never been in a relationship

I'm a 22 year-old man who has never been in a relationship or had much female attention.

I am a bit shy and not very social so I find talking to women is a daunting task and I never get any positive response or interest whenever I do try.

I have been rejected many times. This has hurt me and made me reluctant to approach women because of the fear of being rejected.

The worst part is constantly seeing couples holding hands and in love — I am always thinking why can't I get a girlfriend as easily as these other guys do? I am not any less of a person than them, I'm a nice, kind, trustworthy person but no one seems to see that.

I feel very down and need some help.

Ammanda says

I think you’re saying that you’re very lonely right now. Most people feel like this at some stage in their lives. Sometimes that’s because they’ve been in a relationship that’s finished. Sometimes it’s down to finding it difficult to start one in the first place and for some people, even when they’re in a relationship, for many reasons, it’s still possible to feel alone.

When you really want something, it’s so easy to look at others and believe that somehow they’ve achieved what it is you most yearn for. Few things are more demoralising. Feeling like this can make everything seem so much worse and adds to the sense of failure and pressure that people so often find themselves lumbered with. The first thing to say is that not everything you see is going to be what you think it is. Some of those happy couples quietly holding hands with each other may just have easily had a blazing row, or be  thinking about how to end the relationship, or may even be involved with someone else, unbeknown to the partner they’re with. Relationships are complicated. 

But I imagine that you might be reading this and thinking that at least the couples I’ve referred to above have had the chance to try out a relationship, whereas you’re feeling very sad because so far this hasn’t been your experience. What you’re telling me though is that although this situation has caused a lot of pain, nonetheless, you keep trying. That’s the important thing because all the time you’re doing that, you’re creating chances and possibilities. If you stop reaching out to other people then they’re less likely to see your qualities.

Sometimes when people tell me about this sort of problem I wonder if they might want to jump straight from meeting someone to being partners or girlfriend and boyfriend. Love at first sight is alive and well but for lots of people, it comes on gradually and is often found in the most surprising places. In our hurry to get a partner, we might sometimes overlook the bit about getting to know someone as a colleague or friend first. I don’t know if you’re working or have interests where you might be meeting people but that’s often a good place to start. Another way to start is by not putting too much pressure on yourself  to come across as available or dare I say it, desperate to be in a relationship (even if that’s the case). I completely get that you find talking to women very daunting but sometimes just starting with ‘Hi’ and then getting on with whatever it was you were doing can be a start. Sometimes, we might mistake someone not taking things forward as being rejected when in fact, all that’s happened is everything felt a bit rushed for them.

There are so many way of meeting people socially. Lots of people use social media sites to ‘chat’ and if you haven’t already had a go at this, maybe give it a try because it can cut out that initial face-to-face awkwardness which lots of shy people dread. But there’s nothing wrong with being shy. Many people really enjoy all kinds of relationships with someone who isn’t all over them like rash, so don’t try to be someone that you’re not.

Finally, you say that you’re very depressed and if that’s the case I would always suggest that you see a GP or counsellor to talk through what might be immediately most helpful. But going forward, being kind, trustworthy and a genuinely nice person is going to be of enormous appeal to someone special. You just haven’t met them yet.