Two things first…
(1) Rape culture is very real and very dangerous. You are not responsible for anyone else’s thoughts or actions. Just your own.
(2) You owe the world nothing, you are obligated to please no one, and you don’t need anyone’s validation to live your life. At the end of the day, you do you.
That being said…
I’ve been asked the following question too many times by too many friends: “why don’t boys like me?” (by “too many friends” I mean “too many heterosexual female friends and one homosexual male friend” but from now on I’ll try to be gender-inclusive). Now, that’s the second worst question you can ask someone. The absolute worst is the one that often comes next: “you think I’m attractive, don’t you?” and there’s just no nice way to answer honestly and no honest way to answer nicely. I’ve elected to go with honest:
If the people you’re attracting aren’t the type of people you want to be attracting, change.
I’m not saying you need to change for anyone’s sake, or that you need to conform to anyone else’s standards, or anything else that takes away from your agency. But in this modern culture of self-empowerment, self-love and a whole lot of other self-ing, I feel it’s prudent to make sure self-accountability doesn’t get lost in the mix.
This shouldn’t be a revelation. It’s just an extension of the old saying, if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got. My inner sociologist (and inner linguist) hates this because there are always uncontrollable factors in life and dating. Just because a girl gets hit on by a jerk does not mean she’s a slut (and that goes for any possible gender combination in that scenario). But if there’s a pattern– by which I mean a consistent tendency for a certain type of person to come calling whenever you “put yourself out there”– then you’d better believe there is something about YOU that is attracting that type of person.
Here are a few examples, and I’m sorry in advance but this is where the “no honest way to say this nicely” part comes in: If you’re consistently attracting morons, you’re probably not exuding an air of intelligence. If you’re consistently attracting losers, either your own lifestyle or at least a few habitual behaviors are probably not much better. If you’re consistently attracting the emotionally needy, then while I’d guess you’re fairly independent and well put-together (see, it’s not all bad!), you probably also need to learn what it means to be an enabler. And, most commonly albeit most shallow-ly, if you aren’t attracting the supermodels you feel you deserve, it’s probably because you aren’t exactly a supermodel yourself.
PSA: IF YOU’RE OK WITH ALL THAT, AND YOU’RE OK WITH THE TYPE OF PEOPLE STICKING AROUND IN YOUR LIFE, THEN GO BE HAPPY AND FORGET I EVEN MENTIONED IT.
However, if the people you’re attracting aren’t the type of people you want to be attracting, change.
Maybe you need to change some behaviors, or maybe it’s as simple as going somewhere else to meet different people. If you want to change your appearance, fine, but remember we all have to come to terms with genetics. Often, the only thing you need to change is what you want. In the end I guess I can’t really say what YOU need to change (only you can know that) but I can give some pragmatic tips.
- Your ideal of a soulmate may exist, but is definitely out of your league. After an honest assessment of yourself (your whole self, not just looks), you need to be able to say, “I am this attractive, but not that attractive. Which means I either need to start dating other people this attractive, or realize that if I want to date someone that attractive it will be long, difficult, and statistically speaking highly unlikely.” And then armed with that information either go date the people around you in the this range and/or quit acting like the world owes you that.
- Real change is deep change. If you really want to attract new and different people, you’ve got to become a new and different person. This may be the most hippie thing I ever say, but you won’t be able to find “the one” until you first find yourself.
- Get good friends. Friends who always tell you how perfect you are are bad friends. Friends who (lovingly) call you out on your crap are good friends. Friends who don’t care who you date are bad friends. Friends who wait an appropriate amount of time to tell you what they really think of who you’re dating are good friends. Friends who set you up with their friend who is also sad and single are bad friends. Friends who know you well enough to set you up with someone you might actually get along with are good friends. Know the difference. It could save your life.
- You will never not be able to change. There is nowhere you can go that you can’t come back. There is nothing you did yesterday that could possibly disqualify you from becoming a better person today. I’m not even talking about dating anymore. I won’t try and tell you that you can be anything or do anything if you put your mind to it, because frankly that’s never been true. But if you look around and don’t like what you see, even if you can’t change the scenery you can change yourself. You can change to be better and do better, which is almost a guarantee that something will get better.