For the first 25 years of her life, Katie Heaney didn’t date.
She had crushes, sure, but not on boys who felt the same way at the same time. And to the men who did like her as she got older, she was polite and friendly, but when it didn’t feel right, she didn’t try to make it work.
“One of the great divides, I think, between people who date a lot and people who date never is that people who date never don’t understand putting up with [a relationship that’s] ‘fine,’ ” she writes in her nondating memoir, “Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date.”
“I can’t begin to conceive of why anybody would voluntarily spend great chunks of her free time dedicated to someone she doesn’t adore. Why would I want to go out to dinner and a movie with someone I’m not completely crazy about when I already know how much I like eating dinner and watching a movie by myself?
We caught up with Heaney, now 27 and an editor at BuzzFeed, to talk about life, love and the response to her book.
Q: What kind of reaction is the book getting?
A: I’ve heard from probably hundreds of young women … and I think there’s some level of excitement that there’s a story being told in the public that they can relate to. That’s how I felt before the book came out: I didn’t see a story like mine, even though I knew I wasn’t the only one.
Q: What’s the upside of not dating?
A: In my case it was a good thing. What it meant to me to be single for all that time was to do what I wanted to do, to focus a great deal of my attention on my friends and my school and my family and figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.
Q: You’re not big on giving a guy a second chance after a mediocre date, are you?
A: It just depends. I did date a couple people briefly. One of the ones I went out with was from the Internet, and I felt tepid about the first date, but I knew I wanted to go on a second one. Like, “This wasn’t the best night of my whole entire life, but I have enough interest here to go out with him again and see what happens.” We went out five times, and I decided that was enough for me to know, and that was it.
Q: Has your outlook on dating changed?
A: It’s probably mostly the same. There are periods of feeling really good about it, and there are periods when I get sick of it, too.
Q: What does it say about society that we really haven’t talked about not dating?
A: In recent years, when we have had emphasis on the single woman, it’s meant single and dating people back-to-back, kind of the “Sex and the City” model. And that’s great, in its own way. That’s an area that deserves attention. But I do think there hasn’t been as much attention on, well, what about being really single and not placing finding a husband as the thing you’re constantly prioritizing over everything else?
It’s important to show that just as guys are allowed to take breaks from worrying about this and focus on other things, there are plenty of women who do that, too. □