Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaks are not for dating

"Just take a break. It'll happen when you least expect."
A friend of mine, recently divorced, told me that this seems to be the number one piece of advice she gets on dating (and, she noted, it usually comes from people already in a relationship).

Her feeling is that she knows exactly what she wants, but it isn't going to fall in her lap. If she doesn't put herself out there, she'll never find the relationship she wants.

I tend to agree with her.

That's not to say that I don't believe in taking a break now and then - and I told her as much. Whether it's a minor break or a full-on, four-alarm love cleanse, I feel like we all need to step back now and then.

But I think it's worth noting that taking a break should be for you. A break is for your life - for your sanity, and peace of mind. A break is not about dating.

I have said over and over that I believe dating is as much learning about yourself as it is meeting new people. The more people you date, the more you learn about what you like, and don't, and what you really need and want in a relationship. You might find that things you thought were deal-breakers really aren't; and that you really care about things you never thought were important.

You learn all of this by spending time with other people. So it makes sense to me that if you're going to learn about yourself, you're going to need to spend some time with you.

What I don't agree with is that this is "dating advice." Spending time alone or persuing interests not involved with relationships is excellent advice for any single person - or anyone, for that matter. It builds confidence, helps you grow as a person, learn new things, meet new people, and generally be a better you.

If you're single, that will certainly help with dating. But if you're truly taking a break, dating won't be the focus of how you spend that time.

The advice I often get is to go out and join a group (community, church, volunteer, sports, etc.) to meet people. Same thing - this is great advice if you're looking to find something new you like to do. It's good advice if you're looking to meet friends with similar interests.

It's not good dating advice.

Yes, you may meet new people, either immediately or by expanding your social circle. But you can not design your hobbies and interests around activities that are likely to attract single men in your age-group who are looking to date.

Love, and life, just don't work that way.

It's probably time that we singles (and you married folk who feel so bad for us) just accept that life happens in its own time. We each have to do what feels right for our life, and do the best with what we've got and what we know. If you feel it's time to take a break - you should. If you feel like you want to date like it's your job - go for it. I know people who have found true love both ways.

The point is to do whatever is best for you - so that you're ready for whatever life, or love, brings your way.

Because like it or not - love shows up in its own time, not yours.

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