During Bustle's App-less April, a challenge to date without apps for 30 days, I pushed myself outside my comfort zone and hit the delete button on all of my dating apps. I felt so empowered by the challenge that I took it a step further and decided to take a break entirely from dating.
When I first began my dating detox, I felt totally exhausted and burned out from the hookup culture. Years of being ghosted, strung along, and mistreated had left a toll on my emotions. By taking a step back from the dating world, I was able to reflect on the relationships. I realized an emerging theme: all of my relationships had been emotionally abusive and unstable. I dated men who picked apart my appearance and my clothing. I dated men who shamed me for my past. I dated men who compared me to other women. In all of these instances, I stayed silent. I put in every effort to emulate their ideal woman. Still, no matter how much I changed, I was never good enough.
I now understand that my dating habits were driven by my mindset and my inner belief system. I engaged in toxic dating habits because I held distorted views of love and relationships. My negative self talk and inner mantra told me that I was not worthy of love or of acceptance. I felt ashamed for all of the mistakes I have made in my past, and for all of my flaws. I exuded an energy of self-loathing and negativity, and I attracted partners who only reinforced it. I allowed my partners to dictate to me how I dressed, how I acted, how I spoke, because I did not love and accept myself. I wanted so desperately for my partners to love me that I lost myself.
After self-reflection, I now understand that our relationships should nourish our soul. Our partners should arouse us intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. They should foster our growth and find beauty in our imperfections. We should feel free to be our authentic selves with our partners. True love is not conditional on a certain aspect of ourselves.
Gaining perspective on my dating habits has been a long journey. In order to truly grow and change, I have had to cultivate a loving and respectful relationship with myself. I now truly believe that I am worthy of love and I will never again surrender my sense of self to my partner. I will never allow my partner to diminish my sense of self worth and dignity.
Below, I spoke with 17 people about the dating habits they want to drop.
Check out Bustle's 'Save The Date' and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
"Having one-night stands."
"Pursuing guys who give me mixed signals — all it means is that our relationship isn't going anywhere."
"Answering 3 a.m. one word texts from f*ckboys."
"Using my phone when I'm on dates. I want to work on being more present and connecting more with my date."
"Obsessing with my friends over every text and conversation my crush sends me."
"Ignoring the signs that he's just not that into me."
"Making excuses for why they won't commit."
"Getting back together with my exes. I need to let the past go and move forward."
"Trying to find my soulmate in every person I date. I need to just enjoy the process."
"Being afraid to make the first move or ask guys out on a date."
"Sabotaging my relationships by setting standards no one can meet."
"Letting myself be someone's side piece or FWB."
"Playing hard to get."
When we get stuck in unhealthy patterns in our relationships, it can be a good idea for us to take a step back and self-reflect. This means holding ourselves accountable to the dating habits that we need to leave behind so that we can learn, grow, and move forward.