Let’s face it: Dating can be as exhausting as it is fun. Just as it’s intoxicating to have the perfect first date, it’s draining to be ghosted. It may be rewarding to have a supportive new person in your life, but it’s also stressful if you’re the one giving all the support.
In this modern age of dating apps galore, meeting people is easy. But could it be beneficial, or even healthy, to intentionally take a break from it all? To recharge and get back into the game refreshed? These four people are taking or have taken breaks from dating, and each one calls it a learning experience.
You deserve to feel in control.
“I’ve been taking a break from dating for about two months now. I realized that I was only dating people I didn’t actually have a future with. Dead end job? Beautiful. Incompatible future goals? Sign me up. General disdain for everything I am? Come to mama. I’m not sure what that’s about, so I signed out of Tinder and into therapy. I realized that I have a lot of things I need to address with myself before I try to share my life with another human.
I’m focusing on therapy and my career. I have a lot of personal goals that I don’t think I’d get to as quickly if I split my focus between them and dating. So far, so good. My skin is glowing, I’ve had approximately 47 percent fewer meltdowns, and I have extra time to make hot cocoa. (I haven’t had cocoa in years.) Go to therapy, date yourself, wash your face, and drink water. That’s the best advice I’ve got for anyone and everyone.
Now that I’ve been ‘alone,’ I’ve learned to be okay without the attention or validation and satisfy my needs for both in other ways. That’s given me a sense of control. If someone wants to date me, the ball feels entirely in my court.” —Rochelle, 23
It’s okay to be choosy.
“A few months ago, I moved to a new place where I did not know anyone and started a new job. I started dating as soon as I moved, both out of boredom and loneliness. In October, I had been seeing someone for a few weeks and knew that they were more into it than I was. I could feel myself enjoying their adoration and using it as an excuse to ignore my own priorities, so I broke it off and have not dated since.
I have been wanting to build community in this new place, so I’ve been focusing on that. And I also wanted to focus on some work projects I’ve been avoiding. Overall, if I’m not feeling empowered by my work or my friendships, I lean on dating as a way to build self-esteem. But I recognize when I’m doing that and try to stop dating if I am. Also, if dating stops being satisfying, then I know I have to stop and figure out what’s going on with me emotionally.
I’ve used this break to reassess what I’m actually looking for in a partner and to start working toward some self-acceptance about my needs. the distance between knowing those things about myself and actually enacting those things into my dating life (i.e. being upfront with someone about looking for a more serious relationship) still feels pretty far, but I am back on a dating app now. I’m just waiting for someone to be worth my time.” —Maya, 29
It’s your life, so put yourself first.
“I stayed away from dating for about three years, from 2015 to the beginning of 2018. I broke up with my college girlfriend, who was my first serious relationship. We began dating when I was 18 and starting college, were together for four years, and then I broke up with her a month after I turned 22. After that, I was depressed and blamed myself for not trying to make it work. Thankfully, with the help and support of my closest friends and family, I was able to break free of that mindset. When I did, I wanted to make sure I could be happy on my own and love myself first.
This break from dating really helped me put things into perspective. I now know what I look for in someone if I’m seeking a serious relationship. I used to put other people’s happiness before my own, but I deserve to be happy too — and that’s a good non-negotiable to have.” —Mario, 26
Discovering your identity prepares you for future relationships.
“I’ve been on many breaks over the past eight years for lots of reasons. They were usually for months, and one was longer than a year. Over the past couple years, I’ve learned more about myself and realized being non-binary is what makes me feel most comfortable. I became grossed out by the male mindset of flirting and dating (how I was socialized), and really distanced myself from it as much as I could.
I was able to learn to take care of myself in a healthy way and not be dependent on others for dealing with my issues. I’ve learned how to be confident in myself and am ready to date now because I think I’ve found the right approach to how I should act around others in a way that doesn’t resemble toxic masculinity. My mindset on relationships is also very different now that I don’t have such a heavily monogamous outlook. I view every connection as special and unique. If someone I’m seeing is up for both of us having unique experiences with other people, I’m all for it.
[Thanks to these breaks], I’ve been able to take a step back, remove myself from my previous mindset, and break down my understanding of how I should act toward someone I want to be more intimate with, whether it be physically or emotionally.” —Tom, 23