At the beginning of the year, I made the scary and radical decision to cut men out of my life. I kept my few close guy friends, but I didn’t add any new dudes into the mix and I cut out the toxic ones I already knew. I’ve been so much happier ever since.
My entire life became a safe space. I don’t have to spend every second of my social interactions wondering when the next inappropriate comment is gonna be hurled at me. I don’t have to practice my fake laugh and fake smile in reaction to “banter” that’s always offensive and pretty insulting. I don’t have to constantly police my own behavior in an attempt to ward off unwanted advances or conversations.
I don’t have to put up with sexism. It’s so ridiculously freeing. I hadn’t realized how tiring it is to constantly be around men that would outright refuse to try and see things from a different perspective. I no longer have to bite back furious comments or tears for worry of seeming hysterical or being accused of PMSing. By removing myself from those toxic situations, some of the weight of everyday sexism has been majorly relieved.
I don’t have to put up with their guilt about their sexism. I don’t find myself in situations anymore where a man will be rude or inappropriate towards me, understand that he’s been rude or inappropriate, but then refuse to change his behavior. I would have to go through endless conversations—kind, harsh, hysterical, blunt—over and over again and explain to them that I (and all women) deserve better. A lot of the time, they’d be full of remorse, call themselves names, punish themselves relentlessly… only to then continue that behavior the very next week.
I’d gotten way too used to being objectified. Until I removed men from my life, I never realized the extent to which I would swallow down my discomfort at how I was treated by most of them. I’d allow men to stare at me, stare at my breasts, follow me around the room, invade my personal space, and refuse to acknowledge responsibility in their disrespectful behavior because it was just “how guys are.” Nope!
It taught me how much emotional labor men expected from me. I no longer have to deal with their indecisiveness when it comes to their emotions. I no longer have to explain simple feminist concepts, teach them what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in friendships, or be someone’s manic pixie dream girl. I don’t have to slave away in order to make them comfortable at my own expense.
I don’t worry anywhere near as much as I used to. And it’s because I’m not having interactions with men that emotionally drain me. I don’t have to mother the men I cut out of my life. I don’t carry their emotional weight (that they were more than willing to let me carry, I should mention) and it means that my time is spent focusing directly on myself.
My female and select male friends have been endlessly supportive. I was instantly bowled over by guilt at cutting out some of the men in my life. By blocking them, refusing to respond to messages, or engage in social situations with them, I felt rude and arrogant. But that wasn’t the case; I was simply protecting myself. If it hadn’t been for my friends’ support, I probably would have given into the toxic guys.
I stopped being the victim of their immaturity. Seriously. The level of immaturity that I came to expect from my male friends was beyond ridiculous. How had I put up with it for so long? It began to make sense to me why I had felt so on edge, so tired and drained before I cut them out of my life.
It helped me develop boundaries. I finally had learned how to say no, and standing up for myself and the ways I should be treated felt so freeing. It was like a whole new level of self-love that I’d never dived into before because I was finally putting my own emotions first.
I stopped being a live-in Google. How many times have you noticed men come to you with ridiculous questions in order to save themselves the effort of doing the research? It’s their responsibility to examine themselves and figure out how they can be the best allies to their friends, family, and colleagues. In particular, I no longer have the patience or time to explain to men how they are being offensive, only for them to throw their male pride and hurt ego back in my face. I live happier and easier now that I’m more selective about who I let into my circle and who I don’t.
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