The Time Before: An Introduction


I started dating My Ex when I was freshly 18, a naïve virgin who desperately wanted time to hurry up so I could be an adult. I was idealistic, unrealistic, self-conscious, fiercely independent, slyly rebellious, and did I mention naïve? After four years of dating, we got married, and after 11 years of marriage, we got separated, and after a year and a half, we got divorced. That’s a tidy summary of a 17 year relationship. The details are unimportant.

What is important, or what you should understand to fully appreciate my little project, is that when I filed for divorce, roughly 2 years ago, I was a different person than when I was 18. But in some ways, I wasn’t so different. I had lost myself in the marriage, in motherhood, in the self-effacing drudgery of the roles I had assumed — mother, martyr, doormat. I had swapped naiveté and idealism for cynicism, but I was still self-consciously rebellious and independent with a penchant for taking on ill-advised tasks, anything deemed “too hard” for me.

And so began my 34th year, during which I did not live promiscuously at all. In fact, abstinence was my modus operandi. I was my own best friend, and I was satisfied with that arrangement. I spent that time re-connecting with what I wanted and who I thought I was and breaking down some unhealthy thought processes. And once I began to shake off the mental fog and emotional burden of my dysfunctional marriage, I found myself feeling, much to my surprise, lonely.

So with much hesitation and despite my doubt in my own desirability, I entered the alien world of dating. I hadn’t been single in 17 years, hadn’t ever really dated, had only slept with one man, and hadn’t had sex in at least a year. Dating apps (hell, any apps) hadn’t existed the last time that I had done this.

I’m nothing if not efficient, though, and I quickly found the pace of dating apps to be frustratingly slow. My free time was limited, and I believed that my chances of finding someone would decrease with each passing year. I didn’t have the luxury to just date one person at a time. And this is how The Year of Living Promiscuously began.

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