The topic of relationship status remains perfunctory in conversations with old friends and new acquaintances. While this may appear thoughtful, it can provoke anxiety when the response doesn’t fit within societal norms. The implication being, if you aren’t dating someone, you might be suffering a lack of relational success in a romance obsessed society.
Defining relational success can come with great variety. Being in relationships defines many humans’ existence. Individuals are wired for connection and require attachment for safety and belonging.
Yet, the relationship to the self is rarely the pinnacle. Invitations to celebrate self-love beyond birthdays often remain nonexistent.
Embracing self-love is not about arrogance. Self-love is recognizing you are deserving, worthy, and whole. To be in love with yourself requires deep introspection, mindfulness, and acceptance; all tools of enlightened mental health.
Without self-love, it is infinitely more challenging to love another. Consider dating yourself as a means of self exploration and commitment to wholeness.
Dating & Societal Pressures
Those who identify as female are often raised on the myth of the white knight and their male counterparts in turn, oftentimes internalize the savior complex. Life will begin and end happily ever after once a white dress is secured and a walk down the aisle commences. Yet, an exorbitant amount of marriages end in divorce, are sexless, or rampant with cheating and ongoing custody battles.
The neurobiology of attachment doesn’t always allow for thoughtful dating. When meeting a new partner, the hormones and chemicals associated with lust commence. This creates an almost trance like state prompting irrational, obsessive and even addictive behavior.
An expectation of forward momentum can lead to what the polyamorous community terms, The Relationship Escalator.” Relationships must move towards certain milestones, the end goal being marriage and interweaving.
Society also tends to offer couple special privileges through tax breaks, a multibillion dollar wedding industry, and media insistence on relational success equating to pairs.There is a comfort zone for many created by the illusion of safety within a romantic pairing.
Dating & Attachment
Individuals usually attempt to seek out the best possible match, someone who they can spend time with, that leads to feelings of completeness. This has the potential for unlimited loyalty and affection for another, in an effort to avoid being alone, or as an unconscious means of trauma repetition or reenactment.
Being single can be an incredible challenge, but so are relationships. Both experiences can lead to great joy and fulfillment, so why is a coupleship the crème de la crème?
Spending time discovering which relational needs you would like met via family, friends, and partners provides an opportunity to evaluate current relationships. You can have anything you want in this life, but you can’t have everything.
Practicing the art of non attachment can allow for healthy dating, but this message isn’t readily delivered en masse. Solo poly is a relationship style aimed at maintaining one’s independence and autonomy, whilst pursuing relationships (multiple or singular) without couple normative behaviors. Society claims coupleship and monogamy are the way, the truth and the life, but how do you feel?
6 Ideas for Dating Yourself
Learn your attachment style
Identifying and understanding your attachment style can be helpful in knowing what you need to feel secure in a relationship and what behaviors trigger feelings of unsafety. The good news is you can also meet your own attachment needs!
Uncover your sexual being and in turn your arousal template
Arousal template is a fancy term for a blueprint of what turns you on. Taking an inventory of what gets you going can be helpful in enhancing pleasure with yourself.
Develop a solo sex practice (not aimed solely around genital stimulation)
Solo sex can look different for different folks. There is often so much pressure around reaching orgasm that it can feel liberating to explore all the different avenues of pleasure, with or without genital stimulation and/or orgasm.
Expand your definition of successful relationships
Think about what you consider to be a successful relationship. Where did that idea of success come from and have you had a chance to explore that question on your own, without outside influence from family, social media, etc.? If you have a more rigid idea of what constitutes a successful relationship, it might help to redefine or expand what that concept means to you.
Make a list of solo date ideas and spend quality time with yourself
Catalogue different ideas that would be fun to do with yourself. It might be taking yourself on a shopping trip, trying the new bakery down the street, or reading a book at the park. In a journal, you might try writing down as many ideas as you can think of and create a system to ensure you show up for yourself.
Come up with a self care routine, whatever that looks like for you
Self care can be anything that makes you feel good and attuned with yourself. For some, that looks like getting their hair done, a spa day, going on a hike, playing with a pet, putting on a calming face mask, cooking a favorite dish, and so much more; the options are endless!
Don’t Forget Your Relationship with Yourself
You are responsible for your happiness. That being said, dating yourself doesn’t mean you have to deny opportunities for romantic participation.
Consider building a dating plan to help you evaluate potential partners as they come and what type of relationship you desire. Here are a few questions to get you started:
“How do I want to feel when dating?”
“How will I know if I want to continue dating someone?”
“What does this person value?”
“What do I want out of this experience?”
In a relationship centric society, dare to be different and fall in love with yourself. Your soul will thank you.
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