Imagine knowing yourself on a deeper, more gratifying, less judgmental level. Imagine being able to describe yourself to others while being empowered by your strengths and experiences and not cringing at the thought of your weaknesses and struggles. Imagine taking care of yourself, owning your needs and treating yourself with the love and nurturance you would give to a baby or child.
Dating provides the platform to get to know someone, giving you the opportunity to assess if your personalities, goals, and values are compatible. Dating allows you to learn about a potential partner’s likes, dislikes, background, passions, beliefs, and the like. This knowledge is key to forming a romantic bond, however, it raises an important question — how much is dating focused on getting to know someone else when you might feel that you really do not know yourself?
This question leads me to the fun yet frightening exploration process of dating yourself. This is a practice I recommend to my clients who are newly single, grieving a breakup or divorce, attracting unhealthy partners or who are struggling with being single or not connecting on their dates.
Dating yourself might include everything and anything from checking out a new restaurant, seeing a movie or live music, hiking, going to a spa, attending a book talk, running or taking a dance or cooking class solo. It might also include writing a gratitude note to yourself, journaling, treating yourself to a massage or cooking yourself a delicious dinner with the recipe you have been wanting to try. The point is to confidently embark on the journey of doing what you love and what brings you happiness without waiting for anyone (especially a partner) to do it with you or for you.
In order to get the most out of this experience, dating yourself should also include allotting some time to be alone and connect with yourself without planned activities. Solitude aids you in developing a healthy relationship with yourself and discovering who you are.
Although this idea might feel completely overwhelming at first, there are many healthy benefits to dating yourself. Here are five:
1. Dating yourself gets you out of your comfort zone and into healthy risk-taking mode, especially if you tend to stay away from going out of your home solo or resist doing activities without the company of someone else.
2. Dating yourself reinforces the idea that love and happiness start within, teaching you to look within for the support, encouragement and love that you naturally crave. This puts less pressure on potential partners to be responsible for your happiness and health.
3. Dating yourself increases your self-esteem and worthiness as you actively value and care for yourself. It shows you that you are deserving of great care and attention and helps you expect that (in a healthy way) from your future partner(s).
4. Dating yourself gives you the opportunity to get to know who you are in a deeper way, bringing you insight about what is really important to you. This knowledge is vital to partner selection, attraction and maintaining healthy relationships with others.
5. Dating yourself teaches you to enjoy alone time and how to be independent, furthering the health of your present and future relationships and tying into the healthy balance of separateness and togetherness in relationships. It allows you to be happy with and without a partner.
If you’re still not sold…think about it like this: The more fear or discomfort you have about dating yourself, the more valuable this process will be. If you find yourself anxious or worrying about judgment from others for doing activities alone, look inward, notice your thoughts and make room for them without attachment.
About the Author:
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!