how do i get a girlfriend boyfriend themfriend BISH

How to Get a Girlfriend, Boyfriend, or Themfriend

Readers love my advice on how to get a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, or a themfriend. It explains why some of that advice you get from the internet and your friends isn’t good.

Why it’s hard getting a girlfriend

Let’s get this out of the way. If you’re a bloke reading this wanting a girlfriend, it’s not just men who have problems getting a girlfriend. Honestly. Men can find it hard getting a boyfriend or a themfriend. Women can find it hard to get girlfriends, boyfriends, or themfriends too. And non-binary folk can also find it difficult getting this kind of relationship. There are going to be things out of your control. We live in a society and the inequality in these societies means it can be harder for some people to get dates than others. 

However, the solution isn’t in the problem and from now on we aren’t going to pay attention to the problem. To get a girlfriend, boyfriend, or themfriend, you should pay attention to what’s better and what you are pleased to notice. 

[This is a long article btw, sorry about that!]

There won’t be ‘one thing’ which works

A bit of philosophy to start with. There isn’t going to be one thing in this article that will cause you to get a girlfriend. In fact, it’s most helpful to stop thinking about things causing other things to happen. Move away from the idea of ‘done / being done to’. That’s not how dating, sex, and relationships work.  

Instead, think of yourself as being an entanglement from which connections, relationships, might emerge. This means letting go of a lot of the stories about how dating works and what you are ‘supposed’ to do. You might also need to squint a bit. It also means trying all of this advice and just noticing what happens. I’ll explain as we go on.

You need to be seen

You have to be seen by others. Full stop. Being out in the world makes the ‘you’ become. So if you don’t spend time with people (either offline or online), you’re just not going to become you, let alone get a date. Thinking about the reasons you don’t have a boyfriend puts you in your head. Instead you should try to be in your body in the world.

Now, being seen is a lot harder for some people than others. For some people it just might not feel safe enough. But where are the spaces where you can be seen for who you are and who you might be? When you are there, what does it mean to you? When people see you and you see them, what do you notice? What might they see? What’s happening with your body? What’s happening with your breathing? Think about what your feet are doing. What are your facial expressions?

Be interested and interesting

People say you should get a hobby or join something if you want to get a date. It’s not so that you can hit on people while you’re there. Having a hobby makes you be seen (see above) but it also helps you to have a passion about something. Be really interested in something. It doesn’t matter what it is you’re interested in, but being interested is very interesting to other people. 

The passion you have for something affects other people which allows them to feel your passion too (even if they aren’t really into that thing). It’s kinda sexy, in fact. Perhaps you’ve experienced this from other people. Try and think back to a time when you found someone really interesting (it doesn’t have to be someone you know in real life). Remember how you were affected by their passion. Think of the thoughts, feelings, and bodily responses you experienced and bring them to mind. The passion starts to become shared and emerges between you.

Reflect on this

Now reflect on the time that you were last really interested in something. When was it? What were you thinking? How did you respond? Did anyone else notice? If they did, what would they have seen? See if you can experience this again in the next few days and allow yourself to share this interest with someone else (even if they aren’t interested in the thing you’re interested in).

If you’re interested in being seen online, here’s an article about online dating.

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“Not looking for a girlfriend”

A lot of people say that the key to get a girlfriend is not to look for a girlfriend. It’s probably not very helpful advice (particularly if they have a girlfriend). Maybe a better way of putting it is, don’t try to get a themfriend, but allow for one to emerge.

Relationships aren’t this one thing that you get. The terms getting, or having, a boyfriend are really unhelpful (I have to use them to please search engines, sadly). Think about any of your relationships: you didn’t just get them, they emerged right? As I said at the start, they emerged from an entanglement of things. We don’t have or own people. Relationships with people emerge and we emerge with them.

Hashtag Emerge

People also want to emerge. Being alive is a process of becoming. We’re all changing and moving: our values, politics, connections, passions, hairstyles, favourite crisps. So we’re more attracted to people who aren’t trying to get or have us. People who wouldn’t mind if a connection happened but also aren’t trying to get it or make it happen and can hold it all lightly. We want to be both free and also gently held. In this way we and a relationship can emerge too. 

What if you were able to just be around people and instead of grasping onto them, you were light, breezy and relaxed? Instead of trying to get a girlfriend you could allow for relationships to slowly emerge. What would you notice about yourself? How would you be different? How would people respond differently towards you?

So don’t grasp, but just be seen, be near people, and be interested and interesting. 

What to do about your body

People are interested in your body, but probably not in the way that you think. Let’s say you take [toxic masculinity influencer]’s advice and go to the gym. Maybe you start to feel really good about your arms getting more muscly (don’t skip leg day though). You stroke your arm, it feels good, you smile. As you do that it brings to mind the feelings you get when you work out. How good that makes you feel. Maybe you smile some more. 

As you pay attention to that, maybe you pay attention to how other people might be seeing you. Maybe you respond by smiling nicely. They smile back. This is what makes you more attractive. It’s not what your body now looks like. Your bicep is helping you to emerge. It’s not your big arm, it’s your relationship with your big arm and what it does for you. Just like the interested / interesting thing. It’s not the interest, it’s that you’re interested and passionate.

This is why any exercise is good. It puts you in your body looking out, instead of being outside your body looking in. So stop trying to make your body look a certain way. Instead, do anything that gets you a bit out of breath, makes your muscles work and feels good. I like to walk and do yoga, but you do you.

Paying attention to your body in this way won’t cause you get you a girlfriend. But enjoying being in your body is an important part of the whole thing. Any changes to your body are a nice side effect, not the thing that’s going to cause you to get a themfriend. Other smaller changes might be a good idea though.

Why getting a haircut sometimes works

A former colleague of mine once asked for my advice about her son. Apparently he was really shy, couldn’t talk to anyone, and although he fancied girls he never really felt like he could get into relationships. I said ‘get him a nice haircut’. So she booked him a haircut at a local fancy hairdressers. Everyone fussed over him, made him feel great, and gave him a very trendy haircut. His mam thought this experience totally changed his life. 

It wasn’t the change to his body that caused him to be more confident, it was the process. They made a fuss of him, said he looked great. He saw them looking at him in the mirror and he responded back. When he emerged that little bit more, the staff responded positively and he emerged a little bit more. He was being more welcomed into the world. I imagine when he went to school he was being noticed a little more. Perhaps he was being cute when he responded back. Maybe he stood up a bit taller and smiled. His new look was inviting people to look at him. When they did he responded and they responded back. He was in his body being seen. 

Or maybe not a haircut

Getting a good haircut isn’t going to work for everybody. A lot of people hate having their haircut. For example it’s hard for people who have a difficult time sitting in front of a mirror (trans inclusive places often give people the option). My point here is that small things like a haircut, a nail polish, new specs, even just making a tiny bit more effort to put a look together, can make an absolutely huge difference. If you do this with someone, or point this out to a supportive person, it can help even more.

It’s the process of how you emerge in the world. The key is noticing what’s better. If you try something new, pay attention to what’s better. What emerges? How do you respond? What about other people? What’s better? What else? 

You might find the Bodies module of my Teach Yourself Sex Ed course which explains this. It’s free like everything else here.

There’s also this article on how to feel better about your body.

Notice connections as they emerge

As you emerge a bit more into the world, and out of your head, see if you can notice being noticed. Keep noticing what is better and paying attention to newness. After a while you might start noticing connections. Connections happen with absolutely anyone, even people you wouldn’t dream of being your boyfriend. This is why being seen is important. When being seen happens, it’s basically ‘falling in love.’ 

Psychologist Barbara Friedrickson calls ‘falling in love’ ‘micro-moments of positivity resonance’. Pupils dilate, hearing adjusts, the vagus nerve kicks in to regulate the heartbeat, chemicals are released in the body to chill us out and tune in to the other person, neural pathways in our brain start to alter and adapt. You can experience ‘micro-moments of positivity resonance’ with your pets, someone at the shop, a funny moment with a teacher, a smile with someone randomly in the street when something funny happens. Clearly this isn’t falling in love, but you should pay attention to these little micro-connections. 

Again, everyone is different. We don’t all have access to the same senses and our brains work in different ways. BUT, think about the last time you had a little connection like this. Can you replay it in your head. Slow it right down and play it back millisecond by millisecond. Notice how you weren’t trying to make it happen, but it just emerged from both of you and the situation. What was your face doing? How did your breathing change? What happened to your heart rate?

How you get the vibe

When you start to have more micro-moments of positivity resonance with people you know, you might start to feel these connections emerge more. Common advice people give you (they mean well) is that you’ll just know when you connect with someone. You’ll know when they’re into you because there’s ‘a vibe’.

‘Vibes’ is a term that neurotypical people use for things like: are you both smiling when together? Do you pay each other excellent attention? Are you comfortable being physically close? Can you hear each other really well? Do you feel relaxed and excited at the same time? Does your heart rate (eventually) slow down a bit? Does your breathing slow down a bit? Have you been able to have some eye contact that didn’t make you cringe. This is what I was saying about micro-moments of positivity resonance happening over a longer period of time, or over a series of events. 

So ‘a vibe’ is a co-created set of micro-behaviours we sometimes find emerge over time with people. Pay attention to it, be interested in having more of it, and enjoy it. You don’t need to do anything about it other than enjoy it. For you both to turn this vibe into something that feels a bit more concrete you may have to ….

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Say ‘this is nice’ out loud

I’ve got a lot of advice about how to ask. But if you are noticing ‘the vibe’, say it out loud. ‘We have really great vibes together!’ ‘I really enjoy your company, would like to do it more?’ Remember that the times you’re spending with someone are co-created. You’ve left behind the idea of ‘done / being done to’, the vibe and the nice times have emerged from you both together. 

This means that there is a possibility for talking about this out loud some more. You might not want exactly the same things, but you have had a connection. I think nowadays the ‘define the relationship’ chat comes further down the line. The ‘how do you feel about being boyfriend / girlfriend / themfriend?’ conversation. If you might want to kiss them, say so and ask nicely. If they just want to be friends, and you want a romantic / sexual relationship, it’s better to know.  

Connections don’t always turn into boyfriends. But even if it doesn’t remember, if you’re not for them, they’re not for you. Also there are a million different stories for why this person didn’t want that kind of relationship. Stories don’t have to be true, just pick the one that is kindest to you. Pick the story that allows for you to keep learning, growing, being brave, and emerging. 

Keep noticing what feels better

Okay, so you want a girlfriend, boyfriend, or themfriend. If you ‘got’ one, what difference would that make to you? Keep asking that question until you get to a response which is about your life feeling better. So if you say “I want a GF because I would like to have regular sex. Say to yourself ‘what difference would that make?’ You might say ‘I just want to feel desired.’ Maybe it’s also ‘I want to feel loved’, ‘I would like to feel safe and warm’, ‘I want to feel lighter’ ‘ I want to be more fun’. 

Once you’ve got your ‘best hope’, imagine that overnight a miracle happens. You don’t know it, but you wake up feeling really desired (or whatever). What would be the very first thing you would notice that told you you were feeling really desired. Slowly go through the first part of your day imagining what that might look like. What you might notice. The things other people might notice. How they respond, and how you respond back. Try saying this out loud. 

None of this is going to work straight away but keep paying attention to what’s better. What else? What are you pleased to have noticed about you. These are the questions to keep asking yourself and it’s in these questions that the solution lies. 

You might find this useful on how to love yourself.

There’s also this one about how to feel a bit better about yourself.

You might also like this one on self esteem.

If you’re an adult and have money, you might find a coaching session useful but this is all the best advice I can give, so there’s a good chance that if you follow it for a few weeks it would start working a little bit.

Please leave a (nice) comment below if you like or ask me a question here.

© Justin Hancock, 2024 Find out more about me and BISH here.

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I’ve been a sex and relationships educator since 1999 (with a background in youth and community work). In that time I’ve taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. I’ve worked with many charities, local governments, schools and youth organisations facilitating training and workshops. My two books, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want To) and Can We Talk About Consent? are widely available around the world. I’ve been on the telly and the radio and have written articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m also a member of the World Association for Sexual Health. Read more about me and BISH here. Find out about my other work here Justin Hancock

If you’re over 18 and would like an advanced version of BISH check out my podcast Culture Sex Relationships. Also I’ve written a sex advice book for adults with Meg-John Barker called A Practical Guide to Sex available wherever you get books. We also did some zines to help you to figure out what you want from sex and relationships. They are at our website.

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6 thoughts on “How to Get a Girlfriend, Boyfriend, or Themfriend

  1. As an adult recently diagnosed with autism this was a great article. I’ve always searched for what is normal through others and this helped me step back and relax in this situation

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