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I Tried to Give Up Men for a Month

People always say you find love when you stop looking for it. So I stopped.

by Alison Stevenson
Oct 26 2017, 10:00pm

The author. Photo by Megan Koester

One of the many consequences of being so public about my love life is the high amount of unsolicited dating advice I get from friends, acquaintances, strangers, and even some men who've been inside me. Some of the advice is downright infuriating, like when people urge me to "settle" for someone I clearly have no chemistry with simply because they like me. However, the piece of advice that's offered the most is that I should just stop trying. It's been the plot of countless romantic comedies, and many of my friends in loving relationships tell me it happened to them. We found each other when we weren't looking.

My love life is full of trying. I am on multiple dating apps, perpetually on blind dates, and go out multiple nights a week in the hopes of maybe talking to a stranger who won't murder me. And yet I have not managed to date anyone for longer than a few months (if that). Even worse, we live in an age where a young woman admitting she would like to be in love is viewed as corny and tragic. Well, I'm sick of playing it cool. I want the schmaltzy romance that's been rammed down my throat by movies, TV, and books since I was old enough to process information.

So I decided to put myself on a man-fast. One entire month of no internet dating, no one-night stands, no romantic encounters of any kind unless it's with someone who genuinely seems interested in marrying me, giving me babies, and sticking around to stroke my hair while I finally succumb to aging-associated diseases. Here's how it went.

Week One

First thing I had to do was delete the apps I was on: Tinder, Bumble (preppy Tinder), Happn (beta Tinder), Feeld (threesome Tinder), and OkCupid (original Tinder). All gone. Second step was deleting the phone numbers of the men I have on call in case of a horniness emergency. After going through my phone and getting rid of them, the third and final step was to delete the phone number of a skateboarder I've been crushing on for months who may or may not have a girlfriend. This cleansing felt just like how I feel after an STI check comes back negative: I'm a virgin again! I was now a blank slate wiped clean of the dick from my past and ready for my man-fast.

This first week was extremely uneventful. Nothing happened that could constitute a meet cute, which I don't think I've ever actually experienced. The closest thing I've had in the past is when a guy I matched with was at the same coffee shop as me, then messaged me after I left to let me know he saw me. We had sex that night, and he moved to Argentina the next day. We haven't spoken since.

Being away from the apps made me realize how much of my life is dedicated to swiping. I thought I wasn't doing it that much, but the reality is I just made the act of swiping such a regular part of my daily routine that it stopped feeling like it was a lot. Is that sad? Don't answer that. I think I know the answer.

Week Two

Thinking that I should probably put some effort into manifesting the meet cute of my dreams, I decided to put more thought into my daytime appearance. Daytime me is typically a lot less put together than nighttime me, who is usually trying to get laid. My typical daytime outfit is leggings or jeans and an oversize T-shirt. I almost never wear makeup, or even brush my hair. That changed this week.

Every morning of this week, I put thought into my outfits. I worked some foundation into my face, brushed my hair, and almost exclusively wore dresses, tapping into the most cliché image of femininity possible. I switched up my routine, too, finding new places to write and get a cup of coffee, as well as new shops to run errands at.

Again, nothing happened.

Well, one thing did happen. At night. I went out for some drinks with a friend and happened to meet someone I have mutual friends with. He's older than me, a heavily tattooed single dad who lives alone and wreaks of emotional unavailability. After flirting for some time, it was pretty obvious we wanted to fuck—but I stopped myself from giving in to the temptation knowing full well it would be a fuck for a fuck's sake and nothing else. Any other month, that wouldn't be an issue for me at all, but this was my man-fast month, and I had to stick to it.

We did exchange numbers, though. I secretly hoped we could engage in some light flirting, which I admit I kind of felt like I needed in order to get me through the rest of the month. I figured, if he initiates it then I could go along with it.

Predictably, he never initiated anything. Do I really have to do all the work here?


Week Three

I'll be honest. I really dropped the ball this week. I drunkenly redownloaded Tinder and messaged the skateboarder whose number I'd previously deleted. Luckily, all I said in my drunken state was "hey," which, obviously, he didn't respond to for 12 hours. I didn't keep the conversation going with him and didn't initiate any conversation with my new Tinder matches. The man-fast was still on.

I went back to being unkempt daytime me, realizing that putting effort into my outward appearance was a form of trying and was too outside of my character.

I did go out drinking again this week and was surprised to find myself being hit on once more. This time by a 23-year-old Dodger fan wearing a bandana and talking to me about his startup. He was not even close to being my type. Normally, I would end the conversation as quickly as possible and call it a night. However, thinking back to the rom-coms in my memory bank, I figured this could potentially play out as one of those opposites attract scenarios where I become the manic pixie dream girl who introduces him to the world of art and punk rock while he teaches me about the value of saving money and caring about my future. Nothing about our love makes sense, yet, somehow... it works.

I decided to go ahead and give him my number. Which is when I realized there really might be something to not putting any effort into dating. I'd been approached twice during my experiment, which hadn't happened to me for quite some time before the man-fast.

The rest of the week went by. He never texted. Before this man-fast, I would have eventually just sent the first text. However, purposely making myself not do so had put my love life into perspective. Like damn, I really do put effort into bringing men into my life. Men who are most likely not that interested in me. At least, not enough to really make some moves.

Week Four

Alright, I'll be honest. I fucked the single dad. It was all me, too. I made it happen. In my defense, I hadn't had sex in several months, and the man-fast served as a constant reminder of that. I didn't have the distractions I normally have like dates and light internet flirting. My horny levels were reaching a tipping point, my vibrator lost half its original strength (I keep forgetting to buy new batteries), and I just needed some dick.

I'd also thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong about this guy being emotionally unavailable. Maybe this could actually be the start of a relationship. But then the night we hooked up, we got to talking about exes and past loves. He mentioned a woman he recently got dumped by, whom he would get back into a relationship with immediately if she texted him. So, yeah. My initial assessment was right. It was a pretty good fuck, though.

To conclude: I guess technically this man-fast was unsuccessful (on account of me not actually abstaining from men), but I'm still taking away some valuable lessons from it.

I know now that I should continue going down this path of not trying so hard, but will also keep my Tinder account active, putting me at a much happier medium. If something happens, great. If it doesn't, that's fine, too. As much as I'd like to have the barf-bag love I see in movies, I can't keep trying to force it to happen with men who are not worthy of my time or attention. None of us should.

Follow Alison Stevenson on Twitter.