When Devi in Never Have I Ever laments “Why can’t I get a boyfriend?”, you know what she is talking about. The sight of couples kissing on New Year’s Day can be sickening if you’re lonely. You are pretty and smart, but no boyfriend seems to be coming your way. So before we talk about the correct way of finding a boyfriend, let’s talk about two things.
First of all, relax. Love is no flight that one must catch. Does everyone find love eventually? Yes, if they have faith in themselves. Second of all, stop beating yourself with self-harming thoughts like “Is there something wrong with me because I don’t have a boyfriend?” It’s possible that you haven’t met the right man or don’t know how to give him the right cue. Because dating is just a game, and you’ve not been playing it right.
21 Reasons Why You Can’t Get A Boyfriend
“I can’t get a boyfriend, what am I doing wrong?” This was the most common lament in my late twenties. Most guys were easily available if you wanted a casual date, but I was looking for something serious. I was looking everywhere, but there was always something that didn’t click. Till I met Dan. After five years of marriage, when I think back on those days, I realize where I went wrong. So what could be the reasons you struggle to find a boyfriend? Here they are:
Related Reading: What To Do When You Are Feeling Lost In A Relationship
1. You are looking for a boyfriend for the sake of fitting in
Think of Devi in Never Have I Ever and her list of “attainable yet status-enhancing people” she picks for herself and her friends to ‘rebrand’ as cool people. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to think “Should I get a boyfriend?” out of pressure. Research indicates that platonic peers influence our relationships and sexual behavior where a ‘taken’ relationship status is established as currency for popularity and social status.
- You keep thinking “What is it like to have a boyfriend?” when you look at your friends and only want a relationship out of peer pressure
- Before asking a guy out, think, “Do I like ‘him’ or the attention everyone will give us?”
- Do you only want a boyfriend so you’ll stop being the third wheel?
There’s a simple test for this. Think of a scenario where you are not around anyone you know. Would you still want to be with this person? If friends are the only reason you want a boyfriend, then it’s not a good idea to look for one.
2. You don’t know what you want in a man
Another reason you can’t find a boyfriend is that you don’t know what you want in a man. This is also possible when you don’t know what you want in general. This keeps most of your dating history extremely short. Or, worse, you only realize that you and your boyfriend are not right for each other when it’s too late.
- When you get together with someone, you get uncomfortable if they behave contrary to your ever-changing expectations of ‘boyfriend material’
- You’re constantly dissatisfied with the men you meet
- You don’t know why your relationships are not working, and you don’t know how to make it work
If you’re confused, then you need to take some time off. Think about what you want. And take your time assessing if the guy you meet fits into that picture. If he doesn’t, better move on.
3. You’re looking for love in the wrong place
A major mistake that people make is to think they can change someone who wants something strictly short-term into someone who wants commitment. Pop culture pushes the idea that a person can be changed with the ‘power of love’, but this rarely happens in reality.
- You keep thinking “Why can’t I get a boyfriend to stay?”, but still get into short-term affairs hoping they’ll fall in love eventually
- You ignore signs of commitment issues in men
- You feel pressured to present a hyper-sexualized image to be accepted by them
The biggest sign that you’re looking for love with the wrong guy is that he’s not reciprocating your feelings even though you’ve been giving it your 100%.
Related Reading: The True List Of 19 Things Women Want In A Relationship
4. You have this idea of ‘The One’
We all have an idea of the kind of person we want to be with. But if your definition of boyfriend material includes super-high and unrealistic expectations, it may get disappointing. You will discover that no one can fit into that ideal. Pop culture has led to the cultivation of an ideal man which keeps changing with trends. So, ‘The One’ morphs from Edward Cullen to Christian Grey, but he stays consistently unrealistic, unhealthy, and unachievable. Research calls it ‘The Prince Charming Effect’.
- Do you visualize men from books, movies, or fairy tales when you think of a partner?
- You immediately dismiss a person as a prospective boyfriend if he doesn’t demonstrate all the qualities that you want in your partner
- You will not consider a man who doesn’t fit into the physical image of your ‘Prince Charming’, even if it’s someone you genuinely like
It was observed in the above research that unrealistic standards were found to have negative consequences on the holder of such expectations. It’s not bad to have standards, especially if you’re dealing with low self-esteem yourself. But unrealistic standards, especially focusing on physicality, will not do you any good.
5. You don’t have a boyfriend as you don’t know where to look
You keep looking for love in clubs that are full of men looking for the next lay. The same goes for weddings. This might sound ironic, but weddings are notorious for casual extramarital encounters. Similarly, at the workplace, dating a coworker sounds thrilling but only for a few weeks. When you suggest anything long-term, these men begin citing HR policies.
- You meet guys in the wrong places without considering the possibility that the kind of man you want is unlikely to be there
- You meet a lot of men but they seem to disappear as soon as the night is over
- You have nothing in common with these men, except that they’re single too
If you’re looking for someone who enjoys opera and Renaissance art, you’d have a better chance of finding him at an art gallery than a baseball stadium.
6. You are not good with words
Communication plays a major role in the mating scene. You miss social cues which could make your dates comfortable. You say things you shouldn’t, making the whole encounter more awkward. This could be unintentional. For example, if you revel in dark humor, then your date could end up feeling disrespected, turned off, or even humiliated.
- You get nervous during first dates. You don’t know what to say. You don’t get jokes or take them literally
- Most of your first dates are spent in awkward silence and looking around
- You feel relieved when the date ends
Humor is subjective and you can’t do much in a situation where a joke lands wrong. But try to avoid any sensitive subjects. If you believe you’ve given offense, apologize immediately. You need to get over your anxiety when it comes to dating. Relax and stop thinking about impressing him. You’ll find yourself more comfortable talking to him.
7. You don’t know how to present yourself
Humans, like most of the species in nature, look for certain qualities in a mate. These qualities determine the survival of the offspring. Though human beings have evolved, evolutionary psychology still dictates a major part of how a mate is chosen. This makes sure that every species looks for the best in the available stock. In short, you’re going to get very little attention if you can’t bring out the real you in your best form.
- Your clothes are either very loose or very tight
- Your idea of ‘how should a woman dress up for her first date‘ includes tracksuits and crocs
- You’ve always had the same style and rarely try anything new, despite suggestions from friends and family
Dressing up to attract a man may feel sexist to you. But presenting your best version, in a way that aligns with your values, isn’t exactly sexist. Think what it is like to have a boyfriend who dresses shabbily. Do you want someone else to feel that way about you?
8. You think you can ‘manifest’ love without working toward it
I’m not being critical of any woman who believes in serendipity and the power of calling out to the universe. But you have to look at the statistics too. If you take no further action and don’t get out or meet people, the chances of love landing in your lap are minuscule. According to Rachel Riley from the show Countdown, there’s a 1 in 562 chance of you finding love if you leave it to fate. There’s more chance of you becoming a millionaire or having a pair of twins.
- You ignore opportunities to meet people because it is the wrong day for that according to your horoscope
- You don’t meet guys that do not belong to your compatible zodiac signs
- You don’t get actively involved in trying to cultivate a serious relationship with the man you’re dating, and instead, focus on doing rituals to get him to love you
This doesn’t mean that you can’t find love on a chance encounter. But if you choose to not work on getting a guy, and then cry “Why can’t I get a boyfriend?”, you can’t blame anyone else. Outliers exist, but even God helps those who help themselves.
Related Reading: 11 Signs You Are Not Ready For A Relationship
9. You don’t want to try online dating
You often say, “I can’t get a boyfriend, what am I doing wrong?” But maybe you’ve not tried online dating yet. You either have been scared off from the notoriety of such apps. Or you have been on such platforms and were disappointed by the kind of men you met.
- You’re scared of getting catfished
- You’re scared of landing up with another testosterone-high man who just wants to play games where he doesn’t call you back after sex
- You don’t want to initiate an online relationship because you think you’ll get two-timed
And those are valid fears. But you can date online successfully, especially post-Covid. So don’t hesitate to say, “Hey Google, find me a boyfriend”.
10. You’re not in a relationship because of your emotional baggage
This could be anything that you have experienced in the past which is affecting your life in the present. This could be due to a traumatic childhood or repressed emotional needs. Review the relationships you’ve had in past and think:
- You keep worrying that the relationship will fail and begin to mentally prepare yourself for that eventuality
- You struggle with trust issues and are scared of showing your emotions
- Or you get extremely dependent on your partner
You’ll notice that you never have a problem finding men, but none of those men seem to stick around, even if the relationship is amazing. Emotional baggage can create issues in a relationship when you begin to doubt the integrity of the relationship before you can commit to it.
11. You are still wounded from a previous relationship
Do rebounds make you miss your ex more? Getting involved with someone before you’ve recovered from the emotional aftermath of the earlier relationship can make you miss your ex more. This can prove disastrous to your new relationship.
- You often compare the men you meet with your ex
- You post on social media about the new man to irritate your ex
- You keep wanting a boyfriend to avoid feeling lonely instead of having genuine affection for the new man
There have been cases where a rebound relationship has worked for some people, but research indicates that 90% of rebound relationships fail within the first three months. It’s better to wait and make sense of your feelings before you go looking for love again.
12. You’re intimidating
You probably don’t realize it, but you may have internalized the strong female character trope. It is not uncommon to see female characters in pop culture with traditionally ‘male’ traits in an effort to portray them as strong. There’s nothing wrong in expressing your masculine side since gender is fluid. However, your no-nonsense and ambitious attitude may scare some men away. Research shows that men tend to rate assertive women as less attractive than compassionate women. Obviously, filter out such men, but try to assess if your assertiveness has turned into a deliberately intimidating persona.
- Do you practice sitting or talking in a certain way that you think will earn you respect or, worse, fear?
- Do people avoid speaking in your presence?
- Do you have the same body language at the workplace and on a date?
It is ironic that women often have to show themselves as non-feminine to be taken seriously at work and have to shed that persona to appear approachable. But matters of the heart can’t be expected to work the same way a team meeting does.
13. Why can’t I get a boyfriend? Because “I’m the problem, it’s me”
Taylor Swift summed up the problem of low self-esteem in women in the entire world with her song. When you have low self-esteem, you give any guy that comes your way your full attention, but ignore yourself completely. It’s easy to blame yourself for everything that goes wrong. Either you’re too hard on yourself and decide not to give the relationship another go. Or you get into a dysfunctional relationship as that is what feels normal to you.
- You keep thinking you’ve embarrassed yourself on the first date and are unlikely to go on the second one, even if the man appears interested
- You feel uncomfortable if the man suggests boundaries
- You keep getting into relationships with toxic men
It’s normal to have doubts about your desirability, but self-doubt can handicap your mental image of yourself. Even if you were to find someone amazing, you’ll find yourself getting excruciatingly dependent on him. This can make the whole relationship imbalanced.
Related Reading: 11 Beautiful Ways God Leads You To Your Spouse
14. You are self-obsessed
A relationship is a two-way street and can’t function if an effort is not made from both sides. If you don’t put the effort into maintaining your relationship, then it’s likely to be a short one. You may not realize it, but you could be the high-maintenance partner men run from. In such a case, the man is likely to look for someone else who can fulfill his emotional needs.
- Any conversation with you is mostly about you
- Your guy is likely to know more about you than you know about him
- You exhibit the signs of a controlling woman and monopolize any decisions made in the relationship
Self-obsession could be a form of narcissism which is a strategy to protect oneself when one does not feel adequately loved. To be in a healthy relationship, you need to start thinking about your relationship as an entity rather than a competition about who is better.
15. You get creepy/needy
Another way you can go wrong is that you get too needy. You start to stalk him, demand his constant attention, and get upset if he insists on boundaries. You start imagining that he’s playing games with you, and give hostile looks to every attractive person you see him with. You turn into a creepy/needy partner. Because you define love as control.
- You always want to know what he’s doing, where he’s going, and who’s he with
- You think it’s normal for you to check his phone
- You hate it if he wants to spend some alone time or plans any trips with his friends
Such a controlling relationship can be stifling for anyone. Additionally, you’re setting a bad precedent in the relationship as he could demand the same thing from you.
16. Does everyone find love eventually? Not when it comes to unrequited love
Another reason you keep wanting a boyfriend but can’t find one is that you’re in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. You hope to get a boyfriend so you would fall out of love with this person, but this is not how it works. You need to sort your feelings for someone else before you start afresh with another person.
- You always have thoughts about the guy you love even when you’re with someone else
- You will prioritize this man over your relationship, even though you know it isn’t healthy
- Any new man you’re dating works as a replacement for the guy you love
This can be extremely confusing and unfair to anyone who genuinely likes you. It can be difficult to lose feelings for someone you love and let go. Try staying away from him and focusing on other things in your life so you can healthily move on to another relationship.
17. You don’t ask for help
Have you considered asking friends for help? You may think it is unromantic for family or friends to set you up with someone as if you can’t land a decent date on your own. This may feel additionally bad if you have a dysfunctional relationship with your family. You’re likely to say no to any person they set you up with, even if you like them.
- You consider it humiliating if your mother sets you up with the son of a woman she met at the church
- You don’t trust your friends to find you a good person, especially if you think they don’t know you
- You feel inadequate if you have to ask around for a date
Not asking for help could be a sign of insecurity. But your friends and family often know you more than you realize. They are also aware of your relationship history and know what doesn’t work for you.
Related Reading: 11 Tips To Deal With Loneliness After Breakup And Find Support
18. You are bad at flirting
Mike highlights this in The Ugly Truth when he observes that Abby is pretty and smart but no boyfriend comes her way. When he says that she needs to learn to flirt, she is confused at first. Flirting is more difficult than you think, especially if you’re not very good at quick thinking or get nervous easily.
- You’re more comfortable talking by text than on phone or in person
- You never realize when someone is flirting with you
- Maybe you don’t know how to give physical compliments in general
Healthy flirting can be a great icebreaker when you meet someone new. It can seem daunting to talk to someone with sexual undertones but relax a little. You’ll find the right note if you give it enough time and practice.
19. You don’t have a boyfriend because you are rushing things
I was single for most of my early twenties. I mostly had flings and didn’t have the inclination to get into a serious relationship. However, as soon as I turned thirty, it began to feel like everyone around me was either getting married or pregnant. And so I was meeting guys left, right, and center, crying, “Why can’t I get a boyfriend?”. Now I realize how scary I must have seemed to those guys, with my way-too-soon questions about their families, income, and debts.
- You are constantly assessing your dates instead of enjoying your time with them
- You give yourself a deadline by when you should be engaged
- You think marriage will fix all your woes
After a certain age, it can begin to feel that time is ticking away. You get a lot of pressure for getting married or having kids from your family. This can make you anxious and make you look at every relationship from a matrimonial POV. This can make any man run for the mountains.
20. You aren’t giving them enough time
People often go date-hopping when they’re not keen on a committed relationship or want to get an idea of the spread before they choose the best option. But when you’re looking for love, one date is not enough to get to know a person. Especially if you’re going on multiple dates on the same day. Some people may swear by it but research indicates that most guys take almost 3 months to confess their love.
- Are you seeing multiple men on the same day or week as a way to improve productivity while looking for relationships?
- Have you prepared a questionnaire for these men and ticked them off if they answer ‘negatively’ to a question?
- Are you getting confused between two or more of these men?
It’s draining and counterproductive to date multiple men and filter them out like an assembly line. Additionally, you’re not giving yourself enough time to forge an emotional connection with anyone to fall in love.
Related Reading: 13 Proven Ways To Get A Guy’s Attention
21. You’re problematic
Your friends won’t tell you, but the reason you struggle to find a boyfriend could be that you’re ‘that’ girl. You’re that girl who talks about financial independence but expects her boyfriend to pay her bills. Or she likes to be spoiled but makes no effort from her side to do the same for her boyfriend. Or she starts as the caring girlfriend who sends him cute texts in the beginning but turns toxic once you go exclusive.
- Your idea of an ideal man is who exhibits the traditional role of a ‘provider’, i.e. he pays the bills, prioritizes others over himself, doesn’t rest till it’s late in the night
- You expect him to pay all your bills while you don’t contribute your share
- You constantly compare him to others, or worse, to your father
You need to recognize the signs that you are the problem in your relationship. And if you are, you need to work on your self-awareness and try to resolve the underlying issues responsible for this behavior.
What Can You Do If You Don’t Have A Boyfriend But Want One?
The thing about love is you never know if you want it because you actually want it, or because you feel like you ‘should’ want it. Ask yourself “Why do I want a boyfriend?” before you start looking for one. If you’re looking for a boyfriend for social reasons or because you think it’s time you had one, then you may not be on the right track. Once you know what you want and why you want it, it’s only then you can move toward it. So how can you find a boyfriend when you want one?
1. Love yourself
You may be rolling your eyes at this one. Not everything can be resolved by loving oneself. And what is self-love anyway? How does one love themself? By loving yourself the way you would love someone else.
- Be kind and considerate toward yourself
- Create healthy emotional boundaries in relationships
- Prioritize your mental health
- Learn to say no
- Stop looking for approval from others
When you prioritize your mental health and have positive self-esteem, you enable yourself to get into a relationship that is loving and rewarding in the long term.
2. Focus on developing the relationship
If you like someone, you need more than a meeting over coffee to know he’s the one. With a few men, you will know instantly, but with others, you may need some time before deciding ‘the one’ among them.
- Give a guy enough time to see if you can envision a future with him
- Focus on developing the relationship, try to get to know him
- Set up realistic stages or timelines. For example, if you feel that you’re not going from kissing to something sexual till a certain date, then maybe talk to him and try to know what he thinks of the relationship
Related Reading: 11 Tell-Tale Signs He Will Cheat In The Future
3. Hey Google, find me a boyfriend – online dating
If you have tried bars and can’t find a boyfriend among the frat boys you find there, then try online dating. You may not believe it but according to Pew Research Centre, online dating is as successful as in-person dating. Research suggests that online dating has displaced many traditional ways of meeting new people.
Additionally, it can help you meet people with similar interests without having to go through others who may not have the same values/beliefs. Dating apps like Bumble and Mashable cater to people who are looking for commitment, so when you find the right match, you can just focus on your date and not wonder about the essentials.
4. Know what you can’t stand
We often think about the qualities we want in a partner. But it may be easier to figure out if you know what you can’t agree on. If you’re done with toxic men in your life, then run away at the first red flag. Don’t wait to look for a silver lining.
- Look for red flags about things you don’t want to compromise on
- Talk to him about it, how it makes you uncomfortable, and if he’s willing to work on it
- If you think he won’t change, move on
5. Be patient
It’s said, “The heart wants what it wants.” Well, the heart also takes time to decide, and it takes as much time as it wants. You can’t rush yourself into feeling affection for a man. I often wondered, “What is it like to have a boyfriend who wants to get married the same time as I do?” Because no man wanted to move so fast in our relationship. It scared them to no end.
If you feel that it might be getting late for you, stop and think about why you think so. Is it what everyone else has been telling you? Winding up with the wrong guy just because you think time is running out won’t help. At best, it could make you regret the relationship. At worst, it could leave you traumatized.
- Many of the reasons you can’t find a boyfriend could be rooted in your lack of self-esteem
- Do not think of finding a boyfriend as a task, otherwise, it won’t feel romantic and will feel like a chore you hate
- Focus on developing the relationship while keeping an eye out for red flags
- Be patient. This may take more time than you anticipate
Humans were never made to be solitary creatures. It is normal to feel the need for someone to cuddle when you go to bed. But relationships are complex and one wrong step is all it takes for a lifetime of regret. To every person who says “Why can’t I get a boyfriend?”, I say, take your time, explore your options, and most of all, enjoy these experiences. If you still feel you can’t cope, ask for help from friends and family. We at Bonobology have an extensive panel of experts to help you when you need it. Love will come your way when you’re ready for it, not when you think it should come.
It’s not difficult to get a boyfriend, but you will have to work to find a healthy relationship. Commitment is a big deal for a lot of people. Everyone may have their own set of apprehensions about it. So it may take some time before you find the right person who has the same beliefs as you do.
It is not weird to have a boyfriend. If you’re thinking, “Should I get a boyfriend?” just to appease society, then don’t get into a relationship. A committed relationship status doesn’t validate your existence or give you an advantage over other people. More women are choosing to stay single and focus on their careers nowadays, according to the Pew Research Center. You certainly aren’t alone if you’re single.
Yes, you will. Stop thinking, “Is there something wrong with me because I don’t have a boyfriend?” Because there isn’t. If you keep looking in the right places, focus on working on yourself, and pay attention to your date’s red flags, you will meet the right person and have a healthy relationship with him.