"To endure oneself may be the hardest task in the universe."
"A bitter pill."
"The greatest palatian emperor and the lowliest serf share the same fate. You mend it yourself or leave it bleeding for the world to see."
-Dune Messiah -Frank Herbert
You're in your mid to late twenties, and the relationship you thought was going to be "The One" fails. It fails after a significant period of time and emotional involvement so that you're left in a state of desolation. You're not going to date anyone else. No, that would be too painful to attempt again so soon. No, you're going to date yourself.
At least that's how most people go about it. That's not how I got here myself, but I'll attempt to make a strong case on how and why you should date yourself
I went out and met a handsome young fellow through fate. We went on a date where he ordered Chartreuse and told me he was a diesel-mechanic, pie-maker, bassist who spoke Finnish -swoon. And, of course, that at the end of the weekend he would be leaving for three months to do contract work. Aha! I knew there was a catch. He went away, only as it turned out for a month, before returning, and I got him all winter. As spring thawed its way into existence, he left again. This time for much longer, nearly 6 months, on the other side of the county.
Having found my person, I had no need to go on dates. And yet, I wanted to. So first, let's establish what it is a date gives you aside from the obvious thing we like -love potential.
In my world, dates are an excuse to get fancy. I'm a drink nerd, foodie and all around pretentious person. Dates don't have to be fancy all the time, but I crave excess and excuses to actually take showers, brush my hair, and -heaven forbid- put on make-up and get pretty. Getting pretty is a talent I began cultivating only six or so years ago, the reasons why for a post on another day. But I like it. And of course, I like to eat and drink delicious things to provide me the carnal pleasure of taste expounded upon here. I want it and crave it and will have it.
Secondly, dates provide exposure to something new. Most of the time, this new thing is a person representing a new potential emotional experience. Often they also provide exposure to new things via creative venue or activity for the date. There was a whole dating website based on offering up an interesting activity as the mechanism of choosing partners. Wanna try salsa dancing? Want to go to the symphony? Want to go rock climbing? Did you know that if you partake in a scary activity, you're more likely to be attracted to you partner? At least if you're a man. They didn't repeat the study with women. New things make us grow and expand our universe. And although many like to stay with the familiar, I'll preach on my soapbox that new experiences are good for you.
Something fancy and something new -both desirable things to have. And the things everyone is worried about "How awkward is it to go out somewhere by yourself?" Not very. I'll admit, I bring a book most of the time. I try to engage myself in appreciating the scenery as much as I can, but leave me sitting still anywhere for an hour and I become twitchy and irritable. Unless there is a book in my hand in which case I will sit there all day. And if you're a female who is worried about going out alone for safety reasons, don't worry. If you're going to nice places, the factor of creepy significantly decreases. Not to mention any good bartender knows the risks you face, and they're starting to be more proactive in preventing nefarious situations for their female customers. And if you really want, I'll show the ropes sometime so you can do it yourself.
But once you've made it out by yourself, what do you do? A normal date would be (hopefully) filled with questions and dialogue trying to figure each other out. The questions you would ask dates, ask yourself. "What do you believe?", "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?", "Do you actually want kids?" Being by yourself is a wonderful opportunity to sit yourself down without the distraction of others to figure out what you believe. And self-exploration is always worth it.
For me, that's not the end of the story either. Although I identify as your standard extrovert, ever desirous of an active audience, once in a while, I crave solitude.
In boarding school where I lived on a campus with 300 other students and some 50 odd staff and faculty, being alone was nearly impossible. Staff patrolled everywhere careful to find amorous couples in broom closets and with the masses everywhere else, I never had a chance to slip away and breath by myself. Until I figured out that my dorm was officially "open" at 5am. Front and back doors watched by security guards during the night, at 5am, those doors could be open for students to come and go as they pleased. And so, from time to time, I woke up at 4:45am and slipped out right at 5 to enjoy my two hours before the rest of the world woke up. I sat on the grass near the flowers on the lawn and breathed in the sweet silence. I enjoy the moments of sitting where I can ask myself those difficult existential questions, but it's more than quiet to focus on complex problems. It's quiet for the sake of stillness of soul.
You should date yourself to find out what you need in your soul. To learn how to still it against its onslaughts. If you're like me, the voice in your head is your worst enemy and worst critic. And sometimes you will need pleasurable distractions of food and drink and sound before you can get the voice to be quiet or before you go to work on it. For, as I opened with, you have to be with yourself forever. You must figure out a way to make it through.
And so today I have had a facial. And now I'm sitting enjoying a drink in a coffee shop bar. And then I'm going to take myself out to a nice dinner and go to a nice concert and generally revel in being away from everyone and everything I know to experience a new life. Bonus round! This is the first blog post that wasn't written on my porch. I'm expanding!