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Sorry for the inundation of vacation photos, guys. (See Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.)

No wait. I’m not sorry at all!

photoI just got back from a trip to beautiful Belize. I travel a lot for work, but this trip was 100 percent pleasure and zero percent business, unless you consider trying the soup of the day as my “business.” I did take that particular task very seriously.

Work has been busy lately. Life has been busy. I wanted this break. And I honestly needed the rest it brought. It’s the kind of rest that can come only from laying under an umbrella on the beach and reading a great novel, letting the salty ocean breeze turn the pages for you. (If breezes could turn Kindle pages, I suppose.) The kind of rest that comes from swimming underwater across a long, crisp, blue swimming pool. The kind of rest that comes from no alarm clocks, no email, no meetings, no deadlines — no worries.

The only stress I experienced involved chasing lizards out of my bedroom, speed walking down long piers to catch water taxis, and running away from one overly aggressive iguana.

photo-2I’m back in the real world now. The work load is the same as before, but I’m approaching it refreshed, anew. My mind is clear, my body is stronger, my focus isn’t as scattered.

Sometimes you just need a break.

Funny thing is this happens a lot with dating as well. It can be so exhausting — mentally, emotionally, physically. As we get older, we are told we have to try harder, to work at it. We need to put ourselves out there. We need to make it happen. Our eggs are dying! Hurry up!

About a year and a half ago, I felt I was reaching the breaking point with online dating. I was on a couple sites at a time and doing my part to make it worth my dollar. I was staying up late to check my matches, initiating communication, meeting men for coffee or dinner — basically working my butt off.

Over time — for whatever reason — it grew stale. The process started to annoy me rather than excite me. I became more cynical, less hopeful. In short, I needed a break.

So I let my subscriptions expire and decided to “consciously uncouple” for a while. In my head I thought that meant six months, but when that rolled around, I still wasn’t ready. Now here I am, 18 months later and I’m finally ready to give it another go.

What I’m learning is that taking a break is okay.

Finding love isn’t a race. Viewing it in that light is not only unnecessary, but also dangerous. Yes, I want to find somebody to love, somebody to marry, somebody to start a family with. Yes, I have a better chance of doing so if I actually try to meet new people. Fine, I get it. But if I’m not at my best, then I’m not going to meet the right person anyway. If I’m down on dating, ignoring that emotion and pushing through isn’t really helping anyone. Dating isn’t a sports game.

I’m not suggesting an all-out, months-long Debbie Downer party. But if some part of dating isn’t sitting well with you, feel the freedom to take a step back. It’s okay. You’re not going to die alone if you take a few months off of online dating or bar hopping or church singles events or work mixers.

photo-1From my own experience, you may find the time away refreshing. It may help you discover more of who you are and what you’re looking for. Always remain open to meeting new people, even in the interim. But enjoy the time off from “trying.”

So here I go again — sorting through matches, reading profiles, sometimes smiling and sometimes rolling my eyes.

But am I starting to enjoy it again?

You better Belize it!