How the lack of romantic validation in earlier years has affected my dating life as a young adult

I was never shown any romantic interest, nor did I feel approachable, which explains my deep-rooted psychological issues regarding dating

Growing up, guys never asked me out. No one showed any romantic interest, nor was I ever considered one of the pretty girls in school.

In high school, I spent a lot of my time with the popular and pretty girls group. They were gorgeous, funny and absolutely lovely.

When I think of my high school experience, I instantly remember my days spent at the cafeteria and class with these girls listening about their romantic relationships and talking about boys. The guys were constantly gushing over them and pining over them.

I, on the other hand, did not peak in high school. I’ve also lacked a lot of confidence. I thought I was small, scrawny and wore ugly glasses. I was always on the sidelines. I was the “other friend.”

Within my first few years of high school, I developed several insecurities about myself. I started to think that I didn’t receive the same attention because I wasn’t physically appealing, likable or lovable.

On top of that, being a person of colour who doesn’t fit into western beauty standards made it easier for me to believe I wasn’t appealing to most people.

With this mindset, I sought academic validation instead. I focused on my studies. Getting good grades and being a “nerd” were my only personality traits.

I wasn’t completely opposed to the idea of dating, but I wasn’t actively trying to date someone.  The opportunity never came up. I didn’t date in high school. I didn’t get asked out until a few years ago in CEGEP.

This lack of experience in dating and romantic validation in my earlier years affected my ability to hold romantic relationships as a young adult. I had such deep-rooted psychological issues and insecurities surrounding my appearance that I didn’t know how to act when someone showed a slight interest in me. I still don’t – I think.

During my two years in CEGEP, I tried to put myself out there and explore the dating world, but I blame my insecurities for never going beyond a hookup at the bar.

I eventually became friends with a teammate who showed interest in me. We spent a lot of time together training. He was sweet, and I enjoyed spending time with him.

Yet, once we crossed that bridge from platonic to a romantic relationship, it made me feel incredibly weird. I started to see him differently, and it made me uncomfortable to have someone think of me in any romantic way.

It was a foreign concept to me to think that I could be appealing to some.

I sabotaged that friendship and relationship, because I didn’t know how to approach it.

Since then, I’ve tried even more to put myself out there and be more open-minded about dating, but every time someone gets too close, I don’t know how to act. I’ve questioned myself and wondered if I was asexual. Although I’m a 22-year-old woman who feels uncomfortable thinking about romantic relationships, the answer is no. I’m very much attracted to men and see myself being intimate with them.

A few months ago, I met someone through a friend and didn’t really think it could go anywhere — you know, because of all those issues I listed.

We started seeing each other as friends, and once again, when we crossed the line between platonic and romantic — I didn’t know how to approach it.

He was genuinely a nice guy. It felt nice to feel loved and appreciated. It was refreshing to finally take that next step of accepting that kind of romantic love.

He was someone who cared for me and understood me. Yet, no matter how much I tried, I didn’t feel the same way towards him.

All the built-up insecurities are the reason why I couldn’t hold any sort of relationship with him. I subconsciously appreciated his affection, but it didn’t go beyond that. It wasn’t fair for either of us.

I continuously either sabotage myself or avoid relationship opportunities. Perhaps it’s because I’m still not past my insecurities and can’t be emotionally vulnerable and intimate with someone.

They’re right when people say you need to love yourself before you can love anyone else.


Graphic by Lily Cowper

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