8 Signs Being Single And Not Dating Is The Right Choice For You, According To Experts
For some singles, dating and pursuing relationships — either in a casual or more serious context — can be a fun and fulfilling experience. But being single and not dating is a totally healthy lifestyle choice, too... it just isn't one that's often represented in our culture. Society puts a lot of pressure on singles to settle down and find "The One," but the truth is that you should never feel obligated to pursue a romantic relationship for any reason.
"While a healthy relationship is certainly a beautiful thing, there are also plenty of benefits to staying single as well," Logan Cohen, LMFT-S, tells Bustle. "Someone who is single can have their immediate surroundings reflect their specific needs MUCH more consistently than if in a partnership. Single people also have a lot more time to develop their platonic social network, grow professionally, and even do their own personal growth work while not being distracted by the concerns of a partner."
If you're genuinely interested in finding a partner — or even just in finding a hookup — of course you should feel empowered to date. But sometimes, being single and not focusing on dating at all can be the best course of action. Here are eight signs that you might be happier if you take a dating hiatus, according to dating experts.
1. You Didn't Take A Break From Dating After Your Last Breakup
There are plenty of folks who prefer to hop right into dating after a breakup, but there's one major downside to that habit: it might not allow for ample time to fully process and learn from each breakup.
"The breakups are telling you something about yourself that you need to process in order to grow," Cohen says. "Maybe it’s the kind of people you seek out? Maybe it’s the kind of people you attract? Maybe you aren’t sure what you want exactly anymore at all and just settle? Regardless of what it is, you need a bit of space to figure it out and can’t do that optimally while dating."
2. You Don't Treat Potential Partners Well
One major sign that you might be happier if you're single and not dating? You find yourself disparaging or disrespecting those that you're dating — especially if you can't explain why you're treating them poorly.
"If you notice yourself consistently not respecting the people you are attracted to, it’s time to be single for a while," Cohen says. "When this is happening, your experience of romantic interest has become devoid of respect for the other (which means your self-respect has slid as well). This means it’s time to do a bit of soul searching on your own to sort it out."
3. You're In A Transitional Phase Of Your Life
When you're going through a serious life change — maybe you've recently moved, changed jobs, or even experienced a loss — it's totally understandable (and healthy) to take a break from dating to get all your ducks in a row.
"If we start seriously dating someone during a heavily transitional phase, this doesn’t allow us to integrate all of the learning opportunities that this transitional period is offering, but rather makes it more likely that we feel a sense of dependence on the person we are dating after the transitional items come to a conclusion," Cohen says.
4. You're Used To Always Being Focused On A Partner
When you're in a relationship, it's natural for your partner to become a big priority — but in between relationships, it can be nice to take a break from focusing on someone else, and focus only on yourself instead.
"If they are used to being focused on their partner and always doing what their partner wants to do (and possibly losing themselves and who they are in the process), then they may need some time and space to figure out who they are again, what they truly enjoy doing, what their personal hopes and dreams are for the future, etc.," professional counselor Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT tells Bustle. "Therapy is a great place to explore these areas in your own life!"
5. You Feel Angry About Dating
The process of dating has the capacity to make you feel all kinds of emotions — frustrated, excited, sad, giddy, confident — but if the idea of dating consistently makes you feel angry, that's a pretty clear indicator that you might prefer to live the single and *not* mingling life.
"This can arise in the form of [thoughts like] 'I hate going out for a date on a Friday night' [or] I’d rather hang out with my friends,'" Dr. Carla Marie Manly, psychotherapist and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Sometimes, anger can come out in passive-aggressive ways, such as chronically showing up late for a date, 'forgetting' a date, or even engaging in behaviors that are intended to irritate one’s date."
6. You're Only Dating To Make An Ex Jealous
This ties into the idea of giving yourself ample time post-breakup to be on your own before dating again, but if you find yourself focusing on how your ex might feel about you moving on, that's a sign that you might be better off single for the time being.
"When thoughts of a former partner bring up heated, negative feelings, it’s a sure sign that the effects of the relationship are lingering," Manly says. "To be fair to the self and any new partner, it’s worth taking a time out to address unresolved issues from former relationships."
7. You Expect Finding A Partner To Fix All Your Problems
If you're looking for a partner to "fix" any emptiness you feel in your life — or dating as a means of distracting yourself from your other problems — that's likely to lead to unhealthy dating decisions, and might mean you should avoid dating for a while.
"The best relationships start off when we are feeling strong and have true inner confidence," Manly says. "If we look to another person for fulfillment of the self, the relationship can become troubled and unfulfilling. Indeed, the best relationships are formed when partners complement each other—not when one person is trying futilely to fill the voids in another."
8. You're Just Totally Disinterested In Dating
Above all else, if you just simply don't want to date — whatever the reason — that's the only excuse you need to take some time off from dating to focus on yourself.
"If the idea of dating doesn’t feel right, whether due to health issues, overwork, overwhelm, or the need for a break, dating can seem unimportant," Manly says. "When there is a true disinterest in dating — which is different from avoidance — take note of WHY the disinterest is present. Disinterest can often be a signal that good self-care is necessary."
Although the media we consume might make us feel otherwise at times, the truth is that you can be happy and fulfilled, regardless of your relationship status. So as long as you're comfortable with who you are and where you are in life, you should feel free to date — or not date — to your heart's content.