Why dont I have a girlfriend? You asked Google heres the answer | Joel Golby

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Every day millions of internet users ask Google lifes most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

Why dont I have a girlfriend, we ask Google, and Google says: have you considered taking this quiz? We, we girlfriendless people, sometimes women but often men, we take our loneliness and we tap it into Google and Google says: here are anywhere between six and 14 reasons why you dont have a girlfriend. We are crying, now, balled fists to the sky with the injustice of it, then we bring the fists down on a keyboard in a very specific order to ask Google something and Google takes us to a really weird place and says: have you considered the fact that quote-unquote society screwed up your brain way too much?

Trawl the dark crevices of the internet for the answers to this question and you will end up on the end of two overriding theories: the red pill Reddit bro version, where women are shrieking and terrible harpies, evil-doers sent to condemn you to this strange conceptual place called the friendzone, where they dance nude on the edges of the glass of it, cackling and flipping their women fingers at you; or theGQtheory, which basically says that you, a man, could improve yourself a bit by doing 10-15 sit-ups right now and ordering whisky confidently in a bar, and then women will flock to you. Thats it, those are the two options. No in between. The end.

I feel its more complex than that. Anyone searching for why dont I have a girlfriend? is tapping a very lonely little cry for help into the search bar, and all they are getting back is either a 10-point list about how mens rights are good or a link to an $800 blazer. Will an $800 blazer help you overcome the chronic shyness that has been stymying attempts at a relationship so far? Signs point to no. Will wearing a leather fedora, saying alpha a lot and learning how to neg help you improve your underdeveloped social skills? Sort of, but mainly no.

Haircuts are allowed more often than every eight weeks; you probably only truly need three of the 15 novelty T-shirts you have now; dont talk about videogames until the fourth date. Photograph: Rawdon Wyatt/Alamy

I have a theory aboutThe Game, the 2005 book that taught men to give themselves absurd, sub-Gladiatorsnicknames (Ice, Vanish), wear bizarre, attention-seeking clothes to nightclubs and talk to women in a deliberately cryptic way. The ideas inThe Gameworked, or appeared to work, because they were underpinned by the fact that they were actually making shy, nervous men talk to women. Nerds with popped collars and black nail varnish, previously rocking a 0% talking to women unprompted rate, were suddenly approaching 1520 girls a night. And what they were finding was this: whoa, weird, human beings actually respond when you talk to them?

This is why every single list answering the question why dont I have a girlfriend? quietly just double checks: you have, like, actually asked some women out, right? You have talked to them as though they were human? Men are phenomenally, phenomenally bad at this at the best of times. Tie that up with a perceived social imbalance such as an inherent timidity, a little edge-of-the-party anxiety, or a less-than-conventional-looking face or body, and it can snowball into something that feels inescapable. Thats how you end up with hordes of lonely young men googling their ways into the arms and fedoras of mens rights forums, because its the rough shape of a solid answer without actually being one.

The general advice can be compacted as thus: get confident, stupid! Photograph: Everynight Images/Alamy

So for the record, the general advice gleaned on getting a girlfriend if you want to have a girlfriend but do not yet have a girlfriend can be compacted as thus: get confident, stupid! Dont think of yourself as flawed or lacking in some way the ol self-pitying but Im not rich/handsome/nice-smelling enough for a girlfriend! thinking that can be easy to fall into because, cloying advice though it is, anyone who doesnt like you for the basic tenets of who you are probably isnt for you anyway. Related: if you have a complex (My strange armpits smell of meat!) thats somehow holding you back from meeting someone, it helps to work on that on your own time and figure it out yourself rather than projecting it on to someone else to possibly fix.

Let go of the idea of waiting around for the perfect woman; if you think youve found the perfect woman and shes not feeling you, just accept sometimes chemistry doesnt happen and move on. Always remember youre not entitled to a girlfriend, you just really want someone to spend Sunday mornings with. And then theres just the general advice for men (haircuts are allowed more often than every eight weeks; you probably only truly need three of the 15 novelty T-shirts you have now; dont talk about videogames until the fourth date unless you explicitly met on a videogames forum; and try to relax and be funny, my god). But theres no real advice here: you cant trick people into liking you. You can only have fun, do your best and figure that everything will work out in the end.

But then, to be honest, getting a girlfriend isnt the hard part. Maintaining a relationship is what you have to worry about. Do you know how many arguments in Ikea youre going to have? How many photos youre going to have to take on pretty bridges? How many times youre going to go to the shops, ask what they want, them saying nothing before the inevitable argument when you come back empty-handed? How many grooming habits you didnt even know you werent doing that now you need to learn? Have you ever taken a really, really slow walk about a flower market? Do you want to? Youd better really want to. The autonomy you had over which TV boxsets you want to watch just disappeared for ever. She has a favourite scent and now she wants you to wear it everywhere. Her dad hates you so much. If you can survive this, you can survive anything. Good luck out there.

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