My Dating Hiatus (Or Why I Took A Break Before I Broke)

"I'm done. I'm taking a break. I'm not dating ANYONE for a while."

It was a proclamation I had made to my friends time and time again to no avail. Fresh off the latest let down, I'd wallow, lash out, then find resolve by announcing I was done for a while. But then, someone else would come along. Some charming fuck boy, disguised under a heavy cloak of facial hair, quick wit, and the ultimate panty-dropper: picking up on my obscure Seinfeld references. Instantly, I'd be sucked in and my single UFN plans thwarted. 

This had been going on for the better half of my adulthood: disappointment after let down after shoulda-seen-that-coming after DID-see-that-coming-but-chose-to-ignore-it-anyway. But this year, it all changed. This year, I finally reached my breaking point. I had suffered through shitty dating years before, but 2017 started off with a (literal) bang and snow balled at an alarmingly fast rate.

First, it was a trusted friend who convinced me that he was finally ready to give "us" a go, shut off almost immediately, suddenly had no desire to be intimate (even though we had been previously), re-gifted a Christmas present he received from his mother to me as my Christmas present and, finally, let me know "we had sex because I could tell you really wanted to."

Next was a fit Jewish gentleman who had me help him decorate his new place, introduced me to his core group of friends, and told me he told his family about me all within two weeks, then decided our fitness goals didn't align and he couldn't be with someone who enables his cravings and doesn't "keep him in line." 

This was all before March. Two months into the new year, and things were looking bleak as ever. Shortly after Fitness Jew, I would make my first utterance of the phrase, "I'm taking a break." Shortly after that first utterance, I got "casual drinks" with "someone I've known forever" and who I wasn't "even sure is that cute." 

Casual drinks turned into falling very hard, very fast amid a Bellagio Fountain of red flags. But blinded by unparalleled humor, guitar serenades, twinkling eyes, and hormone-levels reminiscent of my 16-year-old self, I set each of those red flags on fire and walked away slo-mo as they went up in a fiery wall of hell behind me. It was the first time in a very, very long time I was falling in love (albeit with the wrong person, but falling nonetheless). On a Sunday, he told me he was in love with me. The following Thursday, he told me his feelings and level of attraction goes in and out in every relationship, and he's just not feeling it as much right now (four days after saying "We're in love") but am I willing to stick around while he figures himself out and what's the difference between being in love and extreme like, anyway?

After him, I was destroyed. Laying-on-my-bedroom-floor-blaring-Neil-Diamond-and-scream-sobbing-to-the-point-of-full-body-sweating destroyed. Luckily, my sister and I had a summer vacation to Tulum, Mexico planned just days after that breakup, so I could escape, reset, and get e.Coli poisoning (don't know what I'm talking about? You should read that story).

This was my second utterance of "I'm taking a break." Mexico helped (sans the e.Coli (although, WHADDUP revenge body via unrelenting bodily upheaval that resulted in a 6-pound weight loss over night!), and my sights were set on remaining single for the foreseeable future. That is until a cute blonde messaged me on Match, we met for drinks, and immediately began dating. A month in (after friends had been met and weekends away been had), he left for a pre-planned international vacation, we talked almost every day he was gone, he came back (with gifts) and, just two days after his return, stood me up for our date and ghosted me for an additional 27 hours before texting me that he was a pussy and hadn't known how to say it but didn't see a future with us. 

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Okay so THAT'S when you got serious about a hiatus, right? RIGHT? IT HAS TO BE, EMMA." You'd think so. You'd think after four back-to-back, epically horrific experiences, I'd finally give myself the break I deserved. And of course I said it. Again, I proclaimed "I 👏 AM 👏 DONE 👏" And I was until a weekend jaunt to Austin, Texas with my best friend that resulted in getting approached and swept off my feet by a snake-charming used car salesman. It happened so fast, you guys. It was summer. I was in a different city. He was assertive. It was so hot out. I was in heat, literally and figuratively. Immediately, he was driving up to visit me, calling me during his tearful panic attacks after a week of knowing me (WHY, EMMA. WHY. YOU'RE SO MUCH SMARTER THAN THIS), and laying it on so thick, it was like being covered in one of those gravity blankets (which I want, by the way). Luckily, the Social Media Gods were watching out for me. Without looking for it, they tipped me off to some seriously sus behavior, I caught him in a lie, and I cut and ran harder than I've ever ran in my life.

And THAT, my friends, was the final straw. 

Fail #5 did me in. After a solid eight months of 2017 dating HELL, I was done. Every app — deleted. Every mild flirtation — over. Any desire to put myself through one more hellacious romantic scenario — dashed. Finally, I was ready to take a hiatus and, this time, I fucking meant it.

All my life, I'd put romance first and what did I have to show for it? A few good moments and countless lessons learned, but mostly let downs, disappointment, and crippling self-doubt. I'd spent years making finding "The Guy" a priority and finding myself second-tier. What used to be excitement and hope had mutated into desperation over the years. With each new suitor, I took my priorities off my dresser, tucked them safely into my underwear drawer, and placed him front and center. What did he want? Who did we want? And how could I bend over backwards to be what or who that was in an effort to keep him around? And, of course, if anything went wrong, I immediately turned on myself: What did I do? What did I say? I should've been less of this. I should've done more of that. I'm too much. I'm not enough.

I needed a break from beating myself up, from forcing impossible situations, from willingly succumbing to shitty behavior at the off chance it'd all be worth it. I needed a break before I broke, so I took it.

After the sleazy car salesmen, for the fourth and final time, I proclaimed it: "I'm taking a hiatus." And I did. And am. That was in August, and I'm very happy to report it is still very much happening as you read this. It's been four blissful, romance-less months with no plans to dive back in any time soon. Sure, hiccups in the form of 1 or 2 drunken make outs have happened (hey, I'm inactively dating — not dead) but as far as caring, investing, pursuing, or being emotionally available goes, yah girl's having none of it. I've cared so much for so long with little to no ROI that I had to stop. For now, anyway.

Since August, it's been nothing but me, my blog, my work, my friends, my family, and the general pursuit of my own happiness. Never in my life have I been this focused, this head's down. Never have I truly put myself, my feelings, and my wants first without the influence of a hopeful romantic prospect. And I love it. I WANT to be single. I'm HAPPY being single. I am WHOLE being single. And I'll be the first to admit that if you had overheard me saying those words at any point in time pre-dating hiatus, they would've been a lie. They would've been out of bitterness and anger — a defense mechanism. They would've been shrouded in a false sense of pride. They would've been said for the wrong reasons. But now? Now I mean them. This hiatus has been the best thing I could've ever done for myself, and when it's over, I know it'll be for all the right reasons.

And with that, I'll leave you with this: