14 Perfectly Good Reasons To Not Be Dating Anyone

by Brianna Wiest

If you're a single woman, more than anyone else, you live under constant pressure to justify your life and your choices. People are perplexed whenever a woman is not in the state of perpetually wanting love and companionship; women are the people to whom "constantly in need of someone else" has been eternally ascribed, and it feels like no one quite knows how to process a woman's existence if her life doesn't revolve around a relationship status. But the reality here is that "being in a relationship" is not synonymous with "being loved and cared for." Ridding oneself of a single status is not a foolproof recipe for companionship; it's not the happiest life situation for every single person who decides to romp down that path. Being involved with another person means hard work that doesn't always get reciprocated. It means compromise that, for some people at certain points in their life, isn't always worth it in the end. Dating is simply not something that everybody wants to do—and nobody should have to justify not wanting to do it.

The default excuse that people who aren't interested in dating pull out to ward off people who want to comment on their dating status (or rather, lack thereof) tends to be the same: "I'm focusing on my career right now." But there are so many just-as-valid-probably-a-little-more-even reasons to not want a relationship right now, or in the foreseeable future. So for anybody looking for a little bit of affirmation or resolve, here are some perfectly good reasons you might be choosing to hold off on pursuing romantic things right now—and why that's totally, perfectly OK.

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You want your decisions to be solely your own

What most people don't understand is that you aren't opting out of relationships right now because you hate them. It's the opposite actually: When you DO get into a relationship, you want to do it perfectly. You want to be a great partner to someone. Part of that means taking their needs and wants into consideration when making decision, which is just something you aren't interested in doing right now. You want to move where you want, do what you want with your weekends, not be obligated to someone else's obligations. And that's fine. Being selfish and holding onto your autonomy is NOTHING to be guilty about. How many people are doing that, but are in relationships at the same time, thus hurting people with their desire to self-direct? That's selfish. There's nothing wrong with wanting autonomy in your existence. (There's nothing wrong with insisting that you have it, either).

You realize that not all relationships are made the same

They all require work, but not all of them have a real, effective payout. They don't all end in happy, monogamous bliss (if that's what you want), or with a loving partner who respects you. Being particular about who you devote your time and mental space to is more logical than settling for a relationship that doesn't give you what you actually need and want. At the end of the day. You just aren't interested in being in a relationship that isn't totally right for you. "Dating someone" does not necessarily mean "being fulfilled and in love."

Dating can be a far cry from the lighthearted picture our minds like to paint

Whether it's casual or committed, dating is not always the fun, exciting time everyone would have you think it is. Being on your own, and taking real time to be by yourself, wherein you explore your options and find yourself, can be infinitely more fun (in addition to all the other ways it's rewarding). Too often, people date just because they think they should, or they think it will be fun when it's more stressful and anxiety-inducing than not.

The sacrifices aren't always worth it

Dating and being in a relationship takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice, and to be honest real, it's not always worth it. Especially when it takes a major sacrifice to even determine whether or not the relationship will get anywhere. When there's no guarantee that giving up your job or friends or rent-controlled apartment for a "eh, maybe, we'll see how it goes" will be worth it in the end, it seems like erring on the safer side of a calculated risk is more than okay (it's probably smarter).

You have to get on your own path before you mistakenly find yourself on somebody else's by default

This could be the first, last and only chance you have to be completely committed to yourself. Choosing yourself is not selfish—it's deciding to take yourself up on the opportunity to really know who you are and get yourself established on the trajectory you want to be on. The best way to end up with someone who wants the same things as you, with whom you're more likely to stay on the same life wavelength with, is to take the time alone to get yourself already started on the path you want to take. Once you're there, it might be a better time to look up and see who's around you, headed in the same direction.

Finding love not through hangouts, meet ups, set ups and other encounters that are not official "dating" are just as valid... if not even more so

Maybe you aren't dating right now because you don't know any people you want to date, and you have no interest in dating strangers. In the age of Tinder, it's almost unheard of for people to not just magically be comfortable with the idea of hanging out with total strangers, but a lot of people just...aren't. And that's completely fine. People argue that you have to "test the waters" and try out some dates for size to see who could be right for you, but that's not always the case, actually. For the few people who don't just immediately "know," often the best relationships start out as friendships. Sometimes it's just as effective to wait until life leads you in the right direction; to not get attached to a succession of dates that were ill-fated from the start.

Sometimes it's better to just cut to the chase–how much time are you willing to spend and waste on someone who doesn't want what you want in the long-term?

If you're someone who knows you want a committed, long-term relationship, what's the point in going out and casually hanging out with people who don't want that? And vice versa, if that's what applies to you? It's important to know what you want, and not waste time on people who aren't going to stand a chance of giving it to you. If you don't want to spend your emotional energy and the weekends of your youth committing yourself, bit by bit, to somebody else (sheerly by how much you do together and sacrifice for one another), you'll end up more wholly yourself and less desperate to settle with whomever you can attach your hopes and dreams to next. (Seriously, if your foundation isn't steady, you'll be that much more prone to decisions you'll ultimately really, really regret.)

Romantic love is great, but it is not the only great thing that exists, and it is certainly not the greatest great thing you can experience

Too many people get into relationships only because they think they're supposed to, or they don't care to take the time to figure out what they actually want, so by default, they choose what everybody else seems to do. What everybody else seems to say is "the best experience EVER." And for those many people, love is wonderful, but it doesn't have to be the most fulfilling thing. Feeling that way doesn't make you an unemotional monster, that makes you a real human being with varying interests and priorities.

You have to really consider whether or not you have the time or desire to commit... and learn to be fair when it comes to toying with other people's hopes and feelings

You work all the time! You do mixed martial arts twice a week! You are fully committed to your weekly brunches with friends and have no intention of surrendering your weekend mornings to lying in bed with someone! You are, in short, living a very full life right now and unless you dropped some things from your agenda, you would never have the time to date anyone—and you don't want to drop any of the beloved things you have going on. It is so, so good to know this, and to opt out of dating for a while, as opposed to trying to date and being flaky, negligent and basically the worst.

If you know you're not in a place to be taking it seriously, it's more than okay to abstain from dating simply so someone else doesn't get hurt. If, at the end of the day, you're more aware than not of the fact that you're not really going to be able to commit, or this isn't something you genuinely want to do, you have every right to choose to spare someone else's feelings, someone who could and maybe would be more invested than you realize.

We live in an age where you actually, literally, don't need anybody else (for the first time in history, really)

Back in the dark days before it was commonplace for women to have their own careers, they needed to date and marry to be able to be supported. In fact, this is largely the reason people coupled up without really considering their compatibility—survival. But now, there's no reason to rush into a relationship when we're too young (and actually, it seems kind of insane thing to do when you evaluate why we started doing this in the first place.)

You have the mental strength to know that life can surprise you with things better than you could have chosen for yourself (and all you have to do is keep yourself open to the possibility)

It's scary to go into anything when you can't see what's on the other end, but it takes genuine bravery to be able to say: "I feel there could be more out there for me, even though I'm not sure exactly what and who that could be yet." Only really, really strong people look at empty space and think "that's a blank canvas on which something amazing could go."

If you don't know who you are completely, there's no way you'll be able to accurately gauge what you want in the long-term

If you can be honest about the fact that you don't even know what you want to be doing for work for the next 20 years, you can be honest about the fact that you don't know what that person would want in an intimate relationship either.

You want to keep yourself open to options you otherwise wouldn't have considered

When we choose to date—when we proactively seek out people to date—we tend to pick people with whom we seem immediately compatible, whom we're immediately attracted to, whom only exist within our circles (or 10 miles of wherever our phones are.) Essentially: we choose who we want to date based on a "type." But when you choose NOT to date, you leave yourself open to be completely surprised by love, and often, the best love stories are born out of the most unlikely circumstances. You might end up getting to know someone who is nothing like the kind of person you thought you wanted—and you never would have given them a chance had your options not been open.

You know that when you fall, you fall hard (and so you want to do it right, when you choose to do it)

Which means it's even more important to pick your moment when it comes to dating. Not dating when you aren't ready, or don't have time, means you're incredibly smart and genuinely want what's best for yourself. It means sparing yourself the emotional injury of jumping into every other relationship is best for you, and the people you date, in every possible way. If you choose yourself now, you can wholeheartedly (and healthfully) choose someone else, somewhere down the line. If, right now, you realize the kind of person you want to show up at that someday is not the person you currently are, that's not a reason to rush yourself into it, as though you'll become it when it's upon you. It's reason to take your time, become who you're going to be, and allow things to manifest as they should.

Image: Franca Giminez/Flickr; Giphy(7)