What I Learned From My Dating Sabbatical
Last year I took an impromptu dating sabbatical. I’d love to say it was some divine intervention that prompted my journey, but in reality, this guy pissed me off and put me in my feelings.
“I’m over this,” I thought to myself, in reference to the annoying dating cycle I’d grown too accustomed to. “I need a break.”
While I’d been single for years, I was still somehow always involved with someone – someone old, someone new, someone with potential, someone just for the hell of it. It was exhausting.
I figured, what if I just stop it all completely? No guys, no frustration, no issues. After some Google digging, I found an article specifically referencing the notorious “dating sabbatical” – what it was and how it worked. It was all about finding yourself and all that spiritual jazz, and like the serial self-help seeker I am, I immediately took the leap.
No more flirtatious texts. No more caked up Facetime sessions. No more happy hour meet ups. And of course, no more dates. No more anything. I completely resigned from the dating scene. Cut off any and all ties that were even remotely romantic. Handed in my metaphorical player card.
Sure, it was strange at first, a weird kind of self-induced loneliness. But eventually I started to feel free.
Dating requires a lot of extra time, effort, and attention. (After all, men can be extremely needy.) All of the newfound mental space I cleared up during my break gave me a fresh outlook on life, more time to spend doing what I needed, and clarity about what I actually wanted to get out of dating, whenever I chose to start again.
Although I started my sabbatical out of frustration and annoyance, I learned more than I ever expected:
I love my own company.
There’s beauty in solitude. It takes effort to fall in love with yourself in a way that requires no outside validation. When you reach this level of internal peace, you guard it like a castle. The type of people who you once allowed inside your space no longer qualify, and those who attempt to enter must somehow prove themselves to be worth more than your internal comfort.
I learned how to date myself.
When you’re not dating, treating yourself is your own responsibility. I started to take myself to lunches and dinners. I’d get all dolled up in a sexy silk robe and delightful perfume, and turn my bedroom into a candlelit sanctuary, even if it was simply to lay in bed and watch Netflix. Whether I took myself out or opted to stay in, I re-enforced my self-sufficiency and learned that I’m more than able to take care of myself. If you treat yourself right, you’ll expect only the best from someone else.
I changed my perspective on being single.
I grew up believing, like many of us women did, that singledom is like an elevator; we’re all patiently twiddling our thumbs and checking the mirror until we finally reach our floor. But being single is not a waiting room. It’s not being locked at the top of a castle, waiting to be rescued. It’s freedom, flexibility, unapologetic selfishness, learning, passion-seeking, independence, and most importantly, anything you want it to be. You do what you want, when you want, how you want, for as long as you want, and to me, that’s what living life is all about.