December 30, 2016 was my golden birthday. Thirty on the 30th. Not only was I entering a new decade of life, I was planning on making this year unlike any I had lived before. These next 365 days were going to be imbued with magic, and I didn’t want to waste them. One of the biggest aspects of my life that was on the overhaul list was my love life. I was going on what I liked to call ‘Man Ban 2017.’ What is a man-ban you ask? It is the self-imposed resetting and revitalization of my love life through the absence of men.

Yes, that means I became the sexless sexologist. Much like a vegan butcher, I confused those around me. While this was a decision I made overnight, my life had been building to this moment. If we are to believe that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, my 20s were insane. Countless false starts for relationships had me really introspective. What I determined was that I had to change the way I went about finding a partner. One of the biggest hurdles was my career.

People just get super weird about sex. How can I know that this person is truly into me and not trying to make a good story for their friends?

This is not a job you saw on career day! Whenever someone finds out I’m a sexologist there is always some kind of reaction. Before we delve any deeper into the tale of Man Ban 2017, let me define for you what exactly sexology means. Sexology is the scientific study of sex. Essentially, it is what people do sexually and how they feel about it. It is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses biology, psychology, anthropology, medicine, sociology and more.  

So even though I feel no shame about my career, my 20s taught me that I need to approach others with my own privacy at the forefront. When potential romantic partners find out that I’m a sexologist without the right groundwork or vetting in place, it usually ends poorly. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been burned by potential partners who have tried to exploit me, use me as a conquest or objectify me. People just get super weird about sex. How can I know that this person is truly into me and not trying to make a good story for their friends? Privacy is so important to me because I know people who just want to be with me because I am a sex expert. Sorry to disappoint you, but sex swinging from the chandeliers, while blindfolded, and dripping wax on each other isn’t going to go down on the first date.

I was exhausted and knew that at the current pace I was wasting my time. I thought long and hard about what to do, and Man Ban 2017 was born. Now let’s be clear on what this meant. Man Ban 2017 meant that I was not going to use online dating apps to meet potential partners. They had to enter my life one of two ways. They either had to be introduced to me by friends or I had to meet them organically. Let me tell you the hours I spent in the grocery story just waiting to ask a guy how he’d cook a particular vegetable. Alas that door never opened, but I did have many delicious dinners for one. Also included were rules about sex. I swore off PV sex with anyone I was not in a relationship with.

While I didn’t intend on this lasting for a year, I didn’t lift the ban because of all of the interesting things that were happening around me. I finally had me time. I didn’t realize the amount of time that goes into meeting people, trying to cultivate a relationship and going on dead-end dates. I was beholden to no one, and all of that extra time went into improving myself. Did I miss the connection of sex with another? Of course, but that wasn’t a motivation strong enough to get me to hotline bling old flames for some late-night love. Just because you are single doesn’t mean that you can’t have your sexual needs met. Finding sexual gratification with yourself is especially empowering because it sets the precedent that you do not need someone to feel sexually satisfied. And the more you get to know your body, the better you will be able to communicate your likes and dislikes to future partners.

I made huge strides in my career, and I know those steps wouldn’t have been as major if I had been distracted by attracting a partner. The clearer my intentions were with my life, the more I was able to focus on what needed work. I took up the hobbies I had been putting off and thrived in them. I envisioned what I wanted my future relationship to look like. I sought out my tribe and made new friends. I felt like I was living my best life, and it felt so freeing.

Inevitably, I did meet men during this time. It’s just the way of the universe—like when you say you’re not going to buy any more yoga pants, and then suddenly they all go on sale. While men weren’t raining from the sky, enough came into my world to make me question lifting the ban. Cooler heads prevailed though. I knew how the story would unfold. We’d hang out for a bit, have really great conversations and witty banter, we’d hook up for a bit, and then nothing. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. And not that there is anything wrong with casual sex, I just didn’t want that right now. I’ve had my fair share, and those memories can tide me over until Mr. Relationship shows up ready to make us Facebook official. I’m happy to wait for the right person who is going to meet me where I’m at and be with me for the right reasons.

So what did I learn? There is nothing wrong with swearing off sex or even waiting to have sex. Especially in our sex-forward society, swearing off sex can often be seen as weird or can be a source of ridicule from friends. We all remember The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But here’s the thing, whether you’re just taking a break or waiting to have your sexual debut, it is your choice. While many would argue abstaining from sex is like living in your own personal desert, it doesn’t’ have to be all negative. Lots of creatures thrive in the desert, I certainly did.