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When we find ourselves at the end of a relationship, it’s common for friends and family— in an attempt to soothe and console us— to suggest that we jump right back into the dating game and find someone new. They say things like, “There are other fish in the sea,” and “The world is filled with plenty of guys out there ready to treat you like a queen,” in hopes that their words will rescue you from the feelings of sorrow and loss that you might be struggling with. And while their words may be true and becoming romantically involved with another person may temporarily take your mind off of the emptiness that you’re feeling in your heart, what happens if (or when) you and your rebound guy split? Are you then going to replace the rebound guy with another man as your support system cheerfully shouts, “On to the next,” from the sidelines? And exactly when do you slow down long enough to actually deal with all of the trauma that you’re repeatedly subjecting your heart to?

As women… even more so as black women, we pride ourselves in being strong, fearless and unbreakable. We endure pressures and hardships that are sometimes hard to imagine for those who are on the outside looking in. We’re taught that life is tough and often times unfair, but you grin and bear it and most of all, you never let folks see you sweat. While this is sometimes the motivation that keeps us pushing when the going gets tough, people are rarely ever around to say, “Hey, it’s okay to admit that you’re hurting,” “It’s okay to take time to grieve” and “Taking time to yourself in order to get past this doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.”

The dating hiatus or man-cation if you will, often bears a negative connotation. Some perceive it as a period when bitter or scorned women wallow in their misery, hating their exes. Others believe it to be a post-break up period when a woman desperately hopes and prays that her ex will come back to her. But in actuality, it’s nothing more than taking a simple break from dating and relationships. It can be a time of healing, self-discovery, self-reflection, emotional rest and personal revelation— none of which are offered by hooking up with a rebound guy. This doesn’t mean you have to spend your days propped in front of a television watching Tyler Perry flicks and indulging in a tub of Häagen-Dazs. It can mean that you’re using the time that you once spent with your significant other to spoil yourself, catch up with old friends, improve on a skill, pick up a new hobby, etc. Best of all, if utilized correctly, a dating hiatus can greatly assist you from bringing old baggage into your next relationship.

I remember when I first reported on Love & Hip Hop Atlanta star MiMi Faust’s new relationship. We didn’t learn about her relationship via some cute little subliminal message on Twitter or some barely visible photograph on Instagram with a vague message attached. She wasn’t spotted cozying up to him in the dim lit corner of some Atlanta night club. They weren’t seen strolling down a popular shopping strip hand-in-hand. Instead, the world learned that MiMi Faust and Stevie J were no longer an item and that she’d found someone new during an über messy interview with popular Atlanta radio station, V-103. The occasion for the interview, you ask? Of all things, she was there to deny allegations made by her daughter’s father and ex-man, Stevie J, that he was granted full custody of their daughter Eva due to her alleged negligent and substance-abusing ways. About 58 seconds into the interview, MiMi alleges that Stevie is only upset because she’s moved on to someone new [enters Nikko].

What was more alarming than the fact that MiMi already had her new guy smack-dab in the middle of her baby daddy drama, was that her break-up with Stevie appeared to be so fresh that most weren’t even aware that the two had split. It seemed like a recipe for relationship disaster, and if you were able to catch the last few episodes from this season of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, you know that it was. In what seemed like no time, the relationship fell apart with MiMi looking like a lunatic and Nikko referring to her as “damaged goods” in a club full of onlookers.

This of course, is an exaggerated example, but the underlying message is the same. Jumping from relationship to relationship rarely allows time for healing, reflection, emotional rest or anything else other than a new body to keep you warm at night. Slapping a bandage over a physical wound that requires disinfecting, medical attention and treatment won’t make it heal fast. Shouldn’t the same go for emotional wounds as well? A dating hiatus isn’t a prison sentence. It’s not a sign of weakness. It doesn’t mean you’re in denial. It means that you love yourself enough to make sure that you’re emotionally healthy before you expose your heart to another person. It means that you need a minute to yourself. It means a ton of things, but being weak is not one of them. Honestly, which would you consider to be more strong: the woman brave enough to face her emotions and tackle them head on or the woman who decides not to deal with them by drowning her sorrows on the affections of another?

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @jazminedenise.

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