I Attempted a Dating Detox and Failed Pathetically

I went into my sophomore year with the mindset of cleansing my dating pallet. From men with European accents to soccer players, I had my share of red flags and read receipts. After feeling stuck in a dating rut, I realized it may be time to dedicate some time to myself. Keeping up with the “I don’t need a man” attitude was the bliss I needed - that was until I arrived on campus and experienced some major dating FOMO. 

No matter how many times I listened to my girl power themed playlists, I couldn’t fight the urge to revisit the idea of dating. After all, there was a whole campus full of new dating prospects. 

After two months of rekindling old flames and igniting new ones, I found myself feeling guilty. But after a while, I made a realization about the dangers of following social media advice on dating concerning being a “strong woman”. 

In 2019, the “love yourself” culture is strongly embraced in not only social media, but also in television, movies, and books. Some romance movies such as Isn’t It Romantic end with a moral of loving yourself and not needing someone else to complete you. This concept - while it is important it is also easier said than done. 

I consider myself a feminist and love the idea of being an “independent woman”. However, I find that isolating myself during my “self-love journey” has caused me more harm than help. I found that developing feelings for someone made me feel guilty as if it wrecked any progress I previously made. 

The truth is, you don’t have to be sexually inactive or single to be a strong woman or to love yourself. The idea of being single to focus on their goals is enabling society’s idea that women have to choose between the two. 

Growing up in the early 2000s when Rom-Coms were arguably at their peak, I noticed a running theme of strong women pursuing romantic or sexual relationships while balancing personal development, friendships, and a career. 

As women, we have to stop creating a divide between being a strong woman and having a relationship. Dating detoxes can become necessary when you feel as though you need one, but the ideology that dating causes women to become weak is just a form of self-oppression perpetuated by misogyny. 

As for myself, the problem wasn’t dating in itself, but my perspective on dating and the people that I was dating. Perhaps, I didn’t need a complete detox, but a shift in direction. Identifying my values was important. I had to stop assuming the worst in people and start getting clear about who I am and what I want. 

There’s a saying that an empowered woman empowers others. Well, the opposite is true as well: an empowered woman has to surround herself with people that empower her. So, don't necessarily cross dating off the list; just start dating people that respect you and empower you. You can work on yourself and see people. Women are much more capable than having a one-track mind.