Anything from one week to a month should be enough time for one or both parties to determine whether they should stay together. A break is exactly that, Edwards says.
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Being attractive could actually put your relationship in jeopardy. Be frank about your feelings, or potential lack thereof, for the other person. Agreeing to see other people creates a potential minefield of conflict, jealousy and insecurity, both during the break and any subsequent reunion. Edwards agrees, and says that bringing another person, or people, into the mix will only further confuse things.
I've spent the last two months not dating at all. I've been licking some compassion-deserving, emotional wounds and listening to the sage advice they had to teach me. It was a time of healing.
I set the intention to curl up in the lap of my sadness and let it speak its wisdom. These wounds held stories. They told me about limiting beliefs I've clung onto about love, about myself and about what I'm still afraid of.
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By allowing myself the time to sit with these thoughts and feelings, I am able to see myself more clearly. I knew I needed time to process through them in order to get this clarity. I needed silence and lack of distraction to fully explore the reflection the mirror my last relationship was holding for me so that I can enter my next one without carrying old patterns with me.
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When we see our experiences with others, both positive and negative , as a way to learn more about ourselves, we always have new lessons to learn about ourselves and the roots of our behaviors and habits of thinking. I knew that if I jumped from one relationship straight into another, I wouldn't have seen what I needed to in myself in order to attract the kind of person I'm looking for. When we get clearer about our deeper self, we attract different kinds of people. The shift reflects the inner clarity we've gained because we look for love with openness and awareness.
And one of the most powerful ways to get clearer about this part of ourselves is to look at our reactions to our partner in our last relationship. The goal of seeing these is not to fix a part of ourselves or to feel that we have been damaged.
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The goal is awareness. But what about the other times when a break from dating feels unintentional, and well, unpleasant? Knowing yourself is incredibly important for your health. When you are in a relationship, you're integrating your life with a partner's, adopting mutual goals and routines—which is why breakups are so darn difficult. You need to disentangle your life from another person's, and decide which desires are truly your own. I wanted to do that in the extreme sense; soon after I broke up with my ex, I rented a fifth-floor apartment in downtown Ann Arbor, and decided to live on my own for the first time ever.
The beauty of this change was that no one and nothing dictated my day-to-day decisions. I began taking long walks by myself, to detach from social media and email, process thoughts for my book, and stay healthy.
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I focused on eating better, and exactly what I wanted. I occasionally took "single girl" days devoted solely to cheesy rom-com Netflix binges and wine, in which I talked to very few people. This was all self-care for my soul, and I found out who I was in a big way. Interestingly, while I regularly felt lonely in my bad relationship, I found that, over time, I very rarely felt lonely on my own. And that's powerful, to know I can be fully comfortable in my own skin, with my own hobbies and routines. I learned the difference between wants and needs.
Before my first relationship cleanse, there was a small part of me that thought I needed a relationship to be completely happy. Socialization has some strange effects. I grew up in a small town, where women became brides and moms pretty rapidly after graduation.
I devoured classic rom-coms and hidden copies of Seventeen or Cosmopolitan magazine, which sometimes unconsciously instilled the idea that having a guy or a relationship was necessary. When you deprive yourself of something you think you "need," you often realize just how unnecessary it is. During my relationship cleanse, when I was not entertaining any romantic partners until I had reached specific goals for myself, I totally relaxed into my singleness for the first time in my life.
And it was glorious. But I, personally, still want a lasting relationship someday. After writing a book on love, I still think a partner can provide support, consistency, and opportunities for growth, among other great benefits. However long that takes, it'll be well worth the wait.
Now, I'm dating again. I have a book to show for my "time off," as well as great friends and a better appreciation for my own intricately crafted journey into the future. I recommend people take time off from finding love all the time, when they're feeling vulnerable and unsure of themselves. My "relationship cleanse" helped expel old toxic notions and poor dating habits, leaving behind more refined tastes for what I'm looking for—not just in love, but in life.
Jenna Birch is author of The Love Gap: Comments Add a comment.
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