I’ve been single for a while now and I have to say, it’s working out. And that’s such a big thing for me to say confidently. Because for a really long time, I’ve tried to avoid singledom at all costs. I have dated many, many people over the past six years. But the only way I’ve come to be truly happily single, is to take a step back from dating any other prospect, and spend some quality time dating myself.

Searching for Love with Anyone But Myself

For most of my life I’ve concentrated on creating relationships with other people. There I was chanting the, “Love myself” mantra, without ever really taking the time to fall in love with myself. And it goes all the way back to my teens; thinking how independent I was whilst always looking for love with another, waiting for someone else to say, “I love you”. I’ve been searching for love with anyone – quite literally anyone at times – but myself.

And I’d done a pretty damn good job of convincing myself that I did care about me, whilst choosing people to date who if it were a friend, I’d categorically be warning them off. How was that self-love? The truth is, it wasn’t. It was entirely the opposite. And I had to break that cycle of bad dating choices. Of settling for anyone instead of the right person. Dating others wasn’t the way forward anymore. I needed a time out. So seven months ago I did just that. Took a total time out from dating other people and began creating a lifelong romance with someone. That someone was me.

“People keep asking me who I’m dating right now and the truth is…wait for it…no one. And that’s OK. I’m figuring out a lot of stuff right now. I think as a woman it’s in our nature to nurture someone else. Sometimes at the expense of ourselves”.

– Emilia Clarke

Deleting the Dating Apps

Actually being single and not dating, like literally deleting the apps, taking myself off the market, choosing to go it alone and not take any form of action in adding someone additional to my life. Not giving up on love, but going for self-love rather than external love. I can’t really explain this any other way, but it’s been liberating.

After six years of trawling through online dating apps like Bumble and embarking on semi-casual relationships, and a lifelong habit of jumping into relationships because the idea of love overtook the actual, “No, wait, do I really love this person? Hey what does it matter, they’re showing me a little attention!”. Just taking a step back from that dating world and saying, “You know what, I’m just going to spend some time on me.” Liberating is really the only way I can put it.

“If you really are going to be a happy single, you have to stop treating being single as the annoying time that you pass between relationships and embrace it. Rather than focusing on what you lack, focus on what you have: You.”

– Natalie Lue

Embracing Singledom

So step one was taking myself off the market. Step two; getting comfortable with being on my own. Because that’s the thing, when I stopped all the apps, suddenly I was so aware that I was really on my own. Like not even one moment of my day was spent considering a meet, conversation, message, phone call, or carrier pigeon from anyone romantically. It was just me. I had time to fill and that time was only getting occupied by me, my thoughts and I.

Sure I see friends and family, and I actually have a lot going on – I’m not a total hermit. But I also realised how much TIME dating takes out of your life. Like the messaging, the dates, it’s a constant occupation of time and money. And I realised how much I’d prioritized them over me. That when you aren’t dating, you really do just think about you, your life, your friends, your family, your future, just singular. You. And it had been a while since I’d had some serious downtime just to be with me and consider what I might want my present and future to look like.

Learning to Date Myself

I’ve taken myself for coffees, on walks along the beach, dinners in the countryside. Been to Sandringham Estate to run a 10k. I spent the night before New Years eve 2021 in a B&B in Norfolk where I enjoyed an amazing dinner and wine, before settling down with a book and a hot bath, and treated myself to a little romantic night away to end the year on.

I’ve sat in a cinema on my own. Booked a weekend away by myself to Lille later in the year. I’ve nestled myself between two couples and watched Nish Kumar live in Lincoln. And went to see The Kaiser Chiefs (although on that one, my sister added on the night before I went. Her words, “You can’t go on your own.”) But that’s the thing, I can and I have. And to tell you the truth, whilst sure, it’s nice to do things with other people. It’s also pretty great feeling you can do them on your own too.

Friends can’t make that band? No worries, I’ll go by myself. No-one else to book that trip to France? Cool, I’ll enjoy all the cheese and wine I can fit in. Really want to see that film no-one else cares about? Why should I miss out, let’s get those tickets booked, Amy!

Just me, for me, right now

It probably sounds silly, but I’d always had this idea that one day I would go to Paris with that big time love. It’s just a thing I had in my head. For years I’ve been waiting for that person to come along to enjoy the city of love together. This year I said to myself, “No more waiting.”

No more hanging around for some fictional person who might never materialize. I have a big time love now, and that’s for myself and the things I want to do for me, and with me, right now. So a few weeks ago I went to Paris. I’d intended to do it alone, but as I was booking the trip a friend decided to tag along for the journey. We spent three days enjoying the sights, eating cheese and drinking wine, and every step of that journey felt like a big moment.

Just me, for me, and my future

I also recently sold and bought a house. Another big future thing I’d been holding back on. Because what if I met someone and we wanted to move in together? Was there any point uprooting my life before that special someone came along? Should I just wait it out? Honestly, what the fuck. Why the hell was I waiting on fiction instead of going on fact?

The fact was I wanted to move, and I’m moving because that’s the right decision for me. I’ve chosen a place closer to friends and family – the connections outside of this little self-dating bubble that are most important to me – and one that is right for my future. Not for anyone else. Not with a side thought to anyone else coming along. Just for me. Me making the right decision for my future.

Dating yourself gives you this sense of independence

So dating myself has changed my life immeasurably. I’m exploring the world and doing things on my own, with no restrictions on whether those things are done with or without company. I’m moving home because I’ve held back on it for too long, and I’ve had time to reassess what’s most important; my happiness. And that includes being able to spend more time with the relationships in my life that are always going to be there, no casual situationships here. I’ve grown to embrace singledom, and I don’t feel bothered by moments that are just for me with no plans.

Dating yourself gives you this sense of independence, whilst also, just enabling you to truly discover what you like to do at the same time. I’ve met some cracking people whilst doing things on my own. And spent some quality time relaxing by myself. It’s given me confidence to spend time with me, not just hidden behind closed doors, but out in the world where I say, “Yeah, I’m by myself, and … ?”. And the relationship I now have with myself, enjoying spending time with me, damn did I need to work on getting that relationship right.

“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude”.

– Warsan Shire

I think I’m ‘The One.’

I’ve been single for a while now and genuinely, I think I’m ‘The One.’ And it took 37 years to get there, and realise how much that sentence actually means for me. How empowering single life is. And that the only way I truly found self-love by myself and for myself, was by choosing to date myself. So this girl is happily single and honestly, I now wonder who could ever compete with that? And I don’t imagine I’m the only single person out there who feels that dating themselves, is the most quality kind of dating they’ve ever done.

I may not be single forever. I will probably delve into dating again one day. But right now, in this moment, I am happily single, and falling head over heels in love with dating myself. And every time I think I might be ready to start dating again, I also feel a stronger urge to continue focusing on myself.

“I recommend to all my friends that they be alone for a while. When you’re in love, or dating someone, you filter your life decisions through their eyes. When you spend a few years being who you are, completely unbiased, you can figure out what you actually want”.

– Taylor Swift

Have you tried dating yourself? I’d love to hear about your experiences of single life. Drop a comment below.

By Amy Roullier
By Amy Roullier

Amy is the Founder and Editor of The Authentic Optimist. She talks all things life. From the highs to the lows, to all those messy bits in-between. She is a writer, rambler, lover of carbs (her true soulmate) and she is especially passionate about dispelling myths about women in their 30s. Amy lives in Lincolnshire with her two greyhounds.

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