Ask Evie: I Went Through A “Hoe Phase” And I’ve Been Having Regrets About It For A While. How Do I Forgive Myself?

Welcome to Ask Evie, our advice column. Readers can submit their questions, and our editors will dish out their best advice!

By Evie2 min read
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READER’S QUESTION: "I’m a 32-year-old single woman (I’ll be turning 33 next month) with no kids, and like many other Modern Day Women, I went through a Hoe Phase. I’ve been having regrets about it for a while now, and I’m having a hard time forgiving myself for participating in it. Being that I’m in my 30s, I’ve realized that I have officially hit the wall, and I’m starting to lose hope in the idea of getting married and having kids. So I have two questions, 1) How do I start the process of forgiving myself for having a hoe phase? and 2) Should I still have hope in getting married and starting a family one day?"

EVIE’S ADVICE: Learning to forgive yourself can be a difficult process, but it’s the only way. As they say, the only way forward is through. Forgiving is not forgetting; rather, it’s the act of not holding something against yourself. Gaining insight and understanding of what motivated your choices in your “hoe phase,” as you put it, can help you not only learn from the past but give you more compassion for yourself. Were you seeking love? A sense of being valued or seen? Were you using it as a coping mechanism to deal with or avoid another pain point in your life back then? Were you doing it because your friends were and you were afraid to be different? Was that the only narrative you had heard in your life at that point? Whatever the motivation, once you figure out what it was, you can better frame your choices as you reflect on your past, as well as find healthier ways to meet those emotional needs now.

Once you’ve reflected, take the time to really journal about it. It doesn’t have to be neat or organized – literally just a brain and heart dump. Get it all out. Journalling allows us to name an experience, take responsibility for it, and then emotionally and psychologically let it go. It goes from being an internal thought and feeling, through our hand and our pen, to an external experience encapsulated on paper. Taking that paper and having a small ritual of intentionally destroying it, like burning it, can emotionally and psychologically help you shift the past permanently to the past. You’ve processed the old you, accepted your choices, and then purged yourself of it.

We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it, and we can transform its role in our life story. 

Alternatively, talking to a trusted therapist or pastor can also have a healing effect. When you are met with understanding, compassion, and acceptance, it can help you have that same attitude toward yourself. Plus, they can also help facilitate the deep dive into your past motivations if you want it. Every single human makes choices that we regret. But part of moving on is being able to say “that was the old me. The new me does X instead.” We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it, and we can transform its role in our life story. It can go from being a source of shame to being a motivation to live a new way and to share your lessons learned with others who might be tempted down that old path. You’re older and wiser – put that wisdom to good use for the sake of others.

As far as getting married and having a family one day, yes, there is hope! You’re certainly not the only single woman your age looking for a husband, and age is not a limiting factor in value or virtue. Plenty of women go through their version of a “hoe phase” while young and still wind up with the man of their dreams. Remember that men make plenty of mistakes growing up and maturing as well. Part of finding your “person” is accepting their past as it was and loving them unconditionally as you build a future life together. None of us are perfect. No matter what you’ve gone through in your past, you have the ability to forgive yourself, to move forward, and to be a beautiful, healthy, happy, fun, and high-value woman! 

As far as having children in the future, it’s a good idea to be proactive with your approach. For tips related to preserving your fertility, start with this article.

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