When you’re dating yourself, the experiences you have with yourself matter just as much as the ones you’d have in a two-person relationship, if not more. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that being alone is sad or boring, especially when Friday or Saturday nights roll around and it seems like everyone is out there doing something with someone.
It’s a vicious cycle. The more you feel like you’re not good enough to spend time with yourself, the less energy you dedicate to doing things that bring you joy, which then reinforces to yourself that hey, you’re NOT worth it after all (sorry L’Oréal).
It’s not an easy remedy by any means, and sure it’s cheesy, but it really all starts with self-love. I know I know, bring on the frustrated groans. But think about it: when we’re with someone we find interesting/attractive/lovely, time spent with them is rarely boring or sad. So why is it that spending time with ourselves ends up breeding so much ennui and dissatisfaction? If we’re able to perceive ourselves in the same way we perceive someone we WANT to do things with, then being alone becomes an exciting opportunity instead.
It takes time to reacquaint yourself with the idea of doing things on your own, especially if you’ve just gotten out of a relationship where you did everything with your significant other. That foreign feeling, while uncomfortable at first, is completely normal. Here are some things you can do to make that transition smoother:
1. Start off by making a list of things you looked for in an S.O., then come up with ideas on how you can fulfill that by yourself, for yourself. For example—did you depend on your partner for comforting words in moments of crisis? The next time you find yourself stressing or spiraling, wrap yourself in a blanket, give yourself a nice big hug, and practice saying those same compassionate phrases to yourself. Wipe away your own tears in the gentle manner you would for someone you really love and care about. In a similar vein, think about traits that you admired in your partner or idealize in a future partner, and try to integrate them into your own identity by honing new skills, whether it’s financial savviness, athleticism, or a knee-slapping sense of humor.
2. Now, go out and do things you would usually do with a partner. This part can be scary, because, well, you’re actually going out there and doing it. Cue montage of you (yes you!) bringing yourself out on dinner dates, strolling through museums taking your sweet time, and watching that new Netflix show at your own. damn. pace (aka finishing the entire season in one sitting, and not having to wait for anyone to catch up). Oh and Kehlani’s “Good Thing” is playing in the background throughout all this.
But because we’re also being totally honest here, don’t forget the side reel that features you feeling awkward at dinner and not knowing what to do with your hands, you suddenly tearing up at the museum because some completely unrelated flashback of your ex just hit you like a truck, and you secretly wishing you had someone to do some post-Netflix show commentary with. It’s all part of the process, baby.
3. Look good while doing it. The temptation to wear the same pair of sweats all weekend is something I relate to all too well. But just as you would indulge in some self-grooming before a date, take the time to shower, do your hair and dress nice before going out. Go the extra mile if you can, maybe even exfoliate. Show up for yourself the same way you’d show up for someone else. You deserve to feel beautiful!
4. Take some time to reflect. This time is all about getting to know yourself, so it makes sense to do a little introspection. On one of my first few dates by myself, I brought a journal with me, and it felt comforting to know I’d have a place to jot down my thoughts about the experience in “real time.” So there I was, perched on a stool at Tatte bakery, savoring my chamomile tea and banana bread, when I was hit with just a small momentary lapse of existential dread sadness as I looked out into the rain at oh-so-cute Harvard couples sharing umbrellas. No big deal, right? When that lapse came, I whipped out my pen to release those emotions onto paper, which felt undeniably good and cathartic. Being prepared and having a “game plan” also made me feel less nervous about the whole ordeal.
And most importantly, stay true to yourself. You are just as, if not more worthy of the love you keep trying to give other people.