Have you ever considered taking a year off of dating? Putting down Tinder and Christian Connection, spending a whole year of your life focusing on yourself and your relationship with God, or your career?
I tried it a couple of years ago, and failed drastically, two months in I fell for a guy hard and when it didn’t work out I had a (strictly PG) fling at a festival, by the end of the year I had been on a couple of unsuccessful dates, and lost three friendships from unrequited feelings (a mixture of their feelings and my own). The desire to not get caught up in “boy drama” had resulted in more drama than expected, so when the beginning of 2017 came round I decided to try it again – this time putting more conscious thought into not getting involved with anything romantic.
I was lucky for the first few months of the year, I was preparing for and travelling to South Africa, where I worked for 13 weeks – there was a lack of guys to get caught up with and it was an easy time to focus on other things. When I returned home I was feeling a little vulnerable and the temptation to find a guy to provide that comfort was strong. I wanted to be looked after, but I knew that I wasn’t in a good mind space to seek romance and, despite a little crush, I resisted getting involved with anyone.
I was going through a dark season and so I spent a lot of time working on my relationship with God, trying to figure out what to do next. Not pursuing a romantic relationship meant that I had the energy and desire to draw closer to God and seek out his desires. Taking these months for myself gave me the opportunity to know myself better, to heal from a difficult time, and figure out what I wanted in a relationship. I started to learn what I enjoyed in life and discovered who I was without the “boy drama”. I got to travel a little bit, just for fun rather than working for once! I also invested in a gym pass and discovered the rumours are true – exercise is great! (literally never thought I’d say that!) I swam three times a week (and chilled in the hot tub), and even did weights and running!
By the end of the summer I was starting to think about getting back onto the dating scene but when an opportunity to move to Nottingham came up I knew that I had to see the year through. I wanted to spend my first few months in a new city getting to know people, to build friendships and community, I didn’t want dating to cloud any of that and was keen to keep romance at an arms length. Despite a few rumours floating around (I was working in a church after all – gossip central), I was successful in seeing the year out single and proud.
So would I recommend it? Honestly, it really depends on who you are and your current situation. I knew that I needed to spend time looking after myself and taking the year off dating really helped that. But there were definitely moments I hated it and almost threw it in – just because you stop pursuing it doesn’t mean you’re not still going be attracted to someone, and choosing to stay on the side lines was sometimes really difficult. I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d met “the right guy” and missed my chance but I really believe in God’s timing and if there was someone I was “supposed to be with” (though I’m not sure I believe in “the one”) then there would be more opportunities for us to get together in the future.
I also really enjoyed the fact it took the pressure off my friendships with guys – it was so much easier to be friends without the constant “Is there something going on?” “Am I leading him on?” “Is he leading me on?” We could just hang out and not overthink any of it – so good! (and unfortunately rare in the Christian environment!)
I think taking this year for yourself is an important thing to do for those who struggle being single (whether you’re a Christian or not). It may be a cliche but it gives you the chance to discover yourself, to enjoy being single, and to focus on other aspects of life that are just as important and fulfilling. If you want to give it a go why not try it for a few months and see how you get on? And if you have any questions about my experience I’d be more than happy to answer them! Just leave me a comment below!