Carolyn Hax: Smart, 17 and unpursued. Is there something wrong with that?

Carolyn Hax
Columnist December 13, 2012

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I am nearly 17, but no guy has ever been interested in me. Most girls my age have at least had their first kiss. I have had only one or two guy friends, and very distant ones at that.

I think myself to be moderately attractive, I am the No. 1 student in my class and very hardworking. I don’t have an outgoing personality, but I don’t completely lack social skills, either. I am one of those people who have a few close friends, but not very close or very many. I am more of a loner, but I still make an effort to be friendly. I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Confused


Nothing, probably. The way you describe yourself, you sound like a perfectly normal, healthy introvert. A smart one at that. Add those two and it’s not at all unusual that you’d take a little longer to form the kinds of relationships that don’t come naturally to you.

Your best option is to accept yourself the way you are, give yourself time, and direct whatever effort you put into this toward getting to know more guys as friends. The more non-threatening the circumstances, the better — say, in classes where you’re in your element, or a summer job, where you have both proximity and relatively equal status with your fellow summer employees.

Why does the “smart” matter? Overthinking, usually (on your part), plus there’s the intimidation factor (for others). A girl who sits at the top of the class and sticks to a couple of close friends can be very daunting to approach. Not that this is bad — or is even what’s going on with you, necessarily — it’s just a common set of circumstances.

I realize I’m assuming the doesn’t-come-naturally part in your dealings with boys, but a smart introvert who has, say, a pile of brothers might feel comfortable around boys and have no trouble getting dates. In that case, the frustrating thing for her might be in making close female friends.

To: Confused:

I was a “late bloomer” and didn’t have my first kiss until I was 20, even though I was considered one of the “popular kids” of my high school and college. I have had a very active dating life in my adulthood (I am now 28), as well as in my junior and senior years of college.

Many of my friends who had boyfriends in high school and in early college look back on their friendships as the high points, rather than those relationships.

I also credit my late blooming as part of the reason I am self-sufficient and independent, which actually can attract guys (and the right kind of guys, who appreciate you for you).

I guess all I have to say is — don’t worry about it. I remember feeling very frustrated and thinking there was something “wrong with me,” but in retrospect, I just was focusing more on figuring out myself and enjoying a close group of friends. The boyfriends came along in time.

Anonymous

Even if it doesn’t play out for her exactly as it did for you, there is no substitute for “focusing more on figuring out myself and enjoying [whatever]” as a path to a happy outcome. Thanks.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

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