Five Reasons To Date Yourself

Regardless of whether you have a partner or six or zero, it’s time to date yourself.

I don’t just mean “take a bath alone!,” I mean “focus on diving into yourself and what you need and want, maybe in the bath alone if you are a bath person, but mostly in your thoughts.” Spend time alone and exalt in your own company. Make your own decisions and order your own dinner and dream your own dreams.

Five Reasons To Date Yourself

1. It helps you cultivate a rich inner life.

Activities and interests and ways of thinking and moving through the world have to come from somewhere.

Sharing those things with a romantic partner or friends can be fun and rewarding and a great way to build connection, but it’s also important to do and try new things because you alone want to, and not only because someone else does. Consciously spending time alone allows you to develop a roster of favourite places, dishes, activities, books, or whatever your thing is. What would you do if you didn’t have to consider what someone else wanted to do? You’d be decisive and learn to listen to your own internal value system, probably. You’d appreciate your own company, rather than feeling like you’re stuck with it.

(Also PSA: The best way to not feel self-conscious about spending time alone in public is to just totally own it and stare down anyone who questions you, even if you also feel weird about your table for one or single seat in the movie theatre or whatever. Fight socialization that tells you, yourself, aren’t good enough to hang out with.) (Also if you’ve never spent time in your own company in public before, remember that getting out the door is half the battle and it’s okay to look at your phone sometimes, but also maybe engage with or observe or eavesdrop on the world around you and your thoughts.)

2. It teaches you to acknowledge your own needs.

When you’re dating yourself, you’re forced to stare what you want dead in the face and be as honest about it as you would be with another person. If you can’t be honest with yourself who can you be honest with, anyway. Do you want to stay in tonight or go out? Do you like coffee before breakfast or after it or instead of it? Do you want to go to a park today or do you actually really hate how itchy grass is and maybe a walk somewhere paved would be better? Do you want to have really kinky powerplay sex with one person or face-holding sex with lots of people or exclusively anal or exclusively strap-on sex or maybe actually just make out a lot? Is the place you live really the best place for you to live right now? What are your dreams for the future? Do you want freshly ground black pepper with that?

At a certain point, other people are emotional distractions that allow you to not deal with yourself. I think someone said that at A-Camp so it must be true.

It’s not that other people are actively keeping you from knowing what you want. It’s that it can be a lot easier to focus on someone else’s needs instead of on your own. And it can be a lot easier to hope someone will know what you need without you having to say it to them or even admit it to yourself. Instead, think about what you want when there’s no one else in the room, until you can articulate it to yourself, and work towards being able to articulate it when someone is.

3. It teaches you to address your own needs.

Once you know what you want, remember that you are the main person in charge of getting it. Inside relationships, it’s easy to put someone else in charge of meeting your needs — accidentally or intentionally — or to fall into a pattern of ignoring them. Outside relationships, it’s easy to imagine that one day someone will come along who will manage your needs, or let you manage theirs.

It’s not that partners should never take care of each other, but the burden of responsibility for you is on you. You are in charge of your own needs, your own dreams, your own happiness. Your own orgasms. Your own actions.

Handle your own shit.

4. It gives you room to value all forms of emotional support, not just romantic and/or sexual ones.

Often, the way (western) society is structured emphasizes (monogamous) romantic sexual relationships (because of course those two always go together) as the highest form of relationship to the diminishment and almost exclusion of all others. This leads to individuals relying on their partner — or partners, since poly people can do this too — to fulfill every need.

A romantic partner cannot and should not be your only form of support. That type of thinking puts pressure on you to get everything you need from a relationship or go without, and on the relationship itself to be everything to everyone in it at all times. Nothing can survive that kind of pressure. You just can’t get everything you need from one person.

You also can’t get everything you need from yourself. Teaching yourself to take care of yourself is important, but so is remembering that, regardless of whether or not you’re in a partnership, there’s a huge potential network of people with whom you can share mutual support and friendship and love, or casual acquaintanceship and shared activities and interests, or a really great time one Saturday afternoon before you never see each other again. All of these types of relationships are valuable.

5. It helps you like yourself (or figure out why you don’t right now).

Feeling good about yourself shouldn’t — and can’t — come from other people. Other people can say all the nice things you could want about you but it won’t mean a thing unless you believe those things first. Give yourself room to be your own person and see what happens.

Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Consultant, and was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor, for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 895 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. Thank you for this. I am out of the country for archival research right now, so I’m spending most of the time with myself and books for company. I’m used to that because I’m planning to be a spinster aunt, but thank you for reminding me that doing special things shouldn’t be reserved for couples or groups. I’d pretty much written off going out for a nice long lunch or dinner at a fancy-ish restaurant, since it would only be for me…

    No! I can have a nice meal out with Sophia. It’s a date, this weekend!

  2. I have been reflecting on what I heard at the poly panel at A-Camp about being your own primary partner (in the words of Mal Blum), and this perfectly expresses/explains how and why I want to do this. Thank you for articulating such an important topic Carolyn!

  3. This is a great article. I like to take myself away for a weekend break occasionally – exploring somewhere new by yourself is great and you can decide if you want to go out to a fancy restaurant or order pizza to your hotel room without having to consider anyone else.

  4. “It’s not that other people are actively keeping you from knowing what you want. It’s that it can be a lot easier to focus on someone else’s needs instead of on your own. And it can be a lot easier to hope someone will know what you need without you having to say it to them or even admit it to yourself.”

    Have you been peaking over my shoulder? Reading my texts? One of my commencement speakers (I just finished grad school wowzers) made a great point about doing what YOU want to, not what other people have told you to do or what you think you’re expected to do. The speaker was discussing career and life-decision type stuff, but it can apply to identifying, owning, and addressing your own emotional, psychological, and other needs as well.

  5. You don’t need just any relationship with people. You need good relationships with people. Without that you can never know where you stand. You never know if you are drifting to far one way or the other. Good relationships regardless of sex, family or total strangers gives us the proper perspective we need.

  6. This is my life. I’ve spent the past year solo and it’s been super duper great. A few pro tips–

    -Buy a ticket ahead of time. Whether it’s a movie or a play or a concert, go ahead and buy it. It’s so much easier to actually follow through on doing the thing when you’ve paid for it and put it in your calendar. Sometimes when I want to go to a movie and there’s no one to consider but myself, it can be overwhelming to pick a time and place because there are so many options, and it really doesn’t matter which I pick–just buying a ticket on Fandango for the one that starts in an hour really decreases the chances that you’ll give up because of the voice in your head that says the parking trouble isn’t worth it, or that maybe you won’t like it, and really you should stay home and be isolated forever. Commit to yourself, and plan ahead!

    -You know that super cool girl(/boi/humyn) who’s sipping a cappuccino alone and is staring off into the distance, so self-aware and lovely? THAT’S YOU. Even if you’re burning your tongue and are blushing from self-consciousness. You look cooler than you think you do.

    -If you want to feel extra self-assured, sometimes looking up the menu beforehand can be really helpful. I like to look on Yelp and see what a restaurant or bar or cafe looks like inside–are there windows? Small tables or community tables? Does it seem like there will be outlets?–before going there so I don’t feel disoriented when I walk in alone. And then I glance at the menu, but already know that I want the minted iced coffee and the veggie wrap, no onions. Having my mind already made up and knowing what to expect from a place REALLY helps me to feel confident when I’m there.

    -Lastly, be observant. Glance around as you walk in to see where the bathrooms are, notice if people are bussing their own dishes or if a worker does that, watch where people with computer cords are congregating. It’s always my instinct to just immediately sit down at the first available place if I’m uncomfortable to try to tuck away out of sight, but then I’ll realize that my spot doesn’t meet any of my needs and then I feel so weird about getting up and moving. Getting up and moving is fine, obviously. But, I always feel needlessly embarrassed if I don’t have a buddy to laugh it off with. Reconnaissance will help so much in this endeavor.

    I LOVE going out alone, and I do it all the time. And you know what? No one has ever commented on it or made fun of me or laughed at me. I’m the cool girl sitting alone, and so are you.

  7. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE, THANK YOU SO MUCH <3 This is so affirming and makes me so excited to continue dating myself 🙂 I used to be so scared of eating alone in restaurants (like, why would I ever do that, that sounds like the worst thing EVER scared), and then one day I did it, and while it was a little awkward (the restaurant I went to also did carry out and the host was confused/kind of judgey when I asked for a table for one) I ended up having a GREAT time. I've since gone on a trip by myself where I had to eat alone at restaurants for two days and while it was sometimes lonely it was also so awesome to know that I could do that! Plus, when you're doing things by yourself, you don't have to worry about finding a friend to go with you! (That always used to stop me from doing things, bc I'd be worried about going alone, but once you're like "screw that" and just decide to go alone you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT.)

    I'm just so into this article, thank you so much for writing it Carolyn 🙂

  8. This was a perfect time to read this article. I was just trying to explain to my roommate how I felt about being single and why it’s so important for me right now. It really does take time/work/conscious thought to figure out what *I* actually want as opposed to me just going along with someone else’s preferences because I tend to be an easygoing person. Thank you so much for opening up this discussion! All the ideas and experiences both in the article and in the comments are so affirming to read. I’m going on vacation by myself later this summer and I’m looking forward to it even more now.

  9. This post spoke to my heart.. It is exactly what I needed to read right now. I feel so lost in my current transition from college graduate to unemployed.. I feel now more than ever to be accompanied and that is because I realized I don’t feel enough for myself.. I am going through a bit of self esteem/self motivation issues, I am doubting whether my knowledge is useful, and honestly, whether when and if I get to be a real person.. I decided that I was going to try to get to know myself in a very real way, to take the chance to assess that I really know what I know and it is just sending my in a spiral of insecurities at the moment, but this article gave me a guide to try. All I can say is thanks.

  10. This post spoke to my heart.. It is exactly what I needed to read right now. I feel so lost in my current transition from college graduate to unemployed.. I feel now more than ever to be accompanied and that is because I realized I don’t feel enough for myself.. I am going through a bit of self esteem/self motivation issues, I am doubting whether my knowledge is useful, and honestly, whether when and if I get to be a real person.. I decided that I was going to try to get to know myself in a very real way, to take the chance to assess that I really know what I know and it is just sending my in a spiral of insecurities at the moment, but this article gave me a guide to try. All I can say is thanks.

  11. This post is SO MUCH something I need and am trying to work on – i’m just a little over 3 months past my first real massive romantic break up (over 3 years together, and over 10 years of knowing each other to almostno contact is.. Wow), and it’s been weird (and of course, plenty of times, sad to put it mildly). But nice, sometimes, especially when I can get this dating myself thing into the right groove. <3 Thank you so much for this.

  12. I am doubting whether my knowledge is useful, and honestly, whether when and if I get to be a real person.. I decided that I was going to try to get to know myself in a very real way. You don’t need just any relationship with people. You need good relationships with people. Without that you can never know where you stand. You never know if you are drifting to far one way or the other.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.