The Art of Dating Yourself: What It Is and How to Do It Properly
If you believe you should love yourself, is it such a stretch to think you should be dating yourself as well? "Masturdating" is all about that. To masturdate is to date yourself and embrace the fact that you don't need somebody else to have a good time.
Let's face it, not everybody is good company. Sometimes people are annoying, condescending, outright rude or self-absorbed and talking only about themselves. The list gets even longer if you put in some effort and ponder past experiences.
This unpleasant feeling can apply equally to old friends and lovers and the current date you matched with on a dating app. You either fail to bond or they actively make interactions so difficult that you can't enjoy yourself.
It's time to reflect and practice self-care
The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be downright exhausting and it doesn't always give you time to reflect and get to know yourself better. Masturdating is a way to increase your relational self-awareness, which is the ability to explore yourself against the backdrop of your most intimate connections so you can maximize what you need as an individual while working to build a relationship. You can also enjoy yourself at the same time.
"Masturdating or solo dating can help you learn to love yourself because spending quality alone time getting to know yourself and even making a list of the things you love about yourself can help you recognize what you value in yourself and others," according to Emily Simonian, L.M.F.T., the head of clinical learning at Thriveworks Counseling & Psychiatry in Washington, D.C. "It can also increase your self-respect so that you make positive choices when choosing a serious partner."
But before you do that, it's beneficial to identify why you want to solo date or be alone in the first place.
"The main component of self-love is being able to be not 'by' yourself but 'with' yourself and not doing it as a form of avoiding connection with others," explained Tracy Lynn Wallace, a self-love mentor and life coach at Inspired Wisdom Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. "When you practice self-love and self-care, you are at one with yourself and can be anywhere or do anything and never feel alone because you are whole and complete as a person."
Get over your fear of solo dating
Masturdating can be as simple as enjoying music in a cafe with a cup of Joe or attending a wine tasting on your own. The activity is about doing something you know or believe you may enjoy without shame or guilt that it's just you.
Depending on your experience with masturdating and confidence in yourself, some activities can feel more challenging if you typically associate them with the company of others. Try eating solo in a restaurant or taking a yoga class where you don't know anyone. If you're already comfortable being solo, try traveling one weekend or going to a dance club alone.
The first rule of Masturdating Club: Being single doesn't mean you're lonely.
"Many people view being single and on their own in a negative light, assuming it means they are 'less than' or unlovable, which can feed into actually being lonely," said Jennifer Klesman, L.C.S.W., a licensed therapist at Cityscape Counseling in Chicago. "However, as I tell many of my clients, just because you don't have a romantic relationship does not mean that you do not have relationships. Family and friends are relationships, too. During a time of your life when you are single, you spend more quality time enhancing those relationships. It's natural to feel lonely from time to time, but it's important to remember that you are not alone. You can be single for your entire life and never become lonely."
'Just because you don't have a romantic relationship does not mean that you do not have relationships—family and friends are relationships, too.'
In order to be alone without feeling lonely, you need to get to the root cause of why you feel lonely. Jessica Alderson, co-founder and relationship expert at So Syncd in the United Kingdom, noted that there are all kinds of possible reasons.
"You might not fully accept your true self," she explained. "If this is the case, you'll need to practice self-acceptance, which is a whole journey in itself."
Self-acceptance is achieved when an individual accepts every part of themselves, the good and the bad. You accept yourself without exception and unconditionally, allowing yourself to be less vulnerable to criticism and providing more confidence to tackle all that life throws in your path. You can practice self-acceptance by setting goals, identifying your strengths, congratulating yourself for your accomplishments and, most of all, being kind to yourself.
Another reason you feel lonely could be that you're exhausted, she added. If so, you need to do your best to prioritize sleep and adjust your lifestyle. Finally, one of the most common reasons people feel lonely is that they are unfulfilled, and if this is the case, you should find a project that gives you a sense of creative control.
After discovering the root cause of your loneliness or why you want to be alone, there are different ways you can get over the fear of solo-dating yourself:
- Focus on the activities that bring you joy: Devote yourself to your social connections with others and engage in activities, hobbies and events in which you are interested.
- Don't worry about what other people think: An important strategy is to not worry about what you think other people might be thinking. There's usually a lot of social pressure to be in a partnership and there's a stigma about being alone, so it's easy to feel embarrassed when you spend time on your own. Get over it, it's fun, you'll enjoy yourself.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway: Most of the time, the way we imagine we'll feel in a situation is far worse than the reality. It's natural to have foreboding thoughts about the unknown, but learn to celebrate how good it feels when the worst thing you thought might happen never does.
Dating yourself is all about making yourself feel strong and confident so you can rely on yourself to experience joy. Prioritize your happiness, take full responsibility for how you live your life and start dating someone you've loved for a long time: You.