Am I dead inside?
November 20, 2008 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I am 24 years old, a recent college grad from a major university, have a job in a field related to what I studied in school, and have never had a girlfriend nor been in a long-term relationship of any kind, ever. I'm perfectly happy though, is this common?

I've had sex with women before though not many and I am definitely not homosexual in anyway (I don't mean to make this a strong point, but I just want to be thorough). I am definitely introverted, but still maintain a healthy social life; I have many friends, go out on the weekends, see movies, even play in a band, etc. I know some of my friends and roommates think I'm odd for spending much of my time at home alone in my room, but i know they don't understand introversion very well. A lot of my friends worry about me for not having a girlfriend or even trying to meet girls, which makes me uncomfortable a bit, but isn't something I dwell on at all. In general, I'm very happy, I love life, am never bored, have a great family and friends, and love to learn and read. the one thing i was never very passionate about is being in a relationship. I like sex though I'm not very sexual at all, I don't need it or crave it or even think about it that much. I contribute my singleness to being very particular, on both appearance and personality; there's actually very few people I can stand to be around for very long. The odd thing is none of this gets me down at all. It did a little bit when I was younger, but not at all now. I'm not worried or anxious about finding someone, and I'd be perfectly content if I never found anyone. Some people find it depressing when I say this, but I like being alone and I see nothing wrong with it. I've read other accounts on this site similar to my own, but the difference is that I'm not depressed or sad or complaining really. I guess my question is then, why does it still feel odd to me to be this way and are there others with similar feelings? And what can I say to people to get them off my back? It feels annoying having to defend myself all the time on this subject. Any suggestions?
posted by bettershredder to Human Relations (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you're happy, I wouldn't worry about it. Then again, I'd dispense that advice to most people.

My explanation to others would just be that, so far, you're happy with your life. Should be enough for those whose opinions matter.
posted by craven_morhead at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2008

There is a lot of social pressure to be paired up in one way or another (sexually, romantically, etc), which might cause you to experience a different kind of discomfort from the longing for a relationship. I know a couple of people who self-identify as asexual, maybe that will resonate for you? But maybe not, either way if you're happy I wouldn't worry too much.
posted by blackunicorn at 4:17 PM on November 20, 2008

There is always the potential to be happier.
posted by fire&wings at 4:22 PM on November 20, 2008

I must admit, I enjoy being single. I've been single for most of my life, and I've never been in a serious relationship yet.

Cuddling, hugging, kissing and foreplay(!) is exciting, but I often don't want the relationship with it. Which seems to be a problem, I just can't go around kissing all of my friends :P

Anyway, if you're happy, continue with what you're doing. Happiness is the most important aspect of life, in my opinion.
posted by sanrio at 4:25 PM on November 20, 2008

There is nothing normal about being "perfectly happy." Congratulations to you, don't change a thing.
posted by Ugh at 4:35 PM on November 20, 2008

I like sex though I'm not very sexual at all, I don't need it or crave it or even think about it that much.

As a man, that's extremely unusual. However, there's nothing wrong with that if it doesn't cause you any issues - you might simply be asexual. If you're happy, I'd celebrate it.. heck, these sorts of traits are commonly found in geniuses and many of the greatest minds in history.. you never know!

Of all the hundreds of people I've known through the years, only one man lives a lifestyle that sounds like yours, and.. he's one of the happiest people I know. He's now in his 50s, still lives with his father, but travels lots, has lots of fun, friends, etc, and that's just how he likes it.
posted by wackybrit at 4:41 PM on November 20, 2008

Yeah I've considered that I may be asexual, but determined it is not the case. I still have sexual desire, albeit small on average but at times very strong. And I suppose this post was more for reassurance and to find others with a similar situation seeing as I'm not worried in the least about it; it's more curiosity.
posted by bettershredder at 4:43 PM on November 20, 2008

On a hunch I don't think "being perfectly happy" is normal for people in most conditions in life - so make the most of it. Perhaps once in a while you could make a note to check that your single status is not threatening to block any potential options you might have at the back of your mind: the experience of fatherhood or of being in a long term relationship for example. Conversely try asking some paired up friends for a list of all the wonderful things they said they would do if they were only on their own - and get on with any that resonate with you now.
posted by rongorongo at 4:45 PM on November 20, 2008

I'm 26, extroverted, single and still super happy. I frankly think those of us that have the ability happy without a partner are lucky. Dating is just bonus when it happens and when it works. And I do date and have had a long term relationship but so far I have been much happier single. I think we're just waiting for the right person to come along.

Don't worry, my friend. You're perhaps more normal than most because you don't need someone else to complete you. :)
posted by gwenlister at 4:48 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't sweat it. You're happy - you know what they say about things that ain't broke. ;-)

Maybe yours is not the most typical mindset for a 24-year-old guy just out of school, but what of it? I don't think it's particularly uncommon at all to be in your mid-20's, introverted, non-relationship-oriented, and happy. It's just where you are at this stage of your life. We all go through different stages of our lives, and during these different stages different things are important to us. I'm 37, and what I need to be happy now isn't the same as what I needed when I was 30, to say nothing of when I was 24.

If people are noodging you about getting a girlfriend, etc, just tell them it's not something that's important to you right now, and if it becomes important to you someday in the future you'll do something about it then. Mature people, at least, will respect that.
posted by JustDerek at 4:50 PM on November 20, 2008

I am also definitely not opposed to being in a long-term relationship or being a father for that matter, it's just not something I'm interested in actively seeking out, and is not something I need, at all. I suppose I am still young and my feelings may change in the future, and if they do, I'll always have the hive mind to seek for advice. :)
posted by bettershredder at 4:50 PM on November 20, 2008

Common? I don't know. Very lucky? Yes!
posted by rokusan at 4:52 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're fine.
posted by Nattie at 4:54 PM on November 20, 2008

I agree with the other commenters--you're happy with your life and with who you are. That's wonderful! Enjoy it, and don't worry that you somehow are supposed to be worried or depressed. The only thing I would caution, though, is to refrain from getting attached to your happily-single state as your identity. You're not interested in romantic relationships now, and that's just fine. The way you feel might change in the future, or it might not--either way, just stay tuned in to how youre actually feeling rather than how you think you should be feeling. But from your post, it sounds like you know yourself pretty well--I think you'll be just fine.
posted by aka burlap at 4:57 PM on November 20, 2008

Ditto on the "you're fine."

You're 24. Life is long. Ten years from now you may find yourself with different goals and desires, or even a surprisingly different life. It often happens that way.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:05 PM on November 20, 2008

I was miserable in relationships in my 20s. I was always happier when I was single. I decided to stay that way, preferring happiness to fulfilling the expectations of others. At age 32 I met my (now) husband, who was the first person with whom I felt the way I normally feel when I'm single. He's a keeper.

Keep doing what you're doing. There's nothing wrong with being single, particularly not at age 24. When the time comes that you want to share your happiness with the right person, it will fall into place.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:16 PM on November 20, 2008

nthing "you're fine." There is this ridiculous social/cultural notion that long-term monogamous relationships are a necessary precondition for personal happiness. This notion is bunk. It sounds like you are embracing and enjoying your life on your own terms, which makes you a wise and lucky person indeed. Good for you!
posted by scody at 5:21 PM on November 20, 2008

Oh, and as for getting people to get off your back: how about a breezy "when I'm interested in dating, you'll be the first person I ask for advice"? Then smile and change the subject.
posted by scody at 5:23 PM on November 20, 2008

I'm glad you asked this question because I was considering asking it. I'm the same way (more or less. I'd like to settle down eventually.)

So you're not alone in that.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:51 PM on November 20, 2008

Ha! You sound just like me... a year ago. :-) I was never opposed to a relationship; I just never found anyone I was particularly interested in (with a couple unreciprocated exceptions). I went through high school and a college degree without ever being in any relationship whatsoever. Sometimes I felt a little odd being a 22 y.o. male who had never even kissed anyone before, but I was very content so I didn't fret about it too much.

And now... I'm about a year into a relationship. And let me tell you: it's absolutely amazing. You are in for quite a treat if you do end up finding someone. But I didn't really go out actively looking for a girlfriend, and if this particular special someone I'm with now didn't cross my path I'd probably still be contentedly single.

So just throwing out there that there are, in fact, others like you. A couple of my best friends didn't get into relationships until their 20s as well.

I should clarify one thing: the part about your post that struck me was when you said you're not very sexual, so I got the impression that you weren't relishing being single because you had freedom to go out and sleep around and live the "bachelor life" or something. Rather, you like it because it leaves you time to spend with yourself thinking and being with family and friends. I hesitate to judge but merely for your census taking I (and my aforementioned friends) identify with the latter.
posted by losvedir at 5:52 PM on November 20, 2008

i am very much like you--before i met my love, i wasn't particularly interested in dating or relationships, and pretty much pursued them because that's what i thought i was "supposed" to do. then i realized nobody was keeping score, and i stopped trying. i did happen to meet someone i love, but i think i would have been perfectly fine if i hadn't.

enjoy your life!
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:53 PM on November 20, 2008

I guess my question is then, why does it still feel odd to me to be this way and are there others with similar feelings? And what can I say to people to get them off my back? It feels annoying having to defend myself all the time on this subject. Any suggestions?

I agree with everyone else that you're perfectly fine the way you are. But you final few questions haven't really been addressed. I'm no expert, being a young'un myself, but I bet you feel odd simply because societal pressure has for a long time expected people to pursue "serious" relationships. The media in this United States (don't know where you are) is saturated with the notion as much as it's saturated with sex. That's probably why you feel odd about it, not because of some inherent property of liking to be alone. You sound fine to me, and I think probably the rest of the world has got to catch up to people who've got the same sort of mindset.

But right now it sounds like people are giving you a hard time for it. I've got acquaintances who get a lot of flak from their family for not getting married, or even dating. People haven't really bothered me over it, but personally I think your best response is to avoid lengthy justification and say something to the effect of "I do as I please, come and go as I place. I'm happy." If they find you depressing, reassure them again that you're happy. That's all that really matters. If they're still distressed... well, maybe they've got their own issues to grapple with.
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:26 PM on November 20, 2008

Totally nothing wrong with you.
posted by mjao at 12:52 AM on November 21, 2008

you're fine. My friends at university, I found out later, assumed I was a) a virgin and b) asexual/lesbian (WTF? don't know how these are connected, except in some of my friends' heads) as I never had relationships while I was there. I was always fine being single, except while pining for the wrong man. Life was pretty good. Then I met a man, and life with him was better than being single, so I paired up with him. He's great, but I think I would have turned out fine if I hadn't met him.
posted by altolinguistic at 4:27 AM on November 21, 2008

Like others, I consider you lucky. Your twenties are no time to settle down, in my humble opinion. Enjoy your life and something will fall into your lap. If not,
posted by Macallister Vagabond at 6:13 AM on November 21, 2008

The world, my young friend, is pre-programmed and perfectly set up to insist, in every way, shape, and form - through every medium that it can muster: you are not complete until someone else completes you. It screams this at you every time you turn your TV on. It casually implies it in every corner of the internets. It blithely assumes it in your conversations with friends and family. The universe, for some reason I have yet to ascertain, remains wholly devoted to convincing you that you are incomplete. Everyone around you will likely remain in this sleep of belief for the rest of your lifetime.

When you follow the white rabbit, you embark on a lonely journey. Many who have done so will warn you against it, so do so with good caution, if you must. If you must, though, know that you are not like the rest. This is a good thing and they will never understand.

Take the red pill.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:44 AM on November 21, 2008

People are just confused that you don't want the same thing they want (or have). It's not about you, it's about their own insecurity. They can't believe someone can be happy without a relationship, and they wonder what's wrong with them that they need a relationship to be happy. There's no reason to get defensive. They can't make you date. If they see you as weird or strange, who cares? Just be centered and calm, smile a lot, and say you're currently pursuing other things that make you happy.
posted by desjardins at 9:12 AM on November 21, 2008

Dude, I'm jealous of you. Enjoy it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:30 AM on November 21, 2008

I wonder if that whole "asexual" thing is sort of a reaction to balance out the insane level of paired-up-ness and sexuality that is so projected on us. I would imagine plenty of us are sometimes fine with being single and also sometimes fine to be with someone. It's as if we just have to have a category, we can't just be people for whom sex isn't the most important thing, but it's also a perfectly good thing...

To me, this middle zone allows relationships to be better, because you're not just looking "for a relationship" - you're fine being single, so when you meet someone who is actually interesting, you get involved for more than simple companionship or sex. It's because you honestly want to understand this new person and find out who they are. But if there isn't anyone interesting around, you are ok just doing your own thing. (This is complicated, of course, because maybe everyone is interesting enough if you know how to look or something... so it's something about not needing to look, I guess)

Re happiness, while being "perfectly happy" sounds funny to metafilterians (including me, certainly), I saw the end of family feud the other day (Boston Legal was coming up) and one of the "guess the survey" Qs was, how happy are you on a scale of 1-10, and both people guessed 10, and the #1 answer was 10. So, plenty of "real america" is apparently perfectly happy. (my bf and I both stared at each other aghast as we watched this but there you are - good to remember you may be in a bubble...)
posted by mdn at 12:09 PM on November 21, 2008

There's a broad spectrum of sexual desire which is considered normal, so you're probably fine. And it's good that you don't feel the need to find someone else to "complete you". On the other hand, being in your early 20's, you'll probably never again have a better opportunity to date loads of people and get laid. So, if you think that might be a consideration at some later point in your life, you might want to make the occasional, vague gesture of social-sexual activity. Just saying.
posted by paulg at 9:08 PM on November 23, 2008

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