Others Date But Not You?

2011/07/05 in Relationships

If almost everyone you know is dating and you’re not, it’s easy to feel like a loser. Your friends may be dropping hints, or trying to fix you up. Even your parents may be getting into the act.


How do you cope with this pressure? Do you date just to get them off your back? Or do you try to ignore them? We think that if you’re not dating for whatever reason, it’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s probably an excellent idea. If you’re not ready for it, dating can be nothing but hassles.

Although during the last few years sex roles have become less rigid, dating can create a lot of hassles for some young people just because of the way some of us have been taught to think and feel about the opposite sex. From grade school on, many boys unconsciously learn to look at girls with both disgust and fascination. They learn not to do the so-called “sissy” things that girls do. For example, boys are discouraged from displaying their feelings and are encouraged to be tough. Most adults and friends expect emotional strength and physical power of boys. For hobbies, boys are often directed toward sports and cars. Girls. on the other hand, are usually directed to be sensitive. Kitchen skills and artistic talents are typically encouraged. Since girls may not be expected to take care of themselves, emotional dependence may be desirable.

Girls are often taught at an early age that they are “different” from boys. For example, they may not be encouraged to take sports seriously or be directed toward acquiring mechanical skills. Eventually, a girl learns that getting a boy to pay attention to her and take her out are supposed to be very important to her happiness and social success. Despite new career and lifestyle opportunities that allow a woman to become a total person in her own right, she may still feel that if she doesn’t end up getting married, she might as well hang it up.

The point of all of this is that it’s very difficult for guys and girls to become friends when they grow up with such false ideas about one another. Some guys hustle girls just for sexual kicks or use them to boost their egos. Because of what guys have been conditioned to think about the opposite sex, they often have difficulty considering girls as friends. In the same way, girls often are conditioned to see guys only as potential dates rather than as good friends. Most of us have learned to think about members of the opposite sex in a very limited way and, unfortunately, this greatly reduces all the prospects for some great boy-girl friendships. What’s really sad is that just when boys and girls could get a lot out of relating to each other as friends, they get conned into thinking that dating is the only way they can have a relationship with one another.

Actually, dating can be rotten if you’re not ready for it. The purpose of dating is to have a good time and to get to know one another. But most individuals assume that it’s their responsibility to make sure their date has a good time. This is totally ridiculous. No one can make another person have a good time. If you’re shy or uncomfortable because you don’t know exactly what to do or what is expected of you on a date. you won’t have a good time, and you certainly can’t make your date have a good time. Or, if your date’s idea of a good time is something you don’t enjoy or approve of but, you do it anyway so that he or she has a good time, you’ll probably both end up having a lousy time. The problem is neither you nor your date, but with so much emphasis on dating you may both feel like social failures if things don’t work out as expected. And, in the end, you and your dating partner miss a great opportunity to learn to relate to one another as friends. Since you’re trying to behave the way you think you must, your date never really gets to know what a terrific person you are.

So, if you don’t date. for whatever reason, you may be avoiding a lot of hassles and hurt feelings, at least for now. If you’re young and don’t feel too comfortable with members of the opposite sex yet, not dating is really the smartest thing you can do. Another move that’s just as smart is preparing yourself to eventually handle a dating situation. Which brings us back to the importance of letting yourself be friends with members of the opposite sex. When you go out with someone you think of first as a friend and then as a date, you’re bound to feel comfortable and have a good time. Get to know people who share your interests, who do the same things you like to do. That way, you’ll develop friendships gradually and more successfully with members of both sexes whom you’ll like and respect and with whom you have already shared good times. Eventually, your dating problems will solve themselves because you’ll be out with someone you already know and like — not just a date. A successful dating relationship is always based on a good friendship. Thank you.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.