Sometimes we don’t realize we can’t fix something because we’re looking at it from the inside, instead of taking a step back and taking another perspective. We get frustrated quickly and think we’re in the middle of a hopeless situation that will never end. While this can apply to several things, in this case I’m talking about relationships.
It’s not entirely our fault. After all Hollywood, just about every form of media, art, and even society itself seem to send us the same message as we’re growing up: you need to be in a relationship to be a full, capable, functioning adult. Okay, maybe they don’t spell it out quite this way. We’re also constantly told to be in charge of our destiny and be independent, etc. We live in constant contradiction, striving to achieve the perfect balance of being able to hold ourselves by our own two feet while also trying to prove that we are doing our best to find love.
But in truth, is hopping from one unsuccessful relationship to another really the best way to find the right person? What if each time you attempt to reset your broken heart, you realize you’ve lost a part of it? What happens when trying to find the best choice leaves you wondering what is it you’re actually looking for in a partner?
There are many ways to go into this internal journey to discover what it is that you want. Some people really do well constantly meeting new people until they hit the bullseye. But for others, letting go is impossible, and trying to achieve self-knowledge might be the best route, albeit the easiest one, not to mention this is the one that might leave your friends and family worried that you’ve given up completely. This is the case of self-imposed singlehood. This implies foregoing a relationship, possibly even sex, for a length of time of your choosing. So in the end how will “not trying” might help change your future relationships? As I said before, it’s about perspective.
Sara Campbell is a British expat living in Egypt as a Yoga and Freediving instructor. In 2013, after the end of a relationship, she made the choice to be celibate for the entire year of 2014.
According to an account she made about this endeavor, “When I took sex off the table, I was able to observe my behavior around men. I noticed that whether I am attracted to them or not, I have an urge to hook them in. I think that it comes from my own insecurities, a need to feel attractive and desirable.”
The challenge proved an important way for Sara to discover who she had become over the years. However, as freeing and enlightening as the experience proved, there was a bittersweet choice that came with it: knowing that she was giving up the option of motherhood she had envisioned for herself. Perhaps you are not worried about becoming a mother or even want to be one, but just as Sara faced this problem, you should realize that everything comes at a cost.
Taking a “heart sabbatical” can mean you lose your chance at something, whatever that might be. During this time you might meet someone you’re attracted to, and you could still feel the timing isn’t right. So it’s important to trust that what you’re doing is in the best interest of you and your future partner.
It could be a month, a year, even twelve years, like Sophie Fontanel, the author of The Art of Sleeping Alone. After realizing how unsatisfied she was with her sex life, she one day decided to give up on it until further notice. And from the age of 27 to 39 she changed the dynamic of how she approached her sexuality and, in doing so, reestablished what she desired, as well as understood how others reacted to her. In the end, she found that she could find pleasure in other aspects of people around her. It became an entire exercise in what we’re told we need versus what we truly know we require.
In Sophie’s words, “I believe that a desert is sometimes necessary. Sometimes, it is what your soul and your body need. A rest. To dream instead of do. And believe me, when the body really wants the skin of someone else, it knows perfectly how to behave.”
While Sophie and Sara might seem like extreme cases, what they did is not different to choosing to remain single for whatever length of time. Looking for a one-night-stand every time we go out or open or dating app, doesn’t really count as a search for self-discovery. Choosing to be alone means not expecting or looking for anything, going with your instincts while laying down some lines so you can check yourself before jumping in to another relationship you know is like the last.
You don’t have to do it, but what if you could feel the satisfaction of knowing you’re investing time in your future happiness by simply letting go?