When I told my mom I was officially single again, she couldn’t help but sigh with disappointment. She really liked my boyfriend… but that’s the thing—he wasn’t my boyfriend. He always skirted around that label because he couldn’t help but wonder if committing to me was worth it. “What if I find someone I’m more compatible with than you?” he would inquire every now and then before taking it back and giving me just enough breadcrumbs to justify sticking it out a little longer.
“Why did you call things off?” mom asked. I feel like I should be with someone who treats being with me like the adventure that it is, I told her. Raj was great on paper but he treated our situation like an overdue homework assignment. The only gestures of romance he made were begrudging after weeks of me begging for just a little bit more effort. She added, “That’s the problem with your generation. A man lets you down 500 or 600 times and you just cut him loose. Back in my day, being with someone used to mean something.”
This was a true learning experience for me. Ladies, we’ve all been there. You’re seeing a guy who you’re absolutely crazy about, but he’s just not ready for commitment yet. He’s going through a lot, he wants his next girlfriend to be his last, his pet hamster is sick, or he just doesn’t have the energy for anything serious right now.
At this point in time, here’s what you’re probably programmed to do:
Play hard to get.
If you text him back immediately, you look clingy and that’s a turnoff. Biologically, men are wired to love the chase. The harder you are to catch, the more obsessed he’ll become with you.
A particularly genius trick I learned from a 14-year-old on TikTok with geometry homework due on Monday is to download one of those text spam apps. Give the fake contacts names like “Alex 😘” and “Ramesh😍” and set it up to go off when your man-who’s-not-your-man is sleeping over. You have to trigger his predator instinct and make him want to lock you down.
Assess your entire self-worth in regards to how they treat you.
Post an Instagram story and check who watched it obsessively to see if his username pops up. Did he heart it? Did he swipe up? No? He just watched it and went about his day? It’s because your outfit wasn’t cute enough; maybe you should show some more midriff next time. It’s also because you’re annoying and undeserving of love and destined for a life of solitude and isolation.
Scroll through TikToks and Instagram reels of dating coaches giving you the most psychotic dating advice possible on how to lock a man with commitment issues down. “Flex on your ex” eyeshadow looks, pheromone perfumes, sex positions to drive him wild.
As you’re dabbing the inner corner of your eye with Anastasia Beverly Hills, the guy you’re agonizing over is probably complaining to his best friend about you while they’re both playing Call of Duty. He has no idea what the hell a “cut crease” even is. He thinks the labia is that cool sushi spot that Drake and Kanye sing about in their rap songs.
In the very, very back of your mind, you might be thinking to yourself, “does it make sense to pursue a long-term relationship with someone who doesn’t match my energy? Am I really better off on this emotional rollercoaster than being single and loving myself?” Ignore that thought; it makes too much sense.
Allow the anxiety to wash over you and consume your every thought.
Wake up, check your phone. Every 10 seconds, tap the screen. Every time you get a notification, feel your heart rate increase as you hope it’s him. Is it? No, it’s just your mom who loves you dearly asking if you’ve eaten yet today. Ugh, so overbearing.
Pause. Find a hobby, read a book; there’s more to life than just romantic relationships, right? Here’s what you should be doing:
Realize that the reason so many women settle for less than what they deserve is because society has convinced us that being single is the worst possible thing for an adult woman to be.
There are entire multimillion-dollar industries dedicated to convincing you that you need a husband to achieve true happiness. Podcasters like Joe Rogan and Andrew Tate and fraudulent organizations like PragerU rake in tens of millions of dollars, pushing traditional family values and telling us that women are low value if they’re not married by 30. How well-meaning are these claims? After all, if being alone as a woman is so bad, why are 69% of divorces initiated by women? Unwed and childless women are also the demographic with the highest happiness scores.
Text them and end things.
I’m of the belief you only owe someone an in-person “break up” if they’re your official boyfriend, anyway.
Build a life for yourself that prioritizes friends and family and know that the right person will fit themself into that life.
One day in early 2020 (later than I would like to admit), I finally confronted myself about my life priorities. I hated that I was so boy-crazy, and I hated even more that my desire to be partnered made me lower my standards and walk away from these relationships with more trauma than happy memories.
So, I restructured. I reached out to old friends I had lost touch with, I downloaded Bumble BFF, I went out to bars and restaurants and followed the random girls I met in the bathroom back on Instagram. I started group chats and organized game nights and even did the thing people tell you to never do: I mixed friend groups. Before long, my Friday nights stopped being Hinge dates and started consisting of movie nights and all-girls friend sleepovers. I found myself opening my dating apps less and less as I found the companionship I craved in the people around me.
I also turned around and gave my extra affection to my family. I had planned so many dinners for random guys I dated whose first names don’t even ring a bell now, but I had never so much as initiated a dinner with my parents or little sister—three people who have done so much for me and stuck by me through hell and high water.
Looking back, I feel so proud to have forged these meaningful new relationships and reignited the old ones with a new purpose. My friends and family buy me flowers, take me out to nice dinners, plan fun activities for us to do together and bring out my innermost joy. Why on Earth would I settle for a guy who believed that buying chocolates was a corporate money-grabbing scam? You’ll spend $500 on a gaming console, but a $15 bouquet of flowers is when you suddenly become interested in the teachings of Karl Marx, got it.
When the people in your life treat you with so much love and kindness, you start to see romance for what it could be. I now only date men who can do just as much for me (if not more) than the people around me do. And if he never comes around, that’s ok. The moment I made the conscious choice to stop centering romantic love in my life, I was able to build a community that I feel nourished by, regardless of if I ever meet “the one.”