I'll Always Believe In Love: Men May Have Stopped Trying, But I Won't

“Dinner tonight? You choose.”

I loved getting this text, and I dreaded its loss. If he stopped sending it, that would mean he'd stopped trying. But things were good, and soon, his texts were peppered with little heart emojis.

I’d fallen hard and fast. This guy and I had been seeing each other for a New York minute, and I was hooked.

We didn’t define the parameters of our relationship -- a misstep, one for which I take full credit -- and he started becoming less and less of a man.

The courting stopped. Dinner dates became scarce. And when I demanded a refined sense of chivalry from him, he disengaged completely. I lost out on courtship and on him.

Whether it was laziness or a clear-cut decision rendering me unworthy of his time, I’ll never know. But that isn't what mattered.

“You didn’t lose out on him,” my friends would say. “He lost out on you!”

I tried to believe them. Still, the loss was inevitable, and the takeaway was clear: Men had no game anymore. Zero. Zip. My man failed to step up to the plate, and I successfully entered a slump.

It stole the girl I used to know and replaced her with a different one entirely -- a scared, subdued person I hardly recognized. She had given up on love. She had given up on men, and worst of all, she had given up on herself. She was a robot.

Breakups can be more paralyzing than a fist to the jaw. After mine, I completely stopped doing the things I once loved to do. Things that used to feel cathartic were now chores.

I was jaded as hell. And all the things that people used to do for me -- treat me well, dote on me -- had disappeared. I expected these things from others and didn't expect them from myself.

That was the problem. Why did I feel dates were privileges? Just because someone had always done the work for me didn't mean I couldn't do the work myself. The single woman is just as entitled to courtship as her coupled-up girlfriends. The power lies in her hands.

That man didn't try, and he made me feel I wasn't worthy. But I recently emerged from my slump. I was weary, but stronger than my exhaustion was my desire to find the girl I used to be.

I will be beautiful for myself.

It’s easy to want to look good in order to impress someone else; it’s difficult to want to look good for yourself.

There won’t always be someone in the picture, but that doesn’t mean I should forget the picture I've painted of myself. It's an image of a woman I've vowed to stay true to every day.

Whether that means dressing in good taste, shaving my legs (for no man) or keeping up with regular manicures, I maintain a beauty routine that makes me feel good about myself.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am the beholder. It’s okay to want to impress yourself. I had stopped taking care of myself, and that changed.

I won’t stop giving men an honest chance.

One man isn't a reflection of all men. My man represented a small sample of people. In my refusal to judge others based on bad luck, I will not write people off before they’ve had the chance to prove me wrong.

I won’t stop myself from seeing the good in humanity.

I'll welcome the world with open arms, skillfully avoid the blunders of my past and see a man for who he truly is.

I will find pleasure in doing things alone.

Women often feel like they’re missing out on something by being single. Just because I'm not being taken out on dates doesn't mean they can't be a regular part of my life. I’ve learned the depths of my strength and the sheer convenience in doing things alone.

I used to wish I was the girl who went clubbing alone -- until I realized the only thing in my way was myself.

I won’t sell myself short.

Fear of speaking up is half the reason we don't get what we want. And if we've spoken up and still don't get what we want, the man we've chosen is wrong.

Single me has taken the time to discover what she needs. I'm no longer afraid of setting limitations because selling myself short will not breed a long-term love. Giving less of myself will never lead to something more.

I will let myself get excited about a date.

The art of flirting isn't lost. It’s there, as long as we’re open to it. Someone will someday feed my curiosity, and I’ll want to get to know him.

I won’t coerce myself into feigned happiness; genuine eagerness to get to know someone again will be a sweet surprise.

I'll allow myself to sink into the plush novelty of a date with someone new. I will not let the events of the past ruin the events of my future.

I won’t stop believing in love.

Perhaps the most noteworthy revelation of all is that I will never stop believing in love.

I believe that pure and innocent romantic love exists, and it’s here to stay (it never left). I believe it will never go out of style -- that it is possible for two people to fall equally as hard for one another and make it through their darkest days together.

I stopped believing for a while, and that was my mistake. Love doesn’t find us when we don’t believe, and men won’t try unless we do.

Men have stopped trying, but that doesn’t mean I will.