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What Happened When I Stopped Looking for a Relationship and Started Dating Myself

Love's Unexpected Arrival

I’ve never been known as a relationship person. Time and time again, I just couldn’t seem to get it right, to the point that I decided my New Year’s resolution would be not to date anyone at all for an entire year. No kissing, no flirting, no dating apps. Nothing.

That resolution ended before it even began. I went on the first date with my guy in late December and somehow, we ended up where we are today – in a happy, loving, committed relationship, which also happens to be long-distance! Crazy, right? It was 110% unexpected for us to meet, not to mention to make our lives work together in the way they do so seamlessly. But, I don’t think luck or chance had anything to do with this. I truly, deeply believe something more was responsible, something both of us were working on without even noticing.

We were each dating ourselves for a while before crossing paths. Then, when we met, sparks flew, and thanks to all that time we had individually taken to enjoy solitude, we were able to foster this connection and let it thrive.

This Is What Happens When You Date Yourself

It’s a beautiful thing to find companionship in an intimate, trusting way. But, no matter how strong of a spark two people start off with, they need a deep understanding of their own selves in order to truly succeed at the relationship. Being self-aware helps you navigate the give and take of living life with another, by first teaching you that you get to be the king or queen – beautiful dress and all – of your own story.

You find such a clear personal connection when you make a habit of looking within. This is a different process for everyone, but you can generally expect to discover the results listed below.

1. You Speak Honestly

Some people say the key to every healthy relationship is trust, or maybe, acceptance. You can go back and forth about the importance of these two things all day, but in reality, you’re talking about the same thing – the value of being honest, both with yourself and the other person.

When you start to date yourself, you work up the courage to face your demons one by one. You stop avoiding the things you’ve been trying to dodge and stop diving into the social circles and behaviors that don’t truly serve you. You learn to listen to what your mind, heart, and body are actually telling you – not just making sense of what you want to hear.

It’s an intense process. Being completely honest with yourself means no more excuses, no more complacency, no more putting things off or waiting for “the right time.” Instead, you start showing up for yourself every single day. You just have to. This doesn’t happen overnight, but the more you’re honest about who you are and what you want out of life, the better you get about being upfront and honest with others.

2. You Learn Patience and Compassion

As you start to peel back your inner layers and discover your truths, you learn patience and compassion, too. The truth can hit you like a freight train sometimes and it’s in these encounters that you need to slow down and be more gentle with yourself.

Self-improvement takes time. Showing up for yourself and recognizing who you are isn’t always some bold, loud and proud action. Sometimes it feels more like a whisper, a small step in the right direction. Be patient with the efforts you’re making and watch as they add up in larger, more profound ways than you can even imagine.

3. You Become More Curious

Think of dating yourself like getting to know a stranger. You start off with the basics, then become increasingly more curious about them (ideally, anyway). The same thing happens once you’ve cleared up the grey areas in your life and start to be more mindful of the conversations you have with yourself.

Curiosity turns into courage. You stop limiting your expectations and actions, reaching for new heights and raising the bar little by little instead. You start to wonder just how far you can really go in your career, how well you can take care of yourself, and how much your relationships are truly benefiting you. You push the boundaries until one day, you look back to see your whole world has transformed. Then, you take things a step further.

4. You’re Able to Trust Life Better

How do such incredible results happen? Because all the time you take to “date yourself” – to learn honesty, to move forward with patience and compassion, to let curiosity lead the way – ends up developing a stronger sense of trust in who you are and the life you’re creating.

Trust in this context means you don’t have to be so hard on yourself anymore. Instead, you’re able to use your newfound tools to pave your journey one brick at a time, guiding you to your real purpose. Maybe this looks like quitting your job and diving into a new career or cutting off toxic relationships or moving to a new city. Maybe, you realize you weren’t even doing so bad to begin with and you just have to keep going. Either way, it’s worthwhile to spend more time with yourself whenever you can. 

Dating yourself doesn’t just apply to single people. It is a term many non-committed individuals use, but it’s always available. There’s no reason you can’t create more time in your schedule to read your favorite book, or go for a drive, or just get a really good workout in by yourself. It’s good to do things your way from time to time, so long as you’re not hurting others or neglecting your responsibilities in the process. It’s also good to share such things with the people you care about, but the results are more beneficial once you’ve tapped into the self-awareness alone time brings. The balance of the two – of building a community around you and a fire within you – is where the magic happens. It creates a passionate, wild love for life, a love you can then share with another. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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