Embrace Your "Hoe Phase"
I never expected to find myself in the “hoe phase.” It sounds like the plot of a classic ’90s movie, but it happened to me. I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, I’m grateful for the personal and sexual exploration it pushed me into, learning more about myself in two years than I had the 19 years prior. I started my first relationship when I was 15. It lasted for three and a half years. We met at an after school tutoring center. He was emotionally abusive. After we broke up my freshman year of college, I jumped right into a 9-month relationship with someone else—arguably not my best move. My mom always told me to keep my options open. Like Samantha from Sex and the City said, “If you’re single, the world is your smorgasbord,” Samantha from Sex and the City once said. I found my own smorgasbord in Europe when I was studying abroad in the Netherlands. I managed to use my minimal French to hookup with a Belgian I met at a techno club in Brussels. I had the most Before Sunrise-esque date in Prague, stretching from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. I found myself trying to hit on a woman for the first time. It was a Czech woman in a hip hop club. When I got back to Boston, I downloaded numerous dating apps and was ready to have some fun and explore my sexuality. I had crazy sex with Navy boys and had group sex for my 21st birthday. I hooked up with fraternity boys and even went to formal in Vermont. I was excited to date really attractive men, even men from Ivy league schools but then realized, there’s more important factors to consider dating someone besides how smart or elite they are. I learned something from everyone I was with. I hooked up with stoners to get free weed and I realized I could never date someone who spent all their time in their room. I went rock climbing with an introvert and discovered I was attracted to introverts who complimented my bubbly personality. I went to late-night wine nights at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, breweries, rollerblade rinks, sushi jazz restaurants, underground tunnels at Northeastern University, and so much more. During my first date with a girl, she cooked me pasta. I felt pressured to be secure in my sexuality right away. I just wanted to hookup, not have a girlfriend. I had trouble accepting my bisexuality at first, but as I dated more girls and fell in love with a few of them, I realized it was okay to accept that part of me. I had a lot of fun, but not everything was great. I’ve been kicked out more than once right after sex. One time, it was during a snowstorm. I cried on the Uber ride back, which I made him pay for. I went on a date with a new boy I really liked, but he already had a huge hickey on his neck the whole time. I vowed I never wanted to be with someone who disrespected me like that again. I was taking a shower, getting ready for a date, when my date texted me and said dinner reservations were too much and too soon. I fell in love with a shy girl from Wellesley College, but she ended things when she saw my wilder side. My heart was broken, but I learned I shouldn’t apologize for being myself. I swam the ocean, not the sea. Then, once I had enough, I knew what I wanted. He didn’t have hickeys on our first date and he loved every single part of me. He’s hardworking, passionate, and a total introvert. I didn’t wonder about the "what-ifs" with him. I spent those years answering every "what-if" I had. Being single for two years was fun and crazy and miserable, but necessary. I wouldn’t be as happy, secure, and confident in myself if it wasn’t for that. I wasn’t merely “single.” I explored my entire self and learned to love who I am. I encourage people to enjoy their “hoe phase.” Embrace it. Take it as an opportunity to explore yourself, your body, and your heart. Because no matter how many relationships you have, what’s important is the one you find with yourself.