The Value in Being Alone on Purpose (Whether Single or in a Relationship)

March 23, 2021

I just wanted to get really comfortable being alone without searching for someone or something outside of myself to fill a void”

Today’s episode I am  touching on a topic that I get a lot of questions from my relationship coaching clients about, and those are “How long should I stay single?”, “When is it ok to start dating again?”, “Do I need to stay single for a certain period of time before getting involved with someone again?”.  These are all very normal and valid questions especially after you’ve gone through a break up.  

So today we’re talking about;

  • 2 different times in my life when I purposely chose to remain completely alone and single
  • How you can cultivate the power being comfortable alone
  • Lessons that can be learned by consciously choosing to stay single and embrace it.
  • And so much more

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Work with Me

Interested in working with me? I’ve opened up new spaces for 1:1 clients! Book a one-time breakthrough session, or we can work together for a longer period if you’re looking for additional support. Let’s chat.

References from today’s episode:

Esther Perel & her books Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs

Episode #120, Listening to Intuition & Gut Instinct

Episode #148: Alone and Lonely Are Not Synonymous

Episode #250: 4 Signs You’re Progressing in Life Even if it Doesn’t Feel Like It

Episode #249: Developing the Capacity for Unconditional Love

Episode #248: Grief, Love & Why One Cannot Exist Without the Other

Episode #117: The 9 Year Affair: Lessons in Infidelity

Episode #133: Stepping Out of The Chaos of Your Life & Allowing Ease with Emma Tait

Episode #139: The Transformative Power Of Breathwork

Episode #203: Insecurities, Redefining Masculinity & Overcoming Pornography Addiction with Kieran Hedley

Episode #194: Living an Energetically Balanced Life with Alea Love of Spiritual Shit Podcast

Episode #239: Communication is the Lubrication for Relationships with Renelle Nelson

Episode #136: Communication, Betrayal, Infidelity & Self Esteem with Renelle Nelson

Questions?  Comments? Want to connect and chat about this episode? You can email me at, or DM me over on Instagram @emilygoughcoach or Facebook at Emily Gough Coaching.  I would absolutely love to connect with you and thank you for listening in real life and here any takeaways you had from this or other episodes!.  It makes me day to see you listening to the podcast and fills me up with pure joy. Seriously.  See you on the ‘gram!

If Instagram and Facebook aren’t your jam, send me a good old fashioned email!


Find Emily Online:

Emily Gough Coaching

Room to Grow Podcast

Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to Episode 263 of the Room to Grow. I’m Emily Gough, a human connection coach, speaker, and mental health advocate with an insatiable sense of curiosity and adventure, always asking more questions and using the power of stories to teach, learn and grow. It’s about allowing for room to grow. And this podcast focuses on three main pillars: human connection, personal growth, and freedom. We cover topics like relationships, and cultivating genuine supportive connections with ourselves and others, speaking your truth, shattering personal barriers, radical self-acceptance, and courageously leaning into your skill sets. Whether it’s a solo episode, or bringing on highly curated guests with incredible stories, experiences, and expertise to share, we’re leaning in and taking the entire idea of growth to the next level, all while still covering the uncomfortable topics that many of us like to avoid, there’s always more room to grow. Let’s do this.

Hello, hello, welcome back to the Room to Grow podcast, Emily here. And today we’re going to be talking about the value of being alone on purpose. And this applies whether you are single, or whether you are in a relationship, and I’m going to approach it from both angles here. So the first, the first there, I’m going to divide this episode almost in two. So the first part that I’m going to cover is two different times in my life, where I have remained single and alone, completely 100% on purpose for an extended period of time longer than, like, purposely longer than most people I talked to potentially would maybe want to stay single, but I did it fully intentionally because I felt really strongly that I needed to become more comfortable being on my own. So I’m going to go into all of that. And then I’m also going to talk about how you can take those skills and how you can cultivate the power of being comfortable alone, while in a relationship as well while in a healthy, thriving relationship and how important that is. So these are things that you can do even if you are currently in a relationship. And if you are not currently in a relationship, these are things that you can maybe consider before you decide to get into another relationship as well. 

I just think that there’s so much power in this, and this is something I’ve been talking to my relationship coaching clients about, because this question can come up a huge amount and in different forms. A lot of times, I’ll get questions around, you know, how long should I stay single before I start dating again? There will maybe be some questioning around Do I need to stay single at all before, before I get involved with somebody else? questions around what do you know, what type of work should I be doing in terms of like the whole doing the work thing when I am single? There are so many questions that can arise around this. So I’m going to start with the two different times in my life when I have purposely chosen to be single for an extended period of time, I’m going to explain what I did during those timeframes. Why both of those sort of came about in the first place, and then how that translated into how I then show up in relationships as well. And these are things that can absolutely be applied. Either way, whether you were single, or in a relationship. 

Okay. So the first time that I really decided to just stop dating, just completely swear off dating altogether, but not in the way that you know, I’ve never dating anyone again, it was just a very conscious choice. I was, I was about 21, somewhere around there around 21. And honestly, I was just, I was fed up with several years of making incredibly poor choices with who I decided to date. If I’m remembering the exact timeline, I think that I had just broken up with someone, I believe. I mean, that part isn’t surprising. But I think I had just broken up with somebody. And I had just ever since I had started dating. In my late teens, like mid to late teens, I had just made a poor choice after poor choice after poor choice, for the most part. You know, there were a couple, you know, good guys thrown in there. But I wasn’t in a space to be receptive to them. And then the people that I did end up dating, were usually just not good for me, like at all. And I was annoyed. I was getting very cynical. I was in a sort of, I’m angry at the world phase after my parents divorced too. I didn’t really realize until after I’d kind of moved through that phase a little bit more just how angry I was. I didn’t even really consciously notice it too much at the time, but I really started to become aware of it. And I was very cynical, I was getting very cynical. And I thought to myself, you know, I’m 21 Is it normal to be this cynical at this age, that thought actually crossed my mind at one point. And I also have to be clear here, like I, when I made the decision to stop seeing anyone, I didn’t put a time limit on, I trusted that I would know when I would feel ready to start dating again. So it wasn’t like, Okay, I’m swearing off men for x period of time. And to be clear, I’m speaking very heteronormative terms here, just because that’s, that’s my personal experience. But any of this can be applied no matter what type of relationship you are in or no matter what type of relationship you want to be in. Okay. So I didn’t put a time limit on it at all, I just thought to myself, you know, this, this is not okay. I am annoyed at myself, I’m annoyed that all of these, it seems like I keep attracting the same type over and over again, I keep getting disappointed, I keep getting burned. And I’m not okay with being treated like garbage, essentially. And this was not being modeled for me like there, I did not have, you know, girlfriends that we’re choosing to purposely remain single, I did not have guy friends who were purposely choosing to do this, this was something that I just felt really strongly about for myself. And you know, particularly at that, that age, like a 21. In University, this is what most people are running around dating everyone’s hookup culture is running rampant, all of those things. So it was, it was pretty unusual for somebody to make that choice, like at that age. And under those particular circumstances, you know, I was living away from home, all of those things. And to be clear, I was not nearly as into personal development work, then, like, again, that simply just wasn’t really being modeled to me by most people in my life at that age. And that was also my dating myself here, that was also kind of pre-Instagram, Facebook was the thing, listen I’m not that old. Facebook was the thing. But Instagram. I was also a late bloomer to Instagram, but I don’t think Instagram came out until a few years later. So Instagram, I feel like has really started to breed this, this culture of personal development with a lot of like, really incredible therapists and that have come online and become really well known. Just all kinds of people who are deep into the personal development field, I feel like Instagram has really been a huge part of, of exploding that culture a little bit, even just the coaching space, in general, it was not really much of a thing when I was 21. That was, what, like 12-13 years ago. So it just wasn’t the same as it is now. None of this was really being modeled to me, I just felt really pulled to be on my own. And it just, you know, I didn’t have to really turn people away exactly when it came to dating. Because at that stage, because I was basically walking around with a giant flashing fuck you, neon flashing light stamped on my forehead, to any man who might even think about approaching me. I don’t think that I was even fully conscious of how anti-men I was at that point. But I really, I think I was like radiating those vibes. Like Don’t, don’t come near me. Don’t even think about asking me out, I want nothing to do with any of you. And, you know, occasionally if I did get asked for my number or something like that, I just declined. And, but to be honest, it wasn’t, it wasn’t hard for me to do that. I really, I had zero interest in engaging with any, any male from a romantic standpoint, at that point, I was so annoyed with the men that I’ve been dating. And I was already starting to recognize at that age that I was the one who was ultimately responsible for choosing them. And that I clearly had my own work to do. Because I had started to figure out, Okay, I am the common denominator here. I am the one who’s become the thread throughout all of these issues. So clearly I need to look inside myself a little bit to figure this out. And my only real goal with taking this time to myself was to be 100% comfortable and okay with being alone on my own. Not feeling like I was always searching outside of myself for someone else to fulfill me or to make me happy. And I ended up doing this for a full year. No men, I mean like guy friends, yes, but But no, no romantic connections of any kind. And in terms of what I did during that time, like, Yeah, I did some journaling and introspective work, but mostly I just wanted to get really comfortable being alone without searching for someone or something outside of myself to fill a void. I didn’t want to feel like, like, I was always on the hunt, like on the lookout for somebody, I was just tired of that bullshit. And I was watching so many of my friends do the same thing. And I was like, No, this is this is not what I want like I need to be okay. In my own skin, I need to be comfortable in my own skin. So, and again, I just didn’t have nearly as many resources or tools as I do now, like not even close. I had not done any therapy really at that point. None of that. So yeah, I would do some journaling and stuff. But I didn’t even really have much in terms of journaling prompts or anything as I would just write occasionally if something came to me, but I was not doing really focused, dedicated inner healing work. Like that was not how this was going. I was not equipped to do any of that, really, at that time. Other than just what I was teaching myself. I did decide that I was going to go backpacking through Europe by myself for a month as well. I didn’t even take a cell phone with me. I think I’ve mentioned that on another podcast episode. Why am I dating myself so much? Okay, does anyone who is of my generation, I’m what generation am I? I don’t even know. I don’t think I’m a millennial. What am I, Zed, zee, I don’t know what I am. I’m 34. For the record. If anyone wants to figure that out for me, let me know you can tell me. But I don’t know if anyone else remembers the cell phones that were the big thing. Then was the Motorola like razor. So I had one of those I had the Motorola razor and a lot of people still have like the flip phones and stuff. Oh, my God, I sound like 1000. So I had one, but at that, at that time, it was frankly just gonna be kind of a pain in the ass to take it with me to Europe, because it wasn’t nearly as accessible in terms of the data plans and stuff, I was gonna have to figure out this whole thing like it. It just, it just seemed too complicated. And there were things like internet cafes and everything else. That was still a huge thing then. So I was like, it’s no big deal. I didn’t even take a laptop with me. I took no technology with me. Which is crazy to think about now like crazy. So I had no GPS, no one can text me, nothing. And I went off by myself, originally, my best friend was supposed to come with me. And then she couldn’t make it. So I went anyway. And I remember, I didn’t tell my mom for a few weeks that I was going to be going by myself because I knew she was going to lose her mind. Sure enough. When I told her I was still going by myself. She’s like, what? That was a whole situation. Yeah, she was basically having a heart attack when I told her that I was going alone. But I figured it out. I did it I went, I went for a month by myself and not a single country I was in had English as the main speaking language. I went to what four? Four different countries, I think I did meet up with an old friend at one point briefly, but that was it. I was on my own for four weeks. And I loved it. And I learned so much about myself, I felt like that single month of traveling alone. In fact, that single month of traveling alone came very close to the end of my year of being on my own. And that I felt like I learned more about myself in that single month than I had in the previous 10 or 11 months. And it was transformative. I just felt so empowered and so confident like, I can handle things as I can, I can handle this, I can go to foreign countries on the other side of the world, and navigate my way around with no technology, no one there to hold my hand, no one to even speak the same language as me. And not only can I survive, but I can thrive. It was such a cool experience. And I’m so incredibly grateful that I did that. That also I’d never travel alone before anywhere, either. So that was huge. And I just I really recognized that if I could get super comfortable being alone. And this is sort of the theme like throughout that year, not just on the trip. But if I could get super comfortable being alone, it will be a lot easier to choose a suitable partner rather than just going with anyone who came along and showed interest in me. Because there’s a difference between being chosen and doing the choosing. And a lot of times a lot of us will just sit around waiting for somebody to choose us. And we then almost remove ourselves as being one of the conscious parties in that decision. It’s a big decision to get involved with somebody. That person is going to have an enormous influence on you And an enormous impact on you and your life and your choices and all of these things. It’s a huge decision. And yet, so many of us just sit around waiting for somebody to show interest in us. And then if they show interest in us, it’s like, that’s enough for us. That’s not how it should be, you need to be doing the choosing as much as you are being chosen. It has to be much more equal than that. 

So that was that the first time I did it, 21 didn’t really have many tools, didn’t really have any assistance. Nothing was really being modeled for me. I was just like, Listen, I am getting very cynical. I’ve dated a whole string of guys that I am not okay with, they have not treated me well. But I am the common denominator here. And I’m tired of sitting around for somebody to choose me. And I need to choose myself. So I made that choice. And I loved it, I felt incredibly empowered. And I felt so much more confident. And then there just kind of came a moment where I was like, You know what, I’m ready to date again. And it was just sort of that was also a huge win, just being able to listen to that intuition. 

So the second time was after my nine-year relationship, and I feel like I always just reference this episode, but I’m never sure if there can always be new people coming into the podcast who haven’t heard the story. So for anyone who wants the full details on that whole situation about the nine-year, the nine years of infidelity, and all that, you can reference Episode 117, it will be listed in the show notes. And obviously, this was much different. I was older, I was 32. And, you know, this was a very traumatic relationship, particularly obviously, the ending of it, because the rug was ripped out from under me, my entire life fell apart in a split second. And I burned my entire personal life, and a lot of my professional life to the ground in a very short period of time, and then decided to sell my house get rid of virtually everything I owned, and pick up and move to the farthest corner of the globe, I could go in Bali for an indefinite length of time. So, but as soon as that relationship ended, I knew immediately that I would not be dating anyone for quite some time. And there were, are a few reasons for that. Again, I didn’t put a time limit on it. But I suspected I was a little older, wiser by this point, at least, I would like to think so. I didn’t put a time limit on it. But I suspected that I would need at least a year, potentially even two years, depending on how things went. And the reason for that was that I just refused to project unhealed trauma into my next relationship, especially it since it was such an incredibly traumatic relationship. But I didn’t want to put that on to someone else, or on to another relationship that could potentially have that could have the potential to be an incredibly beautiful, healthy relationship. But not if I came into it with all of my own bullshit and baggage that I hadn’t dealt with. And to be clear here. None of us are ever fully healed. 

Okay, I’ve talked about this so many times, and I will continue to say this. A romantic relationship in particular holds a mirror up to us. It triggers us. It, it brings things up in us that we may be thought we’d already dealt with, that we thought we had healed. We’re like, No, no, I know No. What, what is this bullshit coming up, I already dealt with you. And it can come up in new ways. And you just keep peeling back more layers. That can sound exhausting but in the context of a healthy relationship. It’s incredibly beautiful. And it can allow you to grow and stretch yourself in such incredible, amazing ways, and force you to grow into the kind of human being that you never realized you were capable of becoming. And I wanted to make sure that I was doing as much work on myself as I could before I ever got to that point because I wanted to be fair to my future partner. And I wanted to be fair to myself, and to take the time to really grieve the relationship like that was a very necessary part of that healing work was grieving the life that I not only had but the life that I thought I was going to have in the future with that person too. So there and I was also grieving the person that I was in that previous relationship, you know, there’s always these different entities, like, there’s, there’s, whenever we have some sort of breakup or like a fracture of the relationship, we’re grieving ourselves. And the person that we were in that relationship, we’re grieving the relationship itself, that that is its own entity. And we’re also grieving the loss of the person that we were in a relationship with. There are so many layers to this. And it ended up being so after, after the the nine-year relationship, and ended up being basically about a year and a half before I got into another relationship, give or take something like that. And there was much more intentional work that went into that period of time. So I was working with a therapist throughout, I still do talk to my therapist. In fact, right now, I talked to my therapist every other week. Because I can’t, my therapist is licensed here in Canada, but if I go outside of Canada, even though it would be a virtual meeting, she’s not licensed to speak to me when I’m out of the country. So when I’m here, I really take advantage of that, so that I can really, like do some deeper work with her well, while it’s available to me. And I can always, you know, work with somebody else. And I have other people that I can reach out to, but I really like working with her because she, this is just a random tidbit aside, she actually started as my, as our couples counselor, for me and the man I was in a nine-year relationship with. So she worked with us as a couple, we went to her kind of just for maintenance, to be honest, for the last year of our relationship, and then she saw me through the breakup of that relationship. And then she has seen me grow since. And every once in a while it’s funny, she’ll, she’ll make a comment about, like, what a completely different human I am. And it’s really interesting to see that from her perspective because she knew me, she’s known me now and in different contexts. So it’s really cool to hear that and to have that growth kind of reflected back to us sometimes, this is why I recommend things like journaling, and not, you know, you don’t have to like journal every day or anything like that I don’t journal every day. But when things come up, it can be a really great idea to just jot some things down sometimes. Because that can almost be a really beautiful marker of your own growth. When you go back and look at it, you’re like damn, like, I’m not the same person who wrote this, you know, three months ago, six months ago, however, however long, and that can actually give you a lot of confidence just to see how far you’ve come to. And there, there might be certain people in your lives that have seen you through really like major transitions, and they can maybe see the growth in you more than you can in yourself too. But throughout this kind of like your year and a half-ish after the nine-year relationship. I was also working with a relationship coach. So I’ve got all kinds of podcast episodes because I’ve had a lot of the people on the podcast who have helped me through my experiences. So Emma is her name, imitate, She’s incredible. She’s my relationship coach. I’ve had her on the podcast. She’s amazing. I got really into breathwork with my dear friend Sarah Silverstein. She’s also been on the podcast. All of these episodes will be referenced in the show notes for you. I highly recommend every single one of them. They’re incredible humans, meditation. This took different forums and with different humans, but one of them is my friend, Kieran Headley. He’s awesome. So he and I connected in Bali. And he also did this really cool waterfall adventure thing that I wanted him with, that also involved meditation. It was really, really fun. He’s been on the podcast, he’s had me on his podcast as well. So did energy work, a variety that sounds very nondescript like that, that doesn’t really describe what energy work is. But when you’re in Bali, in particular, you’ll hear that that term being thrown around a lot, you’ll ask somebody what they do, and they’re like, oh, energy work, and you’re like, Yeah, okay. It’s just kind of standard there. So, that can come in a variety of different forms. But my, just my beautiful, beautiful friend Alea. She’s so amazing. I actually just had a session with her virtually a couple of weeks ago because she’s awesome. So she came on the podcast as well. Alea Lovely. She also has a fantastic podcast called Spiritual Shit, I highly recommend it. And there were a handful of other things too. So there was much more intentional work being done throughout this timeframe because I had so many more tools at my disposal. And I will also say there’s also kind of like an *asterisk* here. Bali just happened to be a really incredible place to do healing because there are just things that are available there that are not typically available, potentially in like your ad for your average sort of westernized, developed nation. However, a lot of those things are available virtually. So it just happened that because I was involved, I got to do a lot of those things in person, you can still do most of those things, it’s just you just have to search out virtually instead. But we’re already now living in a much more virtual world than ever. So there are doors that are wide open that never would have been before. So you can certainly access a lot of these things. And I was, of course, like, very privileged to have the resources to pay for these types of things as well. I never ever take that for granted. But you can also find a lot of these things online for free or for low cost as well. Things like breathwork meditation, like, there’s so many different things that you can do that can be really transformative out of low cost as well. So if you seek it out, it can come to you, too.

But you know, it’s interesting, I was speaking to one of my clients, and he was asking me questions about if people approach you, what do you say, if you’re sort of in this headspace of not wanting to be with anyone, and you know, in the year and a half, following the nine-year relationship, I just kind of felt dead a little bit. In terms of any type of romantic interest in anyone, I felt numb, I had absolutely no interest in anyone, I’m pretty sure that my dream man could have liked, landed in front of me. And I would have looked right through him, like, I would have chatted with him as a friend. But that would have been it like I had no interest at all. And I really feel that emotional availability is something of an energetic thing. Because what reminds me of this was there, there was a sex and city episode years ago, where Carrie is one of the women described being available, being emotionally available as being like a taxi cab with your light turned on, indicating that you’re ready to date. And that analogy has always really stuck with me because I really think it’s true. And I’ve had other people say this to me as well. But it’s like when you decide that you’re ready to date, it’s like the universe knows, like the universe, then it’s like these opportunities start opening up to you that were very closed before. 

And it’s funny, because a few days before I left Bali, was right before the pandemic in March 2020. And I had already been planning on leaving then, but I wasn’t, I thought I was still gonna be traveling. After that. It’s obvious that didn’t end up happening. But a few days before I left Bali, I had dinner with some girlfriends, and I was like, I’m ready, I’m finally ready. And they had seen me through, you know, quite a transition as well, because most of them had, we’d all been sort of part of the same community since I had arrived in Bali, eight months earlier. And they were very aware of everything I’d been kind of figuring out navigating and that I didn’t want to date I had no interest in dating at all. And it was so funny. Like, right before I left, I was like I ready, I finally feel ready, like I am I ready I’m good to go. And it’s so funny because as soon as I got back to Canada, a guy had been introducing, I’d been introduced to by mutual friends, we’d been chatting sort of off and on for a couple of months, he reached out started talking to me a lot more and after a few months, that ended up turning into something more serious. So it was just so funny that it really is an energetic thing. This idea of emotional availability, there’s definitely a role to be played in terms of how we feel on the inside. And listen, I’m not saying that you might there can also be instances where you don’t necessarily feel ready. But the right person, the dream man, the dream woman, whatever lands in front of you, and you’re like, Huh, like that, maybe I want to give this a shot like this, this really feels worth it to me. But I want to also make a note that there can be fear and scarcity. Sometimes that happens when we think to ourselves like, Oh my god, what if the right person comes along and I miss them because I’m just trying to figure out how to be better at being alone. And I’m going to miss this opportunity. That’s so rooted in scarcity and that’s so rooted in this, I believe to be a very mistaken idea that there is only one human walking the entire globe. Who is the right person for you. I don’t believe in the one. I think that there are multiple of the ones for us and that it’s a matter of timing and all different things. 

There are so many different things that can come into play here. And that there isn’t just one human who walks the earth, who is the right person for you, I really don’t believe that. And that is part of coming at things from a little bit more of an abundance mindset. That can be easier said than done. That could be absolutely easier said than done. But I really do think that part of this process of being more comfortable alone, teaches you to learn to listen to your intuition, it also helps you to notice the red flags more quickly, and people because you start to get much more clear on what you value. And it gives you an opportunity and a space to start showing up with the values that you’re looking for in someone else, you want the one to become the one and then finding the one, whoever that one is for you is going to become a lot easier. Because the one that you are seeking is probably right, if they’re the one, they’re looking for somebody who has very similar values, to the values that you are looking for in somebody else. So if you are looking for values and somebody else, but you weren’t showing up that way yourself, that’s a problem. And the one is a good way to be interested if your values don’t match up with their values, right. So if you want the one, if you want to find the one, you have to start showing up as the one for yourself, before anybody else comes along. And this period of time where you take to, to heal, and to be beyond your own, it helps you to explore your own patterns as well. And to start to really notice the things that come up over and over and over again for you. And to start to really take a close look at those things and to address them head-on. It gives you space to figure out what you have been willing to tolerate, up until this point that you will not tolerate going forward from yourself or from other people. And learning to set those boundaries.It gives you the space to take time to be introspective to reflect you know to notice some of those patterns, as I said before, and to also hear your own voice, like really starting to tune into the signals that our body is giving us all the time. And listening, learn to listen to your gut literally like listening to your intuition. I did an entire episode on that back on episode 120. And I really recommend checking it out. Because this is something that I think so many of us are seeking more of at this point, is really starting to try to learn to tune out all of the outside voices and all the outside noise. We live in a very noisy world to go inward and figure out what it is that we really want and need. And it allows you time to question like, how are you going to show up in the world? How do you want to show up in the world? Who do you want to become because we date at the value of our own self-worth? So whatever your self-worth is, that idea of a related romantic relationship is a mirror again, the person that you choose will likely have a similar sense of self-worth to you. 

So if you’re looking at the other point, the person pointing fingers, you know, saying you clearly don’t value yourself or like there are red flags coming up, where you can see that maybe they don’t have super fantastic self-worth. That requires a huge amount of compassion as well. But it also requires a lot of compassion for yourself. Because that is likely reflecting back to you some things that you need to examine from within. And, and again, I’m gonna say this, you do not need to be fully healed. That is not a thing. No one is ever fully healed. But you do not need to be fully healed before you start dating someone new. That is a complete myth. But it also further perpetuates this idea that you’re broken somehow and that you need fixing. If you fall into this trap of believing and there’s a lot of people that will argue this, that you have to be fully healed before you date anybody else before you ever even get into another relationship. it perpetuates the idea that you’re broken somehow and that you need fixing and that you are not deserving of a healthy relationship. That is total bullshit. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Okay, especially because, as I said before, within the context of a healthy relationship you can do. There’s so much healing that can take place within that container as well. And I fully recognize and feel strongly about the value of being single for the sake of doing the inner work and, and learning more about yourself, and being comfortable and content in your own company without requiring being in a relationship to give those things to you. I think that’s really powerful. But there’s also no time limit on this, like, Yes, I happen to take a year at 21. And I happened to take, give or take a year and a half, it after, after a nine-year relationship, but there are no rules to this, like, some people might only need a few weeks, a few months, whatever that looks like, it can look wildly different. Maybe you need longer, maybe you need two full years, that’s okay. That every single person is going to be so I’m just using myself purely from an example standpoint here. But that is there are no hard and fast rules about this whatsoever.

Relationships are all about nuance. I say this all the time. There is no room for four extremely rigid black and white ways of thinking when it comes to relationships. But to me, a huge part of a healthy relationship is two people coming together who want to be together, they don’t need each other. And they don’t depend on the other one, to provide their entire sense of purpose, fulfillment, and joy. But they want to be with each other because they add to one’s sense of purpose, fulfillment, and joy. But we have to stop looking to other people for happiness. Because you will only ever be as happy as you are within your own skin. Yeah, sure. At first, when all the hormones are super active, and all those things. Absolutely, you can feel like you’re on a high, but eventually, that will settle. And what happens when that settles is you’re left with the person that you ultimately were before the relationship started. How content was that person because that person is going to be the same person that you are in the relationship once the hormones died down. And relationships can and should add to your happiness, but they cannot be the entire source of it. Not only is that way too much pressure on any relationship, but you’re setting yourself up for failure because someone will inevitably disappoint you. It’s only a matter of time. And we look to our partners to be our lovers, our best friends, our co-parents, our cooks, our housekeepers, our dog walkers, cat sitters co-captain of road trips, like it, the list goes on and on, we look to our partners to be everything to us. And that’s a lot of expectation. I did an episode back on episode 138, all about the weight of expectations and attaching to outcomes. And this can apply in so many different areas, but especially to relationships because the weight of expectations can not only crush a relationship but take every ounce of joy out of it. This is not some woo-woo bullshit, you have to be able to cultivate a sense of joy from within, or the joy you cultivate outside of yourself will always be short-lived, it will always have an expiration date no matter what. 

So this work, this work of being comfortable being on your own. This doesn’t stop once you get into a relationship. These are the kinds of things that you still have to do for yourself, not only for your own sake but for the sake of the relationship as well. Once you are in it, I have still traveled alone. While in relationships, I make it a point to maintain strong friendships and develop new ones while I’m in relationships, creating a sense of purpose for myself both with my free time and with my job, and with the work that I get to do. I’m also not someone who needs to be entertained, either. I can be left alone with a book, a piece of paper and a pen, a pair of shoes to go for a walk or hike, or even just simply my own thoughts. It doesn’t matter. I can be left alone and I will entertain myself all day every day. I can entertain myself without requiring electronic devices, which I also think is really important. Because those types of things can be simply distractions and serve as numbing techniques. And that’s a really common one right? Like how many of us will just pick up our phone and it’s out of habit. It’s not because we need to look at our phone, we pick up our phone. I am the first one to admit to this my screen time can be atrocious some days. So we all do this but I also am aware that I am very capable, and actually completely content to do things for myself that don’t require any type of numbing or distraction, I am perfectly okay to entertain myself. And I only know that because I have spent long periods of time being completely alone on purpose very, very intentionally and that I have learned to really like myself far more in those timeframes than a lot of times at any other time. 

And I have to be clear when you’re in the relationship, you still have to make time for your partner in a relationship that is so important, I cannot underscore that enough. You need to give them your undivided time and attention to cultivate that deep sense of presence. Give your person your undivided attention when you spend time together, that is an absolute requirement for a healthy relationship. And that’s also easier to do in a healthy way when you are grounded within yourself, and your inner sense of knowing who you are. Now, if you’re already in a relationship, and you’re hearing this and you’re going well, shit, I can’t just like take off and travel. I mean, that’s not really conducive to the very current time at the moment much anyway. But you know, I can’t just take off and travel and do all these things. That’s okay. You don’t, you don’t need to do that. And you can still learn to do these things for yourself while maintaining a beautiful relationship. And doing these things for yourself while in a relationship is only going to serve to better your relationship. And it can feel counterproductive, because you’re like, Wait, how am I spending more time alone, going to help the relationship? I’m not saying like go disappear into a hole for a week and a half. Okay? I’m talking just about cultivating very intentional moments for yourself. And the other really beautiful thing that does is that when you are in a relationship that’s also going to help to cultivate a desire to because Esther Perel is the hands-down world expert on this, so I cannot recommend her enough for all this, I’ll reference her in the show notes. She has a podcast, she has TED Talks, she has incredible books of all the things. So go check this out. But in her book, mating in captivity, she talks about the idea that desire and love do not really go hand in hand very well, because love is all about comfort, desire, and comfort, don’t go well, because desire is all about the sort of the edge of things and the uncertainty a little bit. So one of the ways that you can cultivate more desire within the context of your relationship is to actually spend a little bit more time apart because then you have time to miss each other. And then you have time, you know, you’re off doing your own thing you are maybe going out with some friends or something like that, you come home, and you have something new and exciting to talk to your partner about. And it lights you up, which you then bring that energy back to the relationship. So you get to use that to better both of you at the same time. So this is so powerful like this, this absolutely serves you and your partner and the relationship that you are in, or it serves you and the future relationship that you will get into depending on whether you are currently attached or single. But I just really want to encourage you to take time for yourself and how powerful that is, and how transformative it can be if you allow it to be. 

Okay. So I would love to hear maybe some of your stories about this about may be times when you’ve been single or times where you have just really been super intentional about taking some time for yourself, you some of the benefits that you saw from this, I would love to hear your stories, because I use myself as an example here, because it just seemed like the easiest example to use. But I would love to hear some of your stories and hear some of your shares about how this has maybe shown up in your own life. Or maybe sometimes that you sort of took a step back and started noticing some patterns that then you start changing as well. I would love Love, love to hear from you. So send me a DM over @emilygoughcoach on Instagram. Again, I’ll link up in the show notes and I have multiple episodes referenced for this one that are all kind of related including some of the people that I’ve actually worked with from Bali and elsewhere. All these things. So go check out the show notes for some more episodes, suggestions that are all related. They’re all interconnected on this one. And make sure to share this episode with somebody who needs to hear it and who could benefit from it. And I just hope that you are going to take some time for you today. Okay. Talk to you soon. 
Thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. It means the absolute world to me and I’m so grateful for any references in the episode and all show notes. Be sure to jump over to and if this episode touched your heart, it would mean so much. If you would take a quick second to hit subscribe, write a review and share on social media over someone who really needs to hear today’s message. It makes such a difference to keep this podcast going so I can continue to bring you amazing content and absolutely incredible guests. Be sure to tag me over on Instagram @emilygoughcoach that I can thank you in real-time for listening and connecting with you. We’re back every Tuesday and Thursday with new episodes and I’m looking forward to growing with you!


This is where it all starts. Your FREE foundational guide to understanding yourself in whole new ways that will re-frame and completely shift how you approach relationships.



Step into your strength. Reclaim your power. Allow yourself to be truly seen.

© 2023 emily gough | all rights reserved | Brand + website by madison kabrich

Create the kind of relationships that make your entire nervous system breathe a sigh of relief as you think to yourself, “this is what it’s supposed to feel like.”