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5 Lessons from a Dating Detox (for Anyone Who’s Looking for Love)

“Sometimes when you lose your way, you find yourself.” ~Mandy Hale

Ever since I can remember, I was determined, even desperate, to find love. My life felt empty and lonely.

I wanted to be happy and feel loved. I believed everything would be all right if only I had my man.

For years my self-esteem was non-existent. I had no clue how to build a relationship with a man. I had no boundaries. I felt unworthy and unlovable.

I started dating online. I kept meeting different men and occasionally I would meet someone who I would see for a while.

Because of my low self-esteem and desperation, I often ended up with men who were not ready to commit or couldn’t give me what I needed.

After a few months I would feel drained and the relationship would come to an end. Again, I would find myself back on the dating scene desperately looking for Mr. Right: flicking through tonnes of profiles, interacting with hundreds of men and meeting a handful of them only to find out that I had nothing in common with most of them. It was frustrating and disheartening.

I was stuck in this cycle for years. A relationship, a breakup, serial dating; a relationship, a breakup, serial dating …

It was an emotional roller coaster: of hopes and disappointments, loneliness and tears, rejection and heartbreak, with the odd bit of fun.

After my last low quality relationship, I panicked. I was thirty. I had no husband, no kids, no house, nothing to my name. And I still thought that having a man was the solution.

I redoubled my efforts, going on a string of boring and uninspiring dates with guys who had nothing to offer.

By this point, I was absolutely exhausted with the whole thing. I was tired of dating and chasing love, tired of waiting for The One, tired of hoping, tired of having to constantly pick myself up and put myself back in the dating game.

At that point I had lost my all faith in love, which although didn’t feel nice, was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.   

After one of my boring dates, I woke up the next morning and couldn’t even remember the guy’s name. It felt wrong.

I reflected upon my last few dates and realized that I didn’t want to waste my time any more.

This was the moment of truth. For the first time in my dating career I was honest with myself and admitted that all my crazy dating efforts hadn’t brought me my desired outcome. I was nowhere even close to finding The One.

I felt useless. I felt like a failure. I felt like there was something fundamentally wrong with me since I couldn’t even find one freaking man with whom I could be happy. How much dating do you have to do to find one man, right?

I sat down and asked myself a few questions: Why am I running away from myself? Why do I so desperately want to have a relationship? Why can I not stop dating and just be with myself for a while? And most importantly, what am I learning from being single? That was it. I took a notebook and started writing and the answers kept flowing.

After asking myself these fundamental questions, I realized that the only thing to do was to stop dating. I wanted to take some time out to re-evaluate my approach to love and romantic relationships.

I deleted my online profiles and cancelled my memberships. I started my dating detox.

I felt a deep desire to reconnect with myself. For about two years I didn’t even think about men. I focused on myself. I didn’t pursue anything. I stopped hoping. I let go of my expectations. I was free.

I began to appreciate many things about my single status. I found so many blessings in living my life as a single person. I genuinely started to like being single rather than run away from it.

The more I connected with myself, the less lonely and desperate I felt. I stopped fearing lonely weekends as I filled them with things I loved doing. Life became easier.

I started to enjoy spending time on my own. I became comfortable with silence and solitude. Bit by bit I was finding myself. Then one day, I felt complete for the first time in my life. I had found my bliss.

After my transformation, I was ready to date again—just for fun, with no expectations. I definitely wasn’t looking for a serious relationship.

The quality of my dates improved as I became more selective and had stronger boundaries.

I went out with a few high quality men and I enjoyed my dates even though I didn’t click with them romantically. I had more fun.

A few short months after my detox, I met a charming, wise, mindful and very loving English man who exceeded all my expectations. I fell in love with him and he fell in love with me.

For the first time in my life, I am in a happy and healthy relationship with a man, not a boy, for a change.

And together we have a little munchkin who has brought even more fun and happiness to our lives. This is something I had given up on a long time ago; with my luck in love I didn’t believe that I would ever find a man who I could have a family with.

When I became happy with myself I became also ready to meet a happy and emotionally healthy man. Having done the inner work, I had become the woman who was ready to attract her dream man. I became the person I was looking for.

Dating detox was the best thing I could have ever done to turn my love life around.

My journey through seven years of singledom, more than a hundred online dates, and one dating detox had taught me many lessons and helped me find myself. I want to share five of the most important lessons with you.

1. Accept where you are.

Resisting being single will only create more conflict within yourself. I hated being single for years. I desperately wanted to be in a relationship to feel happier, but I kept attracting wounded men like myself.

This running away from being single didn’t serve me one bit. I eventually came to the realization that being single is being in a relationship with oneself. This is the most natural relationship of all, but we have been conditioned to believe that we need someone else to be happy and fulfilled.

If there is no man or woman in your life, you connect with yourself. Nothing will give you more comfort than finding this secure place within yourself.

Make the most out of your life while you are single. There are so many advantages to being single and it is time to start to count your blessings.

Accepting your single status is a crucial step in becoming ready for a relationship. When you become a happy single person, the desperation for a romantic relationship disappears. You are then in a much better place to attract someone who is emotionally healthy and happy.

You want to find yourself in a place where you want a relationship, but don’t need one.

2. Take responsibility for your own happiness.

For years I had been putting my happiness in the hands of men. I spent too many years being miserable waiting for a man to come along and make me happy; every time I was single I was unhappy.

When I realized that I might be single for another five or ten years, it hit me that I didn’t want to spend them being miserable. I stopped putting my life on hold and started to enjoy my life in the here and now.

I stopped postponing my happiness. I started to do all the things I had imagined doing with my future partner. I signed up for the gym. I travelled more. I started to save up for my future house. I took up swimming, working out, yoga etc.

And guess what. When you are happy you become more attractive, and you attract a different kind of person.

Not only did my single life improve but also my dating and love life.

Most of all, I discovered that I didn’t need anybody else to be happy. I realized that I was responsible for my own happiness and not some man as I had believed for many years.

3. Recognize that your relationship with yourself is the most important one.

I figured that the relationship I have with myself is the only guaranteed relationship I will ever have. Others might come and go, but I can’t ever escape myself.

The quality of the connection you have with yourself will determine the quality of your relationships with others, including romantic relationships. If your relationship with yourself is not happy and healthy, it will be difficult for you to create a healthy and happy relationship with someone else.

Your romantic relationship is only as good as the relationship you have with yourself.

I tackled loneliness first. I started to spend more time in my own company. I scheduled quality time with myself in my calendar. I had Sundays to myself. Solitude and silence became my friends. I wrote a lot, kept a journal and made time for self-reflection and meditation.

These practices helped me dive deeper within myself and I began to feel stronger and more secure within myself. For the first time in my life, I started to enjoy being with myself.

4. Self-love comes first.

If you don’t love yourself, you cannot fully love others and neither can you fully receive love. It took me twenty years to understand what self-love actually is.

And for me it is a practice, not a feeling. It is a practice of choosing myself and what feels right for me.

When you start practicing loving yourself so many things start to change in your life.

Your confidence and self-esteem increase. You have the courage to be your authentic self. You stop looking for approval. You become better at asserting your own needs when it comes to dating. You recognise your own value and you aim higher in love. You have stronger boundaries. You become more selective. These all lead to making better romantic choices and choosing better partners.

Self-love is seriously powerful. I found true love when I started to love and honour myself – and I thought my job was done.

Now that I am in a relationship, I realize that this work never ends. You constantly need to practice self-love. You will find new depths to this practice and experience new aspects of self-love. But to be happy in a relationship you must first love yourself.

5. Find yourself before you find your partner.

To find true love, you need to know your true self. Take some time to explore who you really are. Spend some time in solitude and be prepared to answer some honest questions about yourself.

Question your beliefs, as you may find that some of them are not even yours! What are your needs? What are your dreams? What do you want? What is important to you in life?

Attracting a partner from a space of knowing yourself well usually results in finding someone who values and wants the same from life. When you don’t know who you are, you also cannot know who you want to share your life with.

Finding yourself is also about realizing that you are a whole and complete person. It is about understanding that you are capable of satisfying your own needs and desires. It’s about making your own dreams come true, being comfortable on your own, having a strong relationship with yourself and living your life as a single, proudly and boldly.

When I look back at my single life and all my struggles in love, I now understand that I was searching for love in the wrong way. If I had to do it all again, I would start with a dating detox and getting to know myself first.

Only then you can find your true match and build an amazing romantic relationship with another person.

About Aska Kolton

Aska Kolton helps single women unleash the high-quality woman within so they stop making mistakes in love, start making more empowered romantic choices, and finally attract the quality guy they deserve. Grab a free Love Life Makeover Session with Aska HERE, and download her Get Ready For Love With The Dating Detox Guide HERE, and join her Facebook Group.

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  • Karol

    This post is absolute true.

    I was a serial dater in NYC. After turning 30 and my then so-so relationship ended, I went on a dating detox. A taxi driver told me one evening before I started my detox, “If you are wrong, you will always attract wrong.” I worked on myself for six months, reconnecting with myself, making myself happy, and enjoying being with myself more than ever. The irony was that during my dating detox, although I was not interested in dating anyone, more men than ever pursued me. Anyways, when I came out of my dating detox I felt happier and more whole, and I attracted a higher caliber of men than before. I was also clearer on what I wanted in a partner. I definitely believe the saying, “You attract who you are.”

  • Jamie

    I am in this exact position now, after finding myself at the end of a short term but powerful relationship. I’ve been doing this my entire life, since before I can remember really, and despite often not even liking the men I’m with (or at least feeling a gut instinct after a couple of dates) I allowed them to persue me. Then I forced myself to love the person I was with. That has never not happened to me and I have no idea what it feels like to truly ‘choose’ someone. It appears the later in my twenties I’ve gotten, the worse it’s got. In my most recent break up I go from being on the floor and inconsolable, to feeling like I can take on the world. But as I am the one who is broken up with (as I have no boundaries to do it when it feels right for me, no break up has ever come out of nowhere for me) I feel like there’s something inherently wrong with who I am. I am so loving and giving, I’m kind, generous, empathic, have a career and would say I’m attractive. It is like you say, a detox, or a withdrawal in my case. I’m in the throes of what feels like an addiction. You said that after a few months you met the guy you wanted to be with, but then you also said it was two years? I guess one thing is certain. I have developed skills and I am not completely at square one (my mind likes to think i am, and that I’ll never get there). I just have so much love to give, but maybe I really don’t give it to myself, still my heart remains broken and I want to hope he will come back.

  • Al

    This is so true. I was in 10+ years of failed relationships becoming
    despondent after each one ended. I always felt lonely being single and the priority
    was always to find the right girlfriend. My happiness was dependent on that.
    Instead, I told myself I’d try to be single for at least a year and see what
    happens. I’m almost a whole year being single now (the longest for me), and I’m
    becoming more comfortable and learning what I enjoy. The loneliness has started
    changing into peace and solitude. Finding someone has become background noise-
    I think about it less and less everyday. Someday I might be where you are now,
    knowing yourself well, a whole and complete person. For now I’ll be practicing
    and understanding self love. Thank you for this!

  • Single30

    Great post! We are all trained that you have to be married by a certain age. I am 30. I wish I was married but I have had some kick ass times being single. I learned a lot about myself. I have never felt alone without a man in my life and there are other reasons for that, but I resent the fact in American society where individualism reigns supreme that people are so focused on being married. I would rather be single and happy rather than be in a crappy relationship or being in a bad marriage.

  • Aska Kolton

    music to my ears:-) It makes so much sense now when I look back than it did when I was going through it. I believe I was able to attract teh love of my life only thanks to my dating detox and the inner work I had done:-) so happy for you Karol;-)

  • Aska Kolton

    the way to go darling! stay strong! there is nothing wrong with being single and it is one of the most natural things under the sun, to be with yourself. The conditioning around it is screwed though, that is why so many singles think it is wrong to be single. Wait for the right person and have lots of fun until then:-)

  • Aska Kolton

    sounds like you are on the right path Al! the right person will show up at the right time but now you can keep deepening the relationship with yourself and getting to know the beautiful soul you are;-) no rush. enjoy being with yourself:-)

  • Aska Kolton

    you have answered your own questions in your post Jamie. You need to give love to yourself first, otherwise you will be always overgiving in your relationship and keep breaking up as overgiving kills relationships. Self-love is the first love, then the love for the partner, kids, family, friends.You need to become your priority, not your man/relationship. Then you will be attracting emotionally healthy men and creating happy and lasting relationships. Self-love, stronger boundaries, creating an awesome relationship with yourself and becoming happy within – this is my recipe. And time is not important. I was on the dating detox for 2 yrs because I loved it. But a few months might be enough for you to have some insights which will change your approach to love and relationships. 🙂

  • priya

    Pls help me i am 24 year old girl one year back i had a breakup and i was totaly broken but as the time passed i was feeling okey and now i enterd in a new relationship he loves me i love him also but i feel alone, anxious oftenly i am too scared to be alone so i read on internet for meditation practice and i began to do it and after two -three days i feel more anxious ,sleepless,racing heart,hopelessness,often crying ,racing thoughts ,fear it is so painful for me so i stoped the practice and then i tried another practice to write a journal but i feel the same as my meditation practice side effects i am very sure that i am doing right practice of meditation to attention my breath i am not doing wrong but why i sufferd more when i am in pain i became angry on everyone i feel worst and lost whatever i do i don’t want to feel this way anymore i want to be peaceful and happy i am not able to go through any threapy any medicine nor my family know this i am suffering a lot from inside pls help me pls

  • Rima

    Thanks for the post,
    Is it really that simple? When you finally have found Mr right, you try to retrace the path you walked through to find him. Not everyone who have found Mr /Mrs right haside gone through this. Everyone has a different story, different ways of growing, different lessons to learn. I have not met him yet. When I will (if I ll be still alive when meeting him) I will make a post on the way I would have met Mr right.

  • Karol

    I hope your article inspires lots of people! :))
    Connecting with yourself and your soul is such a beautiful experience. Going hiking, solo travelling, being your own best friend… in the end, you find out that YOU are the one you have been looking for all along.

    This was the quote by Osho that inspired me for my detox, “The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it’s not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person–without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.”

  • Aska Kolton

    What exactly are you afraid of Priya? What about being alone scares you?

  • Aska Kolton

    I wouldn’t call it ‘simple’ as it has take lots of inner work:-) I share my experience but I am very aware that different people walk different paths and learn different lessons;-) I believe you can shorten the path to true love by working on yourself and learning to love yourself.

  • Aska Kolton

    I have always loved this quote;-) I am very happy to hear how you come to the realisation that you were the one you have been looking for. I felt exactly the same one day:-) xxx

  • Teri

    Inspiring words for sure, however what do you say to someone, me, who has been single for over 20 years – on and off looking for The One? It’s like I’m invisible. I’ve watched people who divorced about the same time as me find their perfect soul mate weeks after divorcing and now remarried. I’m having a tough time making sense out of that. I divorced young with a young daughter who was my priority and I didn’t date. Now I’m coming into my “golden years – 57” and convinced I will die alone and it’s really unfair. I’ve soul searched on and off for years, spent time reflecting on myself but always come back to not wanting to finish life out alone. I think I’ve finally come to the realization that love and relationships are not meant to be for me and I need to accept I’ll become the ‘old maid’. I’ll never stop looking I’m sure, but I feel the best years are behind me and what’s the use.

  • Aska Kolton

    Hey Teri, what if you surrender to what is already here? I know you don’t like it and you want a relationship but you being angry with life and focusing on finishing life alone wont help you find a partner. First step on this path to become OK with what is. Later examine your beliefs as they determine what you attract in reality. If you are convinced you will die alone this is what you are going to get. Life on the outside only matches our internal world. Be careful what you think and believe. You can keep looking but if you don’t believe you can find it him it will be very hard to attract him. The work starts within! Feel free to join my FB group for more guidance.

  • justme

    I have been alone for the majority of my 48 years. I dated, but didn’t find my “one”. I strongly believe that it’s better to be with nobody than to be with the wrong body. Having said that, I also believe that love and the people you love is the most important thing in life – and that life is better when shared with someone you love. I fell in love for the first time 10 months ago. It was amazing!!!! Unfortunately, she is just a year out of a 22 year marriage. We flirted and became very close, but never romantic. I knew she needed time to heal before she was ready for another relationship. Just days ago, it became apparent to me that she does not love me, she just likes the attention I give her – which is a lot! I finally got the strength to walk away because it would kill me to see her with someone else, and it was not fun loving without being loved. She wants to remain friends, but I can’t. I am heartbroken, rejected, and paralyzed. I can’t breathe. It took me 48 years to find her and I never felt more certain about anyone or anything. I do not think I will find that again given that it took me 48 years to find her. I was fine being alone before I met her, but now it sucks! I don’t know what to do. 🙁

  • Kathleen Leinweber

    This is JUST what I needed to read right now. I just recently was “ghosted” by my fiancé of 2 years and found out he had lied about his age for the duration of our relationship. I have done a LOT of reflection and realized that I overlooked so many red flags of a non-committal, emotionally abusive man for the fear of being single and “alone.” But the sad reality is that he’s not the first man I’ve dated who have these awful behaviors, but I’m realizing that it’s ME. I’m allowing myself to enter these unfulfilling relationships with emotionally unavailable and broken men because of my own insecurities, instead of loving myself and demanding better, I just settle. And frankly, I shouldn’t be! I’m a young, attractive and passionate surgeon and have a lot of love to give the right man, but I think I just have to love myself first. Thank you for such a great article!