an old lady who’s good at friendly stuff might help & you want to friend me on this sight, we can chat and if i seem trustworthy to you, i’d be happy to read your profile(s) and tell you what i think. i’ve not been looking to date and i can’t offer insight on that particular, so it may not be worth it. but i’ve never been boring, so maybe that is… i am often on AS, but am sometimes sporadic, and promise i won’t ghost if you reach out.

      at the very least, you can know someone out here thinks that you trying to get something you want in such tough circumstances and with such open honesty is amazing.

    • I’m really sorry about your dad. I understand better your difficulties, these external factors would make it difficult to date for anyone. To make friends, I would suggest joining one or several Discord groups on a subject you like ! It could be a podcast, a series, DnD, a queer group, crafts… There are links to servers here, (there is an LGBT subsection): https://discord.me/servers
      It’s online, there are multiple people so you can’t really get ghosted and everyone uses a pseudonym, there are voice chat options. It’s not meant to get a date but you can be out and make friends with similar interests.

    • Hiya,
      It is so brave of you to ask for help and I agree with msanon has to say.
      It sounds like you are in a though situation.
      As a fellow not on social media person I have a couple more suggestions that may or may not be helpful.
      Are there any things or people you are a fan of? There are often lovely online communities around specific fandoms and online friends are real friends.
      Are there any support groups for people with family members with cancer around your area? It might be nice to chat to people going through the some of same really hard stuff as you.

    • I haven’t seen this mentioned yet but it might be helpful: do you have any hobbies? Doing a hobby is the (in my opinion) surefire #1 way to meet new friends.

      I have met so many people through rock climbing and outdoorsy/camping stuff. Through trying to sell art at public markets. Through reading and writing for Autostraddle. Once the world opens up a bit I’m excited to start going to board / tabletop games nights at local game stores.

      Then of course there’s online stuff; people have mentioned discord and facebook groups and stuff. In my experience (I’m a mid-30s trans woman introvert — if you’re a cis lesbian this is even less of a problem) you’re better off finding an online group for a specific interest you have rather than a group specifically for a certain identity. Gaming groups, writing groups, book clubs, hiking groups, running club, dungeons and dragons crew, board game enthusiasts — these all exist and you could meet friends! Maybe they’re straight, maybe not. But having friends who share your exact same foundational identities is overrated, too.

      Good luck <3

    • I’m 37 and in a similar situation too. And sometimes it’s fine and sometimes I feel really sad about it. So there are definitely more of us around!
      One of the great things about Autostraddle is how much people share and how many different experiences you can find out about, but it can sometimes feel like literally everyone is in a relationship or having a great time dating. Plus most queer representation in popular culture shows people having *some kind* of dating experience, they’re never just queer and single for a long time (the only example I can think of of a character coming out and not almost immediately starting to date someone is Jack from Dawson’s Creek). But it’s not always like that in real life!

      I’ve spent some time thinking that really struggling with the apps was something I needed to push through and get over, but I’m starting to think I’m just really really not suited to meeting people that way. So where possible I’m trying to get back into doing stuff, either online or in person (I’m in a Meetup group for people in a different area to me, because they’re still meeting online at the moment). Doing stuff has not been a problem for me – I’ve thrown myself into enough things over the years – but I’m trying to be a bit more intentional about it. Like it doesn’t have to be about trying to meet someone straight away, but it should at least involve some other queer people! I’m also trying to hide less of my personality away, since that has not helped me at all! And reading Autostraddle is definitely one of the things that has made me feel less embarrassed about sharing my little enthusiams.

      Wow this got longer than I planned. Anyway none if this is really advice, but is just to say you’re not alone, and this stuff is haaaaaard :)

    • I very much relate to this. I also don’t drive and live with family and never go anywhere. I have been on one date before lol, but that was years ago. I also live in a conservative area. And I lost my mom to cancer in 2015. I’m mostly fine with things as they are right now, but sometimes it gets very lonely. I’ve had treatment-resistant depression since I was fourteen, so over half my life, and as an introvert, sometimes it feels like being alone really helps, but other times I just wish I could have some kind of connection with someone and dream about having a wife someday. It doesn’t help that my depression makes me completely boring and uninterested in much of anything and absolutely terrible at conversation, even over text. I have no advice lol, but you are very much not alone. ❤️

  6. I want to second the idea of finding online communities. There’s a podcast I listen to where one of the hosts has a twice weekly free for all streaming “concert”, but it’s more than music, it’s a group of people who all have some interest in the host’s works and have come together. One beauty of online events and communities is that you’re not limited to things in your area. You could take a free online class from a museum in a bigger city, or attend a book talk by an author in another country. Meeting likeminded people in your area is nice, but sometimes it’s really awesome to build a friendship online and then it can be really awesome when you get the opportunity to spend time together in the same place! Also want to plug pen pals. The Queer As Fact podcast has a system for matching people who want penpals. I’d highly recommend looking into that. None of this helps directly with the dating aspect, but finding friends and community outside of your geographic location may be helpful.

  7. my comment failed to post, probably bc too many links, so just adding for ppl who have similar things going on: i have at times found a lot of solace and belonging with non-humans when humans aren’t reachable for whatever reason. Spending time with plants, animals, bodies of water, place builds relationship with them. it’s slow and not what we’re taught but very good.

    mary oliver’s poetry like “Wild Geese” often expresses this sort of thing, if that’s helpful.

  8. Thank you again to everyone else who has commented and added links and given me ideas.

    @ Nor@ Thank you for the discord link, I’ll check it out.

    @ Nora I’ll research for a cancer support group, thank you for the idea.

    @Morethansuits, Thank you for the podcast suggestion, I’ll be checking it out.

    @ temp Thank you for the links, and I try when the weather isn’t so weird here to go outside I tend to get a mouthful about staying indoors from my dad and his wife anyway.

    To those of you who suggested Facebook groups, I did make an account and I will try to join more. Most accounts aren’t accepting me and I know it’s because I have no pic and my account is new but I’ll keep trying. It’s hard being on social media and not wanting others to find you when you’re livng a ‘double life’.

    Again thanks to everyone who commented.

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