Dating can be flat-out exhausting these days. From the pressure of endless first dates to constant task of keeping up with all the latest and greatest dating apps, it’s all-too-easy to see the appeal of getting yourself into the nearest relationship and holding onto your partner for dear life. But that definitely doesn’t mean you should. The truth is that many of us need to be single—at least temporarily.
Now, I don’t mean “single” in a rack-up-your-hook-up-score kind of way (though, if that’s your thing, feel free to try). I mean single in the sense that you need time by yourself to gain confidence, experience, and comfort in your own skin. You my also need this solo time to cure you of the toxic after-effects of a bad relationship that you’re still clinging to. So here are the signs that you need to be on your own. And once you’re ready to get back out there, here’s How to Know She’s the One.
The number one sign you should be try out being single? It makes you uncomfortable. “For some people, lonely is one of the hardest emotions to manage,” explains Monte Drenner, licensed mental health counselor in Orlando. “A new relationship is often the perceived need, but the more relevant need is learning how not to be lonely when alone.”
Get comfortable flying solo and your future relationships will reap the benefits. But when you’re ready to get back out there, make sure you know what women always want to hear.
“This is a mistake I see made frequently,” says Amber Soletti, a dating and relationship coach and founder of NYC and Austin-based dating service OnSpeedDating.com. “You just got out of a relationship, and rather than taking time to reflect you instead immediately try to jump into meeting another person.”
Soletti notes that this behavior also usually stems from fear of being alone, but it’s important to take time to heal and reset after a breakup.
Still hung up on your ex? Then it’s definitely best to take the time to get over them before jumping into something new. “You’ll only attract someone just like your ex because you attract what you focus on,” says Lisa Concepcion, Dating & Relationship Transformation Expert and Founder of LoveQuest Coaching.
“Instead, appreciate what you learned from your relationship. Make sense of what was good and what didn’t work. Then, be grateful for where you are presently. Being happy in the moment is the best way to move forward from a past relationship.” And for more great relationship advice, here are some warning signs no couple should ignore.
Sometimes dating with no luck for a long period of time can make you jaded. If you feel this way, it’s probably a good idea to take a breather from trying to meet people.
“If you have institutional distrust or lack of faith from the get-go, you should remain single until you can do some soul-searching and get to a place where you have some confidence in yourself, the process, or men and women in general,” advises Chris Armstrong, a Certified Relationship Coach. “Too many times we put ourselves out there, only to unintentionally sabotage any chance of a relationship because we’re already looking for holes and flaws.”
“If you find you are not ready to break up with someone until you have the next boyfriend or girlfriend waiting in the wings, you probably need to be single for a while,” says Patti Sabla, a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in Kihei on Maui.
This also indicates that you’re likely afraid of being alone. Instead of always having a backup plan, try to get more comfortable with the idea of not being part of a couple before searching for a new partner. You could try developing some stronger male friendships instead.
“The biggest sign that you need a break is it you are grasping too hard and trying to rush every person you date into a committed relationship right away—before either of you has had the chance to get to know each other to even know if you’re compatible,” says Susan Golicic, Ph.D., Certified Relationship Coach, and founder of Uninhibited Wellness.
Once again, this behavior comes from not wanting to be alone, “and if that is driving your dating, then you will find that no one will be able to meet your needs or expectations,” Golicic adds. “You have to be happy with yourself to date. Then, you will be able to really learn about the other person and if you feel they are right for you.” And for single-guy tips, here’s how to impress any woman.
“Some people do not feel good about themselves unless they are in a relationship,” says Drenner. If your self-worth is tied to your relationship status, it’s tough to be yourself or get anything positive out of dating and relationships. “Work on your self-esteem and get your value from who you are as a person—not what you are to someone else. Doing this will help your future relationships to be healthier and happier.”
Got a lot going on? There’s nothing wrong with setting dating aside for a bit to focus on your own goals. “Relationships need time in order to cultivate and grow,” says Julienne Derichs, a licensed clinical professional counselor in Chicago. “If you have no time to give, then it’s a good time to be single for a while. Give yourself permission to focus on you for a bit.”
If you’re constantly busy, check out this leading CEO’s advice on how to multitask.
“If being in a relationship consumes you and every weekend is a hunting expedition to land a significant other, you need to be single,” says Concepcion.
In short, looking for fulfillment outside instead of inside never ends well. “No one should be responsible for loving you better and more than you love yourself. Making someone a condition for your happiness is a trap. Be single. Learn to love yourself then watch that amazing person enter your life with ease,” she recommends. Now, when you are ready to start dating again, make sure you’re smart about what you do before dates.
A relationship betrayal can seriously mess with your head. “Cheating isn’t fun, that’s obvious, but we often lose sight of how it affects our ‘next’ relationships,” says Armstrong. “If we have been cheated on, hard as we may try, we will generally assume the worst and be incredibly cautious with whoever we meet next. Or worse yet, we will assume that we were the reason someone cheated on us and we will do whatever we need to be attractive and available to our ‘next’ partner—anything to avoid being cheated on again.” And if you did the cheating, it’s worthwhile to explore why it happened and get to the root of the issue to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If you find yourself making concessions when you meet someone who isn’t really right for you, but you want to try to make it work, then it’s worthwhile to hit pause on your dating life. “You need to determine what your standards are, what you are looking for in a mate, and in what areas you are and are not willing to settle,” says Sabla. “If you are willing to go out with someone just because they show an interest, you are selling yourself short.”
“This is a clear sign you need to be single for awhile,” notes Soletti. “There is nothing wrong with wanting your freedom and to not have to be accountable to anyone. If being in a relationship gives you anxiety and causes you to feel stifled, you would be best served to stay or get ‘single.’”
Transitional times can make starting a new relationship hard. “Switching jobs, moving to a new city, ending a marriage or a relationship, these things require mental focus and self care,” says Concepcion. “Handle your affairs, focus on being good to yourself and sorting out life’s details, then, when all is settled, and a new normal is established you will attract someone great from that level of energy.”
“It’s essential that you clearly know what you want and need—mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually from a partner, as well as what you don’t want before you begin dating,” says Christine Baumgartner, Dating and Relationship Coach. “If you’re not sure about the traits that are important to you, you won’t know what you’re looking for or when you’ve found them.”
Ever stayed in a relationship just because you don’t want to go through the holiday season, a big birthday, or Valentine’s Day alone? That’s a pretty surefire sign it would be good for you to try out the single life. “If you are afraid or uncomfortable to celebrate major milestones and holidays alone, you could benefit from being single for a while to experience those events,” says Sabla. “You need to have confidence that you can be alone at those times.”
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