The Man Diet

I have referred to The Man Diet sev­er­al times as some­thing I have done and rec­om­mend. After explain­ing it repeat­ed­ly, I’ve decid­ed to write it up and direct peo­ple to the article.

I call it the Man Diet, but that’s a mis­nomer. It should be an SO1Sig­nif­i­cant Oth­er Diet or Rela­tion­ship Diet. Those don’t roll off the tongue quite as well, so take it as giv­en that I’m refer­ring to any­one with whom you would typ­i­cal­ly have romantic/sexual relationships.

There was a time when I went from one rela­tion­ship to the next. If I did­n’t have one or more SOs, I felt incom­plete. I did­n’t have incred­i­bly healthy rela­tion­ships, but I was sel­dom alone! I derived much of my self-esteem from being in rela­tion­ships with others.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that led to “set­tling” for peo­ple who did­n’t meet the stan­dards I want­ed in SOs, and often to accept­ing treat­ment that ranged from unpleas­ant to down­right abusive.

Right now, I do not entire­ly remem­ber what trig­gered the real­iza­tion that I’d nev­er have a tru­ly healthy rela­tion­ship if I felt that I had to have a rela­tion­ship with some­one oth­er than myself—that cul­ti­vat­ing a healthy rela­tion­ship with myself, being com­plete in myself, was vital.

I did­n’t think all that out so clear­ly at the begin­ning. I was just tired of the crap. I was tired of going from one rela­tion­ship to the next and hav­ing the same issues come up repeat­ed­ly. I was tired of the mer­ry-go-round. I did­n’t count on hav­ing any more sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers. I decid­ed I was done, and I swore off men for a year.

At the begin­ning of that peri­od, I felt anx­ious. I felt lone­ly. I felt more than a lit­tle des­per­ate because I had nev­er been unpart­nered for any sig­nif­i­cant time. I’d spent my life using rela­tion­ships to avoid deal­ing with my issues in a pro­found way. If I had­n’t told sev­er­al friends what I was doing and asked them to help keep me hon­est, I don’t think I would have stuck with it.

I seemed to meet poten­tial SOs every time I turned around in the next few months. It was rain­ing men, and I was NOT singing “Hal­lelu­jah!” That was­n’t easy. It was tempt­ing to make a minor excep­tion because he was just so nice! Or so smart, or fun­ny, or what­ev­er. But there’s nobody like true friends to kick your butt when needed.

I’ve nev­er had a prob­lem deal­ing with most prac­ti­cal things—balancing check­books, basic home repairs, and even sim­ple auto main­te­nance. I did­n’t need a man to take care of any of that. No, I looked to SOs to keep me com­pa­ny, keep me occu­pied, and suck up lots of ener­gy. I only felt beau­ti­ful because they said I was and want­ed to be with me.

But I found oth­er ways to use my time and ener­gy. I went out with friends as friends. I devel­oped new friend­ships that were much bet­ter because I was­n’t putting any­thing into won­der­ing whether or not the rela­tion­ship would move into oth­er areas. I went alone if nobody else want­ed to see a par­tic­u­lar music event.

I final­ly faced some of the issues I was avoid­ing when most of my ener­gy was going into inter­ac­tions with an SO—why did I need a man around to feel worth­while? Why did I accept treat­ment that I would­n’t want my friends to accept—that I had told oth­er peo­ple to walk away from? Why was­n’t I hold­ing out for the kind of per­son I want­ed? Why had­n’t I become the per­son I want­ed, to take a clue from Glo­ria Steinem?

While I was count­ing the days at first, by the end of that year, I did­n’t even real­ize it was done. I did­n’t think about it until a cou­ple of months lat­er when a friend men­tioned it. Hey, it was over! I real­ized that I did­n’t feel an urge to run out and start any­thing new. I was just fine with being me with­out a man.

I won’t pre­tend that I’m all past all of that stuff. It comes back at times, but not near­ly as strong­ly. It’s much eas­i­er to insist on the kind of treat­ment I deserve from an SO now because I don’t fear being alone. I can be alone and be happy.

I think spend­ing at least a year alone as a tru­ly inde­pen­dent adult is a good idea for any­one. If pos­si­ble, live alone. Be sole­ly respon­si­ble for your­self finan­cial­ly. Devel­op a healthy social life that has noth­ing to do with whether or not you have an SO. Do any­thing you’ve been putting off. Were you wait­ing to take a vaca­tion until you had some­one to go with? Go now. Go back to school. Change jobs. Vol­un­teer. Learn to dance. Just do it, what­ev­er it is, and enjoy it.

Dur­ing that year, prac­tice celiba­cy. That means not only do you not have SOs, but you don’t have “friends with ben­e­fits” or one-night stands. Just be with your­self. Hon­or your­self. Love your­self. Treat your­self as you would some­one you tru­ly trea­sure. (Note: Being celi­bate does­n’t mean you can’t be sen­su­al as hell and make love with your­self. You just don’t have sex with any­body else.)

Set up an account­abil­i­ty team by telling sev­er­al peo­ple what you’re doing. They need to be peo­ple you can trust to help you con­tin­ue to your goal. If some­one isn’t sup­port­ive, dis­tance your­self from them. I don’t care if that per­son is an imme­di­ate fam­i­ly mem­ber. You need to main­tain bound­aries, and you don’t need any­one tear­ing you down. Seek out new friend­ships with sup­port­ive people.

It may take some peo­ple longer than a year to get past the “omigod I’m gonna get old and be ALONE!” pan­ic. That’s fine. Take what­ev­er time you need. I promise that you will be health­i­er and hap­pi­er for it. The world and its peo­ple will still be there when you’re ready.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top
%d bloggers like this: