On New Year’s Day 2015, I made the only New Year’s resolution I have ever kept: I swore off men for an entire year. That meant no flirting, no kissing, no dating, no hookups – I wouldn’t even dance with guys at bars. Nothing. Nada.
What my friends jokingly called my Man Boycott or Penis Embargo of 2015 was my kneejerk reaction to having spent the previous four months in a relationship with one of the biggest jackasses I have ever met in my life. I was living in a city I had moved to for work where I didn’t know a soul, and I was desperately lonely – key word being desperate – when I met him. He was tall, gorgeous, had a badass job and wanted to spend every waking moment with me, and before I knew it I was practically living with a guy I barely knew (and as it turned out, barely liked, either).
So on New Year’s Eve 2014, I pretended to be sick so that I didn’t have to spend it with him, and the following day I broke up with him and vowed to spend the next year on my own, reevaluating my priorities and repairing the damage that had been done to my psyche. Here’s what happened in the ensuing 365 days of my life:
1. My confidence skyrocketed.
There is something very liberating about not feeling the pressure to look good for another person for an entire year. If I decided to put in the effort to get all dolled up and wear something sexy when I went out with my friends, it was to make myself feel good, not to impress anyone else. Similarly, if I didn’t feel like wearing makeup or shaving my legs for a week I didn’t have to worry about anyone making a smartass comment. And I would save some money on shaving cream – win-win.
2. My friendships became stronger.
This has to be the greatest perk to being single. No matter how independent you are in your relationships, they take up time and emotional energy. Not only did I spend more time with the friends I was already close to, but I was also able to reconnect with other friends who I had lost touch with over the years. I also went on a few spontaneous weekend road trips to visit people, because why not?
3. I saved a sh*t ton of money on food.
Dating is expensive. Whether it’s trying new restaurants together or ordering Chinese food for a lazy night in, you spend a lot of money on food. Also, men eat a lot – especially when they’re almost 7 feet tall and basically workout for a living. My monthly grocery bill was practically cut in half when I no longer had a Neanderthal of a man living with me 5 days out of the week.
4. My career took off.
Half-way into my Man Boycott of 2015 I took a new job and moved back to the DC area. With my priorities back in order I have been killing it at work, traveling around the country for speaking engagements and earning my first significant promotion. Not saying this couldn’t have been done had I been dating, but the lack of distractions has certainly made it easier to focus.
5. I learned that a good vibrator is invaluable.
6. Going out to bars actually became more fun.
My senior year of college I was newly single, and I’m not going to lie to you guys, I went a little boy crazy. Going out to bars became more about finding some random guy to flirt with as opposed to simply having a good time with my friends. While I had a lot of fun (and saved a lot of money on drinks) it pains me a little to look back on my last year of college and think of how many potential memories with my friends I traded for memories with guys who meant nothing more to me than a momentary ego boost (sorry, guys).
While I am no longer swearing off men entirely, I have learned that I have a lot more fun when I go out with the sole purpose of having fun with my friends rather than looking for someone to flirt with. Meghan Trainor’s song “No” has kind of become my personal weekend anthem, and I’m okay with that.
7. When I did start dating again, I was so much pickier.
I would love to tell you that I was so fantastically independent come 2016 that I remained completely aloof when it came to dating, but that would be a lie – I immediately and without shame jumped on the Bumble bandwagon, and for about a month was going on dates with 2-3 different guys every week. And that was a lot of fun, but I wasn’t interested in any of them.
One of my former coworkers (who also happens to be a shrink) kept imploring me to give these guys a second chance; she put me on her metaphorical therapist’s couch and told me that I have “built walls so high around [my] heart that no guy stands a chance.” Nah, I’m just picky as f*ck.
There’s nothing like being alone for a year (and loving every minute of it) to make you raise your standards. I would so much rather be alone than date someone who isn’t right for me.
8. Being rejected no longer feels like the end of the world.
I was recently ghosted for the first time. I went on two dates with this guy who seemed like a total catch, and who also seemed to be pretty into me. He was supposed to go with me on a pirate ship booze cruise when I got home from a week-long work trip to Orlando, but when I got back, poof – he had disappeared. (I guess he wasn’t that into me after all.)
To this day the only thing I am salty about is that I paid $16 for his ticket.
9. I started to appreciate other women more.
Like most women, I have often fallen into the trap of seeking male attention for personal validation. Sh*t happens. Not recently, though; the longer I spent holding men at arms-length, the more I found myself being pulled closer to other women – not in a romantic way, but rather in a very kumbaya we’re-all-in-this-together sisterhood kind of way. It’s kind of corny, but I love it.
10. I fell back in love with myself.
I have one tattoo: it’s on my wrist, and it says “love yourself.” I got the tattoo a couple of years before the start of my whole celibacy pledge – and the original meaning behind it has nothing whatsoever to do with dating and relationships – yet sometime during my year of solitude I found new meaning to add to it. To paraphrase Fisher Amelie, I have rediscovered why I am important, and never again will I settle for anyone who doesn’t completely agree.