Why Blaming Hook-Up Culture Is Safer Than Saying You're Afraid Of Love

by Emily Fata

I have been single for nearly a year now. I have spent the vast majority of this time mulling about how much I hate men, and how I never want to be in a relationship again.

Why, though?

“Because,” I tell my friends matter-of-factly, “men just suck.”

Recently, it’s hit me that all of my closest friends are in serious relationships.

Meanwhile, I’m just sitting back, waiting for the moment to hit me when I decide to integrate myself back into the dating scene.

I decided at some point between my breakup and the present moment that I couldn’t date anyone because I just wanted to go out and break guys’ hearts.

I understood that it was far from fair to anyone who was looking for something serious.

I wanted to bring people the same exact pain I felt.

If my ex could seemingly throw my feelings to the side, why couldn’t I do that to other people?

He did these things in his own best interest, and I was hell-bent on the fact that this "revenge-heartbreaking" would benefit me.

Hurting other people seemed like reasonable emotional retaliation for what I had experienced.

Newsflash: It doesn’t do sh*t.

I was left with more anger, frustration and resentment toward myself for being such a bitch.

In my vain attempt to both purge myself of any feelings I still had for a long-gone relationship and to prevent any feelings from developing toward a potential new relationship saboteur (as I saw all men to be at the time), I developed an awful resolve to have no feelings.

I was -- to put it simply -- anti-feelings.

Nevertheless, there are days when I contemplate downloading a serious dating app (you know, the ones you actually have to pay for) because I want a legitimate relationship with someone who seems a little more genuine than a Tinder boy.

I then decide I want to meet someone in a "normal" way, and make no subscriptions to these sites.

Truly, it’s simply rooted in the fact that I don’t want to take a step toward eventually developing feelings for anyone.

I’m scared.

Still, there are days when I am eager to go to bars and flirt with strangers, letting them buy me a cocktail after a brief conversation.

This is before I take my drink and leave to dance with my friend on the other end of the room.

As I’m in the midst of these (often intoxicated) encounters, I think to myself, "Oh no. What am I doing?"

"You can’t just go out and potentially start dating people. Stop flirting."

This convinces me to swear off men forever.

I tell my friends for the millionth time that I never want to have children or get married.

I sound ridiculous as I say these things.

I can hear the heavy sighs my best friends make no attempt at hiding.

Their eyes flit upward in a semi-eye roll, in a wordless, “Here we go again.”

These are the people who know, better than anyone, that I am actually such a hopeless romantic at heart.

I am struggling with this new conclusion only to protect my heart.

I find my mindset extremely difficult to understand. I want to start dating again, as much as I don’t want to.

I want to eventually fall madly in love with someone again, as much as I want to swear off men for the rest of my life.

The truth of the matter is this: I’m just terrified of falling in love again.

The very thought of giving my whole self to someone else and blindly hoping that person will accept me for all my flaws, quirks and discrepancies makes me feel extremely uneasy.

The fact is, someone can make you believe he or she accepts every aspect of you.

The thing is, eventually, the person's mind can change.

Someone can be hopelessly in love with you and gradually have waning feelings.

Someone can tell you -- one evening while you’re studying for a midterm in bed together -- that he or she doesn’t want to be in a relationship anymore.

(I’m speaking from experience on that one.)

This is a part of life. This is human nature.

We can be very fickle creatures.

You may make a mistake in your relationship. You may make 50 mistakes.

That isn’t the point.

What matters is the fact that you learn from the mistakes you've made and build yourself up for the person who actually deserves you.

He or she is out there.

You will be unable to allow that person into your life if you remain set on perpetually safeguarding your feelings.

I realize this now.