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Ask Michael: Giving up on finding boyfriends

by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

Hey Michael,
I have been looking for a boyfriend and I have been here for [many] years. Nada, no luck. I have lost a lot of weight, made a lot of improvements in my life, yet I see a lot of my friends getting boyfriends, when I'm not. I had a long good talk with a good friend of mine. He brought up a powerful point: Perhaps we aren't meant to have boyfriends. I now feel that friends and counselors keep saying to me, "You will get a boyfriend in the future," when, frankly, right now there's nothing - the chance of getting a boyfriend is really almost nonexistent. Yes, I still date, and yes, I still have sex with other men. I know counselors are trained to help people feel better, but sometimes we face the stark reality in the Gay world that some people can't get a boyfriend. A counselor wouldn't say to a 70-year-old that he'll get a boyfriend when he hasn't had one in the past. Make sense? Something for you to think about. I sometimes wish that counselors could be honest about the stark reality. -Frustrated


Thank you for your e-mail. Your frustration is clear, and I know you are not the only who has these experiences and feelings. I can only advise you based on my observations and experiences. Here are a couple of things to think about.

First, over the years of being a therapist and friend, I have been looking for that component/trait/magic that brings two people together. I have looked at personality, but I ruled that out because just as many miserable people get into relationships as nice people. I've looked at body type, but I ruled that out because I have seen every manner of body type be in a relationship, and the combinations are endless. I've seen fit with fit, unfit with unfit, fit with unfit and it goes on. I've looked at income, but I ruled that out. I know just as many highly successful, wealthy men/women who are single as I do women/men who make little to nothing who are in relationships. I've looked at appearance, but I ruled that out. I know several men who are considered "gorgeous" who are lonely and single, as well as some who are not traditionally handsome in happy, loving relationships. I've looked at sobriety, and guess what? I ruled that out, too. I know clean/sober guys both single and in a relationship, as well as addicts both single and in a relationship.

There is just one variable that seems to influence whether men/women are single or in relationship.

It sounds weird, but that variable that seems to influence whether someone gets a boyfriend/girlfriend is whether they believe they will be in a relationship or not - not whether they want it. There is a group of men/women who believe they will always be in a relationship. They cannot conceive of being single for longer than a few months. Likewise, there is a group of women/men who, equally, cannot conceive of themselves of ever having someone who will love them, even though it is something they desperately want. I think it is this belief that influences a couple of other important factors in getting and keeping a relationship.

When you have a strong belief system, you come across as more confident and confidence is communicated non-verbally. Remember, 80% to 85% of communication is non-verbal. It doesn't matter what you look like, but if you are communicating confidence, that is much more attractive to another than lack of confidence. Belief systems run deep in our psyche and can effect how we come across to others. If you believe deeply that you are not good enough to have a boyfriend, that will come across as lack of confidence. Confidence is not something we can usually pinpoint concretely, but it is something we all feel or don't feel in others.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of confidence. You demonstrate your confidence in many ways. One way to show your confidence is to not be too needy or want to spend every waking minute with the new person. Generally, people who get too close too quickly, and too jealous too early, put others off as not being confident about themselves. I'd have you reflect upon these points and anything else that might be going on that may be getting in the way of you projecting confidence.

Another important ingredient in getting a boyfriend is maintaining the connection once you have found a potential candidate. I have never found one person who can't get a date. The issue is usually getting to the second or third date to start dating regularly and building a relationship. I've got no way of knowing how your dates go, but I would recommend that you get more insight into how you show up in dates and what, potentially, is driving guys away. Sometimes anxiety overtakes one because they are already anticipating that it won't work out. This is a turn-off. It is hard to believe in this day and age, but some guys don't know how to communicate during a date. They spend the whole time talking about themselves or talking too little about themselves.

Some guys think that they will get and maintain a boyfriend by wearing their sexuality on their sleeve. This means that they think someone will choose them because of their sexual prowess - whether they are good in bed. This rarely works because it leaves the other person wondering what else there is. People who want a relationship are looking for the type of person you are, and not just how you are in bed.

Here are some thoughts to start with, a very complex interplay which starts with a couple of basic principles: what you believe and how confident you are. I'd have you reflect upon those. You certainly can give up and never pursue a relationship. That is definitely an option. It is not an option I'd recommend. I encourage you to continue to get insight about how you show up to others and what image they are getting about you. Good luck.

Michael Raitt, MA LMHC, is a therapist and a contributing writer to the SGN. He writes a bi-monthly column in the SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, ask a question you'd like him to write about, or suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at askingmichael@comcast.net.

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