Hi Auntie, I have a problem, well, actually two problems. First of all, I'm a senior in high school, and have never had an official boyfriend. Second, I have a condition where my hair just falls out which has left me with no eyelashes and few eyebrows.
So here comes my question: do you think guys don't like me because I look different? Sometimes people ask me why I look weird and don't have any eyelashes and stuff, but do you think that's why guys haven't ever shown an interest in me? Or do you think it's not related to that? I'm also a 3.9 GPA student, so my mom says boys are just intimidated by me, but I think she's just trying to be encouraging. It's my senior year, and I really want a boyfriend—or just a boy to be interested in me. Do you have any advice?
Well, okay: for starters, and at the risk of being blunt, I think we both know that your mom's explanation—that guys aren't noticing your face at all, it's just that they're scared of your amazing brain—is a bunch of hooey. Well-meaning hooey, for sure, but still hooey. But don't fault her for it, okay? Insisting that looks don't matter, and that boys are just intimidated by how smart or accomplished or athletic you are, is kind of like Mom Law; they have to do it. And really, a world where parents don't tell pretty untruths to make their kids feel better is a world that none of us would want to live in.
But since Auntie isn't bound by Mom Law, and since I think you're smart enough to suspect it already, the answer is... yes. At this moment, in the very small, very shallow, very stupid high school dating scene, the way you look probably has something—not everything, but something—to do with the state of your love life.
Not because you're a hideous beast who will never be attractive to anyone, but because the guys in your high school are only a tiny percentage of the male population, an even tinier percentage of whom you'd be a good match with under any circumstances. And it just would've been a long shot for one of those guys—within that tiny, tiny handful of theoretically dateable dudes—to also be mature and decent enough to be keen on a girl who looks a little unusual.
And that stinks, for sure. It totally does. There's nothing quite as frustrating as having a heart that's ready and willing to be given away, then realizing that there's nobody there to take it. But your stinker of a situation? It's also so, so normal, and one shared by millions of other people: everyone who's ever looked or thought or acted a little different, and didn't happen to spend their first 18 years within a five-mile radius of anyone who could appreciate it.
And hey, that doesn't mean you won't or can't have a boyfriend in high school. Something could still spark, if you're lucky enough to cross paths with somebody spark-able. But rather than casting about desperately for a boy, any boy, to like you (because let's be real, "any boy" could well end up being the kid in your gym class who smells like old tuna fish and doesn't know the difference between "there" and "their," and how much happiness are you going to get from his affections?), my advice is this: you do you. As in, focus on the things you love—your friends, your hobbies, your studies, your passions—so that when you do find yourself in a position to date, you'll have that much more to bring to a relationship... and you'll be that much more attractive and interesting to the guys who are worth your time.
Of which there will be many. In college and beyond, you'll meet men who experienced the same high school dry spell as you did, who appreciate your intelligence and taste and even your interesting face, who aren't so scared and shallow and stupid that they shy away from any girl who looks a little different. And as the guys get more openminded, you'll be getting hotter—because you'll be more comfortable and confident every day with what nature has given you to work with, and because people who live like kings in their own skins are extremely freakin' sexy. And not only will you have the relationships you're hoping for—and you will, darling, I promise you this—but the people you'd want to avoid anyway, the ones who can't handle anything but the most whitebread conventional beauty in their social circle, will save you the aggravation of ever knowing them by self-excluding from your life.
In fact, in time, you may come to be grateful to your lack of eyelashes for what it is: Douchebag Repellent.
Have you had trouble with high school romance 'cause you're different, inside or out? Share your stories in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.