Why taking a break from dating is actually a good thing

Breakups are one of those necessary evils in adult life, like regular prostate exams and taxes. Almost everyone will go through at least one in their lifetime. No one is spared; whether you’re queer or straight, monogamous or polyamorous, breakups happen and there’s no way to avoid them.

The popular take on quickly getting over a breakup is to rebound as quickly as possible. “Get back out there, find someone hot and forget about your ex!” Rebounds are exciting, almost intoxicating; who doesn’t want to meet someone who reassures your desirability when your ex might have taken your confidence down a notch or two?

However, when the high of a hot stranger fades away, and you’re left alone in your apartment experiencing Sunday 3 PM bed rot, it’s hard to feel like being recently single is a good thing.

That’s why I’m here to convince you otherwise, friend! Being single and not ready to mingle can be a fantastic time of self-discovery, recommitment to yourself and others, and a way to make sense of what you want in your next relationship.

So let’s start our list with possibly the most obvious reason why remaining single after a breakup is a good thing:

It gives you space to unpack your breakup and your past relationship(s)

Being in love can make you feel like you’re skydiving; sometimes it’s exhilarating and you’ve never felt more alive, and other times you feel like you’re plummeting to earth like a squishy emotional asteroid. (Oh wait, maybe that’s just me.)

Breaking up can be even tougher. You’ve been so incredibly vulnerable and connected to another person, naked emotionally (and probably physically), but for one reason or another, things just didn’t work out. All that can leave us feeling like an awkward teenager again, confused and insecure and tender. We might even be convinced that we’re unlovable, unfuckable, or just plain garbagio.

Or maybe you feel completely the opposite! You’re convinced you should have known better, other people always let you down and try to control your life. Breaking up was the only way to preserve your independence, and you just dodged one hell of a bullet.

Now, hold up there, cowboy! Take a deep breath. Now another. It’ll be ok.

A lot of what we believe about ourselves and others is just that: beliefs. Yes, they’re often based on our real experiences but they don’t apply to everyone. What we just experienced together is called “emotional baggage” and for most of us, we carry a small cruise ship baggage with us at all times.

Being purposely single means you can take time to figure your shit out before you hop back into the emotional love sack with someone else.

Have you ever gone on a date with someone who can’t stop bringing up their excellent or evil ex? That’s what happens when you have unresolved issues with a past partner. Don’t be that person!

You have the time to indulge in as many fun hobbies as you want

Have you always wanted to try a dance class, but your hot date nights conflicted with the popular Friday night swing class? Were you salivating at the chance to spend hours alone in the library under a stack of novels, but your partners complained that it was more of a punishment than a romantic outing?

You’re free, baby! Let your hobby goblin go wild! Being single is a great time to refocus on what delights you, without the pressure of having to plan around a partner. Take this opportunity to bust out your boxing gloves or crotchet hooks, and explore old and new passions. 

Not only will you expand your knowledge and skills all while having a blast, but it can also help you from dwelling on past relationships. Win-win!

Figure out a daily routine that works for you.

I once dated a guy who was a real night owl, so it meant staying up with him until the wee hours of the morning if I wanted to hang out with him at his best. As a relatively early riser, this was jarring and pretty uncomfortable but such are the things we do for love. (Never mind that he didn’t return the favor…)

Breakups can be tough; the emotional turmoil can throw us for an absolute loop, and make us feel like we’re untethered from daily life. Sadly, it can’t all be fun hobbies and catching up on our favorite shows. Sometimes we need to anchor ourselves in life with a good routine, one that feels good for us

It becomes a lot easier to date when you know what your average day or week is like. This is doubly important if you’re a people pleaser! (You know who you are…)

On a more serious note, if it’s financially possible, try therapy.

Therapy is a hard sell for some people.

Why go to therapy when getting bangs is so much easier (and cheaper)? Why would I talk to some stranger about my deep pains and vulnerabilities when I can just talk to another beautiful goth mommy about her stepping on me with her big scary boots?

You already do CBT! Isn’t that enough?

You delightful and fantastic freak, we’re talking the therapy kind of CBT. 

Proper therapy opens the door for some solid compassion and emotional maturity, the kind that is relatively unshakeable and opens the door to you being able to enjoy those other hedonistic parts of life without unearthing loosely packed traumas. 

For some people, breakups really hit a nerve, especially if you have any unresolved trauma from childhood. (Who doesn’t?) Therapy can mean finally finding ways to resolve, or at least manage the discomfort that comes from less-than-stellar experiences. 

It means learning more about yourself, and becoming more comfortable having honest conversations about your emotional needs or desires. Plus, from my own experience, therapists are great at recognizing when you’re experiencing abusive or unhealthy dynamics, giving you the tools and words to help you exit those as comfortably and safely as possible.

If you want to go to therapy but can’t afford it, I’m sorry that you’re in that position. Depending on your location, you might be able to access free support groups or low-cost resources.

There are always workbooks like “The DBT Workbook”, apps like Insight Timer or self-help books (my recommendation is No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz).

Heck, even regularly sitting down and focusing on your breathing can be a great way to improve your mindfulness, which can eventually help with how you respond to your emotions.

Take time to reconnect with your loved ones

You start dating someone new and exciting and before you know it, your weekends are so filled with extended dates that you hardly have any room to see your friends or family. It happens to us all! 

Those love (and lust) hormones are hella strong, but now that you’ve been released from that witch’s spell, it’s a perfect time to reconnect with your loved ones.

Get the ol’ trivia team together, and take back your title as reigning champions of the bar. Invite your friends over for a potluck, and give them the best gossip from your recent jaunts with love. Go help a friend weed their garden, and have coffee outside in the returning sunlight.

Here’s a big warning though: as you reconnect with your buddies, don’t treat your time together exclusively as a “venting sesh”. Make a point of treating your friends/family with reciprocity! If you want to, you absolutely should talk to them about your breakup. However, your friends are not therapists, and monopolizing 99.9% of a much-needed hang out to exclusively discuss your unresolved feelings around the relationship will only leave your friends wondering if you’re only reaching out because your therapist is busy. 

Explore your fantasies

Just like we have hobbies to return to, we have sexual fantasies to inventory and explore on our own time. Relationship sex can be fantastic: you know each other’s bodies, and can get things done in a jiffy without hesitation. It can also get boring. If your desire has fizzled out by the end of your last big love, that’s ok but we can always hop back on the train to desire station.

Is there anything your exes introduced you to that you never thought you’d be into? Maybe roleplay never seemed interesting until your amateur actor boyfriend introduced it. Or maybe you were introduced to piss play at a golden moment when your partner suggested it as you were making out in the shower! 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, have you always wanted to introduce your partners to a more dominant side of you, but were too timid to brandish a crop? Was your boyfriend afraid of your sex toy collection, so you hid them away at the back of the closet? They’re calling to you, girl, answer the buzzing call!

Relationships can change us in ways we never anticipated, and that includes sexuality. Give yourself time to explore sexuality right now, and nourish your mental spank bank with as many (or as little) sexual activities as you desire.

Or don’t! 

If you’ve come to realize that you need a healthy amount of time away from sexuality and other people’s sweaty bodies, do it! 

Society can promote this idea that “all adults are sexual and horny 24/7” as an undeniable fact of life, when it’s anything but. Sometimes we go through periods where we’re just not into it, and they can be for days or years. That’s not a “dry spell”, it’s just a season in your desire.

Don’t ignore what you or your body feels comfortable doing (or not doing). It isn’t a requirement to have sex, and if you’re able to take the pressure of “gotta have it, gotta need it, gotta do it or else”, you can often find yourself feeling genuine sexual desire in novel ways.

Every athlete has off-seasons, maybe this is yours. No harm in taking a break!