I'm almost 23 and am a fourth-year-college student who spends more time in the psych lab than I do on the dating scene. I've never had a boyfriend and, to be honest, I've never even been on a date, although a waiter at a restaurant I go to likes to flirt with me. There's also a soccer-player I know who has talked me a lot since freshman year. I'd like to get to out there more but am not sure how to do that without losing my integrity and self-respect.
Esperanza Springs Eternal
Congratulations to you on withstanding the social pressures often associated with teen-angst, and, of course, the drunken college party craziness I remember all too well myself. You're obviously focused and setting yourself up for a very bright future. That deserves major props, m'ija! But we do need to discuss this Dating and Possible Loss of Integrity thing before we end our little virtual coffee shop chat fest.
So where's your prince? And how do you find him? Or maybe you already have and just haven't been brave enough to find out. In either case, the simplest method I've found to be effective in this type of thing is to pretend the perfect date is your lost set of car keys. Think about it -- they always show up in the most obvious place when you've finally given up searching. At least, that's what happens to me.
The point is to change your focus now that you are ready to start dating. Instead of worrying about how to go about it all, take a page from Disney's Queen Elsa and just Let It Go, mujer. Once you've taken the pressure off of yourself on what you need to do to "get yourself out there," you'll realize that you don't have to do anything except be yourself and out there is where you happen to already be. That nice waiter and the cute soccer player both seem to have an interest in you, and if you recognize that, we've confirmed you've got a pulse and are good to go. Like attracts like more often that not, so pay attention to your surroundings. You can't be the only person burning the midnight oil in the psych lab.
As for integrity and self-respect and their possible loss upon entering the Land of the Dating, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that integrity means sex and self-respect means waiting until marriage. If that's your goal, I'd suggest finding the imaginary keys to the imaginary car before explaining to any potential - ahem- buyers that said vehicle isn't available for a test drive. That privilege is reserved for the gentleman who signs his name on the dotted line.
Be patient, Esperanza. Love will find you when it's meant to. -- And keep springing eternal.
Pauline Campos is Latina Magazine's #DIMELO advice columnist. Email her your questions at email@example.com. Connect with her on her blog, www.aspiringmama.com and follow her on twitter: @pauline_campos.