A reader asked:
How to cope with not having a date at prom? Everyone else has someone to go with but I don’t even have anyone to ask out. I feel that I will just stand in a corner while my friends and class mates will have their own company.
I’m sorry you’re having to deal with that.
I think that you’re probably not as alone as you feel. Dating is hard, and it can be especially hard when you are young. Finding people to ask out doesn’t always happen on a schedule, even if seasonal events like prom mean you’re surrounded with messages that tell you that it should. It doesn’t always work out that way, though. It’s not just you. It’s that this stuff isn’t easy and the reality isn’t like the cultural mythology.
It’s also worth realizing that it’s ok if you don’t want to date, or if you don’t want to date yet. Some people aren’t ever interested in dating. Some people are eventually interested in dating, but aren’t ready in high school. Some people need some time to mature before they’re ready to date. Some people don’t have so much of an emotional or social peer group in high school, and so don’t meet anyone they want to date. Some people have a sexual orientation or gender that is stigmatized in their high school in a way that makes dating exhausting to even consider. Some people are still figuring out their sexuality or gender and don’t want to date while they’re struggling with it.
All of those things are common, and normal. So are any number of other reasons you might not want to date. If you don’t want to date, or don’t want to date now, that’s completely fine. I don’t know whether or not you want to date now; only you know that. It’s worth realizing that either answer is fine, and that it’s also ok if you’re not sure.
You’re probably not the only one at your school who doesn’t have a date for prom. Unless your school is tiny, there are almost certainly several other people at your school who don’t have dates either. You’re definitely not the only one in your state, and there will be any number of people online during prom who didn’t have dates either. When the culture tells you that you should have a date, not having one can feel like a failure, but it’s not. All it means is that you don’t have a date. It doesn’t reflect poorly on you. These things happen.
There are some options for how you might deal with this:
You don’t have to go to prom if you don’t want to:
- Prom doesn’t have to be important
- Nothing awful will happen if you don’t go
- If you think you won’t enjoy it without a date, it’s completely ok to do something else instead
- If you decide not to go to prom, it might be a good idea to plan what you’re going to do instead
- That will raise the chances of enjoying the night rather than dwelling on the fact that you’re not at prom
- (Eg: You could go to a movie, make a cake, have a party with friends or family who aren’t prom-aged, go to a concert, check out a store, etc)
Asking your friends to set you up with someone:
- If you have friends who you trust, it might be worth asking if there’s anyone they can set you up with for prom
- There’s a good chance that they will know someone
- Going to prom with someone doesn’t have to mean that you’re dating them
- Or that you’re particularly into them
- It can just mean that you’re both going to an event together and attempting to enjoy the event and one another’s company
- (It’s not such a good idea to do this if you don’t have friends you trust; some people use this situation as a way to be cruel)
Going without a date and enjoying the other aspects:
- Some people go to prom without a date
- You probably won’t be the only one
- People don’t spend the entire night glued to their dates
- (especially since a lot of people go with people they’re not actually dating in order to have someone to go with)
- Going without a date doesn’t mean that you’ll spend the evening alone
- If you have friends you like who enjoy your company, they’ll still be your friends at prom, and you’ll still get to spend time with them
- If you want to do the rituals like dressing up and taking pictures and eating the fancy food and celebrating the end of school, you can enjoy all of those aspects of the event even without a date
Have an escape plan and distractions:
- If you have a phone, bring it
- You can use your phone as a distraction if the night is miserable
- You can also use it to take breaks
- If you get overwhelmed and upset, you might be able to take a break, distract yourself with a phone game or Tumblr, then go back in and enjoy things
- It’s also ok if you need to leave. You don’t have to stay if it turns out the evening is miserable
- If you have the option of driving yourself, or otherwise having access to transportation you control, do it that way
- If you know that you can leave if you need to, it can also make it more likely that you will enjoy it and not feel trapped
Go to or throw an after party:
- Prom often isn’t just about the official part; it can also be about parties that happen afterwards
- If you like parties, you’ll probably enjoy them even if you don’t have a date
- And you don’t necessarily have to go to prom to go to a party
- And even if you go and hate the actual prom part, you can decide that the party is the main part and enjoy that
- You also might be able to throw a party after, if you have friends who would be interested in going.
Short version: If you don’t have a date for prom, you are not alone. You might feel like the only one, but it’s actually fairly common. You have options for what to do on prom night. Scroll up for concrete suggestions.