2017 Shut Down My Love Life, But Here's How I'm Turning It Around

Photographed by Rachel Cabitt.

A few weeks ago, I met with an astrologist named Colin Bedell who gave me more insight into my psyche in two hours than two therapists over three years ever did. Looking over my natal chart, he told me that he could sense a contempt of masculinity that I’d been carrying around. “You’re taking it out on your dad,” he said. “And that contempt, and the negative feelings for your father, are fucking up your dating life.”

He was right. I’d slowly allowed myself to turn into a cynic and a bit of a misandrist when it came to my interactions with men. But could you really blame me? Look at the fucking year we’re living in. We have a man in the White House who is on tape admitting to sexual assault. Donald Trump is also currently endorsing Roy Moore — a man accused of sexual misconduct against teenagers, some as young as 14to fill a senate seat in order to have the votes to help him fulfill a vow to confirm only anti-choice judges to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, America now has a laundry list of powerful men being accused of sexual harassment and assault. So is it any wonder that women who have sex with men are messaging and tweeting me daily talking about how 2017 has shut down their sex drives? As a straight woman with my own #MeToo stories, is it really a stretch to imagine that I have felt sick at the prospect of going on yet another first date? It’s fucking exhausting.

While all of this has thrown cold water on my sex drive, I have continued to push myself through the dating meat grinder. Because if this is, in fact, the end of the world, I at least want a warm body to ride it out with. But that has meant I’ve had to compartmentalize my temporarily generalized contempt for men so as to not go on some feminist rant on every first date I go on, which also means one person in particular has been bearing the brunt of it.

I’ve had to compartmentalize my temporarily generalized contempt for men so as to not go on some feminist rant on every first date I go on.

“It’s cliché, but your father is really the framework by which you have measured your romantic partners,” Colin said. Since I couldn’t yell at every man, I started arguing with my father. We’d get into political screaming matches over our opposed views, which would only feed my contempt for men, which would then lead to more arguments with my father.

It got seriously toxic. And soon enough, that toxicity started bleeding right back into my dating life. I’d start getting into it with guys on dating apps who sent me shitty messages. I actually right-swiped on a guy in order to tell him how misogynistic his profile was. (He’d written that women didn’t know how to be women anymore, and that women should “stop with the provocative profile photos if you want to find a husband.”) I began tweeting about the crappy experiences I had on dating apps, which just fed the negativity. I stopped having sex with people I was dating, focusing only on self-loving. But even that eventually went south for me, and I felt completely sexually clogged. And trust — nothing feeds my negativity more than an inability to orgasm.

Eventually, it became this huge cloud that followed me around from date to date — and in everyday life. It even started affecting my writing. I’m self-aware enough to know that I’ve gotten negative and whiny here. I’ve been going through it, guys.

When Colin affirmed all of this to me, and connected the dots between what’s been going on in the world, how I’ve been feeling, and how I’ve been treating my father, it blew my mind. Subconsciously, I probably knew that all of this was connected. But I needed someone else to spell it out for me to really recognize the how and why. And while therapy has helped me out in many moments of my life, and while there are plenty of astrological skeptics out there (which is fair), at this particular moment in my life, Colin’s was the voice that rang the loudest.

So of course, my first question was, “What can I do to change this?” His answer: I had to make peace with my father. Who we are as humans isn’t determined by our voting records or political views. None of us have the correct answers 100% of the time, but I was treating my father like he and his beliefs were evil, while I and mine were the absolute pinnacle of goodness. That isn’t fair, and it isn’t necessarily true, either. And even though our views are different, I love him as a person. So I apologized, I forgave him for his part in our feud, and we made a pact to no longer talk politics. I know my decision to not discuss politics with a person who disagrees with me is a privilege that I have as a white, cis woman. But when it came down to it, I had to choose between arguing with a wall and having a loving relationship with my father. I chose the latter.

I’m trying to let people show me who they are before jumping to conclusions, and that’s helped me start to go into dates with positivity instead of dread.

Once I did that, I realized that it was easier for me to change my combative thinking in the moment. Now, when I’m on a date with a man, and I find myself assuming that he’s going to disappoint me with some insanely ignorant, patriarchal comment, I try to take a beat and talk myself back from that ledge. I’m trying to let people show me who they are before jumping to conclusions, and that’s helped me start to go into dates with positivity instead of dread.

I still do find myself overwhelmed with the negativity from time to time. But that tends to be negativity about things that I can’t control. So I’m changing the things I can control — like talking badly about people, saying shit like, “Men are canceled,” and opening Twitter first thing in the morning. Colin reminded me of something I believe in wholeheartedly: We attract what we put out into the world. I’d been putting out shit. So I got shit in return.

That’s not to say I’m attempting to become some self-censoring, overly accommodating female stereotype. I’m still outspoken about the things that are important to me, but I’m trying to keep the bitterness in check. As I approach the new year, I’m attempting to learn from 2017 and strike a healthier balance so that I’m ready to date with a clearer head and a more open mind. This year may have fucked up my love life, but I can honestly say that an astrologist brought me back down to earth. Who would have thought?

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After being raised on a steady diet of Disney movies, I expected to meet someone and fall passionately in love — but wound up collapsing under the pressures of modern dating. Luckily, I eventually realized that there's no "right" way to date, and that I need to find happiness within myself, no partner needed. It’s Not You is where I write to calm the voices in my head — and hear from all of you. Follow me on Twitter, on Instagram, or email me at maria.delrusso@refinery29.com.