Maybe you spend every Friday night on a new Bumble date only to leave disappointed and exhausted or you’re tired of swiping right to no avail—dating is hard. If you feel defeated, I have a proposal that may turn things around: Date yourself. Delete the apps (just for now) and instead try dating the one person who will always show up on time and is guaranteed to be fun (you!). Falling in love is great, but falling in love with yourself is even better. No, this isn’t some woo-woo self-help advice—this is a tangible method that will change your life.
We are so focused on finding “The One” that we forget to check in on what we wanted in the first place. When was the last time you took a day to yourself? Or tried something new? When was the last time you reevaluated if you were happy, and then actually did something about it if you weren’t? As our lives get busy and “me time” gets pushed to the bottom of the list, we need to make the effort to bring it back to the top. Dating is supposed to be fun, and a partner should be someone you want to add to a life that already fulfills you. Dating yourself ensures you’re creating that life and helps you remember what you’re looking for in those Bumble swipes anyway. No matter your relationship status, you should be dating yourself. Here’s how.
1. Start a journaling practice
Self-reflection is a great tool that we often don’t take the time to utilize, and journaling is a fantastic way to do that. Every morning or at night before bed, take 10 minutes to journal about your day, thoughts, feelings, the coworker who annoyed you, or that startup idea your friend mentioned. What are you excited about in your life right now? What goals and dreams have you always thought about but never put into action? The 10K that scares you, the job you feel unqualified to apply for, or the trip you’ve never taken? The key to this practice is to set that timer, put pen to paper, and don’t stop until it dings; whatever comes into your mind, just let it out. You may even discover something new about yourself.
2. Nourish your body
Food is fuel, and if we want to feel good, we have to nourish our bodies with the best of it. Now, before you run for the hills because you hate to cook or refuse to give up cookie dough, don’t worry (I would never ask that of you—I am also never giving up cookie dough!). Nourishing your body means listening to it, becoming more in tune with what it needs, and balancing pleasure and satisfaction with nourishment. In other words: Yes, there is room for cookie dough in a nourishing diet.
Put into action, this step looks different for everybody. If you love to cook, maybe it’s time to try a new recipe. If you prefer takeout, experiment with a meal service. If you want to kick your late-night sugar habits, try herbal tea and dark chocolate. Whatever “nourish your body” means to you, choose one area you want to focus on and take small steps toward that healthy life that makes you feel good every day.
3. Splurge on you
If your love language is gift giving, why not show love to yourself? But the key to actually dating yourself instead of just using it as an excuse to spend more money is to splurge on something that truly makes you feel confident, happier, or better. We all have a version of Carrie Bradshaw’s Manolos that makes us feel invincible, and if you don’t, find it. I’m not saying break the bank, and you don’t need a whole new wardrobe. Whether it’s a pair of shoes that will make you feel like a badass during important meetings or your splurge looks more like a gym membership, functional piece of furniture, the perfume that your mom used to wear, or even a massage or cleaning service that will reduce your stress, give a gift to yourself that will truly make a difference.
4. Try something new
The only way we grow is by getting outside of our comfort zone. This step may be the hardest step for you, but it could also be the most rewarding. Make a list of all the things you want to do “one day,” like skydiving, dining alone, starting your own business, taking a spin class, asking for a promotion, etc. Then, choose something from that list and do it. Don’t make excuses or put it off for the next month—sign up, make a reservation, do your research. Whatever it takes, go and do it. We often put off what we really want because of fear, and most of the time, we realize we had nothing to be afraid of. As Glennon Doyle always says, “We can do hard things,” and once you do one hard thing, all the others don’t seem so scary.
5. Practice saying “no”
While a large part of dating yourself involves trying new things and stepping outside of your comfort zone, it also means stepping into your power. By that, I mean learning to say “no” when you want to say no. Saying “yes” is easy a lot of the time. Especially as women, we feel this constant need to make everyone happy. While empathy and kindness are admirable and crucial traits, the problem is that making yourself happy ends up falling to the bottom of the list of priorities. We say “yes” to what we don’t really want, and it eats away at us, building up resentment and anger. So this year, let go of all that and say “no” to the plans you’d rather not attend, the people who drain your energy, and the coworker who pushes assignments off to you. Stand in your power, don’t apologize for it, and live a happier life because of it.
6. Pleasure yourself
Experiencing a mind-blowing orgasm benefits not only your body but your mind as well, so add some self-pleasure to the list this year. After all, nothing is more of a de-stressor at the end of a long day than an orgasm. Pleasuring yourself can involve a realm of activities, from becoming more in touch with your body to learning to feel confident in your own skin. Buy yourself a new sex toy, experiment with different arousals, or simply stare in the mirror and compliment yourself, knowing that self-love is the most worthy kind to give. Whatever it looks like to you, prioritize self-pleasure and make it a part of your wellness routine. Being intimate with another person is a vulnerable practice, so getting to know your body will not only increase confidence in the bedroom with partners, but—more importantly—it will also improve your well-being and the relationship with yourself.
7. Make self-love a daily practice
This one may sound cliché and overused, but loving yourself isn’t. The end goal is a balanced life that allows you to feel fulfilled and happy, so to love yourself a little more this year, first, stop the brutal self-talk. You know the kind: The thoughts in your head that criticize you when you make a mistake or feel insecure. Instead, practice loving affirmations such as “I am good enough” or “I am smart enough.” Repeat them to yourself each morning, write them down, or get in the habit of saying them before a presentation or first date.
Next, celebrate the little wins as well as the big ones. We’re always going from one activity to the next, forgetting to stop and take a step back to look at all we have accomplished. Celebrate those moments and recognize how far you’ve come.
Lastly, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for forgetting the cereal at the grocery store, being late for work, the breakup, the failed test, and everything that weighs you down. Just let it go. You’re human, not a fortune 500 company; you are allowed to mess up and move on. That’s what dating yourself is all about.