A "man ban" was not something I had tried to come up with as a resolution to a dating issue. I was 29, single, writing my first book, and just happened to go on one by accident. I was given nine weeks to hand in a manuscript, which required all my time and energy. I told my friends I would not be around for social catch-ups, rejected dates, and hookups (as painful as that was), and I simply focused on my work and myself.
I had to keep my mind clear and productive, but it also felt like, for the first time in a long time, I was looking after and focusing on myself first instead of others. (I also happen to be a nurturer, so looking after myself is not something I'm always great at.) Even though I did this for work, what I also accidentally created was my own "man ban."
Masturdate — a fun word I use to describe dating yourself, which is doing things you might do on a date but with yourself.
At the time, I didn't realize how badly I needed it or how valuable that time would be. There have been periods in my dating life where I wanted to take a break, but the temptation to date and bed others always got the better of me. I also think this had a lot to do with the validation I was seeking through dating and sex to boost my self-esteem (and I discovered how to find this on my own soon after my ban).
I also refer to this as a sex and dating ban, depending on how and who you date. The common theme is taking yourself off the market for a while to focus on you and even masturdate — a fun word I use to describe dating yourself, which is doing things you might do on a date but with yourself.
However, if you are anything like me, finding me time is not always easy. We might have the best intentions to give back to ourselves, but life comes calling. You have friends that get married, have birthdays, make babies, and experience their own dramas. You might need your hair done, time to fit in that workout, meditate, or to get your regular facial and manicure. But even then, none of that is really me time — rather it's maintenance time, things you think you should do to feel better about yourself. Whilst those activities are still important, it's also important to do things in addition to maintenance time to date yourself.
My ban was over five years ago now, but the current COVID climate has seen many of us staying home and canceling social gatherings, dates, and hookups and, therefore, focusing a bit more on ourselves. Let's call this a forced sex and dating ban. I know COVID is a horrible time for so many, but to not go completely insane, we need to look for those silver linings. Being able to go on a ban and date ourselves due to life's circumstances, might just be one of them
I might not be single these days, but being an expert on the website Jasmin, I spend my days in quarantine talking to many people online, especially singles who want help and advice with how to navigate dating at this time. I can't tell people how to safely physically date (unless they have a hazmat suit on hand), but I can help them to make the best of this situation. And this is the advice I am continually sharing with those who tune in to my Jasmin lives — "take this time to go on a ban and masturdate."
My ban was over five years ago now, but the current COVID climate has seen many of us staying home and canceling social gatherings, dates, and hookups and, therefore, focusing a bit more on ourselves. Let's call this a forced sex and dating ban.
The best dating advice I give to people is to set expectations for what they want from their romantic and sexual lives, away from all the noise and pressure of the world around them. However, that's not so easy with a hectic busy life and the busy mind that goes with it — a life many modern women live.
My life before my "man ban" was a continual jump from one date to the next. I'm not even sure I ever sat still long enough to digest anything that was going on. I would get over one break up or bad date with the distraction of another. Going on my ban meant that there were no distractions, no escaping my own mind, no quick fixes to some of my bad dating behaviors (yes even a sexologist has those from time to time).
I was still with my thoughts and also had more time to focus on myself. And I had to get my self-confidence from within, not from the attention of others. That was truly the most valuable gift this time could bring. It turns out, I needed a reason to stop and sit still, and I had that with my book deadline. And right now, many have that reason too. (But I do not want this to diminish anyone's difficult experiences due to the pandemic.)
When you are trying to digest everything that has been going on, work out what you want, and get in touch with who you really are: taking the time to stop, think, and give back to yourself might be exactly what you need to do. Take this time to date yourself and learn to enjoy your own company. Why waste your time on people who do not respect you, when you can be perfectly fine on your own?
This does not mean you have to be on your own forever, but it's good to learn that your own company can be just as satisfying when you need to take a break from toxic people or situations. Look through past behaviors and discover, what might have been coping mechanisms or bad behaviors? And sit long enough with your own thoughts to consider what it is you really want.
The best dating advice I give to people is to set expectations for what they want from their romantic and sexual lives, away from all the noise and pressure of the world around them.
I always loathed sayings like "when you stop looking you will find someone" and for this next part you might also loathe me. Not long after my ban, I did find someone, but it wasn't a smooth journey. I went back into the real world, fell in love with the first person who said hello, only to have my heart broken two weeks later — yes, I used to move fast. After that, I was forced to take my learnings from my ban and put them into play. I reminded myself of what I had discovered during that period and how happy I was giving back to myself.
It's not some magical thing that when you stop looking "it" happens. It's when you stop looking that you focus more on yourself and your own happiness, making better decisions with that in mind. Dating should not be about getting others to like you for validation or even about having a pleasant distraction, dating should be about exploring connections with people who make you feel good about yourself. I found love after my ban because I was in a good place and made decisions that were truly right for me.
We are living through a pandemic so unfortunately, I can't bring back safe physical dating. What I can do is help you to make the most of what this period brings. Enjoy not having to make up a reason to stay in, to Netflix and chill and look after yourself first. And whilst you are there, date yourself, do what you want to do, and nurture your soul so when this is all over, you might just re-enter the dating world with a different view.
WRITTEN BYDr. Nikki Goldstein