Ask Lynn-I’ve Never Had A Boyfriend!

One young woman wonders how she can begin the search…and have her love life finally unfold.

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
I am 20 years old and have never had a boyfriend. I was a professional athlete for the last 12 years of my life and recently retired. My excuse in the past has been being busy. Now that I am free, I really do not have a life. I think I want a boyfriend, but I’m not sure if that is society just putting me in that
You just haven’t had as much of a chance as your average non-jock to work those muscles.
situation and making me feel that way. Either way, when guys come up to me to tell me how beautiful they think I am and to get my number, I am never interested in them. Lately I have been thinking that maybe I am an asexual. I have deep issues and do not know where to start. I would go to a psychologist, but I do not have any health insurance!
– Wants to love but can’t

OK, I have a million questions about what sport you played professionally from age 8, but I will do my job and focus on answering your questions.

Here’s what I think. I think that during all your “busy” years as an athlete, you missed out on something else that — for many people — takes practice: being social. Interacting on an everyday level with everyday people, not just at tournaments or on ESPN or whatever you did. Learning to find out what you have in common with others when you don’t already know because they’re not your teammates. Having the time and opportunity to let friendships — and more — develop. You just haven’t had as much of a chance as your average non-jock to work those muscles. Result: you’re lonely. And probably a little bit scared. When you like a guy, you’re not sure whether to let him call you, flirt with him, or what. I think it’s far too soon to wonder about asexuality. Rather, this is all new for you; it’s natural for you to feel off your game.

The bigger-picture issue here: You say you “do not have a life.” This, at the moment, makes sense. For many people, any sport is a hobby. And often, a hobby is what helps give you a life. But for you, it was your life. So now that you’ve retired, you need… a hobby.
Start, little by little, outing by outing, friend by friend, creating a life for yourself.
I know that sounds like dorky advice. But you need to find out who you are and who you want to be when you’re not landing your jumps or riding your broncs or whatever it was you did.

So try something different—it doesn’t matter what. Try a different sport—just for fun. Or a drawing class. Anything that will get you interacting with people, boyfriends or otherwise; anything that will get you believing that you have something to offer them other than an impressively early, and sadly ended, career.

Do I think some kind of therapy would help, too? Absolutely. I think it would offer you an excellent touchstone. Yes, it can be expensive, but some therapists, believe it or not, charge on a sliding scale. Not that therapy is negotiable, like something you buy off Craigslist, but you can always ask. Social workers may have lower rates to begin with as well. You can also find lower fees at non-profit clinics, community mental-health centers, or counseling centers with religious affiliations. Finally, if there is a med school nearby, you could see about meeting with a psychiatric resident (student in training—but with an M.D. and under supervision).

Look around. Push yourself. Practice. Start, little by little, outing by outing, friend by friend, creating a life for yourself; build it, and the boyfriends will come. Use the winning drive I know you have, and you can be a pro at this, too.

Lynn Harris ( is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (, of the award-winning website — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times,,, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via Your question may be answered in a future column.
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