Asking for a Friend: Help! All my friends are dating and it makes me feel lonely. What should I do?
- Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources you can turn to
- This week, we help a student who wants to be in a relationship, like their friends
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I’m 15 and a couple of my friends have begun dating. I want something like that since I’m a big fan of romantic novels and rom-coms. My life feels quite dismal, considering all of my friends are either in a relationship or have someone they’re talking to. I am so happy for them but sometimes, I feel left behind. Is it normal to feel like this? What should I do?
All my friends are dating, but no one seems interested in me
We’re sorry that you feel lonely and uneasy about your friends dating. While many people start dating and having relationships as a teenager, there are just as many people who don’t date until later. Please don’t rush into anything!
At the moment, it seems like you do not have a specific person in mind that you want to date, so don’t push yourself to find a partner or accept someone that you don’t actually have feelings for, just to be in a relationship. When that special someone turns up, you will know. You will also find romantic relationships in real life to be very different from what you read in novels and rom-coms.
Meanwhile, from the perspective of taking care of your mental health, keep in mind the following tips:
Be honest about your feelings
Truly examine why you want to be in a relationship. Are you really ready for one, or do you just want to fit in with the rest of your friends? If you feel like you’re genuinely ready, first you need to open yourself up to meeting new people and making new friends - in fact, many of the most solid relationships begin as friendships. But it is not good to date just because you are lonely, feeling left out, or someone is convenient. You may end up hurting yourself or someone else. Plus, it can feel worse to be with someone, but still feel alone.
I feel so alone, but I’m surrounded by people. What do I do?
Concentrate on other relationships
Many people feel like they need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, but what’s most important during your teen years is learning how to build healthy relationships of all types. Use this time to strengthen your bond with your family and friends (make sure to get some time alone with them, without their significant others). Boyfriends and girlfriends might come and go, but these are the people who will be on your side for the long term.
In addition, the skills you learn from building and maintaining these non-romantic relationships are also useful for dating; being able to listen, give support, and show how much you care are all good traits of a romantic partner.
My classmate really wants to be my friend. How do I tell her no?
Be kind to yourself and stay grounded
Take care of yourself and manage the “dismal” feeling. It’s normal to be fascinated by love stories, but they can be far from reality. Stay involved in your favourite activities, meet up with your friends, review your study goals, and do other things that enrich your life. This will help you grow and gain self-esteem.
You’ve got this, Friend of a Friend
If you’re looking for more information, you can check out Student Health Service and YouthCan: Exploring the Journey of Love.
The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.