My Son Has Never Had A Girlfriend-Problem?


Parents of sons (or daughters) soon learn that worry has no age limit, just as being a parent has no expiration date. One concern parents face is their children’s relationships, especially if it seems out of the norm. For instance, should parents be concerned about a son who has never had a girlfriend?

Parents may wonder about a son who has never had a girlfriend, and rightfully so. With a thoughtful and strategic approach, parents should feel comfortable addressing concerns regarding a son’s lack of a relationship, whether it’s because of age, ambitions, or something else.

As a mom of three sons, I’ve found myself concerned over their relationships from time to time, including when they didn’t have a girlfriend. Let’s look at what it means when a son doesn’t have a current girlfriend, desires for a girlfriend, or may never have had a girlfriend.

Tween Son Never Had A Girlfriend? Good!

Sons who are tweens and below make up the childhood years, aged 12 and under. So is it normal for children to have never had a boyfriend or girlfriend?

Parents should not worry about tween sons and below who have never had a girlfriend or expressed desires for a romantic relationship. For this age group, it’s best for parents to model good relationships and be available to answer queries when sons instigate the subject.

Most boys 12 and under are still more focused on toys, sports, and friendships of the same sex. However, it is also important to note that boys are entering puberty earlier now than before (just like girls) so physically, by aged 10, some boys may start to change and hormones can shift interests in a sexual nature (Source: WebMD)

Remember, most sons are mini-me versions of their dads when raised in a household together, much to the chagrin of teen boys everywhere. So the healthiest way for parents to teach their sons about good relationships is for dad to be a good role model first and foremost.

Dad and Son Matching ‘Me’ T-Shirt & ‘Mini-Me’ Onesie is a popular item at Amazon.

It’s also a completely natural approach for parents to take. For instance, many parents gravitate to items like this cute dad ‘Me’ t-shirt with coordinating ‘mini-me’ onesie as seen at Amazon as soon as they learn the sex of the baby, flaunting the parent-child connection.

Another example of this mini-me idea of parent and child is this country hit song, Watching You, by Rodney Atkins. Atkins wrote this song especially because of his own parent-child relationship with his little boy, who also starred in the video.

Rodney Atkin’s song, Watching You, about his relationship with his young son, was voted Fan’s Choice for Video of the Year at the 2008 ACM awards.

However, Atkins isn’t alone in his belief of how his dad role influences the way his son behaves, and the impact of the parent-child bond. Watching You was voted ‘fan favorite’ at the 2008 American Country Music awards, and I suspect it’s not just because it’s a catchy tune.

Tip for Tween & Under Parents: Don’t press concerns about romantic relationships for your tween and under son. Instead, model healthy relationships and be there as a sounding board for your son, when he comes to you with his own questions.

To read more about sons, I recommend these related articles:

Teenage Son Never Had A Girlfriend- Should You Worry?

Talking to teens is like navigating a minefield for anyone, including parents. So how should parents address teen sons who’ve never had a girlfriend, or for that matter, should they at all?

Parents should take a cautious approach with teen sons when discussing romantic relationships, especially if the concern is that their son hasn’t had a girlfriend. Teens experience heightened emotions and have difficulty with confrontations, even when parents have good intentions.

Adolescence, especially once puberty emerges, is an intense time of growth, both physically and emotionally, yet it’s also unique to each individual. As well, the rate of change externally and internally may not align, causing further disconnect for teens and their families (Source: Johns Hopkins).

It’s vital that any communication directed by parents addressing girlfriends with teen sons remains positive and non-judgmental. Otherwise, teen sons are apt to shut down verbally and halt any progress in the discussion.

Some reasons teen boys might not have had a girlfriend:

  • Immaturity- They still are young at heart and prefer to play kid games.
  • Studious- Some boys take a studious attitude and find it difficult to merge romance with academics.
  • Awkward- Though they have interests in romantic relationships, some teen sons have difficulty talking to the opposite sex and feel too insecure to approach girls.
  • Sports- Boys who are particularly sports focused may just feel they don’t have enough time for dating and relationship entanglements that might interfere with their sports schedule.
  • Drama-Some boys aren’t interested in romantic relationships because they think they’re too drama-filled. This is especially concerning to teen boys who’ve witnessed firsthand from their friends the drama that often ensures from teen romance.

One particular problem connected to teen romance is teen dating violence. The prevalence of teen dating violence ranges from 9-57% (Source: Youth.gov). This is an obviously wide margin due to methodology, definition variation, demographics and more, but regardless, it’s a daunting issue parents shouldn’t ignore.

A 2000 Canadian study found that teen violence is not only prevalent in teen romantic relationships but that also teens are likely to attribute partial responsibility to the teen victims of violence. This is just as concerning for parents of teens, too!

So what should parents do when their son doesn’t have a girlfriend? Be thankful, I say!

In all seriousness, though, just like with tweens and younger, parents of teen sons should first and foremost, be good relationship role models! And then, keep communication lines open and positive or non-judgmental.

Teens need to know that when they come to their parents they will be heard and not judged for their feelings or opinions. Even the most popular, assertive teens have self-doubt, confidence issues, and personal worries, so above all, they need to feel assured that their parents love them and safe in their home environment.

Twentysomething Son Has Never Had A Girlfriend

As sons enter young adulthood, it’s expected that dating will take on a more prominent role in their lives. So what do parents do when their twentysomething sons don’t have a girlfriend, or perhaps have never had a girlfriend?

Parents of twentysomething sons who have never had a girlfriend are right to be concerned. However, it still doesn’t mean there is a problem. Parents should feel confident to have a frank conversation with their sons and address the issue head-on, in a positive manner.

So first off, parents need to view the bigger picture regarding young adult relationships from a male perspective. Pew Research reports that most men under 30 are single, and 27% of men in their 30s are not in a relationship; as well, half of those ‘singles’ regardless of age are not even looking for a relationship.

In other words, the reason a twentysomething son hasn’t ever had a girlfriend could just simply mean he hasn’t been looking for a serious relationship, not that he won’t ever want or have one.

Many young adult males are more focused on attaining independence, establishing themselves in the work force and finding housing for the first time on their own. A girlfriend at this time can potentially add in more effort than they are willing to expel.

Suggestions for parents of twentysomething sons without a girlfriend:

  • Talk openly about relationships. Simply ask your son about his romantic goals.
  • Some sons may be too focused on career aspirations and if so, parents should respect his wishes to leave romance on the backburner.
  • Parents may find that sons desire a relationship but struggle to meet someone, especially if he is under work stress. Parents can be a lending ear for their son, while also offering some sage advice.
  • Parents should resist temptation to set their son up, unless he’s given explicit permission or asked for help directly.

Thirtysomething Son Has Never Had A Girlfriend

Fr. Mark-Mary of Ascension Presents took a vow of poverty when he joined the Franciscans as a priest, which also meant forgoing a married life and children.

By the time a son is in his 30s, he’s experienced puberty, had time to finish his education, and established his career. So if he’s never had a girlfriend even after all this, should parents be concerned?

It’s unusual for thirtysomething sons to have not had a girlfriend, as statistically this situation is in the minority. The best approach for parents is to talk directly with their son rather than speculate, and be prepared to offer support but not offended if rebuffed by their fully adult son.

It’s true that most men have had multiple girlfriends and at least one serious relationship by the time they are in their 30s; however, this is on the downslide (Source: Pew Research Center).

Basically, over the last decades, it’s become more acceptable for men (and women) to wait for serious relationships, which can mean an increase in not ever having a girlfriend/boyfriend, whether from economics, changing societal norms, or a combination.

What can parents do in this situation, and what exactly is appropriate?

Ultimately, parents of thirtysomething sons need to acknowledge that their sons are adults and any influence parents exert is contingent upon sons’ acceptance. But there’s nothing inherently wrong about parents asking about sons’ romantic intentions.

Parents can ask; it’s up to sons to divulge, or divert.

Reasons sons in their 30s might never have had a girlfriend:

  • Some reasons such as awkwardness and insecurities are similar to those of earlier age brackets. Work with your son to help him improve his confidence such as using a stylist; recommending self-help books; or even seeking help from therapists.
  • Your son may suffer from a health/medical disorder if he lacks desires. Encourage him to make an appointment with his doctor to discuss this. Some hormonal conditions could be affecting him and need to be addressed; as well, other health problems may be connected and this is a symptom.
  • Often men in their 30s are just experiencing career success, or on the verge, which takes up the majority of their focus. However, men at this stage may be just on the precipice of being ready to settle down, and thus, looking for a girlfriend will soon take center stage.
  • This is also a time when some men start taking note of their life and a few may make big changes that don’t involve girlfriends such as enlisting in the military, going abroad, big career switches that require more education, or even joining a religious/celibate life.

Special Circumstances-Is It Weird If A Guy Never Dated?

There are some special circumstances that parents should be aware of regarding sons who’ve never had a girlfriend. Let’s look at three of those: sons with disabilities; sons who have sexual confusions; and sons embarking on religious life.

Sons With Disabilities May Never Date, And That’s Ok!

One in 34 males are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, in comparison to 1 in 144 females (Source: Autism Speaks.) In addition, 34% also have an intellectual disability. It’s reasonable, then, for parents to think about how disabilities can affect a son’s relationship prospects.

As a mom of a son with special needs, I’m fully aware of how his disabilities impact his relationships. Our son cannot form emotional bonds and attachments like most people. So we’ve adjusted our expectations about his future, including girlfriends.

Our son is not emotionally or cognitively capable of dealing with issues related to romance. It would be extremely damaging for his health and well-being, and that of anyone with romantic expectations towards him, too.

In fact, to be perfectly blunt, anyone acting romantic towards our son would be putting him in an abusive situation as he’s not able to make those sorts of decisions freely. And our son is not alone.

Parents should be cautious regarding romantic involvement for their son if he has intellectual or emotional disabilities. It’s truly a safety issue!

Sons with diminished mental capacity, impulse control deficits, and certain chromosomal disorders may need extra protection in relation to romantic assertion, so keep this in mind if your son falls into one or more of these categories.

Helping Sons Who Struggle With Sexuality

It may also be an issue of sexuality regarding sons who’ve never had a girlfriend.

While it can be an inclination towards homosexual acts, it could also be related to other concerns such as sexual abuse, hormonal imbalances, or other, since in actuality, the percentage of those identifying as gay and lesbians in the US is less than 5% of the adult population, according to Gallup.

However, one book I recommend for sons struggling with sexuality is A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption by Beckett Cook, available via Audible with a free trial membership. It is the autobiographical account of one man’s journey that many have found useful and pertinent.

Nonetheless, parents of sons in this situation should remain faithful to loving their son and helping him get the right support he needs for healing.

Sons Who Choose A Religious Life May Not Have A Girlfriend

And lastly, sons who’ve heeded a calling to religious life such as becoming a priest or monk will have forsaken ideals of having a romantic relationship or girlfriend. But this doesn’t mean it’s easy for him, or parents.

Sons who become priests forgo the future of a wife and children. It also means their parents forgo a future with grandchildren, albeit not willingly in most cases.

This isn’t an easy decision for sons to make, but at the same time, it shows their dedication and devotion. It’s a huge step!

Like with all situations, parents can offer advice (and love their children), but for sons with the ability to control their own lives, parents can’t enforce their personal choices. They have to accept that they aren’t in control anymore of anyone but themselves.

And truly for the religious family, there is no greater calling than doing what God has called you to do!

Sons Who Have Never Had A Girlfriend Takeaway

To recap, there are perfectly acceptable situations for sons to never have had a girlfriend, particularly involving age, mental/emotional disabilities, or even personal aspirations.

The important thing for parents to remember regarding their sons is to maintain a positive parent-child relationship (no matter how old children get); be good relationship role models; and remain open-minded regarding your son’s choices (especially when he’s an adult).

To read more about sons, I recommend these related articles:

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a Catholic mother of four, grandmother ("Oma") to two, and wife to Mat since 1994. She is a former public school teacher of 18 years, licensed in 3 states and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. In addition, she also taught education courses online as an adjunct professor, mentored numerous education interns, hosted professional development for educators, and tutored, as well as homeschooled.

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