I Took a Relationship Hiatus for 18 Months

What abstaining from romantic love taught me about myself.

A while ago, I ended an unhealthy relationship and decided to give dating a wide berth for the foreseeable future. That turned out to be 18 months. I made the decision not out of bitterness or because I didn’t want to love again, and not even because my heart had received a sucker punch. It definitely had (multiple times).

But I realized that after my last relationship, I didn’t recognize myself. I felt so far removed from the person I wanted to be. I knew I needed to get to know myself, not a man.

Women spend so much time learning who we’re supposed to be that we forget to pay attention to who we actually are. The fear of being alone drives us towards men with whom we are ultimately (and sometimes glaringly) incompatible.

And one day it occurred to me that I was unfit to be anyone’s partner until I could stand to be myself.

Step 1: Face down my own emotions

I took some time to feel what I hadn’t let myself feel: all of the pain, abandonment, insecurity, etc. that had accumulated throughout my adult life. It socked me in the jaw. But I faced it down and began dealing with it. At first, I was terrified. I felt the suffocating loneliness of dating withdrawals. I panicked when, with no one else around, I stood face to face with my own demons.

But here’s the incredible thing: it didn’t last forever. After a few months, I learned new, healthier ways to deal with loneliness. The negative voices gradually softened. Like exercising a new muscle, my confidence and sense of self-worth strengthened.

Step 2: Date myself

It started with simply learning to be with myself. I took long walks and I thought. I took time to do exactly what I wanted to do. I wrote a novel. I read my favorite authors and watched my favorite films. I realized that while I love company, I don’t necessarily need it to be happy. Everything I need is already contained within me. Self-soothing is a wonderful skill we somehow acquire as babies and promptly forget once we reach adulthood. I’m proud to say I rediscovered it.

Step 3: Rekindle platonic love

Then I focused on my platonic relationships. I received so much more love than I could ever have anticipated. My friend recently told me I’m much easier to be around now than I was a year and a half ago. Taking this time to clear my own head opened up myriad possibilities — I cultivated friendships and relationships with family that I had neglected, began a new career path that I had dreamed of but never had the courage to pursue, and above all, in committing my love to those dear to me, I learned how to love myself.

Step 4: Set new #relationshipgoals

Affirming my choice not to date was liberating. I know now that if and when I do enter into a new relationship, I will do so as a more capable and compassionate partner. I also learned that I’m fine being alone. I faced my demons and came out alive.

There were times when I miss being kissed. I miss holding a man’s hand or the back-and-forth repartee that accompanies a first date. But I also recognize that it’s worth waiting for. I refuse to accept anything less than exactly what I want.

If it’s not out there, so be it. I’ll be ok. I have friends and family who love and support me. I have a new career that constantly challenges and rewards me. I’m enough.

Loved this? Discover more stories about finding yourself while single on Love TV.

I Stopped Changing Myself For Men And Here’s How You Can Do The Same

You are enough without changing yourself or who you are for anyone.

I’ve always been the girl who needs to be liked and accepted, not just by men, but by everyone. I know it’s not possible but I still try because being accepted by other people feels good. It makes us feel good even when we don’t feel good about ourselves or like ourselves, which was what I used to obsess over.

I was always so focused on if other people, especially men, liked me. Instead of putting effort into myself and making sure I liked who I was I became so focused on if other people liked me.

I dated a guy who I’m not sure I even liked because I never evaluated him. It might sound ridiculous, but I was so focused on if he liked me that I forgot to question if I even liked him. For months, I’d scratch my head and wonder if I was good enough for him, if I’d be able to make him really mine, if I could get him to stick around for longer than a few months. I tried to be who I thought he would like instead of just being myself.

I knew it was time to change my mindset when I realized that I was compromising my own happiness and self to try to be what someone else wanted, or at least what I thought someone wanted.

Something that really stuck that helped me adjust my mindset is a conversation I had with my life coach. She asked me if I changed who I was on first dates, if I acted different, less like myself, and I said yes, to a certain extent. I told her I am usually nervous, a little more quiet, a little more reserved. She followed that up with a very insightful comment: “you don’t act different around your friends when you hang out with them, right? You just know they like you so you can be yourself. That’s how you have to go into dating.”

She’s right – that’s why I pay her to give me advice. I realized I had to start going into dating with the mindset that they’re going to like me and if they don’t then it doesn’t matter. At least if I’m going into dates as myself and not pretending to be someone I’m not they’ll get to know the real me. Some people might not like it but some will love it, either way I am who I am and I’ve learned to love myself just for that.

Knowing who you are is half the battle in loving yourself and knowing you deserve love.

I always used to try to mold myself into a cookie cutter shape of what someone else likes or wants. The truth is I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fine. Some people hate tea, some people prefer coffee, some people prefer neither and that is what makes us all unique. That is why there are so many different types of people.

You don’t have to like everyone and everyone doesn’t have to like you! I finally decided it’s time to stop forming to please other people and just be myself.

I decided it no longer matters if he isn’t interested in me because there will always be someone else who is. I learned it’s better to not force relationships or conversations that aren’t happening. Those kinds of interactions will never leave you satisfied, because they’re not honest.

It’s not worth trying to fit into someone else’s story. It’s time to write your own! The right person will accept you for who you are, not who you try to be.

young attractive couple

Being yourself is one of the most liberating experiences you can have.

Once I stopped changing myself to please others that aren’t interested, it made a world of difference. I gave myself permission to be who I am without reservation and that is a freeing feeling. It’s allowed me to meet someone for a drink and not go in with any expectations.

I can be more open and I can look in the mirror and accept that I am enough just the way I am whether someone else thinks so or not.

Allowing yourself the freedom to just accept where you are in your life, without hoping that every person you come across is going to want you is an invigorating feeling.

It’s important to realize, at the end of the day, you have to be enough for yourself. You’re worth being loved, especially by yourself.

Allow yourself to express yourself the way you want. Stand up for what you care about. Wear as much or as little makeup as you want. Don’t change yourself for anyone, instead be proud of who you are!

Ever since I started being completely myself I’ve found a new sense of freedom I didn’t realize was possible. I started going out with more guys from dating apps because I didn’t have that fear holding me back that they wouldn’t like me. I also didn’t feel that pressure I used to put on myself of being skinny or pretty enough for them. I am who I am and they either like me or not. But that’s still not as important as if I like them or not.

Putting yourself and your comfort first in these situations isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. Absolutely necessary.

Just last weekend it gave me the confidence to go up to a man in a bar (something I never do). I didn’t worry about what he would say or if he would be interested or not, I just went up to him and started talking. (I was also wearing the ugliest handmade Christmas sweater the world has ever seen.) The best part about it? He loved that I was confident to walk up and talk to him in that ugly sweater. He liked it so much he asked me on a date and it was great!

The right person will like you and love you for your unique characteristics, how you look, what you say and everything in between. If he doesn’t completely accept you then he’s not the one, but know there is someone out there who will. The right person will love you for who you are, not who you try to be.

For more ways to please women, check out Why I Am Loving The First Date.