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I Swore Off Dating For the Remainder of My 20s & Survived

The love of my life is myself.

Love & Relationships

I decided to swear off dating for the remainder of my 20s.

No, that is not a typo, you read that correctly.


Dating and I have never been on the same page. Because of that, I've learned my fair share of lessons the hard way. Bad dating choices resulted in situations like me being left with a $600 weekend getaway bill that the guy didn't pitch in for (Don't ask). Those same choices led to me finding out that another guy I was interested in never really left his on-again and off-again girlfriend like he had claimed. They were always "on" and as a result, I unknowingly became the woman on the side.

I was plagued with disappointment and embarrassment as I sat in the bathtub crying, once again. I couldn't figure out why I was still single. The timeline that I had for my life wasn't coming into fruition. Where was my condo, boyfriend, and career? Right then and there, as the water began to turn my fingers into prunes, I decided to stop fixating on a healthy relationship with a guy, and instead focus on building a solid relationship with myself and God.

A few months after turning 26, I decided to hang up my dating shoes for a while.

It wasn't easy by any means necessary, yet deactivating my social media accounts made it a little more manageable. Yes! There was no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, nor SnapChat and I survived. However, when you can only scroll through you own thoughts and not your social media timeline, you learn a lot about yourself. I realized not only was I captivated by the "likes" on my pictures and often cliche thoughts, I was imprisoned by the critiques and opinions of the men around me. I wanted them to like me and validate me through quality time and attention.

At the time, singleness to me meant, "You're unwanted." It led me to question how could God deem me valuable when others didn't. Spending time in prayer, slowly yet surely, I saw that I possessed the qualities of a virtuous woman. My focus became establishing a healthy relationship with God and seeking purpose.

Managing to duck out of the shadows and opinions of others, I learned how to go out by myself and enjoy my own company. My insecurities faded as I went to the ticket booth to purchase a ticket for one. Might I add that buying lunch for one was much cheaper than having to always foot the bill for two as I often did when dating?

As I began to stride on the journey to wholeness, I had to confront my past experiences with dating.

Though I didn't want to admit it, I was the common denominator in all of my failed dating experiences.

My unhealthy relationships and encounters with men were the direct reflection of the unhealthy outlook I had concerning myself. I was insecure about my looks before they ever commented on them. My interest were masked by timely pop culture in efforts to fit in because I didn't want to be categorized as boring.

There is no rulebook when it comes to dating, however, I knew that something I was doing was resulting in failed encounters. My insecurities led to me giving the wrong guys a chance because I didn't get asked out on dates often. I felt invisible. But I was also afraid. I was so afraid of being left alone that I wasn't selective enough about who I allowed in my space. Often times, that looked as small as me opening my wallet to cover the expenses for whatever we did and accepting men who welcomed being taken care of. Other times, it was as severe as being manipulated into being a side chick. All of it was beneath me.

Though I had good intentions, I couldn't have a healthy relationship with a significant other until I had an honest and healthy relationship with myself. I began to work on me mentally, physically, and spiritually. Deactivating my social media accounts destroyed any temptation to pry into the lives of the men I had a crush on or the ones that didn't treat me right. What good was seeing them happy with someone else as I sat at home scrolling through their pictures in my oversized sweatpants and my hair in a high messy bun? I couldn't afford to be discontent looking at the achievements of others all while wondering when or if my time would ever come along.

Though I desired to be claimed in a relationship, I really needed to be freed from mental bondage.

I deleted and blocked all male phone numbers as well. I didn't need to roll over over on a lonely night and try to conjure up a meaningless conversation just for the illusion that someone is "there." The truth is, those lonely nights came and, from time to time, I still have them, but I refuse to make emotional decisions for the sake of not being lonely or to possibly receive a half-felt "good morning" text.

There had to be boundaries, even for myself.

Focusing on myself helped me to build confidence. I began to wear what I wanted without thinking twice if my shirt or pants hugged my curves in a way that was displeasing to a guy. My confidence was noticed by my friends and family. My finances were outstanding. I was thriving at work. I'd finally learned how to channel that energy. I channeled it inward.

I am now 30 and I must say that four years of not dating has gone by quickly. I didn't intend for it to last this long, but it has. It has been a journey that was not a part of my timeline, yet it was needed. For once, dating isn't a priority for me. The truth is, I'm no longer afraid of being single. The love of my life is myself.

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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