So about a year and a half ago I was on a “guys suck” kick (after having had it up to here with a guy who didn’t understand why I didn’t want to see him anymore, after he stopped showing up for our dates (literally)), and at that point, 6-months post-divorce, all guys sucked. On the entire planet. I was whining about this to one of my girlfriends.
“Why don’t you just date yourself?” she asked.
Huh? I must have made a Mouse-has-left-the building face, because she went on.
“Why don’t you just take yourself on dates and treat yourself the way you think you want to be treated? That way you’ll know better what you like, and what you want out of a relationship, eventually.”
For about two seconds, I thought about the stupidness of dating myself. And then a light bulb went on. Date myself? My girlfriend was flipping brilliant.
For the next several months I proceeded to treat my free Saturdays (the ones where I didn’t have my kids) as “date night” — with myself. It turned out I was a pretty excellent date. Usually, we’d start the evening with a glass of wine, jamming in the kitchen to our favorite music as we made dinner — usually steak or salmon. Date nights have great food. (Which was always gluten-free and dairy-free, too, because my date had the same food allergies as me.) Then, we’d pop some popcorn, mix up an awesome mojito, curl up on the sofa, and watch a movie. (Which we would always agree on!) We’d allow ourselves to get totally sucked up into the movie’s storyline — laughing, crying, or cheering along with the heroes — and we’d snuggle under a big, plush blanket if we got cold. Sometimes we’d get tipsy, but it all ended well. I would never take advantage of myself without my own permission.
At times I would reflect on the fact that, yes, I was lonely. I would rather be sharing a night like this with someone I felt truly connected-to. But learning to enjoy a quality experience on my own forced me to confront the fact that I didn’t have that connection with anyone else, and I couldn’t wish it up out of thin air. I knew now that I couldn’t settle for dating someone just for the sake of dating, which, I think, is how I’d been operating, previously. Insert available Guy A into Slot B isn’t how life works.
And something else happened, too: I began to develop self-respect.
Now that I knew how well I could be treated by my own self on a date, I began to realize that I didn’t want to put up with being treated less-than-well by other dates. I realized I had standards — and they were pretty decent ones. They made me feel good about myself. In fact, I decided that if a guy didn’t treat me better than I was already able to treat myself, there really wasn’t any reason for me to date him. I’d be better-off by myself! Relationships should build you up, make you a better person. Not bring you down to a lower level. That’s how friendships work, right? I think dating-relationships should work the same way, too.
Unfortunately, finding this in real life is proving to be tricky. (My PTSD and trust issues do NOT help!) Hence, attraction, lifestyle compatibility, and best-friend potential criteria from my RFQ. But I think the overall goal holds merit: to find someone who elevates me, who treats me better than I treat myself. It could happen, right?
And hopefully I do the same for him….