Although the saying “time heals all wounds” is true, it took more than a few months of junk food binges and girl talk after my latest breakup to make me feel ready to get back on the saddle. While it wasn’t my longest lasting relationship, it was a loving, committed eight-month romance that consumed my heart from beginning to end. So when my ex and I mutually decided to part ways nearly two and a half years ago, dating wasn’t exactly my new game plan.
Actually, dating wasn’t on my radar for months post-breakup. Newly single me didn’t have any desire to go out with my girlfriends and flirt with sexy and equally buzzed guys at the bar like I did pre-relationship. I found myself keeping my digits private instead of harmlessly giving out my phone number to those who I was the tiniest bit attracted to. Even when I was asked out on a date by a cutie who checked off all the boxes describing “my type,” I turned him down, opting for a quiet Netflix night alone instead of getting to know someone new.
It wasn’t that I was still too hung up on my ex to even think about engaging with a new fling, I just didn’t feel ready to date again. After months of doting on a relationship, I needed a break, mentally and emotionally. I just didn’t realize how much of a break I really needed.
The first year after the split, I tried to gently ease myself back into the dating world that I was so reluctant to reenter with a few casual meetups for drinks. I figured the commitment to go out was the first step to developing a normal dating life away from the confines of my apartment that I had gotten so used to. Although the effort of putting on a pretty dress and a pair of heels for someone other than my closest friends did make me feel good, they weren’t actually the “successfully coming out of a rut” moments I had hoped for. They were fun, but they didn’t make me all that eager to fill up my calendar with dates, no matter how casual I made them.
One night I came home after another brave attempt at meeting my future husband when I realized that I wasn’t finding “The One” because I wasn’t ready to meet him. I had to fall in love with myself and feel comfortable being alone before I could welcome “The One” into my life. A year ago, I couldn’t even decide which city I wanted to live in or what hobby I was going to stick to, let alone choose a soulmate to carry on my fantasy of “happily ever after.” It was then that I decided to take a dating break for one year, and it was the best decision I could have made for myself.
I cut loose every guy that I still had lingering conversations with via text with an “it’s not you, it’s me” speech and deleted from my mind any negative outlooks about being single. From there, it was just a whole lot of me time, clearing my head from all the stress and anxiety that oftentimes was caused by those I was dating. Work and self-care became my new focus, formulating a steady fitness routine that worked well for me and a work-personal life balance that I was proud of. Eventually I went through most days without thinking about my relationship status and used the word “single” less as a term that defined me on my Facebook profile and more of an empowering quality.
I became proud to tell people that I was single. It felt freeing and exhilarating. Not knowing who I was going to spend the rest of my life with made me excited for what was to come instead of scared and afraid of the unknown. I would not have found this independence and thirst for life if I did not take this much-needed break from my search for love. If I knew it would feel this good, I would have done it sooner.
Nearly a year after my dating hiatus, I am contemplating getting back into the dating game because I can finally say I feel ready. It may have taken me longer than most to get back on the saddle, but although “time heals all wounds,” time spent with myself was way better than any relationship could have given me.