The word count limitation on this article doesn’t afford me the opportunity to break down years of mental conditioning that has bamboozled women into believing that our bodies and our sexuality doesn’t belong to us. But to state it clearly, when we teach a woman that they are supposed to stay “pure” until she finds a husband, we are ultimately saying, “Your sexuality is dirty unless it is preserved for a man. If it is not being utilized for childbearing or to pleasure your husband, then your sexuality useless.”

At the risk of being ridiculed for attempting to liberate women from teachings that have held our sexuality hostage, I am going to suggest something that is not favorable or received warmly: women should spend time learning to embrace their sexuality and date openly before deciding to settle down.

By way of her older sister, one of my best friends presented an interesting concept to us during our junior year of high school. We were both experiencing the after effects of puppy love gone sideways and her sister, who is 20 years our senior, suggested we consider a new approach to dating. She insisted that while one day the heartbreak we believed we were experiencing would matter, we were too young to commit our lives to one person.

“Have the year of the hoe. Date multiple men. You don’t have to have sex with them, but explore your options. Every man isn’t your husband. Some of them are just for fun.”

This concept was too far-fetched and outlandish for our immature minds to process, and I spent the next five years doing the exact opposite. I desired to be perceived as a “lady” and to stand out as being honorable among the masses, so I continued to commit myself wholeheartedly to the idea of love. Now, at the age of 30, I would willingly pass along this particular gem of knowledge that was generously offered to me 13 years ago. Ladies, have a “year of the hoe.” Explore your options, date multiple people and enjoy your life.

Here are five reasons why women should date casually before rushing to settle down.

1) You find validation outside of marriage.

Too often, women idolize marriage. The absence of a clear, round cut diamond on the ring finger becomes a nagging reminder of her inadequacy. The false validation that some seek from relationships becomes a thief. It robs women of self-esteem and continues to support the idea that we should seek things and people outside of ourselves to prove our value.

2) Confident women attract men.

There is nothing more alluring than a woman who doesn’t need attention. When a woman approaches dating casually, she is much more sought after than someone who dates out of desperation. Recognizing that you have power in romance naturally increases your confidence. According to the law of attraction, we transmit energy and that is what calls people into our life. The more connected you are with your value, the more likely you are to be a magnet for a partner who is recognizes and honors your essence.

3) “The One” will come.

The more a woman opens herself up to serial dating, the less likely she is to rush into a relationship. Dating multiple people at one time is a great way to ensure that you give connections time to develop. A lot of unhealthy relationships could have been prevented had both parties simply slowed down enough to get to know each other. Casual dating allows you to put the appropriate time parameters in place to allow connections to organically strengthen.

4) Casual dating helps you to lighten up.

Occasionally, you will encounter people who serve a specific purpose in your life. Every person that we cross paths with isn’t the one. Learn to evaluate a person and determine the value you can offer one another outside of a serious relationship. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy a person’s company, build a business relationship, or experience adventure and excitement because you have decided that it’s either commitment or nothing.

5) Wifey status is a setup.

There are entirely too many women performing wife-like duties for a man who introduces her to his friends and family as his “friend.” Until a man decides to commit himself to you completely, do not shut yourself off from meeting and connecting with other people. Limiting your interaction with other men while you wait for someone to offer you exclusivity is a setup for failure.