Advice columnist Dear Wendy helps out a reformed evangelical dater with her predicament: she's 30 and has never had any sort of relationship.
"I just turned 30 and I've never had a boyfriend — not even an unserious one. I fell in love with a boy in high school and a boy in college and . . . that was it. Just fell in love — as their friend — but didn't date either of them because they weren't interested in dating me (trust me, I tried — I really did). And I haven't dated all that much. I could blame that on spending my formative years in evangelical Christian circles, where one usually ends up dating a member of that circle, and that just never happened to/for me. But knowing you appreciate honesty, I know it's not entirely circumstantial. A part of it has been me and my own fears of intimacy, rejection, self-worth issues, etc.
I am 30 and have never had a boyfriend and have never even been kissed. And for most women my age, this is, indeed, unique (though I'm hoping not as unique as I think — fingers crossed). I have profiles on various dating sites and recently went on a very successful first date with a guy from one of these sites. We laughed A LOT, and now I've been asked on a second date. I'm not gonna lie: I'm all giddy and happy and just mush. I really like this guy.
But my nerves are also kind of shot about the whole thing. What if he goes in for a kiss? How will I react? What if I kiss badly? What if I'm so nervous, I pull a Ross/Rachel first-time scenario and just laugh at the situation, and he thinks it's him? What if my breath stinks? I don't know how to go on a second date. I don't know how I got through the first! Was I this nervous for the first? What if we've already run out of things to talk about? What if . . .
As you can see, I'm . . . spiraling. Any advice you have for me to help me not spiral would be more than a little fantastic. For right now, I'm trying to bear in mind what my goal is for the second date, what I want out of the situation in general, working out how/what I might possibly feel for this guy . . . all while trying to enjoy what's happening. (Can you tell I'm a victim of overthinking?)."
— Reformed Evangelical Dater
First of all, I promise there are more people than you think who have made it through most, or even all, of their 20s without much, or any, dating experience. I get letters from them all the time. Here are three that I have published and answered:
You know what all of you have in common, besides a lack of dating experience and some self-esteem issues? You're all overly concerned about what potential dates might think of you. You're missing a very key part of the dating process: what do you think about the person you're out with? If that sounds overly simple, it's because it IS simple. The purpose of first — and second and third — dates is not just to see if there's chemistry, but to get to know one another so you can tell whether you even like the other person. How can you do that if you're focusing all your energy on your breath? Girl, pop an Altoid, and get on with it. There are more important things to figure out.
For some practical tips on easing your anxiety, reread those columns I linked to above, and remind yourself that you aren't a freak just because you're 30 and haven't had a boyfriend. And that anxiety you're feeling about your next date and hoping it all goes well and you have enough to talk about and you say the right things and don't mess up your first kiss, etc., etc.? Yeah, welcome to the club. I don't care if you've had no boyfriends or 50 boyfriends: that anxiety is always there a little bit. All that means is you're human.