Katie Heaney, author of “Never Have I Ever,” has never had a boyfriend. Her book, which details her chronically single, sex-less life in college and in Minneapolis, has struck a chord within young people everywhere who know what it’s like to be unlucky in love. Heaney talked to us about her book and the lessons she picked up along the way.
Metro: Have you heard from people who are in the same situation as you?
Heaney: I’ve gotten a couple of hundred e-mails by this point – I’ve lost count.
Was it hard for you to write this book and reveal so much about yourself?
I think when I was writing it I didn’t know what was going to happen. It allowed me to be open and honest because there was no way for me to know who would ever see it so I think it was lucky that it worked out that way. It was only in the last few months that I started to get more nervous about it.
Why do you think your book has gotten so much attention?
I think it’s something a lot of people relate to – not necessarily to the extent that I’ve been single, obviously, but no one’s entire romantic life is perfect and so I think whether or not someone’s dated a lot or a little they’re able to still recognize there’s this emotional dramatic anxiety about it. It’s just kind of a fun thing to laugh about that for some reason doesn’t get talked about a lot because people are embarrassed to admit the fact that they’re not all Casanovas or whatever.
The timeline of your book ends two years ago. Do you think you’ve grown a lot since then?
I don’t think it’s been a dramatic two years but I think it’s the normal amount any person would evolve and change under the circumstances. I think I’ve become much less risk-averse than I used to be. I’ve decided to embrace adventurousness in my mid-20s.
And you’ve dated since the book. What do you think changed?
One of the guys I dated was maybe a year after the timeline of the book. It wasn’t really a change. I just met him online and thought it was worth giving it a shot. It wasn’t a thing where I realized I was doing something wrong. I was the same person – I just maybe decided to give it another try. It’s not like there were literally zero opportunities to date. It’s just been figuring out which people appeal to me or not and then also teaching myself to make an effort and not be so afraid.
Is that what the difference is? Putting yourself out there?
I’m certainly trying to evolve in some way or another and it’s still very much a back and forth in my own head, “Well, do I really want to do Tinder? Do I really want to be set up by my friends?” I still have a resistance about stuff. I’d much rather have things happen naturally and not make this huge deal out of it. I think my mindset and enthusiasm for dating shifts back and forth, just like a lot of people’s does.
Are you anxious that people will judge you for not having had a boyfriend?
You know, now, it’s very, very public. I think that in some ways it’s kind of a relief to have that – it’s been out there for a while because before the book came out, all my friends who looked me up online would see I had the book coming out. But I think that having that known is kind of just a relief for me because anyone who I would go out with is going to know that that’s true and I don’t have to get into it because it’s already out there. It’s not really a big source of drama for me. I’m not embarrassed for me – I think it’s something that’s funny to talk about.
What do you think has pushed you to open up more toward dating?
I don’t really know. I think that maybe moving to New York and becoming someone who has part of their life on the Internet has given me confidence in myself as someone who’s funny and someone people like to talk to. I think maybe in earlier parts of my life that was not true – like I didn’t ever think of myself as funny or anything at all in high school. Maybe a bit in college, but more just like, oh maybe I can make three of my girlfriends laugh, but now on Twitter I know it’s something I can do professionally and feel good about it. I’m not afraid to talk to people – not that I ever was, but I didn’t think much about trying because before, I figured I have my two best friends, so what more do I need? Now there’s more of an interest in interacting with more people, which leads to increased opportunities to meet people that maybe I want to date.
You moved to New York in August from Minneapolis. What’s the difference between dating in the two cities?
There’s a magnitude issue where there are a lot more people in New York. I feel like I found my people here – Internet-obsessed media nerd friends. Any time you can find a massive group of people you have a lot of common interests with, it feels like there are a lot more possibilities, but I don’t think there was nobody for me in Minneapolis. But at the time, I was working from home and living with my best friend so I had an insular social life. It’s hard to get out of that when you’re in a pattern. There are certainly differences and more reservedness in Minneapolis but I wouldn’t say one city is better than the other
In your book, you talk about “lighthouses” – women who are magnetic and always have guys swarming all over them. You refer to your best friend as a lighthouse, and to yourself as a “Bermuda Triangle” – pretty much the exact opposite. Do you still think of yourself that way?
Yes, that’s a lifelong thing. I think people can adopt some things from one or another. The whole thing about being a lighthouse is that it’s not intentional. I really think people who are like that are just magnetic naturally and they may have figured out how to enhance that further. I can learn from that, but ultimately we still have a fundamentally different base level of mass appeal. I don’t think either my best friend nor I envies the other because this is how I know how to deal with things and this is my comfort level with how much I’m being asked out or fielding these offers. I would be exhausted if I were her.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark