I was tired of dating and chasing love, tired of waiting for The One, tired of hoping, tired of having to constantly pick myself up and put myself back in the dating game. It felt wrong. This was the moment of truth.
I was nowhere even close to finding The One. I felt useless. I felt like a failure. How much dating do you have to do to find one man, right? I sat down and asked myself a few questions: Why am I running away from myself? Why do I so desperately want to have a relationship? Why can I not stop dating and just be with myself for a while? And most importantly, what am I learning from being single? That was it. I took a notebook and started writing and the answers kept flowing.
After asking myself these fundamental questions, I realized that the only thing to do was to stop dating. I wanted to take some time out to re-evaluate my approach to love and romantic relationships. I felt a deep desire to reconnect with myself. I focused on myself.
I stopped hoping. I let go of my expectations. I was free. I began to appreciate many things about my single status. I found so many blessings in living my life as a single person. I genuinely started to like being single rather than run away from it. The more I connected with myself, the less lonely and desperate I felt. I stopped fearing lonely weekends as I filled them with things I loved doing.
Life became easier. I started to enjoy spending time on my own. I became comfortable with silence and solitude. Bit by bit I was finding myself. Then one day, I felt complete for the first time in my life. I had found my bliss. After my transformation, I was ready to date again—just for fun, with no expectations.
I had more fun. A few short months after my detox, I met a charming, wise, mindful and very loving English man who exceeded all my expectations. I fell in love with him and he fell in love with me. For the first time in my life, I am in a happy and healthy relationship with a man, not a boy, for a change. And together we have a little munchkin who has brought even more fun and happiness to our lives. When I became happy with myself I became also ready to meet a happy and emotionally healthy man.
Having done the inner work, I had become the woman who was ready to attract her dream man. I became the person I was looking for. My journey through seven years of singledom, more than a hundred online dates, and one dating detox had taught me many lessons and helped me find myself. I want to share five of the most important lessons with you. Resisting being single will only create more conflict within yourself. I hated being single for years.
I desperately wanted to be in a relationship to feel happier, but I kept attracting wounded men like myself. I eventually came to the realization that being single is being in a relationship with oneself. This is the most natural relationship of all, but we have been conditioned to believe that we need someone else to be happy and fulfilled.
If there is no man or woman in your life, you connect with yourself. Nothing will give you more comfort than finding this secure place within yourself. Make the most out of your life while you are single. There are so many advantages to being single and it is time to start to count your blessings. Accepting your single status is a crucial step in becoming ready for a relationship.
When you become a happy single person, the desperation for a romantic relationship disappears. You are then in a much better place to attract someone who is emotionally healthy and happy. For years I had been putting my happiness in the hands of men. I spent too many years being miserable waiting for a man to come along and make me happy; every time I was single I was unhappy.
I stopped putting my life on hold and started to enjoy my life in the here and now. I stopped postponing my happiness. I started to do all the things I had imagined doing with my future partner. I signed up for the gym. I travelled more. I started to save up for my future house. I took up swimming, working out, yoga etc. And guess what. When you are happy you become more attractive, and you attract a different kind of person. I realized that I was responsible for my own happiness and not some man as I had believed for many years.
I figured that the relationship I have with myself is the only guaranteed relationship I will ever have. The quality of the connection you have with yourself will determine the quality of your relationships with others, including romantic relationships. If your relationship with yourself is not happy and healthy, it will be difficult for you to create a healthy and happy relationship with someone else.
I tackled loneliness first. I started to spend more time in my own company. I scheduled quality time with myself in my calendar. I had Sundays to myself. Solitude and silence became my friends. I wrote a lot, kept a journal and made time for self-reflection and meditation. These practices helped me dive deeper within myself and I began to feel stronger and more secure within myself. For the first time in my life, I started to enjoy being with myself. It took me twenty years to understand what self-love actually is.
And for me it is a practice, not a feeling. It is a practice of choosing myself and what feels right for me. Your confidence and self-esteem increase. You have the courage to be your authentic self. You stop looking for approval. You become better at asserting your own needs when it comes to dating. You recognise your own value and you aim higher in love. Simply put, dating was no longer fun. The rules of the ban were simple: Friendship was all I could offer anyone, and I deleted my dating apps.
All and any men who approached me were swiftly informed of the rules, which was actually a fabulous exercise in communicating my boundaries and desires. For the first time in my life, I went out into the world with my green light switched off and felt freer and lighter as a result; the pressure to snag the prize was off.
While I might have expected life without the pursuit of romantic relationships to bring up feelings of sadness or loneliness, all of this actually culminated in a mind shift whereby I stopped viewing solitude as calamitous. I could give up my subscription to the Must Have a Man Association and life would still go on; it could even be great.
Accordingly, recent reports from the American Time Use Survey show that, surprisingly, unmarried women are actually the happiest population subgroup. Looking back, has been remarkable and fulfilling, and my decision to detox from dating yielded some significant takeaways.
I also developed an appetite for alone time. Extended periods of solitude stop us from being commitment-hungry and mentally marrying any old person with a Colgate smile. The time I clawed back from romancing helped me fall in love with the world again. I felt absolutely zero guilt about wanting my life to be about my wishes because I realized just how delicious that could be. Because I invested more in self-care, I ultimately became a better, more well-rounded person to show up for the people in my life.
I got such deep satisfaction from spending time with my old friends and made numerous new ones. Studies of thousands of people around the world reveal that single people have more robust social networks than their coupled-up counterparts. They are far from alone and do more to maintain relationships. Did I sniff pity? Most certainly. I also spent a lot of time fending off questions about when I would finally bake a cake in my womb oven.
Having a partner is prestigious and a traditional marker of success. Whereas dating had always been my project, my priorities shifted and I had fire in my belly career-wise. I spent time really fine-tuning my voice as a writer and the powers that be listened. My dream publication reached out to me and I wrote for some of the biggest names in media including Lonely Planet, the BBC and Shondaland. I also started stitching together the proposal to expand my travel and lifestyle brand, Club Elsewhere.
My year without men has undoubtedly been my most productive to date. Sifting through candidates and conducting interviews is a job in itself. Time and space are magnificent healers and this break ultimately freed me from the burden of viewing a life sans partner as a wholly wasted one. Coupled up or self-partnered, I have all the etchings of a full life.
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