I'm 26, single and, save for an amazingly brief relationship when I was 19, have been single all of my life. I seem to have no trouble making friends, male or female, and I am known to be a very personable, intelligent person. But somehow these qualities don't seem to translate in the dating world. I've had plenty of male friends say "the guy who gets you is really lucky." But all I can think is, "But that's not you?" The guys I've had crushes on have somehow morphed into friends who ask me for advice. So evidence suggests I'm a good person, but am I just not attractive enough to date? Was there a flirting/signals class I slept through, but caught Nice Girls 101?
— Nice Girls Finish Last?
I have the opposite problem. People tend to assume I want to do them, including my therapist once, which led to my most awkward couch conversation ever.
Let's get one thing straight. You are totally, absolutely dateable. I know this. Your friends know this. The person who doesn't? You. And this is the crux of the problem. Even if you are ghastly or have a full-body likeness of Gary Busey tattooed on your back, or you're shy or weird or gassy—you are worthy of affection, sex and romance. This is a truth you should repeat to yourself often. (We all should.)
It's entirely possible that you are sending mixed signals to men you want to bang. If that's the case, you need to be more direct. The next time a guy you're interested in says someone else would be lucky to have you, ask him your question out loud: "But not you?" You might be surprised by his answer. You're operating from the assumption that guys don't want to date you, but you need to approach it from the (not entirely true and somewhat egotistical but whatever) standpoint of, "Of course people want to date me. I'm [bleeping] awesome." Or, a shorter way to say this: Have confidence. People who go on a lot of dates have it. You have it too; it's what makes people describe you as "intelligent" and "personable." It just hasn't broken the surface yet.
Also, contrary to every women's magazine in the Western world, being single isn't a disease. I know it seems that way. We can't help but live in a society that demonizes those who aren't in a relationship or constantly seeking one, but you don't have to listen to it. Long periods of being single are common. There's nothing to be ashamed of for prioritizing your life to meet your non-love goals, which is also what you should be doing. Are you?
As to Flirting 101, there are many websites that exist to tell us where to position our elbows or how often to blink in order to signal everlasting love, but that's mostly bullshit. All you need is faith, ballsiness and the audacity to believe you deserve happiness. Embrace your strengths, and don't let your weaknesses dictate your life. Be the confident girl who knows what she wants and pursues it forthrightly. Take chances, go outside your comfort zone, and live with as few regrets as possible until that girl bursts free.
Want to ask Anna an anonymous question about love, sex or dating? Email your quandary to email@example.com. Need to give your dating life a boost? Sign up for RedEye Dating. Pick dates, not people.
Want more? Discuss this column and others on RedEye's Facebook page.