The INSIDER Summary:
- Taking a break from dating can help you get your self-esteem back.
- It can also help you be the best version of yourself.
- Many people take breaks for different reasons — emotional, financial, physical.
- Nearly every single person can benefit from a dating break.
Dating can be a lot of fun, but it can also be really exhausting and even demoralizing. It’s easy to lose yourself in the constant rejection, waiting for texts, ghosting, and awkward conversations, all of which can take a hit on your self-esteem.
Lots of us have gotten to the point where if we see another dating app or go on another first date, we’d scream. The tendency can be to try to power through and not give up. But what if giving up, at least for a while, is the best thing for you?
Self-imposed dating hiatuses can be invaluable in the search for a romantic partner.
I was skeptical, but experts and people who’ve tried it have all sung its praises to me. After countless disappointments, rejections, crummy matches, and awkward first dates, it’s easy to get discouraged and taking a break can help.
All the negativity that can come with frequent dating can weigh you down and make you less likely to find a partner who suits you because you’re not putting your best foot forward. So, even if you’re searching high and low for The One, you’re actually less likely to find them if you don’t take care of yourself first.
“If you get burned out, are tired of being rejected, or meet a lot of undesirable people, it might be time to take a break,” speaker and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport told INSIDER. “No one likes to be put in a position where people can and do attack you, lead you on or disappear. Your self-esteem may take a hit and if you continue dating at this point, you tend to not trust anyone and may not present yourself in the best possible way.”
A cycle of small breaks in dating is what helps keep Jennifer Lourie‘s spirits up while participating in the tumultuous world of dating.
“When I first started dating, I would get so excited to meet new people and excited when I felt like we had a great date,” she told INSIDER. “However, most dates did not lead to real connections and my dating ROI has had a 0% conversion rate to boyfriend since I have been single for the last two years.”
“It depressed me to be treated in ways that I thought were unkind and impolite to treat another human. I would take a break and then put myself back out there again after having some distance, with a renewed spirit,” she told me.
In addition to the tiring world of casual dating, taking a break after a long-term relationship is invaluable to both your healing and knowing what you want. Experts recommend taking at least a month out of the dating scene after a breakup or possibly longer if you were dating someone for a long time.
That kind of break can provide clarity after a painful breakup, Alyssa Kostick told me. She tried casually dating after a serious relationship didn’t work out, but found that giving herself space from that world actually helped her focus more on important things in her life.
“I had gone through a terrible breakup from a very serious relationship,” she said. “For a few months, I tried casually dating but it felt very forced and I was not fond of the type of men I kept meeting. I could tell I wasn’t making any genuine connections. It was incredibly discouraging; I started to believe there were no good guys out there.
“I decided to cut dating out of my life to focus on other things like my career, my apartment, friends, and family,” she continued. “I figured the right person would find me eventually, but I was done expending energy searching.”
Kostick said that her dating hiatus, which lasted about 6 months, benefited her by teaching her invaluable lessons about herself and what she was looking for in a partner. Her hiatus ended when she met her now husband.
“It really taught me how much more there is to life than dating. I had such a solid foundation with myself which made getting into a relationship worlds easier,” Kostick told me.
Kostick told me that her relationship is proof that the old adage — “you find love when you least expect it” — is true. And while, everyone may not be so successful in finding love without trying for it, there is definitely something to be said for working on yourself, and maybe getting some optimism back, before you get back into the dating pool.
“The truth is when you are okay just on your own, you are far less likely to date someone out of desperation or settle of a relationship that falls far short of your expectations,” Regina DeMeo, a divorce and mediation attorney who took her own dating hiatus, told INSIDER. “So it is really good to spend time alone, and just be comfortable on your own.”
Nick Hart, a man who is currently on a year-long dating hiatus echoed this advice. After dealing with several toxic relationships, he said that he needed to take some time away in order to make things right with himself first.
“My trust is broken and it can only be repaired and healed with time,” he told INSIDER. “I’m slowly starting to love myself again. I told myself to take this whole year (2017) and be single. If you can’t love yourself how the hell are you gonna love someone else, you know?”
Dating hiatuses can also give you perspective on what type of relationship you want and what limits you’re comfortable with, John Nero told me. He said that after getting out of a bad relationship, he took a relationship hiatus, which he is still on indefinitely.
His last relationship showed him that he actually does not believe in a relationship that’s part of a “toxic monogamy culture.” He said he’s learned that he doesn’t believe in physical monogamy in the same ways that his past partners have and that his next relationship will be with someone who is open to a relationship that is free of these constraints. Quitting dating, at least for now, is helping him find someone who he’d be more compatible with.
“I’m done dating,” he said. “I’m tired of doing all the emotional labor and being more progressive in my understanding of people and relationships as complex, nuanced things. Monogamy is not for everyone, at least not physically. Some relationships run their course, others can last much longer. The more people let go of hetero-normative, toxic monogamy ideas of relationship, the more likely I am to find someone I am compatible.”
If you’re still not convinced a break is right for you, Weena Cullins, marriage and family therapist, told me that the financial effects of dating make taking a break worth it for many. In fact, a recent Match.com study found that the average single person spends $1,596 a year on dating alone.
“Consistent dating can be expensive,” Weena Cullins, marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER. “Many individuals I treat cite that the stress of starting dating relationships with new people is a big concern. Before any rules are established, many individuals pay for themselves or offer to pay for the entire date; especially if they were the initiator. This can be extremely costly if one rarely settles down long enough to establish a system that allows them a financial breather. Taking a break from dating for that reason alone can be worth it, literally.”
But no matter why you may be considering it, Hart said that he strongly encourages anyone debating on taking a hiatus from dating to do it, not only to get some increased perspective on your own feelings and emotions, but to spend less time glued to your phone in anticipation of that next text or online dating message.
“Take the time to enjoy your life,” he said. “Get off Tinder and Bumble or Grindr. Look up and away from your phone. Take a trip. Be present with your friends and family. It’s so so refreshing. Our generation is so obsessed with social media and the world online. I don’t have one good example of a relationship I see on first-hand that hasn’t had problems with being present in the real world.”
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