With the overwhelming amount of dating apps out there like Tinder, Match.com, or OkCupid, you'd think that being single was a disease or a problem to be solved. I'm always so confused by the amount of folks I meet that say they love being single and yet feel down if they go months, weeks, or even days without a date or a phone call from an interested and potential prospect.
And while I've never been one to base my value or my worth on a man, I have noticed a few things in my life that have signaled to me that it may just be time to take a much needed dating sabbatical.
For starters, I was in an eight-year relationship that took up almost all of my twenties. I was with my ex from ages 19 to 28 — that's a long time! And though it's been way over a year since I broke up with him, I didn't exactly give myself enough alone time after that.
Sure, I moved on, and even met someone else shortly after. But I got so distracted and invested in the last guy that fears and insecurities from my previous relationship definitely came up. Not just fears of commitment, but also recurring fears of whether or not "I'm enough."
It made me realize that even when I have been single, there's still always been a guy around meeting some sort of need, whether it was emotional or physical. This year I want to prove to myself that I don't need that to be truly happy. And I also no longer want participation in a romantic relationship to affect my overall well-being or to determine my worth. Plus, when I do find myself in a relationship again, I want to actually be ready for it, not still afraid of commitment, afraid of getting hurt, or still dealing with trust issues from the previous relationship. So before taking the official break-from-dating plunge, I decided to hit up my therapist and licensed mental health counselor Carmen Moore and my life coach Kamari Chelsea for some advice.
"I love that you are listening and paying attention to your body," Moore tells me. "You said that dating was starting to get you anxious, which suggests that your body is clearly trying to tell you something. You want to become more whole, connected, and content with yourself, and that's important and good reasons to want to take a dating sabbatical."
"It's less about it being good that you're taking a dating sabbatical and more of a good thing that you are taking time to truly focus on discovering who you are and learning to love, honor, and embrace that truth," Chelsea says.
I broke down some of the core reasons below for why I've decided to remove myself from the dating scene — for now!
I want to become whole: I'm ready to debunk that whole Jerry Maguire "You complete me" mentality and become whole all on my own. "The idea that someone else can complete you as a human being is a false notion, it's an awful lie, and it also puts incredible pressure on another person," says Moore.
"I'd prefer to see you find someone that enhances you. No one can complete you. They will always come short because that's your own job."
I want to enjoy being alone: I enjoy rolling solo, but because I wasn't alone for so many years I want to really become comfortable with it. "It's important to be content in your skin. You need to be able to enjoy your own company, who you are and what you want to do in life, without needing someone else," says Moore.
I want to love myself more: It's fair to say I have a pretty healthy self-esteem and sense of worth, but I also tend to be very critical and judgmental of myself. This year I want to make a conscious effort to practice more self-love. Moore suggests making a list of all the qualities and things I genuinely like and enjoy about myself. I've also been listening more to my body and making my health and well-being a priority by eating healthier, making fitness a part of my regular routine, meditating, and feeding my soul with positive affirmations.
"Nothing and no one is promised to you in this life but yourself," says Chelsea, "so if you can't learn to love the only thing promised to you, you will never learn how to love life."
I want to become more
independent: I've always been a pretty independent person, but I want to
continue to grow in this area. There's a freedom that comes with being
independent and not having to rely on others (especially men) for things.
I don't want a man to feel lovable: Since my last breakup, I've convinced myself that I'd never be "enough" or "lovable enough" for a man. It has stuck in my head, and it's something that I really want to work on. "It's important to be reflective, check the temperature of your heart, and ask yourself: Am I truly content? Or am I striving and stressing over a man's attention?" says Moore.
"If you're not content then that might be an indication that you need to find your own pleasure and your own happiness within yourself and not continue looking for someone else to bring you that pleasure and happiness."
I want to date for real love: After months of being in a fun, but very casual situation, I've realized that the next time I'm involved with someone I want it to be in a loving and committed relationship. But in order to attract love, I need to be aligned with love myself. "Like attracts like," says Moore. "The healthier you get, the more comfortable you are in your skin, the more you love and accept yourself, the more likely you are to attract the same type of person. You don't want to spend time looking for your ideal partner, you want to become your ideal partner."
Would you go on a dating sabbatical?
- 0% No, it's totally not necessary.
- 0% Yes, I'd consider it.