When dating is going well, everything—the first date, discovering things in common, replaying the night with friends—is exhilarating. But what happens when the experience goes from being fun and exciting to stressful and messy? If you aren’t enjoying the process anymore, it might be time to take a break from the whole charade and focus on some sweet, simple “me time” for a while.
In my dating history, I’ve made the decision to break from dating twice: once after a big breakup and once upon finding myself falling into unhealthy dating patterns. In each instance, I acknowledged that I was in a place where dating was detrimental to my well-being. From there, it was an easy leap to go on an indefinite dating hiatus until I straightened some things out and could return to dating with a refreshed and healthy outlook on the process.
If you’re in a similar situation and taking a break because you’re bored, exhausted, or need to work on yourself a bit, placing intention into your “me time” can make your break more enjoyable. Here are some tips that have helped me relish my time away from dating.
Find something nourishing that gets you out of the house
When you aren’t dating, it’s easy to fall into a trap of Netflix binges and titillating romance novels, but now’s the perfect time to expand your world. Start slow and pick one thing that gets you out of the house at least semi-regularly. Make sure it nourishes you in some way. This isn’t a plan to meet a new lover or keep tabs on an old one: make it about fulfilling a need or exploring a curiosity. I’ve practiced body positivity in pole dancing classes and found kindred spirits in a WOC bookclub. Check out the Tagg events page, Meetup, or the events tab on Facebook for ideas.
Love your body
Since there isn’t anyone texting you heart eyes emojis every night, you’ve got to remind yourself how deliciously beautiful you are. Pamper yourself with bubble baths, try a new haircut, or buy underwear you feel like a rockstar in. You don’t have anyone to impress but yourself, so go with what feels good.
And speaking of bodies…
Just because you aren’t dating doesn’t mean you need to abandon your sex life. If anything, now’s the best time to explore things you’ve always wanted to try! Read erotica, watch ethical pornography, and see what gets you going that you may not have explored. Visit your local adult shop (or a website if you’re a little shy) and see if any toys tickle your fancy. Try them out. Many shops offer workshops on everything from spanking to non-penetrative sex, so if you’ve got queries, get out there and get answers.
Strengthen your friendships
It’s easy to get lonely, especially now as fall is rolling in and snuggle season rushes towards us. Fight the temptation to date just because everyone else is by making plans with your friends. If another friend is on a hiatus from dating, set a weekly date night with them! You’ll give each other the companionship you’re missing and have someone to confide in as you work your way back to the dating game.
If this sounds hokey or uncomfortable, start easy. Cook yourself a nice dinner and pop a mini bottle of champagne. Move up to taking yourself to a nice dinner or a concert you’re dying to attend. You don’t need anyone else to have a great time at home or out on the town. Once you prove this to yourself, dating becomes about finding someone to enhance your adventures, not create them.
Stay connected to the community
If you’re skipping out on events because you don’t have anyone to go with, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t connected the LGBTQ community around you. This is especially true if you live in a more rural area and LGBTQ events are sparse. Volunteering is a great way to stay on top of what’s going on and link up with others. You can also read and comment on blogs and sites (like you are right now!) to stay plugged into the virtual community.
My breaks from dating usually last about a year, give or take. Your break may be longer or shorter: you know what’s right for you and you’ll know when you’re ready to hop back on the field! The goal is to go back with a full cup, so you aren’t desperate or thirsty when you approach potential lovers. Once all of your needs are met, dating can go back to being a fun way to meet new people and find the type of relationship you’re looking for.