Dear Thelma: I'm not attractive and I'm an introvert. Will anyone love me?

I have always been an introvert. I’m shy but I don’t always show it. Instead, I fake it by acting like an extrovert. I don’t know if that makes me an ambivert.

I prefer staying at home alone than hanging out with friends, though once a while I’d like to hang out with them. Since young, I have never hung out with my friends anywhere outside of school because of my strict parents. Nowadays however, my parents are less strict when it comes to that but I have gotten accustomed to staying at home and enjoying my own company.

I do put in the effort to meet up with friends during semester breaks but they have always been too busy with something or other. But I’m fine with it. I don’t mind being alone. But it makes me wonder whether I will ever meet someone who will love me. Will I be alone forever? I enjoy my own company but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.

I have always been sceptical about being able to find anyone who will love me. I’m a 5’5” (165cm) male, pretty scrawny but not at the anorexic level. I am not that good-looking either (that is probably my self-esteem speaking) and I have a lisp. Growing up, I’ve always been told that “you’re really short,” “you’re really dark”, “do you eat anything at all?” and that has really taken a toll on my self-esteem.

I know looks are not everything as they don’t last forever, and it’s what is inside that matters the most. And I know I should be grateful to not be born with any disabilities but from time to time, it does get to me.

But no matter what, many people will judge someone by their looks, even if some of them value attitude over looks. I am working on gaining weight. Other than that, I can’t change. Everywhere I go, I see girls dating bigger, taller and good-looking guys. And then there’s me, who is shorter than the average girl’s height. As the fake extrovert that I am, there is only a limit to how much I can fake being confident.

What’s worse is that I have never been in a relationship in my life. I am 19 years old and I don’t plan on dating until I finish my studies, which means I would be 22. (My parents have the same thoughts.)

But university is the perfect place for me to get into a relationship, and once I leave there will not be many opportunities for me to meet people.

If your advice for me is to date during my university life, my parents would probably stop me from doing so.

I am also not considering Tinder. I prefer dating someone I know. And the thought of asking a girl out is really terrifying especially for someone who is shy and loves the indoors more than the outdoors. Also, I heard that first relationships don’t usually work out, and even so (knowing me) it would probably take a lifetime to find anyone who would want to date me, what more love me.

I have written a lot about what is bad about me, so I’m going to write about a few of my good qualities. I have a good sense of humour and a lot of patience. I try not to live in the past. I might be exaggerating a bit but I’m just saying these in the hopes that you think that these qualities can help me.

I feel really pathetic asking these questions but I’m desperate for some advice. Is this ugly duckling going to be alone forever and if not, is his plan to get into a relationship terrible?

Hopeless ugly duckling

First things first, people who make nasty personal remarks do so because they have no manners, no feelings, or because running you down makes them feel good about themselves. Do not listen. Better still, walk away. Be around good people.

Once you are around good people, you’ll be more confident. And that leads us onto your big question: finding love.

The short answer is that you’re not pathetic; you are a perfectly normal 19-year-old. Are you loveable? Of course you are. Your letter shows you’re bright and thoughtful. That’s loveable.

To find the love of your life, you need three things: a good match in terms of character, shared life goals, and the skills to get along when life becomes difficult. In short, relationships are complex. And like studies, getting good at relationships involves a learning curve.

Think it over and consider the adage, marry in haste, repent at leisure. Dating is a path to getting your ducks in order, so that when you marry, you pick the right person.

Dating while you are in college gives you three advantages. First, you meet hundreds of single people. Second, you have time. Third, early relationships tend to be hell and so you can make all your mistakes at college and then walk away from them.

I think dating now is really the best option but if you really don’t want to, I strongly suggest you increase your socialising so that you learn to understand your own needs.

Clubs are excellent because they provide regular meetings without dating. And with seeing the same people over and over again, you’ll soon learn what kind of person you want to be with and what kinds of things turn you off. Think of it as pre-dating.

When you are ready for a relationship, please consider that Tinder is about hooking up and dating is about finding the love of your life. I’m not saying you can’t find love on a hook-up app, but it is rather unlikely.

I’d stay away from apps and social media because people who use those have time to craft their public image. That means that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. Keep it real and you are less likely to be misled by a false front.

As for asking a girl on a date, this is how you do it. You talk generally about the kinds of things she likes, and then you suggest an activity based on that. “You love duck rice? I know a great place. Want to come for lunch with me? My treat.” Keep it light, casual and friendly.

The important thing to know is that girls are just as nervous about dates as men. In fact, if you scratch beneath the surface, you will find that many people put up a fake show of confidence. Underneath, they are dead scared of being judged.

If you want to connect, just be yourself, tell her she’s great, and have fun. Then, as you go on several dates, your relationship will deepen naturally.

If you could meet Thelma one day, what would be that one burning question you would ask her? Send your question to and write “Thelma Love” in the subject field.

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