After six years of serial monogamy and seriously fucking up my heart, I decided that I needed to take the time to date myself before I could date anyone else. I’ve always been most comfortable with a boyfriend, who serves as a best friend, cuddle buddy, someone to listen to me talk 24/7, and most importantly, a validation of my worth (note: in response to a reader’s comment, I mean that I used to think that having a boyfriend was a validation of my worth). As long as I had a boyfriend, that meant that someone found me desirable and interesting. After lots of journaling, soul-searching, and heart-to-heart conversations with my close friends and family, I’ve made the most wonderful discovery: I don’t need a boyfriend to validate me! And here’s the best part: neither do you. The truth is, you don’t need anyone but yourself to be happy. And if you’ve gone through as much relationshit as I have, you owe it to yourself to date yourself, too.
I got the idea about dating yourself from one of my role models, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins (from the TV show Parks and Recreation). Ann, despite being the “beautiful tropical fish” that she is, dates a slew of losers and is in a relationship more often than not. Eventually, she realizes that she needs to take time to date herself instead of losing herself in a relationship (basically changing her personality to match those of her different boyfriends). Although Ann is still making arguably rash life decisions, this idea was really useful to me.
If you do decide to date yourself, you should make some promises to yourself. Later on, if you feel that you’re slipping into a relationship just because it’s what you’re used to, you can refer to this list to remind yourself why it’s important to honor this commitment first.
Focus on your own happiness. When you’re in a regular relationship, you’re expected to put your partner’s needs or wants ahead of your own (at least some of the time). When you date yourself, you put your needs and wants first, always. If you plan on getting married and/or having kids later, this may be the only chance you’ll get to really focus on what you want and learn about who you are as an individual. Take advantage of that freedom and do what’s right for you. Do what makes you truly happy. And if you don’t know what makes you happiest yet, try a bunch of different things out until you figure out what does. Only then can you love yourself enough to have a good relationship with mutual respect and love with a partner, in the future.
Remember that you don’t need attention (romantically or otherwise) from anyone to be happy. Your worth isn’t based on whether or not you have a beau to show off to all your friends. It’s defined by the choices you make and the way you see yourself as an individual. Make the choice to make yourself happy instead of relying on someone else (who may or may not be as awesome as you are) to give you a sense of validation.
Be faithful to yourself. Just as you would in a normal 2-person relationship, be true to the commitment you’re making to yourself. This means that you can’t get into a relationship with another person, because at this point, you might end up backsliding and being a version of yourself you don’t like. For example, you might be a needy, codependent or jealous partner. If you stay faithful to your choice to date yourself, you can concentrate on going through your personal journey of learning to love who you are.
Don’t forget — you’re awesome. It’s easy to feel crappy about yourself when you don’t have a significant other to constantly tell you you’re pretty/smart/cool, and a lack of self-confidence can cause you to search for a partner to give you that ego boost. But remember, you don’t need anyone but yourself. You chose to date yourself, and why would you date someone who isn’t awesome? Should you ever forget this, keep a list of things you love about yourself to remind you exactly how awesome you are.
I’ll admit that choosing to date yourself is difficult. It’s a big commitment. Often I feel tempted to give in and look for potential partners. After all, I usually assess the people I meet to see if I’d like to date them or not. But it’s important to look past our habits of getting into relationships because we’ll never learn to be comfortable alone if we don’t force ourselves to go through the discomfort of being alone. And it isn’t until you’re alone, with nobody but yourself to think about, that you really learn who you are. So if you’re willing to sacrifice the comfort of having someone to cuddle or take cutesy couple pictures with, for the priceless gift of truly loving yourself, you might want to try dating yourself. Chloe and I started dating this summer (I’ve learned that she’s pretty amazing) and I think she may be “the one.”