Being on every dating app and cramming your schedule with dates for every night of the week isn’t always the most effective strategy when it comes to finding love … in fact, sometimes taking yourself out of the game and going on a little hiatus is exactly what you need to ultimately get what you want.
Lasting love isn’t only a matter of finding the right person; it’s about being the right person. Unfortunately, most people get so caught up in the former they completely ignore the latter. Finding the right person is useless if you can’t recognize them as being the right person for you, and that’s what happens when we don’t learn from our mistakes or take the time to work on ourselves.
Being a serial dater can feel productive, and it fits with a message we’ve been taught all our lives, that hard work pays off. However, this isn’t always true when it comes to dating. Having an amazing, loving, happy relationship really comes down to being your best possible self, not expending all your energy on putting yourself out there.
During my single years, I was a big fan of taking long breaks from dating in order to regroup and sort myself out, and I think those gaps are what helped get me to a place of actually being ready for a healthy relationship and I’ve seen it do the same for many other.
Here are some reasons why you might want to stop dating for a little while (the amount of time is really up to you).
1. You keep ending up in the situations over and over again.
If history keeps repeating itself in your life then it’s a sign you need to stop whatever it is you’re doing and re-group. Personally speaking, I had a habit of only chasing guys who didn’t want me, or who couldn’t commit. One after the next these relationships would play out the same way and I would find myself picking up the pieces after yet another broken heart.
I finally hit my breaking point and decided to take a big break to figure out why I kept ending up in this place. I did a lot of self-work and reflection and was able to uncover where my faulty patterns were coming from and work to undo them. Fast forward a few months and I started dating the most amazing man I have ever known and we’ve been married for nearly eight years now!
Ending up in the same situations over and over again doesn’t happen because of some force conspiring against you. It usually signals that you need to make a change, and this is an active process. Oftentimes, we repeat the same patterns as a way to heal from some sort of wound left behind by an ex or even a parent. The subconscious is always looking for ways to mend itself, even if that means leading you into unhealthy situations.
If you want something different, you need to make a change, and change can take time.
2. You gain your sense of worth from men.
Feeling attractive and desirable can be addicting and is almost like a drug. It’s intoxicating to feel wanted by men, it makes us feel good, and it makes us feel worthy in a way. But that isn’t where real self-worth comes from.
You can’t outsource your self-esteem and it certainly doesn’t come from making a man ache for you.
If you find that you need male attention and approval in order to feel worthy and attractive and good about yourself, you need to stop. You need to take a break and find ways to give yourself the love and validation you desperately seek from others.
Remember, you can only let in as much love from the outside as you already feel on the inside. If your self-love tank is running on empty, then you will never be able to properly receive someone else’s love.
3. You are fixated on an ex.
Some people find that getting back out there and dating helps them forget about their ex, while most others find that it makes them miss him even more. Either way, you can’t heal a bullet hole with a Band-Aid. If you still aren’t over your ex, you need to figure out why, the real reason why, not the surface reason.
What’s the difference? A surface reason could be that you really cared about him and you miss him, but the real reason could be that he made you feel worthy in some way, and now that he’s gone you feel an empty void within.
You associate the feelings of worthiness with your ex but in reality, you don’t need him in order to feel good about yourself. As I mentioned in the previous point, feeling worthy comes from within. A big reason women find it so hard to get over a breakup is they associate certain positive feelings with their ex and think he is the only person who can give them these things, but this is simply not true. Women who claim to want their ex back don’t usually want him, they want the feelings he created within them.
If you still aren’t over your ex, whether you actively think about him or his ghost lingers in the recesses of your mind, it’s best to take time to work through these feelings on your own. If not, you’ll end up idealizing him, and no mere mortal can compete with an idealized vision, so you will sabotage your relationships before they even really begin.
4. You feel unsatisfied in your life.
Here is a big secret that most people don’t realize: happiness isn’t something you extract from a relationship; it’s something you bring into your relationship. A lot of people have this expectation that a relationship will be the missing piece that will make their life complete. Given the way mainstream media portrays love, it’s not surprising that so many of us have adopted this erroneous belief.
Before you can really be in a healthy, loving, mutually fulfilling relationship, you need to focus on filling yourself up and living a life that feels fulfilling to you. This is something confident people do differently in relationships: they make their happiness and self-love priorities and allow that to spill into the relationships, rather than trying to use the relationship as a means of filling themselves up.
5. You don’t have clarity in life.
The greatest reason to take a step back from dating is to gain clarity, which I believe to be one of life’s most incredible gifts! It isn’t easy to have clarity when you’re dating unless you’re someone who can take a highly intellectual, objective approach to life.
Dating rouses our emotions, it activates our insecurities and fears, and it can cause us to fixate on how another person feels rather than on how we feel.
Dating, especially when you’re struggling with all the issues I mentioned in this article, can make your problems worse, not better. You may continue to circle around the same place and feel frustrated that nothing ever seems to work out for you. You may find that your relationships always fall apart and feel helpless as to why this is.
Taking a break from dating can help clear your mind and lead to some seriously revolutionary epiphanies. You may discover why you were drawn to certain guys, why you drive men away, why you unknowingly sabotage your relationships, and why you chase after unavailable men. You may uncover hurts that you didn’t even realize you were still holding onto.
It is only when we identify a problem that we can solve it and taking a break from dating will give certain things a chance to bubble to the surface. Don’t fight it, embrace it and use it as fuel to become an even better version of yourself, a version that is finally ready to be in a loving, happy, healthy relationship.