About four years ago, I got dumped on my front porch.
I was dating my best friend's roommate (my first mistake), and it was such a shit show of a relationship that he finally decided to end it.
Was I surprised? No. We weren't good together, and I didn't even like him that much. Yet, I felt a familiar fear of being single bubbling up, so I ran to my bedroom to download Bumble.
While the app installed, I thought, "why is another relationship my solution for getting over a breakup?"
In fact, my relationship with the front-porch-dumping ex began mere weeks after I'd been dumped via text by a guy I lived with. I still hadn't fully processed that breakup. Yet, I was about to start swiping to find another guy.
That's when I realized I had a lot of work to do to uncover why I made such poor dating choices. That's when I decided to take my year break from dating.
To give you some backstory: I'd been a serial monogamist for ten years. It blows my mind how I'd find new relationships so quickly, and I don't say that to brag. I was willing to take attention from anyone who gave it to me.
The choice to take a year dating break was driven mainly by wanting to break my pattern of dating emotionally unavailable, avoidant men and not being able to draw boundaries. But after ten years of being in relationships, I also just wanted to see if I could be single for a year.
The rules for myself were simple: no actively dating. No dating apps and no going out of my way to ask someone out. Although, I did break that once by asking someone on a date (more on this later)-- Whoops!
But during the year, I did a lot of work on myself to heal my anxious attachment and change my attraction to emotionally unavailable men.
I learned tools to self-soothe when I felt triggered. I uncovered why I didn't walk away when red flags were waving in my face. I learned what the hell a boundary is and how to create one. I built up my confidence (slowly) by simultaneously investing in my life to make it one I loved.
I read. A lot. Books like Attached, Power of Attachment, Co-Dependent No More and many research papers.
I can't say there was a morning when I woke up and thought, "I'm healed!!"
It was more so that, one day, I looked back and realized how far I had come. And damn, it felt good.
A month-ish after the year mark of me being single, I re-connected with that guy I broke my dating-break rule for.
That guy is my current boyfriend.
During my year break from dating, I decided to ask him out on a date because he was a friend who I knew was a great guy. But his emotionally available habits (texting me regularly, giving me compliments) felt like WAY too much, and I ended it after three dates.
Luckily, we re-connected at a friend's going away party, and he was down to give things a second chance.
I still struggled with thinking my emotionally available relationship was boring at times, but I challenged those thoughts consistently enough that the neural pathways in my brain eventually re-wired. My anxiety was still pretty bad at the beginning of the relationship, but I communicated with my boyfriend. Watching how he acted in the relationship modeled secure habits for me-- a big part of my healing process.
I've been with my boyfriend for three and a half years now, and things are radically different from when I ran to my bedroom to re-download Bumble.
A year break from dating isn't something everyone has to do. I don't believe in the phrase, "you have to love yourself before someone else can love you."
But the work? That's necessary. If you struggle with an anxious attachment or being attracted to emotionally unavailable people, things will stay the same until you make sure they don't stay the same.
The work isn't always easy, but it's VERY rewarding. To find a fulfilling relationship (or feel fulfilled in one), you have to break free from the beliefs, habits, programming, and attachments that hold you back. On the other side is a lot of freedom!
If you've ever wondered why I do the work I do, it's because I want to guide people on the same healing journey for their love lives that I went through.
My motto is: "You're worthy of love. I'll help you date like you are!"
Check out my free dating anxiety journal prompts to help you understand yourself more and the changes you want. to make in dating.
If you want to move towards feeling confident and secure when looking for love, grab your copy of my 30-day dating guide "From Anxious to Secure."