You Need Help: I Hate Not Having a Girlfriend

Q:

I got rejected on a dating app and I hate not having a girlfriend. I’m single and lonely. What do I do?

—Single Forever

A:

I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way.

First and foremost, I recommend Dani’s words on navigating rejection as a single person. I’ve written on rejection, too. I’m also sorry to say that rejection is an unavoidable part of using dating apps. Every person I know — including myself — has at some point experienced rejection on dating apps. Sure, there are these fairytale stories I’ve heard of people downloading an app, matching with one person, and then deleting the app and going on to marry them or whatever but that is NOT THE NORM!!!!! I reject the idea that rejection isn’t an inherent part of dating — and especially dating apps, where a lot of things become oversimplified for the sake of convenience. I find it helpful to remind yourself that rejection often has more to do with the other person than with you. It can be a tough message to actually accept and digest, but just tell yourself over and over that this was a choice made by someone else, and you ultimately have no control over that choice.

Sometimes, I think that in order to reset our minds about dating, we need to focus on things other than dating.

Why do you want a girlfriend? Why do you dislike being single? I’m serious! I want you to ask yourself these questions and come up with as many answers as possible. Some can be broad, but it’s good to have some concrete answers, too. I think asking yourself these questions can serve a few functions.

First of all, and perhaps most importantly, this can help you identify your needs and wants in life and then you can figure out ways to address those needs and wants that don’t hinge entirely on dating. Do you want a girlfriend so you can have someone to cook dinner for? Maybe it’s time to start inviting more friends over for dinner at your place. Do you dislike being single because you don’t like going to restaurants or events alone? Again, lean on friends! It’s true that one friend probably can’t check every box for what you’re looking for in connection and companionship. But it can help with feeling less lonely. Do you want a girlfriend because you want someone to make out with and hook up with? It’s possible to find that within friendships, too, though of course not for everyone. Casual sex — also not for everyone! — is also an option and doesn’t have to be viewed as something that undermines the underlying goal of eventually having a girlfriend! Casual hookups can teach you a lot about yourself and what you want. And that can be useful information when navigating dating apps.

Second of all, investigating the reasons beneath these wants will also help you when it comes to dating and finding the right person to suit your lifestyle and needs. I personally don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with going into dating apps with the explicit purposes of just Finding A Girlfriend. But it can also set you up for failure if that’s the only end goal without additional thoughts about what you’re looking for. You could end up over-idealizing another person and overlooking red flags or irrevocable differences because you’re too focused on merely getting a girlfriend. Or you could end up ruling out someone who could be a good match or connection for you because you don’t necessarily see them as having Girlfriend Potential right away. I think it’s good to be clear about what you want when it comes to dating apps. Maybe avoid people who are strictly looking for something casual since that doesn’t sound like what you want. But be open to the idea of dating people who you might not see a future with right away. Life often just doesn’t work out like that! The idea of a magical spark when we meet someone is mostly a fantasy.

Not only do I think you can seek companionship in other ways, but I also think it’s possible you’ve internalized a lot of narratives and stigmas about being single. Being single does not have to feel like a curse. It does not have to feel like a failure. Dating and relationships are hard, and you can put so so so much effort and energy into pursuing a relationship and still have it not work out. Which sucks — I know! But anything that involves another person involves an inherent lack of control.

Are you surrounded by couples in your life? Maybe it’s time to spend more time with or seek out single friends. It might sound silly, but reading about the experiences of other single folks — even humorous stuff! — can also help. You don’t have to feel alone in your loneliness. Instead of seeing singlehood as a blanket bad thing, find some of the upsides. Of course if you still want to date and find a partner, you can still actively work toward that while also learning to accept and embrace aspects of being single.

Good luck, and be gentle with yourself!


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


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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 394 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for this. I’m bi, I’ve never had a partner of any gender, the only direct rejection I’ve experienced (from a man, 12 years ago) was emotionally devastating, and I’m especially interested in seeking WLW through online dating as I feel unlikely to otherwise encounter any in my generation. I’m conscious of the temptation to approach it with the main goal of Finding A Girlfriend — anyone with whom to experience romance and sex and validation that I can be attractive to women. My mother’s last girlfriend was a hyper-enthusiastic baby gay at the age of sixtysomething, who treated my mother with a clingy intensity that ultimately broke their relationship and then rushed into the online dating scene with an air of urgency. I don’t need to do that now, in my 30s, and I don’t want to.

    • This made me laugh. As well intentioned as the advice writer is, you can’t outsource everything to friends or hookups (which by the way, even if the LW wants that, they’re still going to be get rejected, dollars to doughnuts). My answer to “Why do you want a girlfriend?” is multifold – I want to get married, then I want to have a kid, and dating is a part of that – but also, I want to do intimate things (sex sure, but also that nice domestic bliss) that I’m not interested in doing with strangers or friends and that only comes in having a romantic relationship. Online dating is a huge waste for me, because everyone I’ve met online so far that’s my age is looking to have no strings attached sex or is completely incompatible for other reasons. It’s frustrating! Compare that to my dad who got a match the first day he logged on and is still dating the same woman seven months later and it’s no wonder I’m starting to get a bit bitter.

      • I sooo hear you!

        Friendships don’t replace my desire for a romantic relationship, especially if those friends are going home to their partners.

        I want close friends in addition to a loving partner.

  2. I would strongly encourage you to make some single friends if you don’t have them already! I was single for 10 years and the times I was most miserable were definitely when I had couple friends who prioritized their relationship over hanging out with anyone single. The pandemic has been SUPER rough for exactly this reason, I almost exclusively hung out with other single people in 2020 because all my friends in serious relationships just hunkered down with each other or formed pods with one or two other couples. I started being more proactive about asking single friends to get drinks or go for a walk and it was really nice to have that support system.

  3. I just appreciate an article like this not starting with “love yourself first” or similar trite platitudes. As a perpetually single person, I can’t think of much that irritates me more.

  4. I think there’s a lot of merit to what’s written here, but I think it’s clear that the author hasn’t really been single for that long a stretch. As someone who’s been single for nearly 4 years now, I think this sort of oversimplifies being able to coordinate with friends for things like trips, weddings, or other general activities that you want to do. I have tons of friends, but not many who would spend money to travel to a wedding with me where they won’t know anyone, or come with me on a road trip over July 4th weekend to watch a sporting event I want to go to. People are busy and coordination is hard! And I think this response sort of glosses over that like.. the world is built for couples. I don’t know Kayla personally, but based on her insta, it doesn’t seem like she does a whole lot without her gf, inherently sort of proving my point – it’s just easier to find a partner and coordinate your life with them, and that ease can’t really be filled with friends.

    • Just had to reply, Hi from another Sal! So much of the world does seem built for couples. But many of the happiness surveys on women show that friendships are more correlated with happiness than marriage (mostly based on heterosexual couples. It would be interesting to see the data on queer couples), and so I love the advice to build more activities around friendships.

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