I'm 22 and have never been in a relationship.
I'm 22. I've been on a few dates, but have never been in a relationship or even been kissed. The last time there were any romantic feelings between myself and a guy was like 6 years ago, and even that never turned into anything due to the timing of it. In high school there were maybe 1 or 2 other guys that I liked, but I never pursued them for circumstantial reasons. Since then, nothing.
I'm somewhat shy, but I think if I met a guy I was legitimately interested in I would feel comfortable asking him out. However, I haven't met anyone that I've genuinely liked or been interested in romantically in years. I think that part of the issue is that I'm in a very female dominated field, so both my undergraduate and graduate classes are 80-90% women. Also, now that I'm in grad school a lot of my classmates are married or in serious relationships, especially the men. And my main hobby is horseback riding which is also very female dominated.
My brother and his girlfriend have been together for 4 years, a lot of my cousins and friends are getting engaged, married, etc. and I can't help but think that I don't want to be alone forever, and I really want someone to share my life with. But then I wonder if I actually have time for a relationship. My grad school curriculum is insanely demanding, and what little free time I have left usually goes to my horses. I had been moving back and forth across the country during undergrad so now that I know I'm going to be in the same place for 4 years I thought now is the time to get serious about this. However my schedule is making that really difficult, and even once I graduate I know my work schedule is going to be insane for several years at least.
I've tried online dating, but I feel a bit hopeless about it. With no prior relationship experience, I don't know what I want except in the most basic sense (like living in the same area, or having a job), and even with the wide wide web I haven't met anyone I'd be excited about meeting. I want this to happen, but I don't know how.
Any advice at all would be appreciated.
You seem to think making the approaches is YOUR responsibility. Well, it's not. I don't care WHAT you more modern beans think - not least because of the work arena having primed you to think 'see it, want it, will just reach for it'. The mental wiring upon which dating behaviour operates is still primitive, meaning, He Tarzan, You Jane. And if you subvert that earliest process you could jeopardise the calibre of foundation upon which the relationship is built, meaning it's unlikely to last. You'll end up either with a limp lettuce leaf who constantly waits for you to initiate - like a puppet - or one who despite having been initially flattered, soon gets bored of the lack of room to show off his wooing prowess and the lack of challenge. Think nut that isn't too easy to crack. Men love challenge, men NEED challenge... and so do the initial chase and wooing stages need the man to prove his skills and mettle.
So with you being stood there convinced to your core that you're the one in charge, this will affect the vibes and body posture and language signals you send out, meaning a vibe that 'smells' of this: Unavailable/Non-receptive to approaches, just stand there and WAIT.
There again, with you have an healthy inner instinct that knows better than any conscious beliefs on your part, maybe you're embracing that female huntress idealogy simply because you're genuinely NOT ready yet?
Pressure, schmessure! So what if your friends are timely developers but you a late one (concentrating on other areas of your development)? That's nothing to be ashamed of, just means once you ARE ready to proceed you'll be readier than most because you've meantime become a more rounded person and through all the passive, unconscious studying of other people and their relationships, will have better knowledge about how to take a relationship all the way.
My advice, if your life doesn't have proper room for a full-whistles-and-bells relationship, would be for you to try to combine casual dating with some already established lifestyle aspect. Example, try to get in with a dual-gendered horsie set or club in order to meet men who are as crazy about horse-riding as you are?
Soulamte has such an incredible take on this and good advice, that I'm really replying only to affirm what they have already stated and ask that you really consider that input. Well done, Soulmate! And good luck to you, Rach28. You're going to be fine. You have good priorities and it seems you could benefit from a little tweaking in how you're thinking about it all, how that effects your energy and posture, and balancing your wants/needs.
[curtseys and flutters eyelashes] LOL