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Thread: How old were you when you started dating?

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    FORT Fan RubyPhoenix's Avatar
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    How old were you when you started dating?

    Two questions:
    How old were you when you started dating?
    Do you feel that there is a specific age or age range when people should start to date?

    Why Iím asking these questions:
    I just finished college and Iím 24 years old. Iím about to turn 25 in about six and a half months. Iíve never been in a relationship, nor have I gone out on a single date. My situation never really bothered me too much up until now. All my close female friends are either engaged or married at the moment, and I feel like Iím going to snap. Donít get me wrong, Iím sincerely happy for all of them, but at the same time my life has gotten pretty sad. This is mainly because everyone keeps bombarding me with a ton of questions about my personal life. Everyone keeps picking at me for still being single and I get a lot of jokes about becoming a spinster. Maybe, Iím being overly sensitive but itís pushing me to my breaking point. I also think that my friend who recently sent me a text message telling me she was engaged with a picture of her hand wearing an engagement hasnít helped my situation either. It was the 4th engagement Iíve heard about/dealt with in the past month.

    I have had my share of girly conversations with my friends where Iíve jokingly asked time and again ďwhy am I still single?Ē but other than that, I havenít been too concerned with the fact that I havenít dated anyone up until now. I really donít want to become that sad girl who is always whining about being single.

    I do want to date, get married, and have kids someday, but I just donít know how that is going to happen when Iíve had no indication of a romantic future at all. When I was in high school and single, people used to tell me Iíd meet someone when Iím in college. I just finished college, and now Iím wondering where do I go from here?

    I get a lot of clichť answers from my friends about there being the perfect man out there for me, and I just got to be patient until I find him. However, itís a little uncomfortable when facing the reality of things. A lot of these friends giving advice found their Mr. Perfects long before they became my age, and I still havenít gotten my foot in the door towards anything yet.

    I donít want to gauge my life by the progress of others, but Iím just feeling a little panicked at the moment. I know there are several single people out there who are my age or older, and I wonder how many of them have had zero experience with dating and relationships.

    Sorry if this was too long, thanks for reading.

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    FORT Fogey Ellen's Avatar
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    I didn't really date in high school. A little in college, but nothing with a serious commitment. (Protected sex yeah, commitment not so much). I was the type focused more on studying, preparing for a career, and being free to travel (foreign language/education major). My first really serious dating relationship was at age 35, when I started dating the guy I married. (And we were "just friends" and co-workers for 4 years before we started dating.)

    When I got married at age 36, it was well worth the wait. I determined at an early age to not just "settle" for anyone -- to get married just to get married, and then find out I'd made a mistake and have it all end in divorce. (One obstacle is that I knew since my teens that I never wanted to be a mother, and it took awhile to find a decent guy with similar values and interests as mine, who didn't already have kids and who wanted to remain child-free.)

    Sure, I was at wits' end several times -- wanting to be married or in a serious relationship as were so many of my friends. But that wasn't in the cards at that time. So I made the decision to enjoy being single and free, nurture my friendships, excel in my career, and have fun pursuing my interests. And wouldn't you know it? I met a true gem of a guy, and in October we'll have been married for 14 years. He's a keeper!

    So who knows? You may meet "Mr. Right" tomorrow or in 10 years. Have fun with the freedom that comes with being single, and whatever you do, don't settle for "Mr. Right Now."
    Last edited by Ellen; 06-01-2008 at 01:31 AM.
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    MRD
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    I agree with Ellen.

    I didn't get married until I was 27. I had never really dated anyone seriously at all until I met my future husband. I was 25 when we met. I too was bombarded with questions and truly I was happy with my life at that time and seriously thought that I would never get married or have kids and I didn't really want too. So I would tell the nosy friends and family, that I had NO interest in marriage and kids, that I liked my life just fine as it was, I had the freedom to go or do what I wanted and I pointed out that the MANY trips I was able to go on because I was single. That usually shut them up because the ones with the loudest voices weren't able to take trips like that being tied down to a mortgage and small children.
    Besides, it is NONE of their business. And it's such a doublestandard that men can remain single and no one calls them a spinster.

    My mom and my grandmother all married at the same age I did, which was unusual in the 1930's and 1950's.
    So don't worry about it. Have fun. That is what I was doing when I met my husband. I wasn't looking for a boyfriend or even long term committment or short term.

    It's what's right for YOU, not your friends and family and I'd tell them that. When the time is right, you'll know it and the pressure from them isn't doing anything but making you unhappy and I would tell them that EXACTLY. People are well meaning, but often don't realize that what they are doing can be hurtful. So if you can phrase it in a way that you let them know that their pressure is upsetting then maybe they will stop.

    But listen to Ellen. Don't get into a relationship or stay in one or get married because it's "Mr. Right Now".

    Today women have all kinds of freedoms and advantages that weren't around for my mom's generation. Take advantage of that, have fun, enjoy life. Romance will happen when it happens, but worrying and waiting for it is not having fun now. Enjoy yourself. You just got out of school, so do some stuff you couldn't do while in school all those years.
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    Resident curmudgeon Newfherder's Avatar
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    I don't remember when I started dating, but I was 45 when I said NEVER AGAIN!
    "The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination."
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    FORT Fogey pakacat's Avatar
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    I didn't start really dating until I met my husband, at 19. I just didn't have much real interest in the high school and college guys I had met, except as friends... and the few I did have interest in, I was too shy to approach. But even had I not met my husband, it is likely I still wouldn't have dated and still be single unless it was something really special-- all too often it seems the "dating game" is more trouble and game playing than it is worth, especially these days. I tell my husband if, had I not met him, I'd be one of those single cat ladies probably, haha.

    I do believe a person has to be happy alone before they can be happy with someone-- you cannot rely on another for your happiness. Also, that it is better to be single and wish you were in a relationship, than to be with someone and wish you were alone. Being single definitely has it's advantages, too.

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    Anarchist AJane's Avatar
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    Ruby - first of all, at 24, you are very, very far from spinsterhood.

    If you are truly anxious to have a social life that includes dating, you've picked a great time to begin. I'm assuming that with several friends about to be married, you'll be participating in bachelor/bachelorette parties and wedding activities, which are all good places to meet men that may interest you. At your very young age, it's not imperative you find the "perfect" man. That doesn't mean that you should go out with someone who repulses you, but keep your mind open to going out with a variety of different people. Pursue an active social life if you're feeling down - on Fridays, go out with friends from work, join a mixed softball league, whatever you like to do in your free time. Most importantly, maintain confidence and a good attitude. Focus on your single status as a good and positive thing, because it is.
    All my life, I have felt destiny tugging at my sleeve.~ Thursday Next
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    PWS
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    24? 24? 24? 24?!!!!!!!!! And you feel you need to be engaged or married? Are you nuts?
    OK, got that off my chest.... I can see how you may be wondering why your friends are getting married and you aren't.... A classic example of social comparison. Let me give you a different comparison group...my sons are both in their early 30's now. Since they turned 30 they have gone to wedding after wedding after wedding of both their male and female agemates, with still more lined up in the coming summer. So in their "groups" the "normal" age for marriage for both men and women was/is early to mid 30's. If you hung around with my sons you'd not even have begun to think about marriage yet. My sons both went on for some post-college education, and so did a lot of their friends, which may relate to why their crowds are into later marriage. Now I'm guessing that your friends also went to college...if you were hanging with people who only went to high school they'd have been married years ago on average and have at least a couple of kids by now, and you'd be worrying about your biological clock. So, I don't want to say, make some new friends, but maybe broaden your social group a bit. Take a continuing ed class or two, and make some friends working on their master's degrees.
    So I wouldn't worry about being single at this point...if you want a good book on research on this, one I'd recommend is Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After by Bella DePaulo.
    What I would wonder about is the never dated part...you mean that literally? Not just that you haven't had a serious relationship, but that you've never had any kind of date? And it's not for religious, etc., reasons? You are open to dating? And there's no obvious reason why you haven't....you aren't extremely shy? People don't leave you anonymous bottles of mouthwash? You've asked people out and they've said no? Been willing to be set up on a blind date by friends and it never happens? Because, yeah, I think you might want to do a little of that before you get to a point in your life where you are looking for serious relationships. I don't mean anything heavy, not turning into Samantha from Sex and the City, but at least the occasional coffee date, movie date, etc., might be a good idea. If you really have never dated and have no idea why, that might be something to talk to a friend about...but remember, no getting mad at her if she gives you an honest answer. Just consider if what she suggests is something you want to change about yourself or not...and if it is, seek help to change it, and if not then figure Mr. Right will see past it or embrace it. It could be there is something about yourself you never realized and don't particularly value or want to preserve that is scaring people off... or it could be that the "problem" is something intrinsically you...in which case be true to yourself and take heart from the stories above. And consider going to places where what is so unique about you will be valued by the others you meet there...e.g., let's say you are a Star Trek fanatic, decorate your cubicle with toy Spocks and dress like a crew member of the Enterprise.... then go to a Star Trek or science fiction convention, or go online, and meet others with the same love. If you have 14 cats, go where you can meet other cat lovers. And really, remember, 24 or even 25, is by no means unusually old to be single these days!
    Have fun and enjoy your singlehood!

  8. #8
    On a cupcake mission! Lois Lane's Avatar
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    Hi Ruby Phoenix...forgive me if I am reading too much into this...but I responded earlier in another thread to a post you had made about having a phobia about getting your hair cut because you had a few bad cuts in the past. I'm wondering if maybe you had a few bad experiences with men in the past that has made you wary of getting involved in more serious relationships. And again, forgive me if I made a mountain out of a molehill. While I don't think you need to worry about being too old to get married (I was in my 30's when I got married!), I do think AJane etc. have some good advice for you--that if you are interested in meeting men and dating, then it is a good idea to put yourself out there so that you can meet new people, make friends of both sexes and then be open to dating. And while you might be too shy to invite a guy you like out for coffee, there is nothing wrong with asking a guy out. Most will be flattered that you asked them!

    There really is no right or wrong age to get married. I was busy with school, then going to graduate school after college, and then starting and furthering my career. I dated quite a bit, but never the "right" guy. But I still had fun and learned a lot--mostly about what I don't want in a guy. But that was a worthwhile experience as well and made me appreciate Mr. Lane even more when we began dating. I waited quite a while to meet the right guy, but it was worth it. When he proposed, it was completely right!

    FYI, I do know people who were your age who had NEVER been out on a one-on-one date. They had gone out with friends in group situations, but nothing that was "romantic," for lack of a better word. They are all happily married now with kids and careers. I'm not sure why they didn't date until they were 25 or 26--some of them were crazy busy with school and working to pay their tuition! Others...I don't know? But when they were ready to date, they dated!
    Last edited by Lois Lane; 06-01-2008 at 10:09 PM.

  9. #9
    FORT Fan RubyPhoenix's Avatar
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    First of all I want to say thank you very much to everyone who has given there input. Itís really nice and encouraging to see women who have different positive perspectives for once. Iím really glad I started this discussion here.

    Ellen, myrosiedog, Pakacat:
    I totally understand what your saying with the whole still being single is not a bad thing stuff. I definitely do like being single, but sometimes I feel like maybe Iíve been missing out on some things since all my close friends claim that their in relationship heaven. For the most part I am happy with my single life, and I try to make how I feel about my status clear to the people who keep joshing me about being single. I guess a lot of them just donít get the message, and I feel that the things people say to me can get a bit taxing at times. My own mother loves giving me the guilt lecture about how sheís going to die without seeing any grandchildren.

    On a side note, I want to mention that things have gotten so ridiculous to the point where I had a 7 year old girl who I tutor lecture me on my person life. The discussion she had with me was pretty funny and goes as follows:

    7 yr old: ďAre you married?Ē
    Me: ďNo.Ē
    7 yr old: ďWhy arenít you married?Ē
    Me: ďBecause Iím too young to be married.Ē
    7 yr old: ďNo your not. Do you have anyone youíre going to marry?Ē
    Me: ďNo, not right now.Ē
    7 yr old: ďThatís not good. You have to have someone to marry right now!Ē
    Me: ďWhy?Ē
    7 yr old: ďBecause when your parents die. Youíre not going to have anyone to take care of you or play with you, and youíre going to be all alone.Ē
    Me: ďItís okay. I have a sister.Ē
    7 yr old: ďBut when she dies, she canít play with you either, and youíre going to be really sad lonely.Ē

    After I thought about what the little girl said, I realized a lot of the other discussions Iíve been having with people in my age range or older were pretty similar to what the little girl was trying to convey to me. I really do want to know who had put those ideas in her head to begin with at such a young age!...lol

    Right now Iím at a stage in my life where I know I donít want to get married any time soon, there are a lot of things that I still want to do. But I would like to gain some experience and figure out what I like/need in a guy, and I do feel like this is where my problem lies. I felt like this is where what AJane and PWS said could be helpful (thanks for the input).

    To answer some of your questions:

    PWS -

    ďWhat I would wonder about is the never dated part...you mean that literally? Not just that you haven't had a serious relationship, but that you've never had any kind of date? And it's not for religious, etc., reasons? You are open to dating?Ē

    I have never ever been on a single date literally. In high school I didnít date for religious purposes, but in college is where I decided it was time for me to start dating and became open to the idea.

    ďAnd there's no obvious reason why you haven't....you aren't extremely shy? People don't leave you anonymous bottles of mouthwash? You've asked people out and they've said no? Been willing to be set up on a blind date by friends and it never happens?Ē

    I used to be extremely shy around guys until I got to college because I never really had a lot of guy friends before then. Iíve been coming out of my shell, and I feel like in the last couple of years Iíve made a lot of progress. But, I will admit that I am still pretty shy in some senses.

    Iíve never asked a guy out on a date, but things are a little complicated in that department, and this will be addressed when I answer to what Lois Lane said.

    No, nobody has left me anonymous bottles of mouthwash or any other signals that there is something severely wrong with me. I have asked my friends time and again if there is something that signals guys to stay away or if there is some big personality flaw that I have. The only thing they can tell me is that I should be more confident, but itís kind of hard to when I donít have any romantic experience with guys and they make me nervous.

    No, I am not willing to be set up on blind dates, but itís because I kind of want my first date to be with someone I know Iím interested in. If that makes sense.

    Louis Lane Ė
    ďHi Ruby Phoenix...forgive me if I am reading too much into this...but I responded earlier in another thread to a post you had made about having a phobia about getting your hair cut because you had a few bad cuts in the past. I'm wondering if maybe you had a few bad experiences with men in the past that has made you wary of getting involved in more serious relationships.Ē

    I have had some bad experiences, but not necessarily in the sense of actually dating men. Like I stated above, I used to be really shy around guys up until a certain point, but I did get more comfortable talking to them in college. My bad experiences with guys can be summed up into two main categories:

    (1) Iíve become friends with guys and developed crushes on them, and things end with them telling me ďIím like one of the guys.Ē Ė Which apparently according to some guys is the kiss of death to a girl who wants to get romantically with a guy. In one instance, I got the courage to tell a guy that I liked him, and he told me that exact phrase. During another time, a guy told me that before I ever said anything and so I just gave up. I never really understood what I did to make me come off as a guy. I will admit I do share some come interests with guys that many girls usually donít. Interests such as video games, comics, cars, sports, and etc, but I do feel Iím still pretty girlie. I dress like a girl and talk like a girl for the most part. I have been told that I do have a guyís sense of humor minus the crude factor.

    (2) Sometimes I was too shy to let a guy know how I felt, and Iíve had my girlfriends offer to help me with the situations by talking to the guys for me and stuff. I naively took their offers, and they ended up dating the guys instead of me. Itís happen to me three times, and I would say the last one was the most painful because one of my best friends of 6 years starting dating a guy I liked for 2 years and theyíre engaged now. I know I have nobody to blame for this except myself. I should have brave enough to face things myself.

    I guess Iíve kind of developed conflicting stigmas with those two categories. Category 1 has made me more afraid to be more open with guys; while category 2 tells me I shouldnít trust my girl friends and depend on myself more by being more open towards guys. Maybe I'm having problems because I can't get past these bad experiences?

    Thanks for reading.

  10. #10
    FORT Fogey Ellen's Avatar
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    Re: How old were you when you started dating?

    One day, the guys will grow up and appreciate a "one of the guys" kind of girl. (Trust me; it happened to me!)

    As far as the 7-year-old "tutee". I tutor Korean kids, and get a similar spiel from them and/or their mothers who ask me why I don't have kids. I tell them that although I love working with kids as a teacher, I've never wanted to be a mother.
    "Why?"
    "I don't know. It's a personal choice. Some people want to be parents; others don't. Some people want to become fire fighters or doctors or nurses or teachers or construction workers when they grow up; others don't."

    My mom used to qvetch about never having grandchildren. When I was single, I'd just say, "Okay, I'll work on that this weekend." That would shut her up! In the meantime, she accepted the fact that I wasn't destined to be a breeder, and instead she "adopted" neighbor's kids as surrogate grandkids, and both she and dad are very happy. (BTW, neither my brother nor sister have kids, nor plan to.)
    "There's no crying in baseball!"
    -- Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

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