Why It's OK To Be Single And NOT Dating Anyone

by Laken Howard

If there are truly so many singles out there waiting to find love, it makes each unsuccessful date or failed, short-lived relationship cut extra deep. Sometimes, we all need a break from actively, casually dating — and fortunately, there are many surprising benefits of being single and not dating.

In a time when we're all oversaturated with dating apps encouraging us to meet new people 24/7, being single can feel worse than ever, and I'm definitely guilty of "boredom dating": When I have nothing better to do with my time, why not spend it in the company of someone else, someone who might just happen to turn into an S.O. one day? But what I've found instead is that, when I go on dates just to kill time, I'm left emotionally drained — because hey, dating is not easy.

If I'm being totally transparent, actively dating has, at times, taken a serious toll on my mental health. When I was in college, I seemed to be stuck in a cycle: I would meet someone new, chat with them for a few days, date them for a couple weeks, and then, when things didn't work out, I'd be left dejected and would inevitably look for someone new as a distraction from my heartache. And so the vicious cycle continued.

Luckily I broke out of this damaging habit of constantly needing to have someone, anyone in my life, and got comfortable being on my own, only dating when I really felt like it. I understand how easy it is to get sucked into the magnetic pull of dating apps, but truthfully, you don't need anyone else to be happy. If you're feeling overwhelmed with the dating scene, I've learned that it's totally OK to take a step back and just fly actually solo for a while. Here are six benefits of being single and not dating to encourage you to take a break from Tinder and focus on the person who really matters: you.

1. You'll Have More Time For Friends

Not to get overly sentimental, but Charlotte on Sex and the City was so right: Our friends really are the only soulmates we need. There were times in college when I would be bored and plan a date for the evening, only to have a meh time, come back to my dorm and experience serious FOMO because my friends had all somehow invented eight new inside jokes during my hours-long absence. Instead of filling all your downtime with random girls or guys you'll most likely never see again, make an active effort to plan something — even a casual night playing Mario Kart and drinking $5 champagne — with your friends. I guarantee that's time you'll never regret spending.

2. You'll Save Money

Dating is not cheap. Even if, on occasion, your date insists on paying for you, you should never assume that the tab will be covered. So each time I go on a date, I have to check to be certain I can afford one or two (or three or four...) drinks or, even worse, an entire meal. During times when I am not concerned with actively dating, I can stay in and eat Popeye's while letting my debit card get a much-deserved break. Plus you can use all that money you saved by not having drinks on a Tuesday night to treat yo'self to something much cooler, like a new bag or eyeshadow palette.

3. You'll Be Less Appearance-Conscious

I cannot begin to articulate how frustrating the feeling of wasting makeup is. When you're planning random dates throughout the week rather than just staying in, it requires the exhausting effort that is, you know, showering and trying to look good. Not that I (or any other woman) wears makeup solely to impress a date — but when I go out, I want to feel confident and look my best, which means rocking a stellar red lip/smokey eye combo.

If a date goes poorly, I mostly lament the fact that my gorgeous face was wasted on someone who didn't deserve its glory. When you have no one to impress but yourself, you can feel confident staying inside in your best groutfit (all-gray outfit, for the unenlightened), and saving your killer full-makeup looks for more important things. (And have to shave less often. Just saying.)

4. You Won't Be *As* Glued To Your Phone

OK, I'm not naive enough to suggest that we won't still have our phones an inch from our noses at all times, because Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook still exist. But if you use dating apps religiously, you'll know that they can be a serious time-suck: it's easy to spend hours a day browsing profiles, messaging people, and setting up dates.

When you're not constantly texting new people in an attempt to find a relationship, you'll be more present in everyday life — at work, with your friends, during nights out — and can take a much-needed break from ~the grid~ (or maybe just devote more time to perfecting your Insta selfie game, whatever floats your boat). Talking to new people all day long is tiring, and you'll breathe a sigh of relief when you're not always checking your phone *just one more time* to see if that guy on Tinder messaged you back yet.

5. Meeting Someone IRL Will Be More Exciting

When you aren't actively dating, it's like a #TBT to the olden days when the only way to meet someone was out in the wild, at a bar or club with your friends. Obviously, the goal of going out is to have fun, not just find someone to hook up with, but if you're super single and haven't been dating lately, it will be extra exciting if you happen to meet a cute stranger while out. It's like an unexpected surprise, and you'll appreciate the attention more if you've been focused on yourself and no one else recently.

6. You Can Focus On Self-Improvement

This is the real key: Being single shouldn't always be about looking for love, but about the liberating feeling that is loving yourself and trying to better yourself. There are so many areas of your life that can benefit from you taking a break from dating — maybe you need to hit the gym more, travel more, spend more time with family — and it really does require a lot of time and effort to devote yourself to self-improvement.

The most important thing you can do while single and not dating is make a commitment to trying new things, or doing more of something you love that dating previously took time away from. When you do decide to start dating again, you'll be a better version of you, and you'll have a better chance of finding someone awesome who truly complements you.

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