dating

'I'm 25 and never been in a relationship. So I asked sexologist Chantelle Otten to help.'

This article was originally published in The Lonely Girls Guide newsletter. You can subscribe right here.

As a 25-year-old who has never been in a relationship, the question I always get is "why?". Most of my generic answers include "never found the right person", "not ready for a relationship yet", and my favourite: "unsure." 

I would like to acknowledge that I'm sure no single 25-year-old man constantly gets asked this question, but it's something I've noticed people are asking more the older I get. 

And maybe it is something I'd like to address. So when I got offered relationship coaching sessions with Bumble's resident sexologist and relationship expert Chantelle Otten, I decided to face my fears and go for it. 

The idea of talking about my personal feelings and my dating life was terrifying. 

However, because I know Chantelle, I decided to trust the process.

We started by talking about my past romantic relationships and dating lifestyle. She asked about relationships that have impacted my life such as my parents and grandparents. I told her that my parents have the best relationship I've ever seen. They're perfect. 

She then said, "I wonder if you're seeing that their relationship also takes work to make it work. Relationships are not always easy."

Ooft, that hit hard.

I then told her that on first dates I ask a lot of questions and kinda treat it like an interview where if they say one thing that doesn't really sit right with me, I call it off. Chantelle told me that there's no such thing as an ideal or perfect person. Then she said that I should stop trying to find out every single thing about someone on the first date. Getting to know someone takes time and should be deep and lengthy, not rushed and abrupt. Interesting! 

Then we were back to the present. I told Chantelle I had a first date coming up at the end of the week and so we decided that we would work towards making me "ready" for that. 

"I want to see how you flirt," Chantelle said. "Let's go to a bar." I have no idea why but after that first therapy session I was actually super excited to put these new learnings about myself and my relationship with relationships to test. 

Watch Horoscopes And Dating. Post continues below.


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We found a cute bar that had no one in it except for the bartender. So this is who I was going to flirt with. 

Just mentally hyping myself up :')

When he brought over my drink, I asked, "IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE MADE ONE OF THESE?!" 

It was then I realised that my flirting style is basically just... yelling at someone. 

Why am I like this?

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Why didn't the bartender ask for my number? Unclear. 

After my failed flirting attempt, Chantelle asked how I was feeling about my upcoming date, and my answer was "nervous". We talked about my rapid fire questioning and discussed how I should slow down ad leave more room for silences. 

There were three other useful things I took away from the coaching session as well:

1. There are three different ways people experience romantic connections.

Chantelle explained that not all people experience romantic connections in the same way. 

For some, it is: 

The Spark: They are immediately drawn to someone. 

For others, it is: The Flirt (clearly not me):These people can flirt their way into liking and dating someone.

And for the rest of us, including me, it is: The Slow Burn (me): We take longer to warm up to someone. 

2. You have to date for yourself, not date to get into a relationship.'

Chantelle could definitely tell that from seeing super successful relationships around me, I was dating to get what they have rather than dating for the fun of it. 

When I thought about this, I realised, when dating, I would always prioritise the person I'm seeing over everything else. 

I decided this is something that I definitely want to stop doing, especially when I can feel that I'm putting the connection I have with this person over my own individual needs.

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3. Don't fill all the silences.

Chantelle told me I'm done with interviewing my date. I'm a talker and I hate breaks in conversations. Even if I'm in a group of 10 people and I can hear the conversation dying down, I'm already thinking of the next topic to avoid that split second of quietness. 

I also do this on dates. I talk so much and am constantly asking questions. I come out of dates thinking "I know so much about that person and they know nothing about me." 

I used to think it was because men are rude but now I realise it's because I don't actually give them the opportunity to ask me anything. So this was another thing I needed to address on my date. 

Listen to Em talk about her date on The Undone. Post continues below.

I was ready to bring my newfound knowledge to my date. However, sometimes real life gets in the way of fun things. 

On the day of my date, I found out some sad news. If you want some background, you can listen to my best friend Lucy and I talk about it here. 

I told my date beforehand that I was pretty upset and didn't think I would make great company. He insisted that we still meet up even if it was just for one drink. I agreed. 

At the bar I was still very sad and it was very obvious. Weirdly, because of how sad I was and how much I didn't want to be there, I ended up doing everything on my checklist. He was very flirtatious and was good at it- show off. He asked me so many questions and it was probably the most I've ever talked about myself on a date ever. 

There were many silences, and that was weirdly okay. I didn't ask him many questions (or any questions); I knew little about who he was but he knew a lot about me. And that was weirdly okay. 

After the date he told me he had a great time and would like to see me again - very weird behaviour. 

However, I agreed because I wanted to see him when I'm in a better headspace. But now I'm wondering if the key to being a good first date is to look sad and uninterested? Probably not, but I'm not done with this trial just yet. 

For more rogue dating stories or 'life in your 20s' takes from Emily Vernem, subscribe to her newsletter, or follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

Feature Image: Supplied.