As the year draws to a close, it’s been one of countless first dates after Covid restrictions well and truly lifted at the start of 2022.
TikTok is seeing its ‘dating wrapped’ trend, where users sum up their dating history for the year – and while they’re funny, seeing it all in black and white can make things seem pretty bleak.
To be honest, it’s likely that many of us are suffering from severe date exhaustion going into the New Year. So why not go the opposite way and try a ‘man ban’ instead?
The term man ban isn’t exclusive to those who fancy men, as the concept is a gender neutral one despite the misleading name. It’s simply where you have no romantic communication or contact with the sex/gender/people you date.
That means no sliding in the DMs, no dates and definitely no sex.
But the purpose of a man ban isn’t to abstain from dating forever. It’s to give yourself a time out where you can heal, figure out your wants and needs and invest in yourself.
It can last for as long as you want, whether it be a couple of months or years. Whatever works for you. All we’ll say is that once your man ban is complete, you’ll be batting potential love interests away like flies.
Naomi, 23, went on a man ban for two years after the breakdown of her previous relationship, and claims it’s the best thing she ever did.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It was a very toxic relationship that turned abusive towards the end, and because it became abusive it really changed me mentally and as a person.
‘When I was in the relationship I lost a lot of friends and relationships with family. Other friends broke down because they saw what I couldn’t see at the time.
‘Upon leaving the relationship I realised I wasn’t myself and needed to focus on building myself back up again.’
For a while, Naomi only spent time with her closest friends, steering clear of romance while she worked out what she did and didn’t want from future relationships.
‘It massively helped me to realise the type of person I wanted and needed in my life,’ she says.
‘It made me way more selective when it came to dating but it helped me find the right person and clearly that worked well for me because now I’m engaged.’
So what do you do while on your man ban and what can it help you learn?
For Naomi, this period meant focusing on the things she’s always wanted to do, making new memories, and learning how to be okay in social situations without a partner in tow.
‘I went out with friends and found out what made me happy, then focused on it,’ she added.
‘Honestly, I learnt that if you’re true to yourself, the right people will surround you without you having to ask them.’
As well as this, she treated herself and spent time on some much-needed self care and relaxation, saying her reasoning was ‘when you’re happy good things happen from that.’
Dating and relationship coach Kate Mansfield couldn’t agree more when it comes to a man ban having a positive impact on your love life.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘As part of my 12-week program I insist that my female clients do a one month “man ban” so that we can clear the past.
‘Also, it’s absolutely crucial that when creating a vision and set of non-negotiables for your love life that it’s not tainted with one specific person.’
The length of a man ban is a very personal thing and only you can truly know when is the right time to lift it.
For Naomi it was two years of healing, while for some it may only be a month.
Kate said: ‘This is different for everyone, obviously if someone has come out of a 10 year plus marriage, they might need longer to recover, to rediscover who they are as a person and what they need and don’t need.
‘However, in general, I like to keep a period of alone time relatively short, because my belief is that there is no better way to find out about yourself than from casual dating, but with very clear boundaries and intentions.’
If you feel like a man ban is the dating medicine you need in 2023 but you don’t know how to utilise your romance-free time, then Kate has some suggestions.
In her sessions with clients, she starts with clearing the past, then shifts into talking about ‘intentions, a clear vision, boundaries and rules for yourself, and for whoever you are dating, non-negotiables, and red flags.’
‘We also look at negative beliefs and habits that tend to block love,’ says Kate. ‘Self sabotage is a big one.’
Once you’ve worked through those steps and have come to terms with the areas you want to improve in your dating life, then you can dive right back into the world of dating – whenever you feel ready.
Kate offered one last bit of advice, saying: ‘The old adage that we need to love ourselves in order to love another is definitely true, however, the best way to learn how to truly love ourselves is through dating and relating.
‘There’s only so much we can do in theory and once we’ve cleared our past, and created a clear intention and structure with rules and boundaries for how we treat others and want to be treated, then the rest is really all about levelling up as you date.’
She believes many people leave dating to chance, ‘jumping into the first mediocre relationship that is bearable.’ Avoid falling into that trap.
‘Getting into the wrong relationship is probably the most costly mistake anyone can make in terms of the toll it takes on your mental, physical, spiritual, financial, health and in all areas of life,’ Kate continues.
‘Take time to invest in you and practise dating loads!’
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