When I’m suffering from Sunday scaries, looking ahead at my jam-packed week, I always feel a bit of anxiety when I have an open night. There are so many possibilities: I could take a hard workout class, I could meet my friends for happy hour, I could go home and watch TV while snuggling my dog… or I guess… I could go on a date. I don’t always feel this bored with dating: sometimes there’s nothing more I want to do than meet new people and take a chance over a round of beers with them. But there are other times when anything — and literally, anything! — seems better to me than dating. It’s always when this feeling strikes that I remind myself that I don’t have to date all the time to find love. And that sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself to actually attract this beloved person that I’ll share my life with is to stop looking for them and take a break from dating.
Though your grandma who was ready for your to tie the knot ages ago might disagree, many experts will tell you that putting your mental health and clarity at the top of your priority list will yield better dating results. Why? Because when you’re in a positive headspace, you attract a better mate. Check out these signs if you’re feeling like a break from dating is needed:
First Up, Why Are Breaks Helpful?
When I first started giving myself breaks — a month here, a few months there — I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that by not putting myself out there, I actually would be putting myself out there. But the more that I took time to focus on what I was feeling and how to overcome it, the more I understood it’s value.
“Breaks are helpful when you're dating to give you the chance to take a step back and reevaluate," life coach, Carmen Parks tells Bustle. "Maybe you started dating with one goal or purpose in mind but when you take a break you realize that some things have changed. For example, life perspectives, life goals, career goals etc.may have changed. Taking a break gives you time to reevaluate and determine what you really want now... which could be different than what you thought you wanted one, two or five even years ago.”
Here's What Can They Teach Us
The biggest benefit I have from taking a break from dating is the opportunity to focus on literally anything else other than love. While I might want to meet the man I’ll marry and start figuring out the next decade of my life, when I’m not aimlessly swiping, I’m actually doing more of the things that I love.
"Breaks teach us that there is more to life and there is more to ourselves than dating and finding ‘The One’. Yes it's great to share your life with someone but flowing through one prospect after the other isn't quite the same thing,” Parks says. “It's common to get caught up in the routine of dating while focusing so much on that one aspect of your life. The dating routine makes it easy to forget about your own personal needs. Taking a break can allow you to get to know yourself again or maybe even get to know a newer version of yourself. With life comes experience and with experience comes change and transformation. connect with yourself as you are now. Learn what's really important to you.”
How Long Should A Dating Break Be?
My breaks are often a month where I delete all of those damn dating apps, book a weekend trip somewhere and spend more time solo and with my friends. I’ve had ones that are longer — and yeah, I gave up dating for Lent one year — but usually, a month is enough to shape my negativity into optimism.
“A break should be as long as it needs to be for you to fall back in love with yourself or fall in love with yourself for the first time. You can establish a contentment in life when you love who you are inside and out. Take the time you need to become the partner you want to be and make room for the partner you wish to attract,” Parks says. “For example, what side of the bed will they sleep on? What types of activities will you do together? Make those changes part of your routine and you'll be surprised how easy it is to slip that person into your life.”
You Need To Take A Break If You’re Using A Checklist To Find Love
Part of the beauty of dating is how it teaches us what we really want and what we can’t compromise on. That being said, no one will ever fit every single bullet on our ‘future partner’ wish list, and if you’re going off of a scribbled list of qualities instead of getting to know a human, you might benefit from taking a big step back from dating.
“You shouldn’t be more focused on checking off items on a ‘husband [/wife] list’ than finding someone you genuinely want to spend the rest of your life with. Many women are looking for a partner to fill a role in their lives and they lose sight of what it means to actually have a partner in life,” Parks says. “Marriage is a partnership. It is not about filling a role as husband and wife. Take a break if you've lost sight of why you want to share your life with someone.” And if you're not looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with, if you're looking for a partner, it's still valuable to ditch the checklist.
You Need A Break If Your Confidence Is Wavering
Between the dates that never text back and the ones leave if you don’t put out soon enough (yuck) — it might feel like a constant battle to maintain a positive attitude out there. If you’re starting to see your self-esteem drop, it’s time to take some time.
“It's common to lose yourself while dating," Parks says. "You can get so focused on being a supportive loving partner and overlook ways you may be being mistreated. If you're in a relationship or are casually dating and you notice that you can't tell the difference between your thoughts and your partner's words, it's time to take a break. Especially if those thoughts/words make you feel badly about yourself. It's easy to rationalize it away or pretend like you don't notice, but know that those words are having a significant impact on your psyche and your self-esteem.”
Take A Break If You Aren’t Putting Your Best Self Forward
Find yourself being snippy on dates? Or getting angry at your friends when they try and encourage you? Are you having meaningless sex just because you’re darn lonely? Hey, we all get to a point when we don’t recognize who we are.
"Different people bring out different parts of our personalities," Parks says. "Your best self is someone you would look up to and want to be. If you find that you aren't being your best self, then stop and re-evaluate. Start doing things that your best self would do and you'll find a partner who empowers you to be even better."
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