“What’s a queen without her king? Well, historically speaking, more powerful.” ~ Unknown
I’ve recently chosen to enter into a dating moratorium after over a year in the world of online dating. Or just “dating,” because the online part kind of goes without saying these days.
I entered the dating world as a single mom in my 30s whose last relationship lasted over a decade and began without the intervention of texting and social media. Basically, I was the modern-day Rip Van Winkle. Or at least I’ve felt that way. So I joined eHarmony, Match, Plenty of Fish, and Tinder. If it exists, I at least gave it a try—even if it was only long enough to be totally creeped out by it.
To be honest, my experience didn’t seem to start out that badly. I met some nice men and I went on a lot of nice dates. I only had one spectacularly awful date in the entire year, and I was able to deal with the deluge of unsolicited messages from f*ck boys with aplomb—you know, once I recovered from my shock.
I didn’t update my relationship status during this time, and some of the encounters were very short-lived (restricted to one date or to weeks of conversation amounting to nothing at all). Of all of these dates, only one was serious (to me anyway). It turned out in the end that I was just being used as a pawn to attract the attention of his real interest. But mostly the dates were okay.
You may be wondering why I felt the need for the moratorium if things really weren’t that awful. The truth is that I have an empathic heart and a direct way of looking at things. I am completely, unequivocally uninterested in playing games. I no longer possess the tolerance for duplicity, and dating seems to be all about it. I’d much rather say that I’m looking for a real connection and a real relationship and get some honesty in return.
And I mean actual honesty: Do you want a relationship, or do you just want a hook-up? Do you just want a pen pal, or do you actually intend to meet me? Are you looking for a sexting relationship and nothing more? Do you want something casual because you’re not actually over your ex?
Why is it so hard to be honest?
Nearly every man I’ve talked to has claimed to be straight-forward and direct, but I have found that none of them have been straight-forward or direct with me. In fact, my honesty seems to scare them, even though it’s not the type of honesty that’s brutal or discloses too much. Simply knowing what I want and admitting it seems to scare away many potential dates. And in the interest of total honesty, my sensitive heart was just getting bruised and battered. So I politely bowed out of that world, deleting all profiles and apps in the dating arena.
What’s interesting about this is that when we decide to focus on ourselves and take a step back from the dating world, we often discover how to rock our single status like a f*cking boss.
Simply removing myself from the game actually empowered me because I no longer felt like I was being lied to or used or manipulated. Instead, I was choosing to take a time out until someone comes along who makes it worth my while to participate. When we recognize our own priorities and our own need for healing, we often feel empowered by that knowledge.
Deciding that we won’t settle for less than we deserve also comes complete with a sense of confidence. We know what we want, and we’re not going to allow ourselves to get so discouraged that we just take whatever we can get. We’re not going to lead with the loneliness. Instead, we’re going to sit back and allow whatever is for us to come into our lives without resisting it in favor of what we think our lives should look like.
We figure out that being single isn’t as awful as we’ve feared when we were achingly lonely. Sure, we’d love companionship and intimacy, but we discover that we can use this time to really care for ourselves. For me, this means hitting the gym so many times a week to run, lift weights and do yoga. It means devoting so much of my time to my latest writing projects. It also means taking good care of my skin with facials and overnight beauty masks. It means indulging in the types of books and movies that I enjoy the most. Basically, I focus on taking care of myself, doing what I enjoy and realigning my priorities to make sure that they reflect the type of life I want to be living.
When we decide to choose our single status, we often have the benefit of clarity about our past relationships as well as what we want in the future. From the perspective of the bench, I could see the games that were in play in my past relationships. I could take a hard look at my own behaviors and choices, and I could make decisions about what I want going forward. It’s easier to see the big picture when we’re not deep in the stressors and distractions of dating.
I’m already a fiercely independent individual, but choosing this break actually helped to remind me that I am more than capable of living a full, happy single life. Taking a break from the world of dating can allow us an opportunity to rely more on ourselves. We learn to meet our own needs and to build a full life without the expectation of being joined on our journey by a significant other. And this is important because we know that we can do it and do it well.
No matter how fantastic we are already, we can always work on something. We can learn something new every day or every week, take care of our bodies to be our healthiest selves or even take up a new hobby. And this isn’t any of that do-you-so-you’ll-be-ready-for-a-relationship bullsh*t. This is just a way of building our confidence and focus, gaining that clarity and independently taking charge of creating the lives we want. I’ve found that a much needed dating time-out can really help with this.
I don’t know how long of a break I’ll be taking or what lessons I’ll take with me in the end. What I do know is that it’s important to honor this place in my life by allowing space to heal and to focus on what’s important. We don’t have to keep trying when we feel exhausted and discouraged by what’s out there. It’s okay to take a breather and just say that enough is enough. We can always return to it when we choose to, but in the meantime we can rock that single status like nobody’s business.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Travis May