I spent a lot of years thinking of all the reasons why I hadn't yet had a relationship, and I think worrying about why you haven’t been in a relationship yet is actually really common. A lot of the people I went to school with had been dating since they were 13. I didn't get my first boyfriend until I was 18 - that's a significant difference, and a whole lot of time spent worrying. There can be so much pressure on you at school, from friends, other classmates, all the magazines and TV programmes where the women seem to date pretty much as soon as they've got their first training bra - but there are so many reasons why you shouldn't worry if you haven't been in a relationship yet.
1. Who Cares if Other People Are Doing It?
One of the main reasons people worry if they haven’t been in a relationship is because it can feel like everyone else is, was or got close to it. Looking back now, I realise that I was by no means the only person left at my school who hadn't had a boyfriend; I just worried about it often enough so that was how it felt. Try to get some perspective - there's absolutely no way you're the only one who isn't 'normal.' And those that do have relationships? Who cares? You don't have to do something just because it’s what other people are doing - TRUST ME.
2. Stop Worrying and Enjoy Yourself
Which brings me nicely to my next point. You have years and years of dating, relationships, even marriage ahead of you. Quite literally years - decades. So do you really want to rush past what will probably be the only time in your life when you don't have to worry about all that stuff? Sure, some of it might be fun; but what about the arguments, the worrying, the responsibility? Remember, what you see as an outsider are the good parts of a relationship - but there are definitely, definitely bad parts too.
3. An Unwelcome Distraction
When you're at high school, it's very difficult to imagine what your life will be like when you're older. I'm 21 and I still have no idea. But what I didn't realise at high school was how important actually working was. If you want to go away to college, move to the city, get your dream job - then you're going to have a million and one things to do, like homework, extra classes, sports, extra-curricular activities, plus spending time with your friends. Do you really need to add a relationship to that list? Maybe the reason you haven't had one is because at the moment, you have more important things to worry about.
4. Are You Ready?
There is no shame - none, absolutely no shame whatsoever - in admitting, even if it’s just to yourself, that you haven't had a relationship yet because you aren't ready for one. I wasn't - it was only when I had a boyfriend, years down the line, that I realised there was no way I would have been ready for one before. You may feel pressured to find a relationship by your peers, but a relationship brings a whole new kind of pressure- and it's not necessarily a better kind, either.
5. It's Not Just Me
Remember that relationships and dating are about two people - not just you. Which means that guy you like? Or the girl you think is beautiful? Maybe it's not that they don't like you back - maybe they're the ones who, for whatever reason, just don't want that yet.
6. It's Scary Stuff
First kisses, first relationships, the first time you have sex - these are SCARY things. If you weren't scared, or worried, then you're going to be in the minority, not the other way around. It's totally, perfectly normal to be nervous about these things. When you've done them, you'll probably wonder what you were worried about. But until then, be scared, be nervous, but, most importantly, be ready!
7. Does It Mean I'm Not Attractive?
I can't stress this final point enough. If you haven't had a relationship yet, it does not, under any circumstances whatsoever, mean that you aren't attractive. I always felt like nobody would ever take an interest in me, but I was wrong, as it eventually turned out. And the same happens for everyone. Just give yourself a chance!
Despite all of the above, I'm sure you'll carry on worrying until you do find someone you can be happy with. But that's normal too - just try not to get too wrapped up thinking about it, and make the most of what you have now. When was your first relationship, or are you waiting for it?