Dear Wendy: “The Only Guys I Attract Are My Best Friends’ Boyfriends”

I’m 24 years old and it would be an understatement to say I‘ve never been “that girl” that guys want to date. I don’t really mind and focus most of my energy instead on friends, family, and bettering myself instead of questioning what’s wrong with me. I guess I’m not unattractive because people tell me I’m “beautiful” at least once a week and I’m not overweight (5’6”, 119 lbs, size two, 34C, etc.). I’m smart (Chemistry degree from a top 15 university; medical school this August), but also artistic. So, I’m pretty balanced. My problem is that the only people I seem to attract are my sisters’ and friends’ boyfriends. I’m NOT a flirt by any means and tend to be PAINFULLY shy (I’m working on the shyness). However, these men go out of their way to flirt with me (pull my hair, check me out, make sly comments, touch me, ask me about my “love life,” compliment my clothes, etc) and this problem has even gone as far as them professing their feelings or trying to make a move on me. At first, I didn’t blame myself, but I’m the common denominator. I have had almost 10 years under my belt with this issue, so I MUST be the issue. I’ve tried being cordial while keeping my distance but nothing really works. And currently, I just profess that I’m “asexual” and I’m marrying my career. I try to be as off-putting as I can be. However, I imagine when I get a boyfriend of my own, I won’t have to worry about this stuff, but no one else wants me! I’m going to finally ask the question: “What’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? ” — The Shy One

It’s great that you’re focusing so much of your energy on friends, family and “bettering yourself,” but if you truly want a boyfriend — and it seems that’s one of the reasons you’ve written — you would do well to shift at least a little of your focus on that pursuit. And I’m hoping a young woman as smart as you say you are doesn’t need some random advice columnist telling her that one of the worst things you can do if you’re on the hunt for a great guy is to go around claiming you’re asexual and married to your career. I get that you don’t want to attract anymore attention from your friends’ and sisters’ boyfriends, but frankly, there are far better ways to accomplish that without painting yourself as some anti-sex and relationship stick-in-the-mud.

I suspect you’re selling yourself short when you claim “no one else wants you” besides your best friends’ guys. My guess is you’re using your painful shyness as an excuse to not talk to anyone outside your extended circle of friends and family. And you’re so concerned with not appearing too flirty around the guys in that circle, you’ve turned off your light. See, we all have these imaginary lights above our heads that indicate to people whether we’re on the market or not. Those lights run on energy — our energy. We generate the energy through smiling, being friendly, dressing well, even flirting — things you’ve taught yourself how to keep to a minimum around your friends’ and sisters’ guys. That’s fine, but I’m concerned you aren’t turning the energy — and your light — back on when you get around other guys. You may be quite the catch, but if you’re not turning on your light, no one’s going to bother knocking on the door. Know what I’m sayin’?

So you need to practice generating your own energy to get that light turned on. You don’t have to be some extroverted social butterfly to do this. It can be done in small ways — start smiling at strangers, make eye contact with guys you find attractive, have a few small-talk conversation-starters ready in your arsenal (hint: upcoming vacation plans, recent movies, and favorite local restaurants are safe topics most people have at least something to say about). And the next time one of your friends’ or sisters’ boyfriends start flirting with you, kill two birds with one stone and say to him: “Hey, you’re my best friend’s boyfriend, so obviously I’m not interested in dating you, but I am looking for someone nice to go out with, so if you have any cute, single friends, hook a sister up!” Let’s just hope his friends have a little more respect for relationships than he does!

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected]