Lisa Lo Paro
July 12, 2015 7:15 am

In October of last year, I was deep in a dating hiatus. For about a year, I had totally ignored the possibility of being in a relationship. I haven’t been on a date in that time, haven’t cared about meeting anyone, and instead focused all my time and energy on the small things that made me happy: traveling, writing, building my career, cementing my friendships. Mostly, it was great. But after a while, realizing that I wasn’t interested in the whole romantic process made me feel insecure.  I thought I had to date, that it was weird that I didn’t. I saw my friends getting excited about dates, or hitting major milestones with their boyfriends, and I thought, “Meh. I’m good.” What was wrong with me?

Then, Taylor Swift’s 1989 came out. As a dedicated Swiftie, I bought the album at like 12:01 a.m. the day is dropped. And when I heard one particular song, I felt all my anxiety about my instinctual dating hiatus ebb away. In soft tones that made me feel like I was on a moonlit beach, Taylor crooned, “When I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe. And by morning, gone was every trace of you, I think I am finally clean…”

The song chronicles those months after a relationship ends, when you’re finally over someone and you don’t feel affected by it anymore. But then she sings, “Now that I’m clean I’m never gonna risk it.” And that really hit home for me. She spoke about her single life as being more important to her than any guy. She placed her own emotional health above pursuing a romantic relationship. Boom.

Because of Taylor Swift’s lyrics, I placed my singleness in another perspective. I thought about it not like it was weird that I hadn’t dated anyone worthwhile in a long time, but rather, like my pickiness stemmed from the need to make sure whoever I brought into my life would enhance it, not make it worse. I don’t want to risk my happiness for a relationship I know will not last. I learned that happiness comes from within.

Taylor sang about the ending of a relationship, but she also narrated everything I was feeling about my single status. I felt so protective of my independence and my peaceful break from dating. I felt “clean.” Unencumbered. Free. Why should I risk that right now if I feel like I don’t want to? Why force myself into a situation I don’t want? I have my whole life to date and be in a relationship, if that’s what I want.

I stopped being insecure about my prolonged hiatus from dating, and started to be proud of it. I had obviously foregone romance for a good reason: I couldn’t justify dating someone for the sake of it, just to “stay in the game,” so to speak. While there are times when it’s better to put yourself out there and let yourself have experiences and learn from them, this was not the time for me. I’m not sorry for putting my happiness and my feeling of contentment first, before taking chances. I needed that time to enjoy being “clean.”

Months later, I’m still on this prolonged dating hiatus, but every time I think about meeting someone new, I’m more excited than I have been in a long time. I realized how stupid it was to let these silly societal expectations dictate how I live my life…so what if other people think it’s weird that I haven’t been on a date in a while? Taylor Swift agrees with me! If she can be clean, so can I. And I won’t risk that again.

I’ve come to realize that we all need time to ourselves, to take care of our own lives before we decide to bring someone else into it. And if and when we do begin a relationship, it’ll be that much better for starting off with a clean slate.

Once again, thanks T. Swizz.

Related:

Taylor Swift just gave $50,000 (and a special note) to an 11-year-old fan in need
Taylor Swift’s bestie squad crashed her London concert

[Photo via iStock/Getty]

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