Dating Detox: I Took A 3-Year Break From Men

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One woman goes three years without a date to kick her bad-boy habit.

When I decided that it was time to try dating again six months ago, I was terrified. I had just gotten my life in order; would dating bring back that old addiction? What if I couldn't be trusted? What if I fell off the wagon? With a mind full of questions, I decided to trust my instincts and give my new life a shot.

Something interesting happens when you start dating after a detox, as it does I'm sure when you have any addiction: your old vices show up out of nowhere. As if beaconed by some light, every ex-boyfriend I ever had suddenly arrived via Facebook. When I decided to befriend a few, they fell back into old behavior. For about five minutes I would, too, but then my new-found clarity would come through and help me see what was happening from an objective perspective. I would think, "Oh wait, I know exactly why I'm reacting this way, and I have to stop." I would calmly gather myself and end the interaction immediately.

 

I have fallen off the wagon, though, if only briefly. My first love from college was able to get me to believe we had both changed for the better and that he was ready to make a go of a relationship with me. Soon after that conversation, he disappeared into the Land of Emotional Unavailability. But this time, the same old situation had a new ending. The difference this time: I didn't chase him. This time I let him go.

Three years later, dating is actually enjoyable. I'm not looking for anyone I date to give me anything I can't give myself. If I sense emotional unavailability or lack of interest, I don't give chase. I walk away. The quality of the people I date is much better: they're genuinely interested, fascinating, and emotionally available people. With every date and interaction, it's like living a whole new life I never knew was possible. I wish I could say I came out of detox and my soul mate was waiting for me with open arms, but I now know that because I spent that time getting rid of my issues and clearing my emotional baggage, there will be a very healthy, happy woman waiting when he gets here. And that makes three years worth every minute.