It took me a long time to realize I was suffering from dating burnout. I thought every guy was the same old disappointment and felt frustrated with how hard it was to meet a decent dude I actually saw as a good match. Finally, I decided to take a break from dating for a year. Turns out, it was one of the best decisions I could have made.
I rediscovered self-love. It was so weird — even though I felt burned by love, the more time I spent on my own, the more I actually started to accept and love myself! I had so much love to give and I’d been wasting it on trying to find a partner. Now I could shower myself with it. It felt amazing.
My friendships got stronger. I became a better friend. Instead of wasting Friday nights on lousy first dates, I’d choose going out with my friends to have a great time instead. I also stopped being the whiny single friend who always moaned about the lack of worthy men out there, which made time with my friends much more enjoyable.
I focused more time on my dreams. Loads of free time on my hands meant I could dedicate my energy to working on my dreams and being more creative. It was so much more rewarding than trying to boost my self-worth by dating or hunting for my dream guy.
I thought about what I really want in my future. In my last relationship, a lot of money went to my ex, who was always requiring my help and draining me of my resources. It sucked, but I finally wanted to take care of myself, and one of the ways in which I tried to do this was put aside some money for a rainy day. It felt empowering to save money and invest in myself.
I stopped caring if I was “missing out.” Over the Christmas holidays, social media was filled with couples doing fun stuff together, like going away on holiday. I was happy for them but didn’t feel I was missing out by not having a boyfriend. I was happy to do my own thing and not have to compromise on the types of holiday activities I wanted to do, like shop ’til I drop.
I discovered new interests, hobbies, and passions. When I had spare time, I could spend it trying something new and fun. This was great because I’d previously spent way too much time dating instead of having a real hobby that brought happiness to my life. Happiness truly is an inside job.
My thinking about guys changed. After taking time for myself and learning more about who I was, my attitude towards dating changed. If I met a guy who showed interest in me, I thought, “Is he worth giving up my free time for?” instead of what I used to think, which was, “Does he like me?” The tables had turned. I had made myself a priority and wasn’t going to change that for anyone.
I stopped searching for people to fill my emptiness. I’d been searching for the right guy to make me happy and feel worthy, but being alone for a year taught me that I was the only one responsible for these things. Instead of searching for someone to fill me up, I filled myself up with things I wanted to do. This also meant that when I was ready to date again, I’d do it for the right reasons.
I learned there are so many types of love. It’s not just about romantic love. There’s love between friends, love for parents and siblings, love for pets, love for myself and love for life! I didn’t have to be stuck on the idea of having romantic love in my life when there were so many other types of love to enjoy every single day. By not obsessing about romantic love, I could appreciate the other kinds.
Finding a guy was cool, but it wasn’t the only road to happiness. When I stopped being so focused on finding a boyfriend, I learned to make myself happy. I discovered there are many different ways to achieve happiness and if I had to be single for the rest of my life, I’d still have a happy life.
I got comfortable with the “bad” feelings. I used to hate feeling lonely and scared of being single. These had been feelings I’d quickly want to distract myself from. During this one-year dating sabbatical, I really learned to explore these feelings. They felt crappy but they were just feelings. They could swim over me and then leave. I didn’t have to drown in them. Sometimes they could actually be quite beautiful if I took the time to understand where they were coming from.
I took charge of my life. I wasn’t waiting around for a guy or a relationship to direct my life’s path. It was all up to me and I embraced it big time. I took the time to figure out what I wanted and then I chased it down. It felt amazing to take action in my life and make things happen for myself.
I became more open to trying new things. Dating was off the cards, but everything else was fair game! I was willing to meet new people for friendship, enlarge my social circle, try new hobbies and be different versions of myself.
Taking a break made me a better date. Being on my own for a while meant that when I went back to the dating scene, I was mentally refreshed and filled with the hope of meeting interesting guys. Much like not eating chocolate for a few weeks and then trying it again only to feel it tastes better, my dating approach felt sweeter. This was mostly because I knew that no matter what happened, I didn’t need a boyfriend to be completely and happily me.
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