Dear Charlene: “No One Ever Likes Me Back”
Every month, writer and actor Charlene deGuzman answers your questions about love, loss, and loneliness.
Hi everyone! I’m Charlene deGuzman!
I’ve teamed up with FLOOD to offer you all advice, support, and hope! Every month I’ll be answering any of your heart’s questions on life, love, happiness, and any of the deepest places in between.
Let me introduce myself. I was depressed at age eleven. I never thought I could ever feel happy or lovable. I spent my whole life trying to escape the pain. My life was a mess until I got fed up and did something about it. And now, as a recovered sex and love addict, I am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
I’m here to listen and help. Ask me anything at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your identity will remain anonymous.
And if you need one-on-one guidance, check out the work I do on charlenejoy.com. I would love to help!
Hi! My mom told me to write to you. I’m thirteen years old. I just want to know how to get guys to like me back. No one ever likes me back. I feel like something is wrong with me. My mom says I’m boy-crazy. But that’s not it. Please give me advice.
Hi! Please thank your super cool mom for telling you to write to me. I’m so glad you did! You may be thirteen, but adults feel this way, too. You really aren’t alone. I’m glad I get to help you today, because no matter what age we are, we all need to be reminded of the truth.
And the truth is: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. It can feel like something is wrong with you, and it makes sense why you would feel that way, but really, there is nothing wrong with you. When I was thirteen, I felt the exact same way. In fact, I’ve felt the exact same way for most of my life, and still sometimes do. A lot of us do. We are all out there, wanting to feel good enough, wanting to be perfect. But what we think of as “perfect” does not actually exist. We are all flawed, and all have insecurities, pain, and fear. And usually we are all out there doing our best to hide it.
You, exactly as you are in this moment, are perfect. You are good enough, you are lovable, and you are worthy of love.
I know this may be hard to believe when the guys you like don’t like you back. But your worth, value, and awesomeness that makes you, you, doesn’t depend on what other people think of you. It only depends on what you think of you.
You may be thinking, Charlene, I just need to know how to get guys to like me back. Well, I’m not sure you’re going to like hearing this, but the one piece of advice I wish I had known when I was your age was: be yourself.
I can hear thirteen-year-old me shouting, “But I hate myself!” But here’s the trick: The kinder you are to yourself, the more your experiences will reflect this. Basically, you have to like you first, so others can like you, too. Because when they do like you, if you don’t like yourself first, you won’t be able to fully receive it. Because then it’s just fleeting validation, and, trust me: not only does it not work—it doesn’t last. If you don’t like yourself first, once you do find the right guy, you will spend most of your time afraid that he doesn’t love you, always searching for reasons to justify it. Your insecurities will keep you paranoid, jealous, needy, clingy, and always feeling not good enough. It’s exhausting, painful, and quite the opposite of romantic.
When someone is their most authentic self—when someone is comfortable being exactly who they are—that’s when they are the most attractive version of themselves.
When someone is their most authentic self—when someone is comfortable being exactly who they are—that’s when they are the most attractive version of themselves. Think of people you admire the most—maybe some of your friends, or people you would like to be friends with, or any of your role models. The more themselves they are, the more vulnerable, the more brave—doesn’t it just make you love them more?
Now think of anyone you find repulsive—is it because they’re maybe trying too hard? Are they always trying to prove something, or defend themselves? Do they constantly seek attention or need something? Do they seem “fake”? It can feel really icky to be around someone trying too hard to be someone they aren’t.
I spent much of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was always trying to be what I thought guys wanted. I would try to look like what I thought guys thought was attractive. I would immerse myself in whatever the guy I was crushing on liked. I was a shape-shifting chameleon, always ready to exhaust myself into being the “perfect” girl.
When I look back on this, none of it was worth my time. I would end up heartbroken and resentful, and not knowing at all who I was. Of course, I told myself that I must be broken and unlovable. Not good enough, not pretty enough, not funny enough, not cool enough, not _____ enough.
For most of my life, I was attracted to the guys who didn’t like me back. This is a very common thing that happens. Besides these guys seeming to be the most charming, sometimes it’s natural to be attracted to someone who is unavailable.
It’s important to put your attention and focus and energy toward the ones who love you. Pay no more attention to the ones who don’t. If you’re putting your attention toward the people who don’t deserve it, you will only end up disappointed, continuing to validate that false story that you aren’t good enough. When you shift your attention toward the ones who do deserve it, you will feel fulfilled, supported, and loved. And you and your loved ones will continue to rise up together. There’s no use dragging yourself down anymore.
I know there really isn’t anything I can say to make how you’re feeling feel much better. I’ve been there, we’ve all been there, and it feels terrible. But if there was something I wish someone said to me when I was your age, it would be that you are so loved and perfect just as you are. It’s not going to feel this way forever. No boy will complete you, because you are already complete. And as much as it sucks that we can’t change other people’s feelings, we can change our own. The more you love and appreciate yourself, the better the guys will be that you attract, and the better relationships you will have. The right guy will come at just the right time, and he will have been worth the wait. FL