I’m Actively Giving Up Sex And Dating For The Next Six Months

Amanda Chatel

Despite the men who have been in my life, I’ve always considered myself relatively single. That’s what one does when they end up with people who either can’t or refuse to commit. Line up 50 men and I'll just naturally go for the one who can't commit. I used to think it was my need for something challenging. More recently I've decided it probably says something about my issues with commitment more than anything else. I may want monogamy, but committing in the first place is where I struggle. It makes me feel like a sell-out in some ways.

Most recently I lost Z* after two years of something of a non-relationship. It was messy and sad, involving an unexpected pregnancy and an even more unexpected miscarriage, and his goodbye was riddled with excuses: I wouldn’t let him be who he was, I tried to trap him, he couldn’t handle the drama, it was all too much, and so on down the line of typical excuses that people like to dole out when they can't take responsibility for their own internal wiring. In my defense, he was the first man I’ve met and loved, whom I didn’t want to change, so perhaps he doesn’t know what it means to try to change someone. As for drama, I can’t argue him on that one. Although drama-free for most of it, an unexpected pregnancy does add some drama to the mix — as does being with someone who has my temperament. I did, after all, send my cheating husband horse feces in the past. Then I was officially uninvited from his funeral by the woman he cheated on me with when he passed away last summer. These are not your run-of-the-mill situations; these are, decidedly, extremely un-run-of-the-mill. These are also things that have made me exhausted with dating.

When I threw my vow to never love again out the window this past spring, I did so with Z in mind. I knew loving him was risky; more than a risk actually, because although he had never been officially uninvited to a funeral or had ever thought it “rational” to procure horse feces (through a professional website, mind you!) for an ex, he was a bit of a mess in his own right. But I am foolish. I live my life, at least some of it, as if I’m in a novel, as if the extremes are justified and they will all iron themselves out before you get to the last page. Nothing gets ironed out the way I hope, or rather, assume it will.

So I’m giving it up. At least for now.

For me, a relationship feels like a burden. Z may have felt like I was trying to trap him, but when it comes to trapping, I fear it more than he does. I’m not one of those people who feels light and cozy when I’m with someone. Instead, it feels like a weight around my neck. I feel like I need to stay on the straight and narrow, and turn down the volume on myself. Although I don’t actually do these things, choosing to stay true to myself to almost a fault, the feeling that I need to do so is there and it doesn’t feel good. The love part feels great; it’s just everything else that creates a feeling of imbalance, as if it's all or nothing.

It's deliciously intoxicating to think of all the things I'll be able to accomplish, both internally and externally, when I put myself above all else.

When I weighed the pros and cons of going on a sex and dating hiatus, the pros outweighed the cons by far. I can focus on me, instead of someone else. I can truly and wholly, be selfish and reorganize my priorities so no one else can interfere with my goals and ambitions. I can have expectations for me and only me, and if I fail, I only have myself to blame. It's deliciously intoxicating to think of all the things I'll be able to accomplish, both internally and externally, when I put myself above all else.

I know that in taking this break I'll come out of it new and improved in some ways. I'll make for not just a better, more decisive person, but a better partner for someone else... should I choose to venture down that road again. I might even, finally, be drawn to men who are less of a challenge and are more together than they are in pieces, because I'll no longer be in pieces. I won't have to try so hard or make excuses when things don't work out. I'll be more open to the reality that sometimes things fall apart and I won't allow myself to drown in my sorrows when it does. I feel like I'm giving myself the chance to re-write my own story, instead of being at the whimsy of someone else's.

As Denys Finch Hatton so eloquently put it in Out of Africa, "I don't want to find out one day that I'm at the end of someone else's life." Neither do I. I'm the writer of my own life and it's time I change the narrative. I'm the heroine in these pages and not merely a secondary character. It's time I make everyone else the secondary characters instead.

* Name has been changed.