Now Or Never

Why I'm done with dating (at least for a year)

Serial monogamist Raegan Hedley says it's time for her to start getting validation from herself instead of men. For some people, not dating is pretty normal. For Reagan, it's a choice that means so much more.
Raegan Hedley is off dating for a year in favour of solo challenges like snowshoeing. (Submitted)

By Raegan Hedley for Now or Never

I haven't gone on a date in four months, or rather, since my last relationship ended. For some people, that's pretty normal. For me, it's something to be proud of because it means so much more.

To hear Ify Chiwetelu's chat with Raegan Hedley, hit 'listen' above. (Kaj Hasselriis/CBC)

I've dated almost non-stop since I was in high school. I'm now 24. I was never great at relationships to begin with. I didn't like myself, so showing someone else love never came easy. I was able to avoid working on my self-esteem because I almost always had a partner who said nice things to me when I was feeling down and out. At arm's length, I can now see how screwed up and sad that is.

After things didn't work out in my last relationship, I realized I needed to replace the love I was looking for from others with an unshakeable love that comes from within. I felt like it was an opportunity to build myself from the ground up, and I needed to give myself adequate time and space to haul out some tools and get to work.

So I decided to stop dating in 2018.

I had read enough self-help books during relationships to know that I had to be there for myself through the tough stuff, overcome my fears in order to build my confidence, and become my own best friend.

Easier said than done. This means no more searching for cute guys on Instagram. No more caving and saying "yes" to a date after saying "no" four times. No more swiping because I feel sorry for myself for not having plans on a Saturday night. No more going on lukewarm dates because I want to feel attractive and desired. No more looking to another person to dictate my identity because I didn't have one.

Raegan Hedley has already checked off solo snowshoeing from her bucket list. (Submitted)

I had a bucket list that I wrote two years ago that I kept my on my fridge, but I had only crossed one thing off so far. It really wasn't that wild. It included realistic things like traveling to Italy, learning how to ride a motorcycle, running a half-marathon, skydiving, and going white water rafting.

I decided to take my so-called bucket list and turn it into a list of goals for 2018. Things I could do for myself, and by myself (for the most part), in order to reconnect with myself. After all, I knew I was going to have a lot of free time.

Words cannot describe how differently I already feel about myself. I had a moment recently where I was mentally tearing myself down and a clear voice in my head came out of nowhere and said:

'You are worthy. You are more than this. You are loved.'

I cried tears of joy. I've never had encouraging thoughts come to me so clearly and effortlessly. It was a turning point, a moment of hope after years of feeling like it wasn't possible to love myself. It was the kind of moment that I know will help keep me going for the rest of the year.

Letting go of the act of looking for love has been harder than I care to admit. There have been many lonely moments so far that have almost broke me, but I've learned that's when I have to lean on myself the hardest.

To hear Reagan's full interview with Ify, click the 'listen' button above.