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.