My two-year deadline for loving, intentional celibacy has come and gone, but I have yet to actually “break edge,” as it were. For those of you who were gone this summer, you should know that I came clean to my readership about this personal journey I’ve been on since the summer of 2016. Not an easy feat in a town so young, outgoing and sex-positive, but I did it. It was rough at first, and I found myself doing some pretty not-celibate things in the beginning, thinking that I could date while celibate and people would naturally understand. People didn’t, and I had to take myself out of the game altogether.
I tried to quit early. I figured one year and nine months was a fine stretch of time to spend left to my own devices, so I tried to get a few dates back in May. I found myself floundering spectacularly, and couldn’t even nail down casual drinks with kindly strangers on Tinder. I thought I was being incredibly easy-going by always mentioning my free time but never offering a solid date or time to go out. I’d leave the ball in their court, and it would fizzle out. I did manage to meet up with someone who thought tie-dye and oversized basketball shorts were proper first-date attire, and no, I haven’t seen him since. (Come on, guys. It kinda doesn’t matter how awesome you are if I meet you for the first time and you’re dressed like a toddler.)
Then I had a lightbulb moment: Am I making things too difficult?
By trying to emulate an airy-fairy, casual-type nature, am I actually coming off as self-possessed and not particularly enthusiastic? It’s a painful thought, because I struck out with some real winners, but I also realize now that I still wasn’t ready to date. I was trying an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” thing that I already know I don’t take to well, and I probably disappointed someone out there who did not deserve it. The tie-dye incident was enough to show me that I needed to see my two-year plan through, and I deleted Tinder while on the toilet the same night. (I only ever seem to delete dating apps while I’m in the bathroom. Seems appropriate most of the time.)
I’m about 30 days overdue for breaking the seal on my new attitude and intentions, and yes, I’m nervous, but I go into this with the full intention of not making my same old mistakes. Two years is so long that I’ve heard friends describe it to me as “starting over,” and while that’s a valid viewpoint, I can’t say that I feel brand new. I was brand new when I was out there making the mistakes of a lifetime and letting sex and relationships affect my life in very negative ways. My past is unforgettable and still mine, and it’s here to teach me something. Sex and dating were stand-ins for things I could get from friends and loved ones—namely, the knowledge that I am attractive, valuable and worthy of good love.
Celibacy has given me the clarity to really understand the “game” of dating, and the fact that success is really about numbers. I spend a lot of time at home now that I’m attempting fiscal responsibility, and it’s clearly affected my dating goals. Years ago, I might not have even noticed my solitude, or blamed it on the world, prejudice or whatever, but how in the hell am I supposed to meet people if I never see anyone but myself? That’s a pretty obvious example, but it wasn’t obvious to me two years back.
The nights are getting cooler, and so are the days, and I find myself actually in the mood to get out and be social. I was too embarrassed about unemployment to really enjoy my summer, but I’d like to make up for that now that everyone is back in town. The living is easy, and socializing is off the chain. Whatever happens, happens, but I’m here for it, and I’ll do better this time around.