The 30-year-old actress covers the March issue of Cosmopolitanand admits that being single used to scare her.
"When I was younger, I was constantly wanting to be with or date someone because I was so deathly afraid of being single or by myself," she says. "Now, I’m at the point where if I meet someone, they better really elevate my life, because I love being single."
Back when she was eager to be in a relationship, Hale says she was drawn to "damaged people who had been through some s**t." Now though, her only requirement is finding someone who's "nice but not boring... nice but not a dud."
Though she's not focused on dating right now, she is on an exclusive dating app where she'll see other celebs from time-to-time -- and occasionally put her nice guy search on pause.
"John Mayer is on there. And I pressed yes for him, but I don’t think he pressed yes for me," she says, adding that his dating history -- Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry and more -- doesn't concern her.
"I’m so drawn to musical talent, I don’t care," the Katy Keeneactress says.
If and when she does get in a relationship, Hale plans to stay true to herself, something that was reinforced when she chopped off eight inches of her hair, which she calls "the most liberating thing" she's ever done.
"I couldn’t tell you the amount of times when guys were like, 'You should grow your hair out again. I like long hair,'" she says. "I’m like, 'I’m not cutting my f**king hair for you.' I cut my hair for me. And I feel great with it this way."
"Or a lot of guys don’t like a bold lip color. I love a bold lip color. I don’t care. I don’t care!" Hale adds. "I truly don’t dress for men at all. I dress for me and what I think is cool."
As she's matured from playing a teenager on Pretty Little Liars, Hale says the most important change in her life is learning how not to "give a f**k about certain things."
"Looking back on it now, it’s like, 'Oh, that was really tough,'" she says of playing a high schooler throughout much of PLL's seven year run. "You did feel like you had to uphold some sort of image."
"I’ve always been very petite, but over the course of eight years, my body changed. I gained a little bit of weight, and seeing how people reacted to that really messed with my head," she continues, adding that she would even get "all these stress-related, hormone-related breakouts."
Though Hale wishes she was able to drown out the noise at the time, she's pleased about where she's ended up.
"I look back and I think of all the minutes and hours I’ve wasted upset over how I looked or something that was out of my control," she says. "I wish I could get that time back, although it has led me to where I’m at now."