Am I ‘walking bad luck’ with love?

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Am I just walking bad luck when it comes to love? I'm in my 20s (early to mid). I've been single for almost five years and I hate it. When it comes to asking someone out, my anxiety takes over. Sometimes I'm brave enough to push it aside, but almost every time it doesn't work. 

I remember this one time I asked for a guy's number, and he even texted me to make sure he had the right number. But after I left and texted him once, he never texted back. Another time I met a guy on a dating app and we talked for a few weeks. He was very sexual with his messages but I didn't mind. I had set my own boundaries with him. One day I decided to sext him. It wasn't even pictures or videos (he was doing all that), it was just words. Guess what happened after two days. Yep, he ghosted me. Some men just straight up ask for sexual favors or if I would be their "side piece."

Slowly, after each event, I start losing confidence in myself – like maybe I'm no good, or only wanted for someone's sexual needs.  I am starting to lose faith in love. I want to get married someday. I want to have kids, but it seems like it'll never happen to me. I'm so tired of hearing from my grandmother, "When are you getting a boyfriend?" "Why are you single?" I can't even answer the question myself, Grandma. Am I really bad at love or is this normal?

– Bad Luck

Dating is difficult. So many people ghost, move on quickly, or want different things. The good news is that many of them are clear about their intentions. If someone asks you to be their side piece, they're not lying about what they want. They're being transparent, and you can say no. If someone is willing to sext for weeks instead of meeting up, they're also showing their cards. You can walk away without doubt.

My advice is to remember that you can exit a back-and-forth as soon as you're frustrated by it. It sounds like you're sticking around, messaging until it falls apart, but it's OK to do the leaving. You don't even have to ghost; you can say, "I think we're interested in different things here, but wishing you the best!"

You might have more luck on app that only gives you a few options a day. Coffee Meets Bagel, for instance, offers less matches, but says the people are specifically for the user. On apps like that, people might spend more time considering what they want. They might be more serious about starting a relationship. Maybe.

You ask whether you're bad at love. All I can say is that we're all learning how to find the best kind of relationships. You’re in good company; this is a universal experience, for the most part, especially at your age. If you found all the right people in your early 20s, had no insecurities, and knew exactly what to say at all times ... you might be a bot.

Tell Grandma it's a process, and if she knows of any young suitors, you'd be happy to meet them.

– Meredith

Readers? Pep talk or clarity?