5 Signs It’s Time To Take A Break From Dating
We have more tools and resources to meet people than ever before — so why does it feel so difficult? In reality, it seems that having more options goes hand in hand with overwhelm, dissatisfaction, and indecision. We easily lose the joy that comes along with new connections. Dating should light you up and excite you, but tapping into that feeling is much easier said than done.
“Dating should light you up and excite you, but tapping into that feeling is much easier said than done.”
I would call myself a perpetually single person. It’s been years since I’ve had a long-term partner, and while I’ve had quite a few meaningful relationships since then, there hasn’t been anyone that I’ve settled down with. While I love love, lately I find that I equally value my own needs and growth as an individual. Someone has to be incredibly special for me to want to merge my life with theirs.
That is all to say, I’ve dated a lot. There were certainly moments when I felt needy, insecure, and burnt out from dating. And others where I felt frustrated by the cards I was being dealt. Over time, I’ve learned that when these feelings build up, it’s a moment to step back and take a break.
It can be hard to press pause on something you want so badly but trust me, once I better understood my own emotional rhythms, I realized how essential it was to touch base with myself, my needs, and my desires. After taking plenty of breaks myself, and consulting an expert on the topic, I’ve discovered a lot about the benefits and how-tos of taking a break from dating. Read on to find out what I’ve learned.
What does “taking a break” mean?
What does it mean to be taking a break from dating? Do you go cold turkey? Do you delete the apps but stay open to meeting someone IRL? Well, it all depends on what you need at this point in your dating journey.
To go deeper into this complex topic, I turned to an expert, Sabrina Zohar. Zohar is an entrepreneur, dating coach, and host of “Do The Work Podcast,” a platform dedicated to “dating, anxiety, and doing the work to heal.” Zohar emphasized the importance of breaks being intentional. Her advice is to remain mindful of every step and keep the reasons why you’re taking the break in the forefront.
“Taking a break doesn’t mean you’re giving up on finding your person.”
Taking a break doesn’t mean you’re giving up on finding your person. It means that for now, you’re focusing on your emotional health, figuring out your priorities, and realigning yourself so that you can go back in with a fresh perspective. When you take intentional breaks, you’re able to craft it into a helpful experience for you.
When is it time for a break?
According to Zohar, you should look for these five signs as indicators that it may be time to take a break from dating.
1. You’re feeling emotionally drained
A big realization for me was that dating can and should be fun. It’s an opportunity to meet and connect with new people and just see what happens. But so often, this isn’t the case. Zohar puts it like this: “If you find yourself constantly feeling emotionally exhausted from the ups and downs of dating, it may be a sign that you need a break.” She continues, “Dating can be emotionally taxing, and taking time to recharge and focus on yourself can help restore your emotional well-being.”
It can feel frustrating to crave companionship on such a deep level — and dating when you’re feeling emotionally drained usually only exacerbates whatever difficult feelings you’re experiencing. I promise you, you’re worthy of this companionship no matter how you’re feeling. Take the necessary time to repair.
2. You’re lacking clarity or self-awareness
“If you want to break a pattern of disappointing encounters, it might help to spend time exploring your own desires outside of the dating app pressure cooker.”
When you’re in the ebbs and flows of dating, it can sometimes make you lose sight of what you really want. Zohar explains, “If you’re feeling unsure about what you want in a relationship or find yourself repeatedly attracting the wrong partners, it may be beneficial to take a step back and gain clarity.” If you want to break a pattern of disappointing encounters, it might help to spend time exploring your own desires outside of the dating app pressure cooker.
If this leads you to take a break, Zohar advises that you use the time to “reflect on your past dating experiences, identify patterns, and work on developing a stronger sense of self-awareness.” Doing this work alongside others, a therapist or a close, candid friend, can be helpful.
3. You have feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth
“If dating has been negatively impacting your self-esteem and self-worth, it’s essential to prioritize your mental health.”– Sabrina Zohar, entrepreneur & dating coach
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you are so worthy! I know it’s easy to forget this when you’re facing microrejections or your self-worth becomes too intertwined with your love life. This is precisely where taking a break from dating can come in to restore your confidence.
Zohar offers some gentle guidance, “If dating has been negatively impacting your self-esteem and self-worth, it’s essential to prioritize your mental health. Taking a break can allow you to focus on building your self-confidence and self-love outside of the dating realm.” It’s vital to find other sources of self-worth, you can explore some of them here.
4. You experience overwhelming stress and pressure
“Dating can sometimes feel like a high-pressure situation, especially if you’re constantly seeking validation or trying to meet societal expectations,” says Zohar. We easily lose track of this truth: Your life is your journey. No one can take that from you (or do it for you!).
Zohar suggests that “[i]f the stress and pressure of dating are becoming overwhelming, taking a break can provide relief and allow you to focus on other aspects of your life.” Reconnect with what makes you you, and what you want for your life. Centering yourself and reorienting to your aspirations can relieve the stress and pressure that comes from trying to meet other’s expectations.
5. You feel a pull towards personal growth and self-development
I firmly believe that when you take time for personal growth outside of dating, you will bring people into your life who are more aligned with your values, needs, and life path. Finding others who align with you necessitates a strong personal understanding of what makes you, you.
“Finding others who align with you necessitates a strong personal understanding of what makes you, you.“
Zohar reminds us that taking a break might be necessary to prioritize this personal growth. For one, it helps us to remember that we’re whole people outside of our love lives. “Engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment can help you become a more well-rounded individual so that you’re ready for a healthy relationship in the future”. If you have the feeling that there’s more work to be done, a break can give you the space to explore and deepen your relationship with yourself.
How to make the most of your break
Zohar recommends using the short list below during your break to make it as restorative as possible. Returning to these touchstones throughout your pause will help you stay intentional.
Reflect on your motivations
Understanding your ‘why’ helps you stay committed to your decision.
Set clear boundaries
Do you want to delete the apps? Avoid social situations that revolve around dating? Communicate these boundaries to your friends so they understand where you’re at.
Focus on self-care
Time to reconnect with yourself and the things that bring you joy.
Don’t hold it in! Support can come from your friends, family, and even a therapist (especially a therapist).
Reflect and learn
Look at your current patterns and how you can shift them and reapproach dating with a healthier mindset.
When is it time to date again?
As necessary as breaks are, by definition they don’t last forever. It can be nerve-wracking to get back into it when you’ve been out of the game, but according to Zohar, there are some key signs that you’re ready to dive back into the dating pool.
One of the biggest indicators is that “[y]ou feel emotionally stable and have processed any past relationship issues or traumas.” This can be hard to recognize (or achieve!) so another important signal is if you were able to develop a clear understanding of your own emotions and needs. This may entail having a better idea of what you want in a partner and knowing “your boundaries, values, and non-negotiables,” says Zohar. This is the point at which self-knowledge and self-worth meet.
“This is the point at which self-knowledge and self-worth meet.”
You’ll probably notice a shift in your energy during your break and you may start to feel excited and open to dating again. If you feel willing to explore potential relationships rather than feeling dread or anxiety, then you’ve likely done the work that the break was intended for. Once you’ve released any anxiety-inducing dependence on others for validation, dating can quickly become a fun and joyful search for the right fit.
You may be thinking: Okay, this all sounds great, but what if I meet someone during my break? In response to this common question, Zohar says, “That’s probably when you would meet someone!” This is because you’re more likely to show up authentically instead of from a place of anxiety. Still, it’s important to communicate your intentions and boundaries. “You can choose to continue getting to know them, or you can press pause until you’re ready. Trust your instincts and do what feels right for you.” And remember to remain focused on you during your break, and not on how taking a break from dating can help you find someone!
“Dating (and breaks) can be tricky to navigate, but at the end of the day, you know yourself best.”
Dating (and breaks) can be tricky to navigate, but at the end of the day, you know yourself best. “Remember,” Zohar says, “everyone’s journey is unique, and it’s important to listen to your intuition and take things at your own pace.” At the end of the day, this is all in service of creating the life you want for yourself.
My advice? Enjoy the ride. Don’t think of dating (or taking a break from dating) as a tedious chore. We only live this moment once, so whether you’re getting to know yourself or getting to know someone new, have fun with it!
Natasha Weiss is a Pacific Northwest-based health and wellness copywriter and full-spectrum doula. When she’s not typing away, she loves immersing herself in bodies of water, wandering through ancient forests, and anything and everything to do with food. You can learn more about her work on natashaweiss.com or connect on Instagram.